The Escort in short: What's it like owning two mk1 Ford Escorts?
This is coming from a bloke who has owned seven since 1990
Production of the world's first Ford Escort began in November 1967 at Ford's Halewood plant in Merseyside where it succeeded the Anglia as being Ford's small family car. But little did we know how much of a great success it would become.
I was fortunate enough to visit a man named Michael who happens to own not one, but two mk1 Ford Escorts – one being a brown four-door automatic, the other a blue two-door manual. Meeting someone with this sort of admiration for a single model of car is always something to cherish, especially when they live and breathe the subject as much as Michael does.
Before I go into a little more depth about the two cars, I would like to talk you through what Michael lent me to help write this piece. Not only did he lend me some old photos of the two vehicles, but he also let me look through some photos of his previous cars, both service manuals (full of his own notes which I love), a mk1 Escort information booklet, a workshop manual from 1976 (covered in cigar burns which is brilliant), and plenty of old newspaper and car magazine clippings.
When I tell you this man lives and breathes Ford Escorts, I really mean it – he is a living Ford Escort legend... a 'Ford Lord' if you will.
Ford Escort Super (Blue Mink)
Let's start off with the blue one then, shall we? This car is a two-door Escort 'Super' finished in a lovely 'Blue Mink' paint. It was originally powered by a 1100cc in-line four-cylinder engine producing 55 horsepower but has since been fitted with a more powerful 1300cc engine as the old one was rattling after 69,000 miles due to a badly worn camshaft. Michael bought this car back in 1992 when it had done approximately 50,000 miles and has done many more since.
I did ask him which car he prefers, but like choosing between children, he dodged the question like a targeted politician which you have to respect. However, I think this is his favourite of the pair because it looks fantastic. Being a 'Super' it came undersealed from the factory, meaning the underside is as new. The only signs of age are a bit of peeling paint, which is to be expected of a car from 1968.
However, in 2001 this blue Escort saw a full re-spray which is why it looks as fresh (a bit of rust on an old British car is normal after 20 years) as it does and in 2004 it was fitted with a stainless-steel exhaust which sounds fantastic, especially on a cold start. Since its engine was replaced in 2009, it has been flawless, Michael tells me and he still uses it throughout the year to go to the shops etc.
This is the very car he took me out for a spin in and it is a drive I will never forget. Not only because it is the oldest car I have ever been in, but also because the smell of 60s British engineering will stay in my lungs for decades to come.
Ford Escort 1300 XL (Tawney Brown)
The second Escort in Michael's garage is a four-door automatic 1300 XL which is finished in 'Tawney Brown'. He bought this car back in 2001 – just a month before one of his grandchildren was born. However, this isn't the reason he bought it, instead, it was because he had owned a similar one not long before that, and missed it so much he had to have another.
This one isn't in as good visual shape as the blue one but is still solid underneath due to regular servicing and careful ownership. It sat under a tree for a while which is why you may notice a few rust spots throughout its paintwork, but if anything, they add character.
This is what will stay in my lungs for an eternity
Michael has absolutely no intentions of ever selling these two cars and you can't blame him. Since 1990, he has owned seven mk1 Escorts and keeps coming back for more which shows just how passionate he is about the subject matter. This love of the mk1 Escort has trickled down to his children and grandchildren, resulting in a whole family of Escort fans which in itself, is rather touching.