Classic collectors may be snapping up fast Fords for a big future payday, but Paul Davis has taken a different approach, restoring and modifying his Escort Cossie to use right here and now…
Squeaky clean EsCos boasts over 450bhp!
Cast your minds back over a decade ago if you can and a modified Escort Cosworth wasn’t an unusual sight. Yet today, with values continuing to rise at an unbelievable pace, you’re lucky if you see one at all. And most likely, that’ll be a standard or concours-condition car on its annual trip to receive an updated valuation. Incredibly, Paul Davis not only owns this rare modified example, he also likes to drive it regularly too, covering more miles than many would in their daily drivers!
It’s not been an easy road for Paul to get his Cosworth to the stage it’s at now, in fact a serious amount of time, money and effort has gone into the whole project, though none of it may have happened if it hadn’t been for one of his friends. “The Escort Cosworth has always been one of my dream cars, especially when I was younger, but for some reason I forgot about them as I grew older,” Paul smiles, “it was only around four years ago when my friend mentioned he
was looking for one, that the desire to own one myself returned.” This decision was confirmed after driving the Cosworth his friend subsequently bought and Paul set out looking for his own example.
“I’d had fast and modified cars and bikes all my life and at the time drove a Suzuki Hayabusa-powered RWD 1972 Mini I’d built myself two years previously, which I used on a weekend,” Paul adds, “although that was a fun car, you could never forget what you were driving, and long journeys could be hard work.” An Escort Cosworth would be an ideal replacement managing to retain that fun factor, but dare we say it, also containing more refinement and practicality than a bike-engined Mini! The hunt was on!
Paul did what most people do when looking for a specific type of car and began searching through the classifieds on the internet, “the very next day I set off to Swansea, some 250 miles away, to view what sounded like the ideal candidate,” Paul recalls, “it turned out to be a complete shed, nothing like advertised and needed loads of welding and other work. It was a total waste of time.” Undeterred by his rust-filled Welsh encounter, Paul was back on the internet that same night and spotted another for sale, but this time it was even further away in Ireland. “I was more cautious this time and phoned the vendor asking detailed questions about the car, “Paul recalls, “it all sounded promising, so I booked a flight over to Ireland the next day.”
Luckily the flight proved to have been worthwhile and Paul spent a full four hours inspecting the car on a ramp just to make sure this was the right one. “I couldn’t fault the car, my only worry was it had been stood for some time,” Paul points out, “before I knew it I’d transferred my payment to the vendor and was driving back to the docks in an Escort Cosworth!” The trip began smoothly, but there would be another 230 motorway miles back in England before Paul reached his home from Southampton docks. “With only 50 miles to go, smoke began to pour out of the exhaust and the engine temperature started to rise, it
“By the time I’d finished, less than 24 hours after driving the car away in Ireland, there was just a bare shell sat in my garage and loads of parts!”
was pretty obvious the head gasket had blown.”
Now, most people in this situation would be mightily angry and worried, but Paul knew there was a risk driving the Escort such a great distance after it had been stood for the best part of a decade, “I wasn’t surprised, the gasket must have just corroded away over time and it almost made it home,” he laughs.
The very next day (you’ll have spotted by now this man wastes no time at all!) the Escort was sat in Paul’s garage with the head removed, “within a few hours I’d removed the head gasket, then I thought I may as well just take the whole engine out so I can clean up the bay properly,” Paul remembers, “once the engine was out, I decided I’d probably need to tidy up the underside of the car to match the engine bay, so began removing the suspension and brakes.
“By the time I’d finished, less than 24 hours after driving the car away in Ireland, there was just a bare shell sat in my garage and loads of parts!” Paul’s friend, who’d inspired this very purchase came around that night to take a look at the new acquisition and unsurprisingly was quite shocked, “he couldn’t believe what I’d done so soon after buying the car!” Paul laughs.
The bare shell and doors were soon despatched to W Blackley’s bodyshop, a company Paul has known for some time, to be resprayed in Radiant Red. All parts from the underside due to be reused were then sent for blasting and powder coating. “I then got in contact with Matt Lewis Motorsport and began ordering lots of parts,” he smiles.
Beginning from the ground up to make the car movable, Paul opted for Avo coilovers and polybushes all round to replace the standard suspension then turned his attention to the brakes. “I knew I’d be going for more power than standard, so at the front there are now AP Racing 8-pot calipers with 362mm grooved discs, and I’ve fitted a caliper spacing bracket at the rear to allow for 325mm discs, fed by stainless braided hoses,” he informs us.
Paul had already made a head start when it came to the engine, as he’d began the rebuild even while the shell was in for paint! At first glance the array of underbonnet chrome by Auto Specialists could have you thinking there’s possibly just a standard Cosworth engine hiding underneath, but far from it, this is a pretty looking bay that has the punch to back up those attractive looks.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to tuning Cosworth YB engines, as we all know and there are so many options available depending on how far you want to take things. As Paul was keen to use his car on a regular basis, he’s increased the power significantly, but not gone so silly as to make it undriveable on the road.
Wiseco forged and pocketed pistons, a Newman BD14 inlet cam, Newman double valve springs, ARP con-rod bolts, head
studs and nuts, Ferrea stainless valves with bronze guides and new lifters all feature in Paul’s rebuild, along with a sensibly uprated Victor Reinz multi-layered WRC-style steel head gasket. A Turbo Technics T36 hybrid turbo, Evolution chip, and Siemens 750cc injectors help to bring the power output up to a very usable 450bhp with 440lb. ft torque, all set up on the rolling road by Motorsport Developments.
An Airtec radiator and Airtec RS500 intercooler along with the obligatory Samco hoses help to keep things cool under the bonnet, while Paul has also added a Bailey chrome oil breather tank into the mix too.
Knowing a standard clutch would probably struggle with the extra 200-odd horses, in its place is now a Helix 6-paddle clutch and TTV Racing lightweight 240mm flywheel. “I had the original gearbox rebuilt with a helical gear kit and refitted by Bara Motorsports,” Paul adds, “it now has a quickshift fitted and Quaife uprated front and rear limited slip differentials, so it holds the road very well!”
With the engine and drivetrain now sorted, Paul could get to work refitting the original interior, glass and trim which had stood the test of time well. The only new addition to the interior is a pair of subtle AutoMeter gauges located in the A pillar.
We’ve seen Escort Cosworths wearing a vast selection of wheels over the decades, but Paul’s choice of 18in Compomotive TH2 alloys suits the concours quality and motorsport appearance of this car perfectly, the only downside being you can’t see those huge uprated brakes!
It took a total of 11 months from that ferry trip from Ireland to making its first show appearance for this Escort, which is an almost unthinkable feat considering this guy works full time too. As we said, Paul doesn’t mess around!
Unsurprisingly, this car has picked up a host of trophies from various shows it has attended, and it still gets driven whenever Paul has the chance. He shows no sign of slowing down either; he’s already started on the next project, a three-door Sierra Cosworth that’s part way through a similar rebuild and restoration. We can imagine that one will create quite an impact on the show scene when it’s completed too!
A-pillar gauges are the only alterations to the factory-spec interior... ...even the original (and now rare!) Hex-pattern cloth Recaros remain