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Mk1 Ford Escorts - share the love


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Following on from the Honda Mini thread which caused the predictable difference in opinion, I'd like to share the love for the Mk1 Ford Escort. Mother Longbridge owned two back in the day. The first was a fair testament to Ford. I was a young whippersnapper sat in the back and Mother L was sat indicating right to turn across the carriageway and into the road which we called home. It's a nasty, straight A road which should really have 30 or 40 limit due to the smattering of housing.  However, the legal limit was 60 at the time and most pushed over that. Anyway,  she had just started turning across the opposite carriageway and some dick doing about 250mph clipped the offside rear corner of her car. Cue the car spinning 180* across the opposite carriageway and landing on the grass bank at the far edge. We were both very shaken and mother had a sore neck. However, it was the 1980s so she just rubbed in some deep heat and didn't fuss about it. 

As for the car, the rear quarter damage was millimetres away from the fuel tank. Luckily the damage wasn't any further forward. That was the end for the car The car was repaired and lived to fight another day. It was eventually replaced with a slightly more plush 1973 mk1. 

Onto the main topic, I've always liked the look of mk1s, way before they worth worth silly money. I'd still own one, although  I reckon I'd constantly be terrified that someone would try and steal the damn thing. 

My thoughts with mk1s are that less is more. Bubble arches, Mexico transfers, garish paintjob, spotlights and cheap alloys? Nah. 

OEM look with subtle tweaking wins for me. Opinions are like arseholes though, in that everybody has one. 

Feel free to share any interesting mk1 photos or stories here. Let's keep it positive y'all. 

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I'd love to drive one of these now. I suspect they are probably close to the perfect 'fun but manageable' driving experience. Fairly small, rwd, lively engine, decent rack-and-pinion steering and a slick gearchange, what more could you ask? Avengers failed on their shite sloppy steering and Marinas on their crap suspension, only the Escort got the whole package spot on. I'm no ford fanboi but I can see why whese appeal. 

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My old mate had one back in the 90's, a 68 or 69 1100 deluxe. He used to go on about it which was fair enough, he literally modified it using dole money but I was more interested in trying to afford to buy something that could out run it. From memory it retained its baby blue colour but gained Mexico wings and dash/wheel, 1760 'racing lump' whatever that was, lotus radiator, Capri running gear, rs 4 spokes, full cage and buckets with harnesses and a stainless. It was a bit over kill for the public highway but whatever flicks your switch. It was fairly fast, one race with my RS1600 saw it level headed up to 110 and that's when my bonnet blew up. 

The car was a bit of a legend in the local area as apparently in it's early days, it had been 'rolled' into some marsh land missing the roof as it went with only damage to the rear quarters which were repaired. The condition of the car was always solid, it was a proper survivor. We fell out of contact eventually and when we did talk some years later, he'd sold it on.

I liked it but it was always broken where the Frankenstein bits just weren't hooked up good enough and I kind of resented it because when we'd go out in the cars, it was highly likely we'd have to stop and fix on it in the middle of nowhere usually, to get it home. 

My itch with Ford's was done years ago, I wouldn't have another in any form mainly because as already said, I'd be too bothered about it being lifted. Thinking about it, I've had two cars stolen or attempted to be stolen from me, and they were both fords! Ha!

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I have 3 memories of them.

The first is being the first to pass thier test in my group of friends I got to sit in (A couple of days after passing my test aged 17) with them as they learnt to drive. 

Ignoring the 100 mph trip down the coast road in a 2.0 ghia Capri, that was one mates company car, to prove that you could go to Southport at Lunch time and bring back a happy meal and eat it in afternoon registration.

One mate had a 1.1 L popular plus with a rusty boot lid.  He got RS alloys for it and L plates. It cost £150 and the alloys were £30.

We'd go down to the beach car park which was gravel at the time, and he would practice hand brake turns in the dark.  I think he probably traded it in for a metro turbo when he passed his test, on HP.   Because that's the sort of thing his family did.

Then as a student there was a lad on my HND who was into buying and selling  cars as a side line.  One weekend, he asked me if I'd go to Solihull and look at a car with him.  I ended up driving an RS Mexico back to Coventry.  To me it was fast as fuck. He paid £900, bodged the rear arches, sold it for £1300 he weeks later. He owned a mk2 RS2000 in yellow, which he paid £500 in an auction, and was probably worth the same. 

Then between 1985 and 1992, I'd go and watch the RAC rally.  Memories of clubmen, in big arch mk2 and mk1 escorts sideways on gravelly snow in the forest at midnight remind me why they have a following today.  

They were an adequate car for their time, but motorsport memories, is what provides today's values. 

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Oh and in about 1993, I remember waiting for my Chinese takeaway. When a lad pulled up in a yellow Mexico. He lifted the bonnet in my view through the window, and I spotted a lotus engine.  Who knew?  My jealousy was raging. Note this was the closest Chinese to the Main Entrance to the Longbridge factory looking out over Cofton Park, so most cars were BL in the local area. 

Turned out he worked at the Austin.  Putting in light bulbs. Yeah. That was his job. Walked around the factory, and if he spotted any lights out, he'd replace them. 

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I paid £300 for a rusty 1300e. This was in 1991. The golden paint was flat and the twin choke carb long gone.

I had it sprayed in ultraspeed red ( THE worst spray job I've ever seen). It was sold to my cousin who set it on fire when doing some welding.

 

RIP HDJ308N

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I only owned 2 RWD Escorts, but drove a great many in the course of employment long ago.  They were basic and rugged, which was what Ford did best at the time.  They were easy to maintain, and the engines and gearboxes were excellent, but otherwise they were built down to a price and it showed.  They were not especially nice to drive, or comfortable to ride in, just adequate, as has already been said.   Rough and tinny, really.  A BMC 1300 or a small Triumph was streets ahead in comfort and refinement - and character.   The vans were dreadful - alarming acceleration with a low axle ratio, coupled with an alarming lack of drum brakes.

I had a Mk 2 estate, which was just a Mk 1 with a different front end, which did the job and gave very little  trouble apart from the cheapo Ford carburettor.  It felt very wobbly on its original wheels and was vastly improved by fitting wider Lotus Cortina rims.  I also had an odd thing called a 1300XL which was the normal Mk 1, 4 door saloon but with metallic paint, a slightly better interior, the sporty 6 clock dash with a rev counter - and feeble drum brakes!  It was in very good condition, rust free, ex little old lady sort of car and it looked great.  It really needed new struts but they were unobtainable, and the logical upgrade, disc brake ones wouldn't fit for some reason.  However struts in those days had a filler plug, and a drop of STP stiffened them up nicely.  When the time came to move it on I couldn't give it away, because 4 door I suppose, and it ended up as a kit car donor which was a waste of a good shell.

So I did not find Escorts very loveable, but Ford sold millions of them, so they were clearly just what Mr. and Ms. Average wanted and they served them well. 

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I’ve never owned one as my car buying began after they’re values stopped being accessible. This has lead me to block them out of my car radar, much like I don’t have any particular thoughts on eg super cars. I also would probably find worry over theft would also rest uneasily with me. They just seem like an overpriced trinket; male jewellery, but the same could be said of so many older cars now.

TL:DR  if this was now 1991 I’d probably love them.

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I love them. Never had a MK1 on the road but did own one, had loads of MK2s. My buddy has had plenty of 1s and 2s, notably a MK1 Mex which was originally bright green but had been painted red, and another of uncertain origin which had Frenched front and rear lights, and a remote servo as well as the original, which meant the brakes were stupidly easy to lock when coupled with negative camber on the front. Pics as I find them but I'll just say there's nothing more fun you can do with your clothes on than getting sideways in a RWD Escort

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Sadly one of the only pics I have of the '69 I bought for my kid's mum for £550 in about 1998 to replace her Anglia, was a really nice two door that had been resprayed the original colour and ended up in a salvage yard with no damage. She parked it in a ditch and broke her arm, it was sold and seems to be out there somewhere, was a really early car with compression strut suspension and loads of differences to the later cars (doors, locks, fuel filler, seats, clocks, wiring loom, clocks, exhaust from memory, probably loads more)

 

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My brother had one an 1100cc, I think it had drum brakes on the front. The zip in the headlining gave away that it had started life as a Police Panda car. I was never allowed to drive it. My driving instructor had a Mk 1, but I only had a few lessons before he changed it for a Mk 2.

My brother's one is pictured below. He had left it a bit late coming home from his girlfriend's house and got stuck in the snow. We went back in the morning to dig it out, luckily the hastily placed flag had stopped the snow plough from hitting it. The L plate on the Mini would make it early 1978 when I was learning to drive

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I have watched my fair share of 'Rallying in the 80's' youtube to get the 'sideways of sidewaysest' Scrote Vibe :)

..... watching more contemporary Swedish content I really must say the Vlovo 240 brigade frighten the trees probably as much ;)

+ hear those engines !!!

*points awarded to BMW coupe drivers but...mmm... Not Quite!

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my second car , in about 1998, was a 69 Mk1 1100 deluxe which had been resprayed yellow and had a vinyl roof and home made quarter bumpers. I wanted a sensible car with my Uni grant money but the Thursday morning trip to buy autotrader saw that in my price range (£350 I think) someone had nicked the rear seat and smashed the rear windows so it had two bits of hardboard painted black instead of windows. I ran for the rest of the uni year until it ran out of MOT and then dumped at a mates house who sold it for £100 and we split the money 🤦🤦🏼🤦🤦🏼🤦🏼🤦

Appears to still be on the road but now red and running as a 1.6 (DEV939G)

 

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I like the green one in the photo.  Agree with the minimalist sentiment.  I never owned one but knew people that did.  They were ok, but quite noisy like most of the alternatives. 

I think they're so well thought of for three reasons.  First, the money Ford poured into motorsport gave them a really good image, so everyone thought they were driving a rally car.  Second, the marketing was very good and kept the image up with subltle tweaks to the appearance and go faster versions.  Third, they seemed to have slightly less quality problems than some of the alternatives, which were dreadful.  My memories of 1100/1300 were terrible quality problems.  I own a contemporary Viva, but I knew people who'd had them from new and had so many stories of dire quality issues.  Ford seemed to just about manage to get them to work a bit better.  That's my opinion. 

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Predictably, I love them! But I love all RWD Ford’s so no great surprise!

For me, I like the standard or near to standard look. As nice as Mexico and RS models are they’re not a true Escort imho and were the relatively rare flagship models. The run of the mill normal models are the ones I like best, and sadly the ones you rarely see nowadays. 
Id love a lower spec car, ideally still with its original metal hubcaps with that little blue trim bit on them or the Ford dartboard steels (because they’re a fucking lovely period wheel!), non bubble arches, and ideally a 2 door because most of the remaining ones have become Mexico or RS lookalikes and a standard one is a rarity.

Or,

I love the 1300E version, it looks perfect for a small saloon car and I prefer the more luxury or executive type cars to sports ones, so a 1300E in purple velvet will do nicely.

I do also like all the Escorts competitors too, especially the Marina, and I’d gladly have an Avenger 2 door! In all honesty they’re probably all as good or bad as each other depending on your point of view, it’s just Ford pushed harder on their products with marketing, TV appearances and motorsport so they became the ones people lust after most. 
Would I pay what people ask for an Escort mk1 or 2? Probably not, but if I could find one for a reasonable sum or a project car at a good price, then yes, without hesitation!

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