CRUISE MODE

Name: Aaron de Vries Lo­ca­tion: Christchurch Oc­cu­pa­tion: Sparky

NZ Performance Car - - News - PHO­TOS: TONY CROSSED

NZ Per­for­mance Car: Hi, Aaron. Your Es­cort es­tate is a bloody tidy ex­am­ple. How did you come to own it?

Aaron: Hey, NZPer­for­manceCar. My brother-in-law Pete had a 1600 Sport when I was about 14, and I couldn’t get enough of that. They weren’t worth much back then; I think he bought his for $1800 or so. He sold it and, while look­ing for a new one, spot­ted a mus­tard yel­low es­tate that he in­sisted I look at for my­self. I was about 16 then, and wasn’t sold on the es­tate but looked any­way — my dad said no projects, but that didn’t stop me [laughs]. Af­ter look­ing it over and de­cid­ing that the mi­nor is­sues weren’t too much to deal with, we went back to buy it and found the son of the owner revving it out in the drive­way. He prob­a­bly thought it wasn’t a good idea to sell it any more … I still took it home.

Noth­ing like the hard word from Dad! Tell us how the mish­mash en­gine even­tu­ated?

Oh man, that was a bit of a hand­ful. I watched way too many rally Es­corts on YouTube and loved the 2.0-litre vari­ants — the in­duc­tion sound was amaz­ing. I did some dig­ging and found a Cortina en­gine on­line for $40, and bought it think­ing, what a bar­gain. Four heads later, and I fi­nally had one that wasn’t cracked … but the wait meant [that] I was able to find the 45-mil­lime­tre We­bers that I told my­self it had to run. Once I got the head back on and fired it up, some­thing didn’t sound right. Took the rocker cover off and it was full of metal — I for­got to in­stall a $5 pin that spins the oil pump off the dizzy. Oops. The mo­tor came out straight away, and Pete at Ken­nelly Cams built the new one — which has the Subaru pis­tons and Datsun 1600 rods — which made 187hp [139kW] at the fly.

Hard-learned les­son, that. What per­suaded you to make the mis­sion up from Christchurch to Auck­land for nats?

Well, I bought a man­ual VN Com­modore to pil­lage the en­gine and box for another con­ver­sion, then de­cided to take it on a roadie up to Auck­land with a mate. That got us think­ing what a sweet drive it would be in our other cars [the Es­cort es­tate] — so we did it. V 4&Ro­tary Na­tion­als was a good ex­cuse, and, once we hit the south Auck­land mo­tor­way, it was worth the ef­fort — it was the smoothest bit of road the en­tire way. I ac­tu­ally threw sparks over my mate’s bon­net just out of Han­mer Springs on the way up. But, all to­gether, it was the best roadie, and the car did well, man­ag­ing a 14.8 at the drags.

Damn, that’s a hearty ef­fort. Does she get out much day to day?

I would drive it every day if I could! I have to drive a work ve­hi­cle, but it gets used when­ever I get out, that’s what it was built for — not to look pretty in a garage, [but] to get used reg­u­larly.

And it looks su­per rad do­ing it, too. Cheers for the chat, Aaron.

EN­GINE: Ford Cortina, 2100cc, four-cylin­der, 2mm over­size Subaru pis­tons (10.5:1 com­pres­sion), Nissan 1600 I-beam forged rods, 2mm stro­ker crank, ported big-valve head, Ken­nelly Cams 300-de­gree high-lift camshaft, ad­justable cam gear, Weber 45mm side-draughts, Pace­maker ex­trac­tors, 2.25-inch exhaust

DRIV­E­TRAIN: Five-speed man­ual, short­ened drive­shaft, Quaife LSD

IN­TE­RIOR: Orig­i­nal, re­sprung and re­uphol­stered black

EX­TE­RIOR: Full restora­tion, re­sprayed white

WHEELS/TYRES: 13x8-inch Rev­o­lu­tion, 175/50R13 Yoko­hama A359

SUS­PEN­SION: (F) Ford Capri con­ver­sion, Mun­roe shocks, Jamex ad­justable sleeves, 20-pound springs, ad­justable al­loy top hats; (R) 2.5-inch re­set leaf springs, 1.5-inch blocks, Bil­stein shocks, Watt’s link sys­tem, two-link axle-tramp kit

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