Mk1 Escort Rebuild - Retropower Gordon Murray Episode 2

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.

In this episode the guys look into the re-engineering of the suspension and drivetrain and find out the condition of the shell.

Here's Episode 2:








Transcript :

oh it's just unbelievable it was a bit
of a strange reality check really just
sort of thinking well
I don't think I was necessarily smoked
up and but definitely not embarrassed
it's a it's a pretty good show
we've obviously blasted the shell now
and it's coming out all right there's a
bit more damage than I'd hoped the rear
quarter down there it's pretty badly
biffed and the same on the other side
the a post on that sides taken a fair
old hit and they're sort of the lower
part of the cell I think basically
somebody's sort of had a bit of a scrape
right down the near side of the car
which is damage to the door the a post
and the course panel
this quarter panels not as bad as the
other one and then front and back I've
got accident damage as well albeit quite
minor just around here it's obviously
had a bit of a hit at the front not
quite sure what it's hit but it's been
hit and then bashed out you can see
there's a bit of a crease on the inner
wing in there you can see it's creeps
the inner wing where it's been pushed
back and then hammered forward again
it's lived a bit of a life but on the
plus side there's not any more rust than
we thought it's really the rust in the
floor pans there's a little bit here
which we kind of knew was going to be
there because they just always go there
this is the the intake for the
ventilation system and rain goes down
here and supposed to flow out of this
hole here but given that there's like a
8 mil distance between hold and the
bottom of there of course that means
there's always that much water just
sitting yeah unless it evaporates out so
yeah that was that was rusty but no no
big surprise so on the whole yeah not
not hugely embarrassed not going around
pointing at everyone saying look how
good it is because there's a little bit
more accident damage than we would have
liked but in reality none of that damage
is is meaning any more extensive work
than we expected so from her from a rust
point of view we couldn't really hope
for a better car we're going to
definitely be replacing the quarter
panels we weren't totally decided on
that originally we were thinking well
they might might be able to leave them
original but with the damages on them
and the fact that it would be nice
support we are clip apart there's not
there's not really any rust anybody
would think those arteries are perfect
but there's just the risk with a spot
welded seam like that that is on a car
of this age you just can't help but
think something's lurking in there so
we're going to take the quarters off are
you so we can sort the damage out better
be so we can
clean out that arch lit there and also
we're going to be to in the office for
wider wheels the front wings are
definitely going to be replaced the
originals weren't perfect but there are
really good quality new panels available
so it just makes sense to do those this
panel you can boy so that's just going
to be a case of replacing that that's
going to be a standard standard panel
we're not modifying that in any way the
front and rear panels just because of
the damage there's obviously a fair bit
of accident damage front and back so
we're just going to replace those panels
completely again they're available new
and they're really good quality that's
something that's surprised us and
something that made the decision easy on
the quarters was that we got one new
quarter panel because we thought all buy
one and just make sure it's all right
and we were actually remarkably
impressed at the quality of the panel so
we're ordering both of them because
they're just such crisp pressings you
know they really do that good we've had
horror stories on other cars where
you're like oh yeah you can get all the
panels and then you get them here and
you might as well not have them because
they're that bad but if they don't they
don't represent the original panel in
any way the doors bonnet and boots we've
had a discussion about the door on that
side where the accident damage was
definitely needed re skinning and the
frame was quite badly damaged as well it
kind of looked like somebody had been
hammering the door straight to get rid
of the accident damage and dummy fully
in a frame as well so we would
definitely going to need repairs on that
door and a complete door skin the door
skin on this one is pretty good but it
wouldn't go a mystery place as well so
we spoke to Gordon about based on the
fact you can get hallways skins which
are obviously a lot lighter and we know
he's a bit of a fan of lightweight cars
so her so we got a bit of a chat what
we've decided to do is go with a carbon
boot lid mainly on the basis that the
alloy one was vastly more expensive and
doesn't really bring any more to the
party than having a carbon fiber one
with the doors though with you skinning
a carbon fiber skin
over a steel frame you tend to find that
you can't enjoy it normally with an
always skin it goes over the frame and
wraps around the edge of the frame
exactly the way the originals did but
with the carbon skin you've got to
literally bond it on and leave like an
open edge on there which you know you
can seal it or whatever you want to do
but the different expansion rates of the
steel in the kerb and they're going to
mean eventually that's going to crack
down that edge so we're going aluminium
door skins so they can be wrapped around
in the original way carbon-fibre bonnet
because it's a complete carbon-fiber
piece with the reinforcer and everything
it's not just the skin and the same at
the boot lid so they're completely
carbon fiber in the shell and the skin
so hopefully that's going to shed a fair
amount of weight out of it we're quite
keen to to see the eventual weight of
the car because I don't know we're
thinking it can probably be not far off
the same way as these were as standard
because we'll be losing weight in some
places like the panels but gaining it in
other places like you know some of the
running gear is probably going to be
the only the only one thing which we do
need to check that the accident damage
on that side is Biff that door finish
pillar in a bit and we want to check
that that alignments still good on there
which is one of the reasons it's lying
on this jig bed at the minute it's just
on some blocks but it will be properly
attached to that jig and that gives us a
solid datum point for all the
modification work we're going to do but
also means we can we can check for
alignment so we can check the
positioning of that sill and the door
hinge pillars and any critical mounting
points on that side and just basically
make sure the shelf initially is as
forward intended it to be before we then
start ripping it apart but but but it's
still that we still need to know that
everything's in the right place now and
then with the jig with the shell mounted
you know squarely and centrally on the
jig that then means we can take accurate
and make accurate measurements for all
the mounting points and the things that
we're gonna modify right well we've got
the shell bare metal as well as doing
the rust repair a really critical point
at this stage is is what we call a dry
build so we're going to put all of the
revised mechanicals in it and do all the
metal work relating to that so you know
different mounting points that's
obviously the bigger transmission tunnel
there's gonna be quite a bit of work to
do at the back for the independent
suspension so at the moment and that's
sort of busy working away working out
what parts were going to be using and
doing the suspected design on the back
well we've we've ordered quite a few
bits so far one of the benefits I guess
with the escort is pretty much
everything's available most of the parts
off-the-shelf pretty reasonably priced
and they're there there's a there are
plenty of bits to choose from front end
set it was pretty straightforward we've
got from two uprights and separate strip
bodies which means we've got a nice
built in camber adjustment on here the
lower arms again nicely made there's no
point I was making them we can buy them
and they do exactly what we want so
that's all off-the-shelf parts we've
made a couple of very small detail
changes because it's really a
competition kind of a kit we've we've
kind of gone with it with bushes in a
couple of places where originally would
have had rows joints just to keep a bit
of compliance the cross member is what
sort of known in forward circles as a
world cross member just because it uses
a fully enclosed type of Bush for the
engine mounting which is what we want to
use quick rack two point four turns lock
to lock just nice without being
oversensitive for Road use again the
front hubs we haven't got them out here
but the front hubs aluminium hubs let's
go on to these rick's uprights and then
an AP racing brake setup that's all well
proven in competition we've used them
before there's no problems and then the
wheel that sits over all that it seems a
bit premature to be thinking about
wheels but you kind of have to design
quite a bit of the car around the wheel
and obviously there's nothing
particularly crazy about this size of
fitment though they're going to look
perfect on the car they're exactly in
keeping with the the image we want and
the Gordon wants but but we do have to
bear in mind the the wheel diameter for
ride height for obvious reasons and the
wheel width and offset in terms of arch
clearances and the tubes on the back
because we are we are altering the wheel
clearance in the shell on the back we're
putting a tube in so that is quite
important and then that kinda leads me
onto the rear suspension in it it's very
important to set the axle center lines
and going back Cowell was talking about
putting the car on the jig earlier and
going back to the it's critical setting
the axle center lines
right at the beginning of the process
because we have to design the rear
suspension around that axle centerline
so we've got to make a we've got to
determine a ride height fix that and
then work out the actual centerline in
the rear of the shell and that that
gives us the height we need to basically
fit all the bits of metal into the shell
at now I've got some reasonable ideas on
how to do that but we did but I need the
dimension before I can start to draw all
the parts all the parts are kind of
needed fairly early on to measure some
of them because whilst everybody knows
what an escort crossmember looks like
not everybody knows the height between
the between the track control arm
centreline and the chassis row height
and likewise for the rear end I need to
know various dimensions on there which
I've got to measure off the shell and
then make sure that I'm getting my
actual centre lines correct for interior
on the shell and various other sort of
complicated bits to where I actually
attach this is venting to the car this
will be how we approach most builds they
just they just differ in their
Convocation level yeah the the front end
on this is more straightforward than
normal the rear end is more complicated
than normal it's kind of it kind of
straddles the average the the rear end
we've kind of we've kind of led Gordon
so an independent rear end it didn't
originally want an independent rear end
originally wanted a live axle setup he's
got a modern quarter you know which he
loves driving loves the driving dynamics
of it a very simple car and I can concur
with that approach simple car drives
beautifully just keep it simple as the
way but at the same time our roads seem
certainly in this area and I didn't see
any noticeable difference in the London
area either seem to be getting steadily
worse in condition and live axles very
good on a nice smooth surface isn't it's
great on track
crayon lovely smooth roads it's
brilliant very predictable very nice to
drive on rough roads you start you you
do have to pay a lot more attention to
damping you need to spend a lot more
money on dampers and go into a lot more
depth on the damping which is fine we
could do that but you're still working
around a big lump of an axle flapping up
and down under the car and it's just not
really ideal for rough road use when you
don't really want your spine shaking too
much and you're not going flat out it's
quite nice to have that bit more
compliance in the suspension so you know
all added up to me to go independent
rear end then it was a case of well
design the rear end independent rear end
without completely losing the sort of
ethos of an escort and that's where we
come to that rather rusty item there
which is a scrap yard Par sort of where
I've got a hold on for doing a mock up
so I could get measurements from it to
put them onto the little bit of the
suspension design software it's actually
a Land Rover Freelander one of pride
which uses the same basic setup as what
I want to use on the back of the escort
we'll be using on the back of the escort
which is a McPherson strut two
transverse links and a single trailing
link and two like to locate the upright
with nice big wheel bearing sensible
room for a driveshaft sensible place to
locate brakes it's all quite a nice
setup actually in theory works out quite
well and I've kind of stuck the
dimensions of the upright and the
dimensions of various parts of
structural bits of the shell and where I
know i roughly want to put components
into the little suspension design
and it all looks like it all looks
yeah with them this very handy little
bit of software it's I can put in a
chassis with track control arm lens
basically fit all the parts into an own
track with put all the all the sort of
fixed dimensions in and then I can play
with basically where we're going to
attach the various parts to the body
shell I can play with that to try and
optimize the sort of critical factors
there's a bit of suspense over the fact
that I need to make this drive nicely
now nicely is a broad term that one of
the bits I've probably missed out
earlier which I meant to mention was the
fact that at the back of my mind yeah we
know I know from the conversation that
Gordon's very happy with the driving
characteristics of the might want
Cortina which is live axle but equally
he one of his more or less daily driving
cars is Lotus Elan and the Lotus Elan
uses a more or less emit phase a Chapman
strut but it's more or less a McPherson
strut design on the back and he loves
the driving characteristics of that as
well and that is much closer to this
type of setup it almost is this setup on
the Elan so I've got that which is a
little bit of a comfort factor but I've
still got that concern that if I make
this not drive at all like a live axle
the Cortina then you may not be entirely
oh it's just a balloon oh well it was a
bit of a strange reality check really
just sort of thinking we'll boy get is
to build yeah but I suppose because
that's the kind of thing we do I don't
think I can think of anybody else I'd
rather be here for sure I'm missing
somebody out there but no it was a
surprise and a very good one
certainly I don't think I'll get many
surprises in life quite like the element
in my head there's the element of yet
obviously it's going to impress from it
from a driving dynamics point of view
the only way we'll know that is when he
drives from a comfort factor point of
view the original remit was for a live
axle car my twisted ones are into going
independent rear end but to say he does
like the Lotus Elan as well I feel
slightly safer than I did before I
realized he had to pass to his
collection but still a little bit
nervous because I have still twisted his
arm away from the general direction he
wanted to go in so yeah the onus is on
me to make it work
but the shower just about typical
you know bell goes out blindfolded
brought it back brought up there but I
could be found in a swamp
Jason made me say this for the record