Mk1 Escort Rebuild – Retropower Gordon Murray Episode 1

There’s a fascinating set of videos on youtube that feature Leicestershire based restoration shop Retropower. With a full armoury of design, engineering, metalwork, paintshop and mechanical workshop, Retropower tackle a ground up resto of a Mk1 Escort for legendary car designer Gordon Murray. If you’re not sure who Gordon is,  go check out a Maclaren F1 and come back later.

Here’s Episode 1:








Transcript :

” but you know we were walking around the company office,
everybody’s trying
to just look down and do some work but
you can sell they’re all looking at
going let’s go, don’t worry.
I was on holiday and I received a I
think of what’s that message on my phone
they just had a photograph of a post-it
note that said Gordon Murray is visiting
on Monday and I thought well that
obviously isn’t gonna be be Gordon
Murray yeah but we were talking about it
and and we were thinking well it must be
because his Workshop Manager rang up and
said that my boss Gordon Murray is going
to come with me on Monday to visit your
place to talk about a project and I
thought well nobody would say my boss
and then use both their names if it
wasn’t actually the Gordon Murray.
but we
weren’t sure until he came through the
door we were still thinking about some
random guy is gonna turn up called
Gordon Murray now then he just walks
through the door and and was like yeah I
said I was looking at mark when I scoped
projects online and and you popped up
and I liked what I saw so I thought
so we came in and we just started
chatting about all sorts of things to be
fair but he said straight away he was
interested in having him out or an
escort built and the reason he wanted it
building was actually to use as a
regular use car it was something they
wanted to use not every day but but
regularly as sort of normal transport
you know not for not for track use
nothing like that he just wants to use
it when he’s going to go to meetings or
out you know out and about I mean this
is the key thing really with the whole
project and a lot of the projects we do
is is keeping the elements that made
that car fun to drive originally and not
not ruining that driving experience but
just improving all the bit so that seem
dated now and sort of modernize it to
some extent but without losing the the
things that made that car nice to drive
originally on the interior design there
are a few little key points that he’d
made ventilation weirdly was one of the
key things on the original Martinez core
there’s like two vents on the dash and
that is it you can have D mist or you
can have face air but you can’t have
both so he wanted really good
ventilation in there he didn’t want
aircon which is good because he’s
throughout the whole thing the theme
seems to be not having excessive
complication so one of the things we
were looking at was redesigning the dash
so we could get more vents on it
basically at the time we were also
looking at having a bit of a sat-nav
entertainment system in there so we were
looking at maybe having a screen that
popped up out of the dash it’s quite a
challenge on a mark one because the dash
is tiny there’s no space at all there’s
just nothing there but actually on the
second visit and he decided that this
wasn’t really something he was at first
about and so we scrapped that idea and
we’re not having any sort of
entertainment system in the car he said
that this is gonna be the entertainment
system you’ve heard the air the engine
noise will be enough for me we’re gonna
do a smarter set of controls for the
because they have these horrible crappy
looking sliders and big clunky plastic
Lego switches so we’re going to change
the change that that console and have
rotary switches and Dean pull this
little page together here with just some
ideas on I think based on the fact that
Gordon’s an engineer and a designer
we’re trying to incorporate some
sort of engineering design II type
things so taking a bit of inspiration
from a micrometer which is obviously
something you know an engineer would use
and that kind of know that iminium and
nicely engraved lettering and things on
there which is something we’re trying to
incorporate so that was that was really
just just Dean trying to think of a an
input to use to revolve things around
and the obvious thing is he’s an
engineer and a designer so backseat was
is a big thing he doesn’t want any back
seats he wants a luggage storage area
where the back seats would be so we were
gonna we’re going to kind of raise the
part of the shell where the front of the
backseat would be the front of the base
kind of here and bring that up so it
creates almost like a bin behind it
we’re doing seats with tartan on them
more a tartan because not not that one
there but there is a tartan called
Murray tartan and so we’re gonna do the
Centers of the seats in that which was
his idea and on the back seat he doesn’t
even want the tartan to run down the
seat because that would almost be a
suggestion of a back seat again so
they’re just going to be like a window
of it almost I think going across the
back so it has a splash of that time in
the back but no suggestion of a back
seat too
and the exterior is almost completely
standard he likes to look at the twin
caps core which which kind of has these
split from bumpers and the steel wheels
with the crying hubcaps but he just
wants it to be lower wider this is what
I mean about him being just one of us he
just wants it to have a better stance he
wants the wheels right out in the arch
if he wants it lower and that was pretty
much it we’ve talked about tucking the
bumpers in a bit tighter and deleting
the Ford lettering off the off the front
there on the back we’re gonna get rid of
the Ford lettering leave the escort
lettering took the bumper in tighter to
the body and he was keen for maybe there
to be some of the detail on the back end
which sort of mimicked the vents on the
front but we’ve we’ve yet to do some
ideas on that and that’s a tricky one
because it’s such a simple back end it’s
difficult to add anything else without
detracting from it and then we’re going
to do some wing wing badges like the
twin cam wing badges little enamel
badges but they’re going to be retro
power so he was keen for a bit of both
on the logos he said he wants our logo
on it he’s going to put his Gordon
Murray design logo in the central
steering wheel and then other than that
any-any logo and can be retro power so
it’s gonna be a retro power branded
kind of a key area you can update
because the engines on these although
they were okay in the day that’s
something that when you turn the key on
an old Martin Escort it’s not exactly a
refined experience it and they’re not a
powerhouse either I mean the tricky and
the genuine twin cam engine is
reasonably powerful but they’re an
expensive engine and actually the design
of it is no better than a modern duratec
but we’re still sticking with the kind
of fundamental principles not run crazy
like electric power or direct injection
or anything like that we’re going with
the Cosworth built one just cuz it makes
sense they’re really well tried and
tested the user Mankato rooms and I mean
they aren’t there off of that package in
aftermarket so you can literally buy
this whole engine with all of the cause
of parts the throttle bodies it’s got a
dry sump system where the pumps actually
integrated into the sump so there’s no
external belt drive to the enjoy sump
pump so there’s a lot to go wrong
basically and they offer that to
complete package in various power forms
from 200 horsepower to nearly 300
horsepower and we’re probably going to
go somewhere in the middle of that
gearbox were is that’s pretty much a
no-brainer one of the things he said is
he wanted a 6-speed box so you can get
nice clothes ratios for thrashing down
the country lanes but still have a
reasonably tall top gear for cruising
and the third generation master mx-5 had
a Mazda branded duratec in it and and
the the 6-speed box you could get in
that consequently mate straight up to
the duratec so a third generation
six-speed mouse the gearbox
go straight onto the geotech so that’s a
no brainer that’s what’s going in it
when you go out choosing a car for a
project like this the only thing that
matters is the shell you know that how
much rust has been basically and how
badly damaged it is ultimately 90% of
the parts other than the shell on this
project so no it’s not we’re not gonna
use much of it I had spoken to a guy who
advised themselves quite a lot of
escorts and told him what I wanted and
he contacted me one day with a couple of
pictures on what’s happened said this
one might be what you want so I drove a
couple of hours and have a look at it
and I looked at it for five minutes
before I said yes I want it and just
gave him what he wanted for it but I
would normally say I want one that’s
original paint so even if it’s complete
rubbish the paint and you know surface
restore faded or missing at least you
know it’s not covering anything this one
had been painted and I knew there was
some damage on it you could see that
there was some dodgy filler work down
one of the doors both the coarse bowels
and on the sill but underneath it just
looked so good it was surface rusty but
there was no proper rocker in the floor
pans so I just said yeah we’ll take it
and you know there’s a it’s a bit of a
gamble because it’s been painted it
could be hiding quite a lot which and I
feel the pressures on me because I’ve
made the decision on buying this car so
not only will I get a ribbing from
everybody else here if it’s no good I’ll
also get Gordon Murray pouring school on
me for spending all this money on rust
so you know that it’s got to be blasted
yeah and once it’s rusted over I would
be very embarrassed and awkward and
getting a ribbing daily or are we
smoking pointing to everyone and saying
I owe you this”
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