Ford Escort Mk1 Compilation

Mk1 Escort Mexico

Mk1 Escort Video Compilation

This little beauty just dropped on Youtube vie Mk1Kieran.

A collection of well turned out Mk1 Escorts of all varieties generally misbehaving.

The Blue Mexico at 4:50 caught my eye – stunning motor !

Mk1 Escort Mexico


That said, I wouldn’t mind having any of the cars featured in my garage. Best car ever !



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.

Mk1 Escort Rally Preparation – Body Shell

Mk1 Ford Escort body reinforcement

Mk1 Ford Escort body reinforcement

The MK1 Escort has been used for rallying since it’s release in 1968.

Now featuring prominently in classic, historic and clubman competitions, the MK1 Escort is still an effective and cheap way to go rallying.

Unless you are building a factory replica, or have stumbled upon a forgotten works car in a farmer’s barn here is the start of a basic checklist to follow in order to build an effective Mk1 Escort rally car yourself.

Mk1 Escort Rally Preparation Checklist – Body Shell

To handle rough stages, the MK1 Escort body shell needs to be reinforced.

The front suspension mountings should be double skinned, with the reinforcing plates welded in with 1/2″ tack welds every inch.

The entire shell should be seam welded using brazing rods to weld 1/2 inch tacks welds every 1 1/2 inches. Make sure to leave the gaps, so there is some flex otherwise the diffusion of energy when you attack a rough stage will result in cracking.

All the seams around the window openings should also be tack welded.

Fill in all the paint drain holes by gluing a small alloy disc, or brazing on a steel disc.

Weld the dashboard rail where it meets the door pillars and along the front where it meets the bulkhead.  If you intend fitting a 2ltr OHC pinto engine, then the bulkhead needs to be rolled in order for the rear of the cam cover to have sufficient clearance. Again, use ½” tack welds

Tack weld the seams along the length of the car and where the inner wings meet the bulkhead.

There is a particular weak spot in the engine bay, where the side rails meet the bulkhead. A plate that runs 5 inches along the rail & a similar distance up the bulkhead needs to be manufactured and welded in place on both sides. These may be commercially available as a “Gusset Plate”, but are simple enough to make.  These stop the bulkhead separating from the side rails on heavy landings.

The rear suspension also requires attention.  The major problem if not reinforced, is that your MK1 Escort will start to reveal daylight into the boot after a while.

For serious off road use, the shock absorbers or dampers need to be fitted vertically so that the rear axle only moves in an up & down direction. To achieve this a rear turret modification needs to be installed, This is quite tricky as the turrets weld into the inner wheel arch and up inside the car, so the nuts attaching the shock absorbers are inside the rear parcel shelf of the car.

For added strength, you can braze plates into the T-pillars inside the roof and inside the top corners of the windscreen pillars.

A tube can also be welded into the passenger side foot well, to act as a foot rest, but also strengthen the shell.

Forrest or bubble arches should be welded in, if you intend running a Capri or Atlas axle, or if you want the option of running anything wider that 6” tyres.  These wheel arches are still widely available.  Once lined up, the majority of the outer wing can be cut away before the new arches are welded on.  Fibre glass wings with the arches already in place can also be sourced fairly easily.

The rear arches are a bit more of a hassle, in that you need to cut away both the inner & outer wing, then in the resulting gap, weld in a strip of steel horizontally, thus providing maximum clearance for the rear tyres.

A strut brace should be fitted  in between the front strut tops. Depending on the engine, you may need a brace with 2 bars that circle the front & back of the engine, or a standard one that runs straight across.  These should bolt to the strut top & preferably the inner wing. These are also easily obtained.

Seat mounts should be welded if possible. It’s unlikely that you’ll retain the standard MK1 Escort seats, so ensure the rails are bolted with nylock nuts if using alloy and welded if steel as there is nothing more inconvenient that your navigator disappearing out the passenger door, seat and all, halfway through a stage.