The car I always promised myself but couldn’t afford.
When I was a teenager learning to drive, ‘THE’ car to have was the Escort RS models either Mk1 or Mk2 although the Mk1 was on its way out of the public eye so to speak. However, as a young boy with an unskilled job I couldn’t afford the insurance so I had a few lookalike 1.3l with enough plastic stuck to it to make it look almost as good!
Anyhow years later I managed to purchase my current car as a project. My wife fell pregnant with twins and I had to sell my Honda CB1100R so I grabbed this chance to purchase the RS. It was a mighty task given the amount of rust and neglect the car had suffered over the years. I couldn’t weld and didn’t really have a clue what to do. First and most valuable purchase was a Haynes Workshop Manual, the older type and not the service manual they do today. This was now my bible as I’m sure you all can relate to. I had the attitude of do-it-myself or be charged big bucks for somebody else so I learned how to. I didn’t manage everything as you would suspect and had some great help along the way by like-minded enthusiasts and the pay back was helping them with their projects.
As I started to cut away at the rust there was a few very low moments when the car was a hairs breadth away from the scrapheap as there seemed no end to the rust, however the inner wings were pretty much solid apart from a few small holes. It has had inner, outer sills, front floor pans, nearside wing, new door panels, right front chassis leg, scuttle panel and a few small patches here and there. A rollover jig was a god send for the welding. The purchase of the scuttle panel was from a company called The Escort Agency, Wales, and when the credit card bill came through a month and a half later it took a lot of explaining to the wife that it was a panel and not a lady of the night!
The Mk2 faces the welding
I stripped the paint from the underside and treated it with rust proofing then two coats red oxide primer then twocoats of POR American Hard Nosed Gloss paint, a lot of work but worth it. The Wheels were refurbished and fitted with NCT Eagles. The car then had a full respray in its original black colour and the outside was finished. The inside wasn’t too bad but the seats were recovered by a friend and the original carpets were in good condition so a shampoo and then fitted back in.
Next was the engine. It still had the original lump which was showing its age. I bought an unleaded ex Sierra lump and a local engineer made me an engine using the 2. It is now a 2.1 unleaded with a Burton Fast Road Camshaft. The original 32/36 DGAV was sent for a total strip down and rebuild using new parts by a weber dealer after I read an article in the Classic Ford Magazine. I told them the spec of the engine and they jetted it accordingly. it was a straight bolt on, its run perfect ever since and covered over 3000 miles. A new radiator, thermostat and silicon hoses were fitted to ensure proper cooling. A custom-made stainless steel exhaust gives it the proper sound.
The Escort awaiting its new lump and parts to be fitted.
It was now time to get the car on the road for the first time in 10 years and it didn’t run smoothly. The engine started and went lovely until it reached running temperature then would cut out. Weeks of testing everything didn’t solve the problem and I took it to a local dealer who had an old fashioned Krypton Tuner but that didn’t find the fault. A proper old school mechanic who worked there said he would take it home and it broke down constantly with him with the same symptoms. He took the rotor arm out and cooled it in the wind and the car run great until it got warm again. New rotor arm costing £1.40 problem solved. Apparently the tiny resistor within the rotor arm was melted. The car has run sweetly ever since.
Retro interior with all you’ll ever need.
Now the car was running and on the road it was time to enjoy it and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since but it gets garaged up every winter now. My wife hates it and my kids love it. I like the cars appeal, sound of the exhaust, looks and head turning abilities and so far its reliability. I find its lack of refinement and gadgets we expect in modern-day cars lets it down but you don’t own classic cars for the modern luxuries.
There are loads of owners clubs and forums for all Fords including the Escort and parts and panels are easy to come by so owning the car is a nice experience. I have no intention of selling it and certainly not buying another project but that may change in the future.
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