Mk1 Escort Rally Preparation – Rear Suspension

Escort Mk1 suspension

Escort Mk1 suspension

Mk1 Escort rally preparation – rear suspension

The major goal for the rear suspension of any race or rally car, is to prevent sideways movement in the rear axle and to get the rear axle moving only in an up & down direction.

The standard MK1 Escort rear axle has a fair amount of movement because of the rubber mountings and the 45 degree angle of the rear dampers which allows the axle to move horizontally front to back when cornering.

The simplest solution on the standard axle set up, is to remove the rubber mountings on the cross brace where the dampers are joined to the body. On the early MK1 Escorts, the rear dampers are bolted to a cross brace, which is bolted to the shell. In between the cross brace and the shell are 2 rubber bushes.

These should be removed & replaced with a metal sleeve. Braze a metal washer over the original holes to positively locate the original bolt and use a short metal sleeve to cover the extended thread of the exposed floor mounted studs.

If retaining the 45 degree damper set up, the cross member should be strengthened by boxing in the open side of the cross member, reinforcing by double skinning , or welding in fillets of steel to honeycomb the cross member.

The two rubber isopacks that locate the springs to the axle also need to be removed to prevent sideways axle movement. By undoing the u-bolts and jacking up the axle, the rubber can be removed. A 3/16” washer will need to be brazed on to the spring saddle plate so that it can mount to the centre bolt of the spring. When reassembling, the u-bolt thread may be too short, in which case, replace them with shorter u-bolts. On re-assembly, use double nuts for added insurance.

Anti-tramp bars are the next major improvement. These are available as kits and comprise 4 radius arms with bushes and mounts that weld to the axle and body shell. Once in place these prevent forward and backward movement of the axle.

All works MK1 Escorts had turret kits installed, to enable dampers to be mounted vertically at 90 degrees to the axle. These are still available and while quite tricky to install, are well worth the effort. The turret s are essentially conical tubes that are welded into the inner wheel arch and allow the damper top to protrude into the rear parcel shelf inside the car.

The standard shock absorber mounting was on the spring hanger but the AVO cars had the damper fitted to the rear of the axle itself. The works rally cars had the dampers fitted directly on top of the axle, keeping the dampers up & out of the way of rocks etc, but this required precise location of the turrets directly above the damper mount.

Works 5 link rear suspension was utilized on the later 200+ BHP cars, which was made up of the 4 link suspension, slipper springs and adjustable panhard rod connecting the axle to the bodyshell across the back of the axle. All are still available, but definitely worth getting expert help when installing as extensive modifications are required to fit & align this set up.