Down the line, what might outwardly appear to be scrappy old relics often find a renewed lease of life and definitely enjoy greatly rekindled valuations.
The Mondeo ST200 is a case in point. Just like the ST24, it's a pepped-up Mondy with an increasing level of rarity. And there's the point, the rarity factor makes these models look every inch the classics of the future, something that certainly hasn't escaped eagle-eyed classic car dealers with a penchant for sniffing out juicy profits.
It's certainly true that the rarity element is being reflected in current ST24 prices which have been steadily climbing. However, don't worry too much if you think you've missed a golden opportunity to own an affordable piece of Ford history because there looks to be plenty of traction left in the alternative ST200 in terms of escalating values. However, all this interest does mean that shabbier examples, which might have had a bit of restoration potential, are now getting harder to find. Expect a full-on ST200 minter (that's well sorted mechanically) to have a pretty hefty price tag these days. Such fine examples will also be as scarce as the proverbial hen's teeth. But the ST220 remains a feasible alternative to an ST24 providing bags of power, driveability, and plenty of smiles per hour.
Mint examples of sporty blue-collar models will always attract more attention at classic car shows than anything too fancy-pants. A smart 'Dad-car' that oozes originality will catch more people's attention than any Ferrari or Rolls-Royce. That's because of the nostalgia element as well as the attainability factor. Buy a good-un and you'll not end up holding onto a money pit. Plus, you'll always find willing buyers for something like a fast Ford. They sell. End of!
For those who might be interested in getting involved in the classic car scene, there are two obvious camps at which to focus your proprietorial interests. That's Vauxhall and Ford. Frankly, the blue oval produces the most passion amidst enthusiasts and has by-far the greatest number of followers. But Vauxhall enthusiasts are certainly growing in numbers and there are definitely some very interesting cars to be found at Vauxhall/Opel stands. A nicely kept Vauxhall or Opel is just as special to see as any Ford.
The famous Ford blue oval is synonymous with blue-collar motoring and there's always something very exciting about a hot version of what was otherwise just run-of-the-mill 'cooking' models. Ford has excellent form when it comes to souping things up a bit, adding those all-important fat wheel arches and some go-faster stripes. Who can ever forget the Ford RS models from the ’60s and ’70s? Those cars seemed leaps and bounds from the models they were based on. The 1980's brought us the super cool XR models which only came with relatively modest design tweaks but nevertheless towered above lowlier stablemates.
Distinction and pride
These days the ST versions carry the fast Ford torch and do so with absolute distinction and pride. Ford has always mastered the art of making what's basically a run-of-the-mill car somehow 'exclusive' despite that exclusivity being relatively simply attained and thereafter mass-produced. But it matters not a jot because a fast Ford almost always cuts the mustard and easily manages to look the part with great designs creating oodles of desirability. You just know that a zippy Ford is going to have a brilliantly balanced chassis providing unsurpassed driving pleasure complete with idiot-proof handling. No wayward TVR-isms or pendulum-butted Porsche anomalies in the Ford camp.
For a long time, Ford has tended to offer souped-up versions across its entire model range. Some car makers reserved punchy performance for their smaller models but Ford broke the mould. Ford’s excellent marketing strategists realised that customers who needed larger cars weren't necessarily willing to compromise when it came to owning something a little bit sportier. Just because people had families and needed something like a load-lugging estate, dullness didn't necessarily have to prevail. Even big Scorpios, Sierras, and later on Mondeos got souped-up power plants, handling packs and sexy body kits.
The Mondeo ST200 was launched in 2002 and arguably made even more of a statement than the ST24 it replaced. Although the ST24 looked fabulous with its chunky body kit and bespoke alloys, the ST220 was on another level. Clean-cut styling made it look very sharp and slick. Plastic body kits can often look a bit naff but on the ST200, the kit is made for subtle enhancements, especially when coupled with the special 18-inch diamond-cut alloys.
The premium feel carried on inside too. Heated soft leather furnishings were the order of the day, especially in later models which came with the option of red Recaro leather trim. All models came with a full electrics-pack, even the sumptuous leather seats were electrically adjustable and the cabin benefited from electronic (digital) climate control. Sat-Nav also became an option.
Whilst the ST220 was certainly a performance model, it was also a high-end flagship. Ford seemed to be 'going premium' wooing German car buyers out of their BMWs and Mercedes with a Ford that "felt German." The ST220 badge certainly elevated the Mondeo, giving it enough kudos to rub shoulders with the big boys. Or course, you needed to spend a whole wedge of cash at a BMW or Mercedes dealership to attain the same level of opulence as Ford provided as standard in the ST200.
All about performance
The upperty Mondeo wasn’t merely an exercise in aesthetics and specification, it was all about performance too. The ST220 came with a Duratec 3.0-litre V6 engine. This engine was a Porsche design before it was sold to Ford who then passed it onto Cosworth who tweaked the cylinder heads. This produced an engine that boasted 223-bhp. In later models, this engine was married to a superb, buttery-slick Getrag six-speed manual box. Add lowered suspension, a musical exhaust system, fat tyres, grippy brakes, a Ford chassis, a little fairy dust, and "BINGO!" Success.
The ST220 was a truly great car. A well-cared-for example can still put a big, cheesy smile on your face even today. These cars can reach 60-mph in 6-seconds and are brilliant to drive. OK, the fuel consumption will be a measly 20-mpg but when you feel that V6 power, you'll understand why. These days, however, an ST220 is bought as a big boy's toy and not a daily driver. Therefore, fuel economy is not going to be a deal breaker.
Interested? If so, look around for a really good one. Find an example with Recaro leather seats avoiding early examples with the poor five-speed manual transmission. Get it right and you’ll be sitting in an excellent future classic that will only increase in value.
So, it's true. Old-school Fords really don’t die, they just get more desirable and expensive. Happy hunting!
Douglas Hughes is a UK-based writer producing general interest articles ranging from travel pieces to classic motoring.
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