- https://silodrome.com/ford-escort-mk1/

The Ford Escort: A Rally Icon

The birth of one of the 70s greatest rally cars

3y ago

The Ford Escort was released in 1968, replacing the successful but aged Anglia that many of us came to love over the years. It was a tall order; how do you replace an icon? Luckily for ford, they made the right decisions with this car's design both visually and beneath its skin such as the inclusion of rack and pinion steering, a first for Ford and Macpherson strut suspension as standard. This, coupled with rear wheel drive, made for an attractive recipe of motorsport potential...

Time to soup them up...

During its original release, the Escort only came with family-friendly performance figures as the 1.1 and 1.3 litre engines clearly showed. This would soon change, however, when someone decided to throw in a 1.6 litre twin cam engine which powered an early Escort to victory in the Circuit of Ireland rally in 1968. Now here we have a car, not yet a year old and already winning rallies? Let's carry on...

This first victory set the stage for arguably the most famous win of all, the London to Mexico rally of 1970.

This gave us what is undeniably my favourite Escort of all; the Escort Mexico. This was really the first time that the public were able to buy what was, in essence, a road going rally car with the performance and looks that came within that awesome package and what's more, Ford weren't finished giving us rally inspired cars just yet...

The Famous 'RS' Badge Is Born

Ford wasted no time in creating more and more performance versions of their baby family car and, in 1970, the RS1600 was born. This was the first time we'd seen an RS badge on a Ford car and it's a badge that remains with us today on the Focus RS, the spiritual successor of the Escort.

This new car, as befits the RS badge, was equipped with a noticeably beefed-up engine, pushing the power up from the Mexico's 86bhp to 113bhp. This may not sound much but remember that, like most classic cars, this is an incredibly light yet solid vehicle. The performance increases were down, at least in part, to the addition of Twin 40 DHLA DELLORTO carbs, pictured here...

Harris Performance Engines?

Every true fan of these cars will have heard the name Harris uttered around with the utmost flattery and respect. The reason behind this is simple, this family business were the first people to create unbelievable performance machines out of what was initially a small, slow family car, often pushing the power way above 200bhp! The best part? They still do so today having passed on their knowledge and, in my mind, pure brilliance down through their family. I will include a link to their website if you'd like to learn more about them!



Check out their awesome website - hpemotorsport.co.uk

The Endearing Icon Lives On

Years have passed since the Escort's heyday and yet their undeniable charm and elegance live on with us today. Who doesn't like an Escort? It's a car that endeared to everyone from the second it went on sale in 1968; even Ronnie Corbett liked them! A family car, a shopping car, a rally car. Even today, some 50 years since it was released, more and more people flock to them like a moth to a flame and, I'm not ashamed to say this, I'm one of them! It truly is an icon that deserves its place up there with the likes of the Ford Mustang and BMC's immortal Mini.

What Do You Think?

As always, let me know your thoughts on this article and of the car mentioned within it! I'd love to hear back from you all and, if you like what you've read, give me a bump and have a quick gander through my tribe; there's something for every classic enthusiast out there!

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Comments (8)

  • In Aus, we had the locally-grown rival...the Holden Torana.

      3 years ago
  • Great write-up, the classics always seem to have so much more allure to them!

      3 years ago
    • Thanks, mate! :) They really do! I’m a big classic guy and that’s what started my tribe. :)

        3 years ago
  • I love escorts. Great article mate

      3 years ago
  • World famous rally car, unlike torana, which is only known by bogan halfwit Oz tryhardsπŸ˜†

      4 months ago
  • Looks like a really awesome car!

      2 years ago