This is Project One, a restomod creation based upon everyone’s favourite blue oval saloon, the first-generation Ford Escort. It’s a car we a Retropower have a long and storied association with, and one we suspect most of those reading this (at least those of a certain vintage) will also have fond memories of, for and in.
One half of a pair of broadly similar Escorts (the other being a ‘sister’ build, Project Kuma), Project One will draw upon our prior experience with these cars. As anyone who’s followed our progress in this regard for any length of time will attest, this means the Escort we built for Gordon Murray. That car, probably our most storied creations, was replete with an independent rear suspension arrangement of Nat’s own design, Cosworth Duratec propulsion and a slew of custom, understated alterations.
Project One and its sister car will not be straight copies of the Murray Escort, however. Whereas that car was restrained to the point of stealthy Project One will be far flaunt its intentions, with widened arches, girthy wheels, and an yet-to-be-finalised paintjob that’s likely to be significantly more eye-catching than the Old English White used on Gordon’s Escort.
Both of these Escorts will ultimately boast similar (but by no means identical) specifications. To this end a pair of BDG engines have been ordered from Sherwood Engines, as have a pair of MX-5 gearboxes, the same NC-derived and readily available six-speed units we used with such success in the Gordon Murray build.
Also pertinent to our experience building a car for the F1 legend will be the suspension, the rear portion of which will be independently sprung in a similar manner to that Nat designed for the Murray Escort. In effect an inclined ‘Chapman Strut’ type arrangement (it having first graced the original Lotus Elan), our re-engineered ‘back-end’ will make use of easily available parts from Ford and Land Rover (Mondeo and Freelander respectively) to give a car with entertaining, readily exploitable handling traits perfectly in tune with the UK’s pockmarked and wholly unpredictable road surfaces.
Both cars will major in classic, time honoured Mk1 Escort styling flourishes, with perhaps the most obvious – and definitely most time consuming – being custom wheel arches, with all four having been painstakingly ‘teased’ into being by Tom and Sam. To do this we commissioned a quartet of hammer form tools just for Projects One and Kuma, each made from solid high density epoxy tooling board. In turn these have enabled us to craft bespoke front and rear arches, cavernous enough to accommodate the widened wheels both cars will ultimately run while still looking purposeful, and at the same time distinct from the arches more commonly seen on Mk1 Escorts.
Project One has just been treated to its final coat of paint, and as such it will shortly be wheeled over to the Assembly Hall for, well, assembly. Watch this space to see how the first of these custom Escort builds comes to fruition.
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