Ex-Group A rally Escort now does battle on the race track!
Confusing isn’t it? If you had to read the intro several times just to make sense of it, you’re probably not alone. The story behind this tyreshreddin’ Escort Cosworth is tricky to explain. To be fair, it’s very rare that the build of any
Fast Ford feature car is straightforward. That’s what happens when people recount years of hard graft and spec changes, then we try to share all this info over just a few pages. A job that’s made both easier and more difficult in this case, by the fact a big chunk of the story is missing.
Maybe we should just look at the pretty pictures instead? Our photographer Ade really enjoyed shooting this WRC rep, as Ross attempted to destroy all four tyres with huge power-slides. There are few sights in the automotive world that can match a rally-spec Escort Cosworth at maximum attack. Let alone one with a Repsol livery to help it look just like Carlos Sainz’s 1996-97 World Rally Car.
So it was appropriate that Driftland was the venue for our photoshoot, the first dedicated drift circuit in Europe, based just north of Edinburgh in Scotland. Ross doesn’t live that far from the track, he’s a regular face at Trackdays down at Knockhill too. You can’t miss him, he’s the one going sideways with a big grin on his face. Thing is, he nearly missed out on these fun times.
“The plan was to buy an Imperial Blue road car,”
explains Ross. “I’ve always had fast Fords and I’ve got a long-term Sapphire 4x4 project car that I’ve taken back to a bare shell. So about four years ago I started looking for a road car I could enjoy and help me get out of the garage for a bit. Then I saw this. It was on Ebay, advertised as genuine Group A rally car. Unfortunately some of the car had been returned to factory roadspec parts, including the brakes and suspension. I still liked what I saw. The opportunity to buy a genuine rally car was too good to miss.”
Ross discovered the car was originally built for Group A rallying by Gordon Spooner Engineering, way back in 1995. The Group A class was introduced by the FIA in 1982, to replace Group 2 for “modified touring cars”. This meant Group A cars could be tweaked slightly, to make them faster than stock. While Group N catered for cars that were pretty much factory examples with a few safety additions.
By the time this car was built, just 2,500 production cars had to be sold to qualify it for Group A action. At the time, every competitive car had four-wheel drive and a two-litre turbocharged engine, so the Escort Cosworth became a very popular tool for the job. Gordon Spooner earned a reputation of building fast and reliable rally cars, with their legendary Chief Engineer Brian ‘Baz’ Cannon.
So we know that the underpinnings of this car are from the top drawer. Unfortunately, we don’t know a lot about the years between it being built and Ross buying the car. Although he did have a brief encounter with a former owner, when he showed the car at Ford Fair last year. “He said it finished second in whatever Championship it was competing in,” recalls Ross. “I wish I had asked
Sensible upgrades mean this YB produces a reliable 320-340bhp - enough for some serious fun without fear of things breaking!