There’s a lot of ev­i­dence that points to­wards Master­ton be­ing New Zealand’s burnout cap­i­tal, espe­cially since it’s the home to a car like Brett Kenny’s ’74 Ford Mk1 Es­cort GT 1300. Well, it looks like a Mk1 Es­cort, but there isn’t much orig­i­nal tin left, as the thing has been to­tally stripped and re­built in a quest to make bulk horse­power — and even more tyre smoke.

The Es­cort popped up cheap and, be­ing a small ve­hi­cle, made per­fect sense for what Brett wanted to do. How­ever, with loads of rust through the floor­pan and plans for a big V8 up front, a lot of Ford metal ended up in the skip.

Chris Wratt at CWC Engi­neer­ing has done the ma­jor­ity of the work — “He’s a wizard!” Brett says — which in­volved a full cus­tom chas­sis with a notched and nar­row rear clip to al­low for a su­per low ride height and chunky 15x10-inch rear rims. This back half uses a short­ened BorgWarner diff hung off cus­tom lad­der bars and ad­justable coilovers and, with its nar­row track, will also pro­tect the rear quar­ters from dam­age when Brett blows tyres on the pad. Work­ing his way for­ward, Chris welded up the chas­sis from rec­tan­gu­lar-hol­low-sec­tion (RHS) steel, in­te­grat­ing a full roll cage as well — the rea­son­ing be­hind this more about struc­tural rigid­ity than rollover pro­tec­tion. As the strut tow­ers needed to be cut out to clear the LS1 en­gine, it was de­cided that the best way to tie the front sus­pen­sion into the chas­sis front sec­tion would be through the roll cage. Build­ing the car as a ded­i­cated track ve­hi­cle meant that they could get a bit cre­ative with the steer­ing and sus­pen­sion, and it has all been de­signed for a ton of steer­ing lock. While Brett knows how much abuse a stock LS1 can take, he’ll be giv­ing his a bit of a tickle-up us­ing a tun­nel-ram in­take with twin EFI throt­tle bod­ies, run­ning on E85. But, while it’s a bit mod­ern with the fuel in­jec­tion and all-al­loy mo­tor, Brett’s keep­ing it old-school sim­ple with his choice of a beefed-up Pow­er­glide two-speed trans­mis­sion.

It’s start­ing to look like a car again, but Brett knows there’s still a fair bit of work left to do. With the progress that’s been made over the last year, though, we’re ex­pect­ing to see this tough Es­cort smash­ing tyres sooner rather than later.

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