by Sam Sheehan, June 11, 2019
British partnership expect to sell a 200+hp, road-legal version of the rear-wheel-drive icon from next year
We don’t need to delve into the Mk2 Ford Escort’s back catalogue to explain why it’s such a legend. Cooking versions of the rear-driven two-door are widely acknowledged as some of the Blue Oval’s finest driving machines - and the car’s success on the rally stage helped secure its status as an all-time great.
Thanks to the large number of Mk2s that remain in motorsport competition around the world, production of the model’s precious body shell has continued long after the model went off sale. Now though, with prices for the original car predictably high, two British firms intend on going one step further and building an all-new Escort from the ground up – oily bits included.
Great British Sports Cars (GBS) and Mk2 bodyshell supplier Motorsport Tools (MT) have teamed up for the project, which is being billed as a Group 4 rally car; one tested to IVA requirements so it can be registered for road use. How far along are they?
Well, Gwynedd-based MT has already built a rolling chassis, which now sits in GBS’s Nottingham workshop awaiting its powertrain - a Ford-supplied 2.5-litre Duratec engine with ATR billet throttle bodies that will drive through a Mazda six-speed manual gearbox. Ooof.
Heading up the project is MT’s Carwyn Ellis, who explained to PH that output will be “well over 200hp” and split between the rear wheels via an Atlas axle – the hardware of choice for Escort rallyists. Braking is handled by AP calipers and the car sits on ATR coilovers, so the build is very much a motorsport-specification, albeit with the option of carpets “to help keep road noise down” and a power steering kit, should a buyer want it. Ellis said that as standard the Escorts will be fitted with roll cages and receive appropriate body strengthening, alongside 13x8 Minilite alloys and those lovely arch extensions.
The prototype is at least six months away from completion, meaning the two British firms won’t be taking orders until next year. Prices are expected to start at around £60,000, which looks like a bargain to us when you consider that rebuilt originals have gone for 20 per cent more than that in recent years. Of course, you can find ready-to-rally originals for a lot less - but a new-build MT/GBS car ought to offer incomparable modern usability.
We’re totally onboard, and with a virtually proven market thanks to the existing car’s longevity, we predict quite a lot of interest in the progress of that prototype. And that’s just among those of us sitting in the office this morning…