THE FORD ESCORT TURNS 50
HAS IT REALLY BEEN 50 YEARS?
In Twin Cam form, the rorty little Ford Escort performed way above expectations and has developed a cult following over the decades
Whatever you remember it for, Kiwis have a longrunning love affair with the pesky Esky, having been assembled en masse locally and pedalled in virtually every type of motor sport event held in this country. It’s been five decades since Ford debuted the MKI at the Brussels Motor Show in 1968, so what better excuse to celebrate this milestone than with a feature on one of the finest Twin Cam Escorts (page 8) we’ve seen in many years?
In Twin Cam form, the rorty little Ford Escort performed way above expectations and has developed a cult following over the decades. Today, with just a few hundred Twin Cams remaining, high prices are commanded for genuine examples.
Fiftieth-anniversary events have already taken place around the world. In the UK, many celebrations are scheduled for later this year at venues where the Ford Escort celebrated success with victories on tarmac and dirt, with many examples still performing well today in classic events.
The Classic Ford Show celebrated the MKI Escort on 3 June at Santa Pod Raceway, Northamptonshire, with a special display of some 30 variants of the MKI Escort, and a fiftieth-anniversary celebration will be a major theme of the Rallyday meeting to be held at Castle Combe circuit on 22 September this year, with a variety of cars on display. Event organizer Tom Davis said there was so much history about the Ford Escort MKI and so much of it was
relevant to Rallyday. “We’re delighted to reveal we will be paying homage to the original Escort Twin Cam,” he said.
The following day, the Historic Sports Car Club (HSCC) will hold a meeting at nearby Brands Hatch circuit. Grahame White of the HSCC said he hoped that there would be a good turnout of Ford Escorts and former race drivers for the celebrations.
One of the cars taking part in demonstration runs is the Alan Mann Racing team’s Escort, registered XOO349F, in which Australian Frank Gardner won the 1968 British Touring Car Championship.
The Ford Escort was just what Ford needed as a worthy successor to the Ford MKI and MKII Lotus Cortinas. Development commenced in 1967, with its launch to the public in 1968 and competition debut in a rallycross event at Croft in England in February 1968, while its rally debut was a month later in the Rallye Sanremo in Italy.
By the time the last of the Escorts arrived, they had changed substantially from the first of the rear-wheel-drive MKI and MKIIS into something a little bland in the MKVIS and VIIS, but they were still a popular seller, with 4.1 million cars and vans sold.
The model’s swansong was the fabulous turbo-charged Ford Escort RS Cosworth, which was followed by the new Ford Focus and a whole new step forward in technology.
Its competition debut was in a rallycross event at Croft in England in February 1968, while its rally debut was a month later in the Rallye Sanremo in Italy