Hard as it might be to believe now that even the scabbiest of 1.1 Popular is worth a small fortune, there was a point when the Mk2 Escort could form the base for a fun, affordable and easy to maintain club motorsport weapon. Fast forward a few decades, and of course things are rather different, but that doesn’t mean that, for those with the means to do so, the sporting versions of the second gen Escort aren’t still ideal for a spot of light competition work.
The Escort RS2000 shown here is ample proof of the suitability of classic Fords for the aforementioned task, but it’s also something rather more poignant; it’s effectively a time capsule, a means of rolling back the years to glimpse an era when cars like this were often viewed as little more than fast, disposable playthings.
Not that we’ll be treating it with anything other than the respect it deserves, not least as this particular RS2000 has been in the same family’s ownership since new! Like all the best Retropower projects it’s also lived an interesting life: it might’ve covered a mere 15,000 miles since it rolled off the line, but some of them were spent as a road rally car.
First things first, the strip down. One of the things which made this particular old Ford project so appealing was just how clean its shell appeared to be, with the RS having been treated to a partially completed restoration a little under 20 years ago. Work ground to halt on that front around 15 years ago however, so we’re still going to strip it to a shell, send it off to be baked, before sandblasting and etch priming it.
This done we’ll be well placed to set about the restorative metalwork which will doubtles be required. After all, it’s an old Ford from the tail end of the 1970s. The upside is that panel supply for old Escorts is plentiful and we’ll therefore be able to source replacements for the door skins and lower front valance relatively easily – or at least that’s the plan.
What we find especially exciting about this project is the brief we’ve been given by the customer. There are countless examples of extreme Group 4 Escorts out there, and while we’d be lying if we said that we weren’t fans of utterly uncompromising Mk2s, we thought doing so with this one would be to rather miss the point. To this end, and with the owner’s approval, we’ll be rebuilding it back to Group 1 road rally specification: no ‘Monte’ arches and comically wide Minilites, just good old fashioned Pinto power and a suitably uprated chassis.
It’s not going to be the most ‘out there’ of Retropower projects, but that’s hardly the point. We can’t wait to crack on with our own small slice of late ’70s road rally nostalgia. Now, where’d we leave that OS Map and thermos flask…