RAMMED AND SLAMMED
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.