As series 15 of Wheeler Dealers comes to an end (with all episodes available on catch up), we thought it was a good time to have a chat with the main man himself.
Unfortunately, Ant Anstead was busy, but Mike Brewer was on hand to answer our questions (only joking Mike, we love you really – Jules)…
So Mike, why should FC readers take a look at the latest Wheeler Dealers series? Are there any builds you think will be of particular interest?
Well, I’m guessing your readers like their ‘80s and ‘90s hot hatches and sports cars. We feature a few of those: we’ve just done an E46 M3 where we swapped out the SMG ‘box for a manual one, then there was the 1979 Celica GT that we dropped a Lexus engine in. There’s also a 1985 Merkur XR4Ti (Ford Sierra) to look out for. The Ti was only sold in North America and came with a 2.3-litre turbo engine rather than the UK’s equivalent XR4i that came with the naturally aspirated 2.8-litre.
Have you ever thought about getting Elvis from WD: Dream Car and Ant together in some kind of Wheeler Dealers build-off? Maybe get Edd China involved too?
First off, a lot of people are always trying to measure Ant against Edd and I hate that because you can’t really compare the two. Edd is an engineer and Ant is a mechanic; they’re both fantastic at what they do. Elvis, on the other hand, is more technical in his approach. The concept of getting Ant and Elvis together is an interesting one. I’m sure the future of Wheeler Dealers will see Ant and Elvis on screen at the same time.
Each month in Fast Car we do a feature called Appreciating Depreciation, I was wondering what your Top 3 future classic picks are?
That’s a good question; you just have to look at past markets. Take the Mk1 and 2 Escorts; the prices have gone off the scale. With this in mind, the Focus ST170 is a great car for £1200 and I can see them going up in value. Another is the Audi TT 225, and, last but not least, if Japanese metal is more your thing, you can’t go wrong with an EP3 Type R.
Thanks for those Mike. And, by some weird coincidence, they’re the three cars we’ve focused on this month…
Ford Focus ST170
Price then: £17,000 Price now: £2,000
It really is amazing that the ST170 is readily available to buy for under £2,000. That model-specific Zetec engine had a lot of development work put into it – branded a Duratec, it’s actually a Zetec-R of the kind you’d find in a different state of tune in the Focus RS. Built on the base of the 130bhp-spec Zetec, it features a high-flow aluminium head with bigger valves and stiffer springs, higher lift cams, continuously-variable intake valve timing, high-compression pistons and forged rods, dual-state intake with long runners for low-end torque and short ones for peak power… it all adds up to 170bhp, hence the name. You also get a really sweet 6-speed Getrag manual gearbox, 15-spoke 17-inch wheels, and 300mm front brakes. You could get it in 3-door or 5-door form, or even as an estate, and its understated and classy styling really looks the part. A true driver’s car, and definitely a future classic. And since Focus RS values are going nuts, you’d better buy an ST170 now before the prices go up!
Top 5 mods: Milltek cat-back, K&N Typhoon induction, BC Racing coilovers, lightweight flywheel, Pumaspeed remap
Audi TT 225
Price then: £30,450 Price now: £3,000
The Mk1 Audi TT had proper concept-car looks which have aged brilliantly – and with the TT 225, buyers got an incredible spec. As well as the quattro AWD system, you also got the BAM engine, which is basically the 1.8T on steroids: it had uprated pistons and rods, juicier fuelling and bigger intercoolers, and was perfectly matched to that sweet little chassis. An urgent little motor, and these things stick to the road like Velcro, you can essentially take any corner at any speed and never run out of grip. (Er, within reason…!) There’s all kinds of toys too – the Bose audio was a great option, and the heated leather seats are superb. You can pick up a decent 225 for around £3,000 these days; the only thing to bear in mind is that, as these cars are slightly aged now, they might be a bit baggy in terms of bushes, hoses, brakes, suspension – budget a bit extra to get it tip-top and you’ll have one of the most entertaining cars you’ll ever own.
Top 5 mods: Milltek exhaust, Forge intercooler, Revo remap, BBS LM wheels, Bilstein B14 coilovers
Honda Civic Type R (EP3)
Price then: £17,950 Price now: £3,500
The original Civic Type R, the EK9, was a Japan-only model – but the EP3 brought the Type R lunacy to the European masses. Well, they were built in Swindon which did make things a bit easier! The manic K20A2 motor offered 197bhp and, while there wasn’t a lot of torque low down, it was all about the revs; VTEC kicked in at 5,500rpm, and from then on the scenery went distinctly blurry. The handling was astounding (facelifted cars had revised steering which was a bit woolly on earlier cars), and the aftermarket ensured that these were very well catered for: you don’t necessarily need to throw a lot of power at an EP3, as your point-to-point times are easily reduced with chassis and suspension tweaks. Without even touching the engine, you can turn one of these into an absolute weapon with the addition of some JDM-spec anti-roll bars, camber arms and grippier tyres. And if big power is your bag, the K20 responds very well to supercharging too!
Top 5 mods: ITG Maxogen induction, Hardrace camber arms, Tein coilovers, Goodyear Eagle F1 tyres, TTS Performance supercharger