HERITAGE: Escort 8cwt van
Classic Fords restored: Sometimes you don’t know what you want until you see it, and when Ian Je eries stumbled across a van in need of restoration, his and the Ford commercial’s fates were sealed.
Restored to sublime perfection.
When Ian Jefferies decided to do a bit of time travelling by restoring a classic car, his wife, Rachel, had ideas of cruising the Norfolk countryside in a mint Jaguar. Her reality has come crashing down, however, as summer Sundays this year will mostly be spent sliding around on the vinyl coverings of the passenger seat of this Mk1 Escort 8cwt van. To be fair to Ian, he has gone for the Deluxe model…
Another point to take in here, is that as Ian’s Mk1 van is just about the cleanest and most original example we’ve seen in many a year. It probably isn’t too far behind many Jags in the financial stakes anyway… and far more rare and desirable in our (slightly biased) opinion, too.
Back at the yard
Ian’s story starts many years ago, having his uncle’s scrapyard as a childhood playground. His Dad worked there too, so from the time he could walk he would be scrabbling around and pulling bits off junk cars. A YTS scheme slavery session in mechanics convinced a 17-year-old Ian that he could make much more money for himself and from that time forward his main income has been from buying and repairing motor salvage.
“My first project was pulling the crumpled front out of a Capri,” Ian says, “and through the years I must have dealt in hundreds of classic Fords.”
For this reason, Ian’s thoughts when he decided to look for a classic car project were to go for an Escort, but the van wasn’t the first example of the Mk1 he went for. Plan number one was to restore another rare and unusual car, namely a base model, 940cc Crossflow’d Italian import four-door.
“I’d started work on the saloon,” he says, “when the van came up for sale and halted me in my tracks. I’ve always liked the thought of a commercial, so bought the one-owner Mk1
“I’D STARTED WORK ON A MK1 SALOON WHEN THE VAN CAME UP FOR SALE AND HALTED ME IN MY TRACKS”
which had previously been run by a heating engineering firm in Uckfield and then stored for many years.”
“One major bonus of stopping with the four-door,” Ian continues, “was that as a very basic export model it had a very nice rubber floor mat (which was missing from the van and is almost impossible to find) and the right-hand seat (for passengers in the left-hooker) was in excellent condition. Those were pinched and tucked away before the saloon went to a new owner!”
Although the van wasn’t a complete rot box, and had many redeeming features like a rust-free roof panel — again a very rare thing — and a good chassis and an immaculate bonnet, Ian has had to get handy with the welder. For starters, he braced the shell, then cut out the floorpan and tunnel and replaced it with one of the new complete floors available on the market. “Having no floor at all for a while was a scary sight,” Ian admits.
The sills and arches were replaced and there was major surgery on one of the door pillars. Both side doors’ bottoms were half-skinned and, while one rear door was in good condition and the other saveable, a very nice second-hand one turned up and was used instead. With a new rear valance and many smaller repair sections grafted in, ground down and cleaned up, the van was ready for its all-over respray in original Ermine White.
Right: The 1300 Crossflow needed a full rebuild after Ian discovered the pistons were seized in the bores.
Low diff ratio was swapped for a Mexico one to make the van easier to live with when travelling to shows.
Underside finish is better than factory.
Ian sourced new-old stock badges for the front wings.