If you thought the Ka shown at last year's Melbourne and Sydney Motor Shows' was cute, then take a look at this competition special just arrived from Britain.
Built by the famous Ford Motorsport works at Boreham in Essex, the friendly little Ka has acquired a distinctly fierce look during its conversion to rally spec.
The Rally Ka was designed as an entry-level vehicle to compete in a one-make series as part of the British Mintex rally championship. The Ka Championship began in 1997 with just four cars in the debut Granite City Rally event. In 1998 fifteen competitors undertook the Mintex challenge. This makes Ka one of the fastest growing rally classes in the world, and it's not hard to see why.
Ford's Boreham airfield facility provides a complete build service for competitors wishing to rally Ka. As such, the vehicles are of the highest quality. The beauty of the Ka Class, though, has been that homebuilders can reduce the cost of a Rally Ka by assembling it themselves from the conversion kit supplied by Boreham. All the homologated parts are sold with a comprehensive DIY build guide. Join the dots and you have a Rally Ka. This stringent control on the supply of parts has meant that performance parity has been easily maintained.
Most of the parts supplied are related to strengthening the car for the arduous task of rallying. Uprated engine mounts and suspension bushes are all included, as is a front strut brace. Aluminium sump and fuel tank guards, OZ Rally wheels and a Safety Devices bolt-in roll cage are all either fitted by the Boreham works or supplied to individual teams.
Performance enhancing modifications are limited to the addition of a Rally spec ECU, camshaft and 4 into 2 into 1 extractor set attached to a free flowing exhaust. This combination lifts power to 80hp.
To cope with the extra power, competitors are encouraged to fit the optional uprated drive shafts with larger CV joints. A limited slip diff and heavier clutch plate are also available. A competition brake package consisting of Mintex pads gripping vented front brake rotors and stronger rear drums is homologated for Rally Ka.
Replacing the original shock absorbers is a set of four remote reservoir Proflex coil-over struts adjustable for compression and rebound damping. These are allied to a lowering kit and adjustable spring platforms to give Ka competitors a wide range of suspension settings including ride height.
Inside the Rally Ka is all business. In true rally fashion gone are all but the essentials. The two central eyeball vents are replaced with a tachometer and auxiliary gauge. The beautifully made co-drivers and driver's foot rests are moulded from carbon fibre, just like Colin McRae's in his Focus WRC car. Even the replacement panels in the dashboard which support the fire extinguisher button and extra switches and gauges required in a rally car are listed in the Boreham parts schedule. It is little touches like this that make Rally Ka stand head and shoulders above any other one-make car available for rallying.
The deeply dished rally steering wheel, competition seats and harnesses are all supplied from the kit and replacements are not allowed. Such stringent control ensures that no Rally Ka hits the gravel with sub-standard parts on board.
This level of 'factory' support has not been available to grass roots rally competitors since Ford made RS parts available for the Mk2 Escort twenty years ago.
To finish off your Boreham Ka, Ford can supply bonnet and hatch pins, mud guards, map lights and towing eyes, not to mention those fierce head lights.
With reduced weight and more power the short wheelbase Ka is a real joy to drive. The wheel at each corner makes it surefooted and predictable while the front wheel drive means it's easy to exploit the Rally Ka to its limits.
Ford Australia aims to use this Boreham special to gauge interest in a similar one-make series in Australia.