The XR4Register Profile - Paul Bleasdale
Ford Sierra XR4x4
Photo Gallery for Paul Bleasdale's XR4x4
I bought my MK1 XR4x4 on the 3-2-04, my original intention was to use it as a donor car only. Although it ran of a sort, it had most of the Injection wiring in the passenger footwell, and a bad misfire which the previous owner had thought was something major. When I looked at the car, none of this bothered me, as my intention was to rebuild the engine and then run it on a single carb, so the fact that there was a problem with the injection wiring was of no concern to me.
My intention was simple, to take the engine out of the XR4x4 do it up and fit it into my mint K reg 1.8 CVH Sapphire, which I had at the time. I was then going to fit the complete rear subframe, with its LSD, to the Sapphire and run the whole conversion in RWD format, as I had found the 1.8 a bit boring. But... once I got the XR home, I put it on the ramps to access the car properly, it surprised me. The body was in superb condition considering it was 18 years old. The only bits of rust were to the rear arches, and under the clenched lip of the tailgate seal. Now although my original plans had meant alot of mechanical work, this had never bothered me but the thought of having to repair the bodywork did.
The more I looked at the XR, the more I would go home and consider if it was possible to get it back up and running? This got me thinking, ever since I was 15 years old, my dad had owned many different Sierra's, but the XR was always just out of reach. I used to dream that one day I would have a XR4x4. Now here I was with an XR, and my intention was to rob the guts out of it and then dispose of the rest. The more I thought about it, the more I thought it was my duty to get it running.
Therefore work began: I cut away the dangerous looking injection wiring that was in the passenger footwell, and rewired it. At the same time the radio wiring was a fire waiting to happen, so I rewired it all. While wiring was in progress I fitted a Cat 1 alarm.
Once the wiring was safe I could look at the engine. It turned out that the misfire was due to spark plugs not being replaced and the distributor cap being full of moisture, as the car had been sat for a long period of time prior to me buying it. While working on the engine I noticed that the bottom half of the radiator had nearly collapsed so a replacement was fitted.
I then turned my attention to the sunroof which was leaking. I replaced it with a suitable donor from a local scrap yard, this sounds easy but actually took ages as everything was seized solid.
It was then time for the interior. It was in need of a very good clean and the drivers seat was torn. I managed to find a replacement seat on eBay. While collecting the seat, the guy that was selling it happen to have a replacement centre console. As I had discovered that mine was broken during the interior cleaning, I bought that as well. All these parts were fitted which transformed the interior.
The rear bumper looked awful as it was badly melted and needed replacing. This was due to the fact that the previous owner had badly fitted a Piper 4 inch back box, which in my view looked stupid as it was too big for the car. After doing quite alot of searching I managed to find a decent second-hand bumper. This was bought and subsequently fitted. I made an adjustment to the original back box to stop it rubbing against the bumper. My intention was to change the exhaust at a later date when I had got the car running; and when the centre section, which was new, had deteriorated somewhat. It was at this stage that I discovered the rust under the boot seal which I thought hadn't been that bad, turned out to be worse than I thought. Whilst removing the seal, I removed most of the metal on the body with it!! Oh dear. Luckily it could be repaired and all was well again. The worst of the wheel arches have now been repaired, leaving just one side left to do.
Whilst the car was on the ramps I had realised that the suspension was badly worn. It needed new lower arms all bushes and new shockers. After spending this much time on the car, I thought lets do it right. My intention was now to get it as good as possible to prevent any further work in the near future. I replaced the lower arms and fitted Poly bushes throughout. I also took the time to replace the front ARB with a 28mm Cosworth version and fit a Alloy strut brace. I bought a new Spax adjustable suspension kit. Now I couldn't get the rear springs to fit no matter what I tried. I couldn't understand this as I had changed many rear springs on the Mk2 Sierras without any problems. I discovered that the mounting where the bump stop fit was longer on the Mk1, and therefore limited the amount of space between the lower swinging arm and the body. I ended up having to drop the whole back axle down. There was no way that I was going to repeat this experience in the short term. Therefore I replaced all the rear bushes for Poly bushes. I drained the diff oil by removing the rear casing and checked it while it was out of the car. It was fine, so it was given a good clean out and rebuilt it, and treated it to some new oil.
The brakes were all stripped down to be cleaned up. At this stage I discovered the front calipers had seen better days. The pistons were badly corroded and seized into the caliper. Luckily I had a new set in the garage which were to be fitted to the Sapphire. These were robbed for the XR. I checked the rear calipers to find that they were in no better condition, it was at this stage I was considering had I made a wise decision to try to do up the XR??. After doing this much I wasn't going to be beaten. I found some nearly new rear calipers on eBay, the owner even had the original receipt. These were bought and fitted along with some Goodridge hoses, and a couple of new brake pipes. The result, the brakes were terrible!! Not the answer I was looking for really. I had noticed at the start of the project that the servo was stained with what looked like brake fluid. As I feared the master cylinder had a slight leak, I used my contacts at Ford to obtain a new master cylinder. Once fitted the brakes stopped ok but the feel was terrible, with the pedal nearly going to the floor before they started to work. I removed the master cylinder and adjusted the rod in the end of the servo until I got the pedal feel I wanted. This transformed the brakes and made them feel great.
After all this the XR hit the road and has been my daily driver ever since. The addiction to the V6 sound and the 4WD handling made me subsequently sell the Sapphire, which had previously been my daily driver. Have I ever regretted spending this much time on the XR. Well, NO has to be the answer. After a few months of driving the exhaust started to sound very rough, which to be honest I was pleased about. It meant that I could now replace it with a Stainless steel system that I had promised myself earlier in the build.
Last updated: 12.03.06
Owner: Paul Bleasdale
Model: XR4x4 mkI
Suspension: SPAX & Polybushed
ICE: JVC Head Unit