The continuous participation of M-Sport in the World Rally Championship over the past 25 years can be admired. During a large part of this, the team had the support and collaboration of Ford, which acted as a factory team. But since Ford officially withdrew from the WRC in 2012, it has taken on this responsibility as a private driver, but has continued to prepare and lead the Fiesta. In 2017 and 2018, SÃ©bastien Ogier won two of his eight drivers’ titles with the team.
I’m taking this little M-Sport history lesson to make it clear that the outfit White Rally. Which means that if Frankenstein has its way, a Fiesta R5 into a Type 141 Fiat Panda, rest assured that the job is not only getting done, but getting the job done right. The result is the Panda from M-Sport.
First of all, the panda greets us in an adorable video, with a totally humble man pushing the shell of an Italian hatchback into M-Sport’s garage to have it looked at. It comes in a blue metal box on sofa rolls and comes out as rally terror. A short time later we learn our hThe little protagonist is actually quite decent at driving sideways. We get a sweet cameo from M-Sport owner and team boss Malcolm Wilson after about two and a half minutes.
The description of the video provides a bit of background information about the build. The Panda’s body has been widened by about 14 inches to fit on the Fiesta’s platform, which improves both cornering stability and, of course, looks. The Ford’s 1.6-liter four-cylinder turbo was also used, pushing just under 300 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque through a five-speed transmission.
The result is almost similar to a less ugly one MG Metro 6R4who, in my opinion, was always the clumsiest member of the Group B stable. You can also easily distinguish it from the MG as the panda has stamped its name in huge italic font right on the tailgate, a typical 80s / early 90s design touch with great attention to detail. I wish M-Sport had a facility here in the US – I’d like to see if their mechanics could “fix” my Fiesta in a similar way.