Those of you with an especially beady eye on the Retropower project stable will have noticed a new addition to the workshop these past few weeks, a Mk2 Escort RS2000. It’s another classic Ford right enough, albeit one with a backstory as fascinating as it is unique – and you can read all about it by clicking through.
Anyway, work is already well underway on the Escort’s bodyshell, and the good news is that, so far, it’s about as solid as we’d been lead to believe. It is a 40 year old Ford though, so it stands to reason that not everything has been quite as smooth sailing as we’d have liked, with much of the work pertaining to the car’s varied life both on and off the special stages.
First up, the front end. The good news here was that the car received a partial restoration at some point in the 1990s, back when RS parts were both readily available and, compared to their value nowadays, positively cheap. This saw genuine Ford front wings, bonnet and a new RS ‘nose cone’ bolted to the car, the original having been replaced in the lead up to the car’s brief dalliance as a rally car.
Anyway, while the panels themselves were of good quality and in correspondingly good order, the manner in which they had been attached to the Escort left something to be desired. We were therefore faced with a difficult choice: sacrifice the as new, genuine Ford panels (and face the wrath of the blue oval faithful), or hack out and remake the inner wing mounting rails. Perhaps understandably, we went for the latter.
Disassembling the front end and removing the mounting rails also gave us the chance to apply a complete, all encompassing zinc metal spray coating. This can only be a good thing, as let’s face it, the ability to rust sits just below a willingness to go sideways in the list of RS Escort abilities.
That’s not to say those lovingly preserved RS panels weren’t obscuring some secrets – they were, they were just well hidden. The front panel itself had borne the brunt of several impacts over the years, which is just as you’d expect of a clubman level rally car – because you can’t crash-proof a forest!
Of course the good thing about working on a car like this, a popular classic with a sizeable following, is parts supply – we were able to order a pattern front panel and have it delivered the next day. We did the same for both front door skins, though it was soon discovered that neither was exactly perfect and that both therefore needed a fair degree of ‘finessing.’ Stu was also charged with carrying out repairs to the lower frame of one of the doors itself, before both skin and frame were attached and test-fitted to the car.
The original roll cage, the one shown below, has been in this very car since it was pressed into completion use near enough 40 years ago, and there was therefore no intention of it not being retained – and this despite it having the potential to cause a modern day MSA inspector the odd furrowed brow! We have taken the chance to amend the manner in which the feet attach to the shell, primarily be re-welding the bases, just to be on the safe side should the worst happen.
Other, structural improvements include gussets for both front chassis rails, pretty much standard practice for any Escort rally car, as well as making provision for the relocation of the fuel tank, fuel filter and battery to the boot. We’ve also cut out the old rear bulkhead and will soon replace it with another, new one made from fresh steel.
As for actual, restorative metalwork to the Escort’s shell, well, that’s been thankfully light in nature, certainly in comparison to more typical Retropower projects. We’ve replaced sections of the front floor pans, a section of one rear three-quarter panel and some work on one of the Escort’s best known moisture traps, its heater ‘bubble.’
All in all though, this has been one of the cleanest shells we’ve yet worked on throughout Retropower’s ten year existence, so much so that we’re aiming to get it ready for paint within the next two weeks – just over a month from when it first arrived.