We’ve been blown away by the amount of attention the build of the Gordon Murray Mk1 Escort has attracted over the course of the last year and a bit, the vast majority of it overwhelmingly positive in nature, so thanks once again – we’re glad you’re all enjoying the build as much as we are.

Not everything we’ve carried out has been universally popular though, particularly amongst the dyed in the wool Ford purists out there, with the most common single area of complaint being the customised dashboard and associated instrument cluster. For those unaware of the modification in question, we’ve added extra depth to the entire lower portion of the factory Ford dash, including a widened central binnacle. It’s an alteration that’s caused some amongst the Ford faithful to question our thinking, their argument being that merely swapping to an RS Escort six clock dash would’ve been enough of an upgrade.

One of the original concept drawings showing the proposed dash layout

This is all well and good, but we can’t deny being less than happy with the overall appearance of the RS dash. Let’s face it, it was hardly a design icon when new, rather an efficient and cost effective means of adding extra gauges into the sporting model range, which was all the convincing we needed to attempt something a little different.

The reasons for spending so much time on the fabrication of the dash and attached binnacle were myriad, though a desire to arrange the dials and heater controls in a more ergonomically efficient manner was undoubtedly near the top of the list. Gordon himself stressed that this was an area of significance when he initially visited Retropower, and it was rendered all the more important when we realised just how tall he actually is, with a seating position that effectively maroons him somewhere south of the B-pillar. Ensuring a perfect driving position therefore involved a considerable extension of the steering column, and enclosing and mounting this in a suitable manner was made far, far easier via the extended dash.

The one-off dash begins to take shape

It’s also worth noting that Gordon’s driving position mandated further alterations to the main instrument binnacle, the one containing the speedometer and the tacho. This has since been lowered by several inches to ensure they remain within his line of sight – handy on any car, let alone one designed for fast road heroics!

Space isn’t exactly the most abundant of qualities when it comes to Mk1 Escort dashes and we therefore had limited space to work with – another good reason for carrying out so much fabrication work. It means that there are no ‘orphaned’ gauges, nothing looks out of place or merely tacked into position as an afterthought. Adding extra metal to the centre section of the dash has also given us far more freedom to locate the revised heater unit and associated controls, now housed in the centre of the dash itself.

Last but by no means least (especially given the owner of this project and his infamous eye for detail), all that extra metal has given the dash itself a more balanced appearance overall, one which is, to our eyes at least, a massive improvement over anything offered by Ford at the time.

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