If there’s one thing you should know about Retropower by now, it’s that fitting any engine into a any car is something we take in our stride, largely as it’s a task we’ve been asked to carry out multiple times over the last 9 years. Of course the scale of the challenge and how well it is received largely depends on both the kind of engine and which car we’ve been asked to transplant it into, with some being more contentious than others.
The pair of cars shown here are both good examples, both of the kind of work we’re capable of carrying out and the relative upset doing so can cause within the closely knit Ford scene. The first, a Mk2 Escort with a Vauxhall C20XE, is relatively well known, the swap itself having been a popular one in rallying circles for years now. The other, a Mk2 Escort fitted with the Toyota 4AGE 2.0 16v, is a little more left field but no less worthy. Here’s a little more information about the creation of both.
There’s a lot to love about a Mk2 Escort fitted with a ‘Redtop,’ not least the abundance of proven ‘go faster’ bits available from the vast aftermarket scene underpinning both car and engine. Cosworth actually had a hand in the development of the C20XE at the end of the ’80s, the Northamptonshire tuning legends christening the Vauxhall engine the ‘KBA.’ Still, it remains a contentious swap among those that feel a Ford car should be powered by a Ford engine, and while we’re sympathetic to those purists that feel this way, it’s hard to deny that the combination of lightweight, rear-wheel drive ’70s saloon and late ’80s fuel injected twin cam isn’t a good one.
This particular car was built for a Retropower customer with a clearly defined set of demands. He wanted it to be a usable prospect on a semi-regular basis, with enough power and chassis finesse to be an entertaining prospect on the odd track day. It’s the perfect brief for an engine like the XE, particularly an XE with DTA management and a set of Jenvey direct to head throttle bodies. The result is an Escort with a none-too-shabby 220bhp – plenty for sideways heroics.
4-AGE Against the Machine
Then there’s the Mk2 Cortina, a less commonly tuned proposition, certainly in the realm of engine conversions. It’s a project we agreed to undertake back in 2014, the owner coming to us with a fairly open ended brief, namely a desire for the car to be quick and powered by a modern engine of Japanese origin. There were any number of engines which fitted these criteria but one jumped out, both for its tenability and naturally aspirated character, the Toyota 4-AGE.
The 4-AGE has more in common with its Cosworth-penned sibling than you might first think. Both were considered to be cutting edge examples of modern, forward looking 2.0 16v thinking at launch, and both went onto be used in both motorsport and cult cars. The fact that the 4-AGE has been used in everything from race cars to drifters means that, much like its contemporary from Luton, it’s incredibly well supported by the aftermarket. We took full advantage of this in the build, adding a set of throttle bodies and standalone management.
An impressive mix of Ford and Toyota thinking can be found throughout this build, with the former’s Type 9 gearbox paired with the latter’s engine, the sump of which fitted perfectly over the Cortina cross-member.
So which do you prefer, the Vauxhall engined Escort or the Toyota engined Cortina?