In the USA, the Ford Escort is primarily associated with automotive punishment.
It was a total tin can, devoid of any redeeming qualities, and certainly would not be thought of as a classic by any means. But in Europe—more specifically the United Kingdom, it’s a completely different story. The Escort Mark 1 arrived in late 1967, and has remained in the hearts and minds of rally fans ever since.
Many may think that the car is “nothing special,” but to do so would be a mistake; the Ford Escort had quite the successful rally racing career, even propelling two drivers to first and second-place finishes in the 1979 season of the World Rally Championship.
Though I may not be from the U.K., my pulse quickened when my eyes came across this phenomenally restored 1974 Ford Escort RS2000-R (MK1) sliding around an empty warehouse. This is a well-executed restoration that not only brings a classic back to life, but begs for proper use.
The lightweight Group 4 body is paired with a 2.0-liter FIA racing engine making 206 horsepower, which is sent to the rear wheels via a 5-speed ZF manual transmission. Maybe 206 hp as a number is not much, but this engine only has to push the Escort’s light 1,690 lb (767 kg) weight, and the resulting car is a surprisingly quick performer more than capable of embarrassing much larger engined vehicles.
There’s a hydraulic handbrake to be yanked when approaching a sharp corner, and Bilstein coilovers to help keep the shiny side up when you get a little to handbrake happy. Despite the fact that the Mk1 went out of production in 1975 the model still today provides one of the most popular platforms for vintage racers in Britain.
All-in, a total of £135,000 (about $170,000 US) were spent on this Ford Escort’s restoration. Too much? Maybe, but these days original 2-door MK1 Escorts can fetch a handsome premium and these prices show absolutely no signs of going anywhere but north as more time passes.
Now, check out the video below and enjoy.