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Too little, too late

3 years ago

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Charlie Martin | Young writer


31 July 2021

In 1967, Ford of Europe’s Essex-based competition department struck gold when it transplanted the Lotus Cortina’s twin-cam engine into a stiffened Escort chassis. This formula made for a successful rally car that claimed victories in the 1968 Circuit of Ireland, Acropolis Rally and Scottish Rally at the hands of Roger Clark.

These victories caused the development of a modernised, original engine – the 120bhp, 16-valve, 1.6-litre BDA four-cylinder – spawning the Escort RS1600; the first Ford to carry the Rallye Sport designation. Launched in January 1970, the RS1600 soon won the debilitating 16,000-mile London to Mexico Rally, and claimed three RAC Rally victories by its replacement by the Mk2 Escort in 1975.

The Mk2 picked up where the Mk1 left off, becoming Ford’s most successful rally car of all time. In uprated RS1800 guise it collected accolades such as victory in both the drivers’ and constructors’ World Rally Championships in 1979 with Björn Waldegård at the helm.

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