TEST­ING THE WATER IN AUS­TRALIA

New Zealand Classic Car - - FEATURE -

Our fea­ture car is an Aus­tralian-mar­ket ver­sion. Ford Aus­tralia was a bit hes­i­tant to pit the Es­cort against Holden’s To­rana and Ley­land’s TC Ma­rina and Mini Coop­ers, so the twin- cam ver­sion wasn’t in­tro­duced into Aus­tralia un­til March 1970, al­though Es­cort assem­bly was al­ready in full swing. De­spite some assem­bly qual­ity is­sues, the lit­tle revver de­vel­oped a strong fol­low­ing and soon proved its dura­bil­ity. Built at Ford Aus­tralia’s Home­bush plant in Sydney, the Es­cort used fully im­ported driv­e­trains. The Aus­tralian ver­sion also re­ceived bet­ter trim, along with ad­di­tional wood trim in the in­te­rior, and there was a greater range of colours, ac­count­ing for the eye-catch­ing fac­tory hue of our ex­am­ple. Camshaft cov­ers were ma­chined in Aus­tralia to counter oil leaks, and a GS pack was available. As with many of these cars, rac­ing and rallying af­fected not only the en­gines but also com­plete cars, and, ac­cord­ing to Ford AVO Own­ers Club records, to­day there are only 330 sur­viv­ing gen­uine Lo­tus Twin Cam cars world­wide out of the orig­i­nal 1263 Twin Cams built. Mo­tor­ing writ­ers of the day crit­i­cized the mi­nor assem­bly qual­ity short­com­ings, but gen­er­ally they praised the Es­cort’s han­dling, and brak­ing, while its per­for­mance on dirt was reg­u­larly de­scribed as be­ing ex­cep­tional — as one com­men­ta­tor put it: “un­be­liev­able”, with “con­trol way above stan­dard — sheer fun to drive”.

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