Throughout its 34-year run, the Ford Escort not only reigned supreme in sales but also on motorsport tracks. This collection is a testament to this legacy, presenting an emblematic sporty version from each era. The Escort’s motorsport destiny was set in stone when, in 1967, Ford mechanic Bill Mead caught sight of a prototype at the Boreham facility. His spontaneous reaction to Ford’s Competition Manager, Henry Taylor, was about the potential of a twin-cam in it. Their shared vision was palpable.
Their inspiration led Ford Product Planner, Bob Howe, to discreetly acquire a mock-up bodyshell. This clandestine endeavor allowed Mead and his team to experiment by integrating the Lotus-Cortina gear. With this success, Walter Hayes, the Ford PR head, initiated project J25, the Escort Twin-Cam. By April 1968, the model tasted victory at the Circuit of Ireland Rally, paving the way for 29 more championship wins. The racetrack witnessed its glory as well, amplifying Ford’s ‘Total Performance’ mantra.
The Advanced Vehicle Engineering facility in Essex birthed the RS Escorts. By November 1970, it churned out the Cosworth BDA-powered RS1600, the apex of Mk1 Escorts, featured in this collection. The Mk1 Escort saw a staggering production of almost 1.1 million units before its transformation into the Mk2 in 1975. The Mk2, internally dubbed ‘Brenda’, retained its predecessor’s dominance in sales and sport until 1980. Its crowning moment was Ari Vatanen and David Richards’ 1981 World Rally Championship win. However, the collection showcases the iconic Mk2 RS2000, a vivid representation of the era.
1980 ushered in a radical transformation with the ‘Erica’ project. This new Escort sported front-wheel drive in a chic hatchback design. The XR3i version was a bestseller, offering a blend of performance, comfort, and efficiency. But, with rallying evolving in the 80s, Ford devised the Escort-based Group A car. Born from this was the RS1600i, a reimagined XR3i, curated by Mike Kranefuss and his Cologne crew. This global race champion represents the Mk3 era in the collection.
Keeping pace with the ‘Turbo’ trend, 1984 saw the birth of the Mk3-based Escort RS Turbo. It matured into a more versatile model by the time Mk4 rolled out in 1986, ensuring its place in this collection. By 1992, rallying had shifted, prompting Ford to merge the Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth 4×4’s power with the compact Escort frame. The result? The phenomenal, dual-winged Escort RS Cosworth. As a consumer car, it became an overnight sensation, gaining praise from automotive pundits like Jeremy Clarkson. On the rally front, it clinched nine WRC victories, marking a grand conclusion for the RS Escort saga.