Starter clas­sic: Ford Es­cort Mk2 (1975-‘81)

It’s a solid en­try-level clas­sic with parts read­ily avail­able

Car (South Africa) - - CONTENTS - BY: Peter Palm

IN the Au­gust 1975 is­sue of CAR, we fea­tured the “new” (which it wasn’t quite) Es­cort in a new-model fea­ture and also pub­lished our first road test of a 1300 L. The full range at the time in­cluded that en­gine vari­ant in both two- and four-door bod­ies, plus a 1600 GL and 1600 GL AT. The lat­ter two had four doors with the ex­cep­tion of the 1600 Sport (in­tro­duced in 1979), which boasted the two-door bodyshell.


Com­par­ing the new Es­cort with the out­go­ing Mk1, the glass area had in­creased in size by 23%. This gave the im­pres­sion of a larger car, although the over­all length re­mained the same and there were only small in­creases in width and height. The rec­tan­gu­lar head­lamps of some of the Mk1 mod­els switched to square items on the Mk2. Noise lev­els were re­duced thanks to re­designed sus­pen­sion, en­gine mount­ings and trans­mis­sion. With a re­pro­fil­ing of the fuel tank, lug­gage space was im­proved to 360 litres de­spite the spare wheel mounted up­right on the left side of the bay.


The 1300 en­gine was a ba­sic ohv cross­flow with a sin­gle-choke Ford car­bu­ret­tor. This pro­duced 41 kw, while the larger 1600 was the same en­gine so suc­cess­fully used in the Cortina GT as well as other Ford mod­els. With freer breath­ing, a twin-choke We­ber (32DGAV) and a higher lift camshaft, it of­fered a health­ier 62 kw. This dropped the 0-100 km/h sprint time from 18,1 to 13,4 sec­onds. In­ter­est­ingly, the 1600 used just 5% more fuel than the smaller de­riv­a­tive.

As with most Fords of the time, the four-speed gear­boxes were slick thanks to the rear-wheeldrive ar­chi­tec­ture hav­ing the gear­box sited di­rectly be­low the gear­lever. The au­to­matic trans­mis­sion was a Ford-built three-speeder.

In 1980, Steyns Ford de­vel­oped a tur­bocharged 1600 Sport

pro­duc­ing 97 kw and we will show­case this at a later stage with the RS2000.


Fol­low­ing ex­ten­sive test­ing be­fore its re­lease in South Africa, lo­cal con­cerns of rough roads and heat were ad­dressed. The en­gine’s cool­ing ca­pac­ity was in­creased and the sus­pen­sion beefed up us­ing Macpher­son struts and four-blade leaf springs. Unas­sisted rack-and-pin­ion steer­ing plus brake discs in front and drums at the rear com­pleted the setup.


The one ev­ery­one wants is the 1600 Sport (pro­nounced “one­six-dou­ble-oh”). It had the looks and the racy de­cals, and trans­formed a rather plain car.


One of the great ben­e­fits of these Fords and their Kent en­gines is in­ex­pen­sive parts. Whether you need com­po­nents to per­form an en­gine over­haul or sim­ply re­quire a head­lamp, you shouldn’t strug­gle to find parts. Rust ap­pears to be less of a prob­lem than on other cars of a sim­i­lar vin­tage.


Be­cause this was a best­seller, there are plenty of Mk2s around. Most are in some stage of mod­i­fi­ca­tion or “project” sta­tus, but there are a suf­fi­cient num­ber of orig­i­nal cars of­fered for sale from time to time. Look in­land for rust-free ex­am­ples. Prices are gen­er­ally rea­son­able.

above The four-door 1600 AT that we tested in March 1976. It needed 16,4 sec­onds to reach 100 km/h from stand­still. right Sec­tion cut­away of the four­door model.


clock­wise from top This pro­mo­tional image of a 1600 GL shows the colour-coded hub­caps; the spa­cious en­gine bay of a 1300 L; the 1600 Sport shown here in yel­low and red body colours; the in­te­rior in­cor­po­rated more bright hues (take our word for it).

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