Ford Mondeo ST24 – The first ST model offered in the UK
Ford has a long and storied history of offering up sportier models of its usually more drab family wagons. Some brilliant cars have been adorned with a plethora of badges and names over the years: RS, Cosworth, Mexico, XR, S, Injection among others. Each was placed in the vehicle line-up to appeal to that aspiration that we all have when it comes to cars, that internal wish to have something that we can point to being ‘ahead’ of it’s model mates.
In 1997 Ford (kind of) revealed the latest badge to attach to more port focused models – ST. Okay, so the badge as we know it today would not exist on its own for a few years yet but numbers aside this was the first showing. Standing for ‘Sports Technologies’, Ford intended to use the badge to sell more sports inspired cars, in the case of the ST24 this did mean less equipment than an equivalent Ghia X but with a more in your face styling cue.
Half leather sports interior, model unique 16 inch ‘Turbine’ alloys and a full ‘Rally Sports Apperance Package (RSAP)’ body kit gave the model a much more sporty lean than the Mondeo models that had come before. In many ways it was a clever marketing ploy above all, as the engine was the same 2.5 Duratec V6 that had been an option since 1994, having first appeared on the American Ford Contour.
For a 20 year old car the ride and driving experience is excellent. I have done a few long journeys in her and its a very comfortable and competent motorway cruiser. Granted, the lack of a 6th gear makes that V6 a little bit juicy (probably only getting 25 mpg max!), however it holds its own with much more modern metal. Unlike newer cars with their beefed up body shells for safety and lack of visibility, you can see everything out of the 24 and its a light and airy place to be.
What about as a dedicated sports saloon. Well…..not so great. The first foray into the ST brand was a lot softer and less precise than most buyers today would expect from the badge. While its V6 does give a nice noise and bit of pep, its not what you would call fast in the modern sense. Throw her into a corner at pace and it feels a lot taller than you are expecting with a fair amount of body roll.
Around 8,700 ST24’s were registered in the UK in total, and at the time of writing (March 2020) only 323 show as being on the road. With around 96% having some of the many casualties of the governments scrappage scheme, or now SORN in garages they are a rare sight on Britains roads.
My 2000 ST24 Hatchback
As with all of the most sensible purchases, my 24 was bought sight unseen on eBay while under the influence of more than a little alcohol! The sub £500 final buying price inclusive of private plate, the promising pictures and the healthy looking MOT history convinced me to sign on the dotted line and in no time she was sat on the drive.
Once of the major issues with Mk2 Mondeos is the dreaded rear arch and sill rust, The UKs wet and often grit and salt laden roads play havoc with the usual 90’s ford metal quality. This example was not too bad and still passes MOT’s fine with advisory’s on the drivers sill, but is definitely something I need to sort out.
I have already done a few bits to her in the last few months. First up was freeing up the previously seized electric windows on the rear, a clean up and some WD40 being all it took! A pair of new tailgate struts (the old ones being so ruined concussion was almost inevitable), new weather strips on the windows and replacement number plates to start with. Following those a new battery was needed, along with new ashtray and cigarette surrounds which were missing and broken respectively.
Outside of the aforementioned rust there are only a small number of bits to sort before she is up to scratch. The central locking is dead and requires a new module which I need to fit, and the unit that controls the secondary inlets for a kick of power at 3500 revs is also suffering after 20 years.
However, once they are resolved and the body has had some paint and polish, im hoping that she will be good enough to come to shows in the near future, as I can count on one hand the number of 24’s ive seen at Ford shows in the last 5+ years.