THE FORD ES­CORT TURNS 50

HAS IT RE­ALLY BEEN 50 YEARS?

New Zealand Classic Car - - CONTENTS -

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.

Show time

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

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