Ford Zetec - On A Budget

Many people are put off installing the Zetec because of the higher costs involved during installation. With this page, I hope to remove those myths and show that a Zetec can be installed for significantly less than originally thought.


Whilst the 2.0 litre engine may provide the most power from the Zetec-E engine range, don't discount the lower capacity variants as the 1.6 and 1.8 models are generally a lot cheaper from a scrap yard than the 2.0 litre engine. For an early 1.8 litre engine, you should be looking at paying around £250 - £300.


In its original installation, the engine is fuel injection using a single throttle body and separate injectors per cylinder. Getting this to work without major problems becomes expensive. A far cheaper solution is to purchase a manifold for twin DCOE style carburettors, and then a second hand pair of 40mm Weber DCOE or Dello'rto DHLA carburettors. This should cost around £200.


As the Zetec doesn't have a distributor, you will need a 'black box' to control the ignition timing. Fortunately, another engine in the Ford range comes to the rescue. The later 1.4 and 1.6 CVH engines, running on a single carburettor and featuring a coil pack (rather than distributor and coil) come complete with a 'black box' (actually silver). This connects to the coil pack, crank position sensor and a couple of temperature sensors and provides an acceptable 2 dimensional ignition map for running the Zetec.

To use this system, you will require the electronic control box, the engine loom complete with sensors and any additional small modules attached to it. Suitable cars are the square shaped Escort and Orion models from around 1987 to 1990 (E to H) registration prefix running in 1.4 or 1.6 guise with a single carburettor.

To source the components, firstly, locate the control box. This is around the 5" x 3" x 1" and is located on the nearside inner wheel arch. The top face is aluminium with a large connector and the rear is black plastic. From this, trace the loom back to the round plug which connects it to the main car loom and cut off the wires on the car side, leaving a few inches spare to solder this plug to your kit car loom. This should leave you with a brown, green and black wire. You will then require all components on this section of the loom, barring the coil pack which should already be on your engine.

Fit all components to your car, ensuring the ECU and any external control boxes are located on aluminium or steel surfaces to help dissipate any heat generated. The crank position sensor is located on the flange behind the flywheel on the exhaust side of the block, you can discard the one from the loom and use this one instead. You can then wire the car side of the 3 pin connector to your cars existing loom. Connect the brown to earth, black to a positive ignition switched supply and green to the rev counter input.

Flywheel and Clutch

There are a couple of options available with the flywheel.

The standard 2.0 litre Zetec flywheel can be used however this is quite heavy. This will require a standard 2.0 Zetec clutch and a clutch release bearing from a 1971-88 Ford Transit 2.4/2.5 diesel (Quinton Hazell part CCT303)

The 1.6 and 1.8 litre Zetec flywheel can also be used which is considerably lighter than the one from the 2.0 litre engine. This will require a standard 1.6/1.8 Zetec clutch and a clutch release bearing from a 1982-89 Ford Sierra 2.0 OHC (Quinton Hazell part CCT132)

Starter Motor

If using one of the standard Zetec flywheels, you will need a starter motor from a Ford Sierra with a 1.8 CVH or 2.0 DOHC engine. The Lucas part for this is the LRS707.


The sump will need a couple of modifications in order to fit. Firstly, it will need shortening so it is flat across the bottom and around 4" deep. The webbing on the exhaust side at the flywheel end will also need cutting away and be replaced with a flat piece of aluminium in order for the starter motor to fit. The pickup pipe will also need shortening appropriately and some baffles added across the windage tray to help reduce the effects of oil surge.

With the sump being made from a cast aluminium alloy, the sump modifications will need to be TIG welded, so it's not the easiest thing to do yourself and may have to be given to a specialist welder. By far an easier solution is to buy an off the shelf modified sump by someone like Dunnell, Westfield or Tiger. Because the standard sump material is quite porous, there is a high chance that any modified sump will leak to some extent. This is disconcerting, but isn't disastrous, providing the leak isn't too pronounced.


Finally, you will need an exhaust. A stainless steel exhaust system isn't cheap but is a worthy addition. If this cost cannot be covered. The standard manifold can be used. This can then be linked to a custom exhaust made from standard steel exhaust tubing, though this will require welding skills to complete and won't last as long as a stainless steel item.

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