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Ford Escort Mk1 buying guide (1968-1975)

Ford Escort Mk1 Ford Escort Mk1 Ford Escort Mk1 Ford Escort Mk1 Estate From affordable road car to highly competitive race and rally car, the Escort Mk1 has worn many hats over the years. And in all the intervening years nothing has changed – Ford’s hugely successful Anglia replacement still offers cheap and fun motoring, with reliability and style. Some examples offer more of these elements than others (1.1-litre cars don’t go too large on the fun factor), but whichever version you buy, those revvy engines and rear-wheel drive combine to give a great mix of driver satisfaction.

During seven years of production, more than two million Mk1 Escorts found buyers. Such success was guaranteed by low pricing and a huge range of derivatives thanks to various body styles and a wide range of engines. So it didn’t matter whether your thing was a 1.1-litre runabout or a snarling high-revving twin-cam, there was an Escort for you.

Now, the Escort Mk1 remains eminently affordable, although some versions are more attainable than others. The RS1600, Mexico and Twin Cam were all the work of Ford’s Advanced Vehicle Operations (AVO) department, and these models are now the most sought after – although the RS2000 is also coveted. But you don’t need massive performance and go-faster stripes to enjoy Escort motoring.

Which one to buy

The choice of Escort Mk1s may be bewildering, but that’s because there really is something for everyone. From unfeasibly cheap load carrier to tyre-smoking sportscar, there’s a version for every occasion. Even better is the fact that tuning and upgrading the cars is so straightforward, with dozens of suppliers able to sell you bits to modify any of the mechanicals.

But you have to be careful; the most desirable Mk1s – and hence the most valuable – are the ones most likely to be faked. So before parting with your cash, join a club and make sure that all is what it purports to be.

Set your sights on something with at least a 1.3-litre engine. Two-door cars carry a premium because they’re often converted into rally weapons, so four-door cars and estates tend to be the most accessible. But it’s the sporting Escorts that will always be the most collectable as they’re the most fun, so hunt down a cracking Mexico or RS2000, having made sure it’s the real deal. Or if your pockets are much deeper, a Twin Cam or RS1600. You’ll pay plenty for one of these, but it’s these editions which provide the most fun as well as the best investment potential.

Tech spec - Escort RS Mexico 1970-1975

Engine 1599cc, four-cylinder 
Power 86bhp @ 5500rpm
Torque 92lb ft @ 4000rpm
Top speed 99mph
0-60mph 10.7sec
Consumption 33mpg
Gearbox Four-speed manual

What to look for

• The Escort Mk1 rusts badly, but most panels are available as well-made repro items. Check the MacPherson strut top mountings, the inner wings, the scuttle and all outer panels. The transverse leaf spring hangers dissolve, along with the sills, rear wheelarches and floorpans. So does the windscreen surround and the boot floor.
• Cooking Escorts use Ford’s Kent engine, in 1098cc or 1298cc guises, with a 1598cc edition in the Mexico; the RS2000 got a 1993cc Pinto unit. The RS1600 has a 16-valve Cosworth-developed 1599cc twin-cam BDA engine and the Twin Cam features a Lotus Cortina-derived powerplant. The BDA and Twin Cam are much harder to work on and parts are far more expensive.
• The Kent engine suffers from worn cam followers, so listen for noisy tappets.
• The Pinto engine has a rubber timing belt that can fail prematurely, but it’s cheap and easy to renew.
• Escorts with a Kent engine could be fitted with a three-speed Borg Warner automatic transmission, but most cars got a four-speed manual gearbox. Of the three different manual transmissions fitted, the 1.1 and 1.3-litre cars have their own ‘box, but with closer ratios if the car was a GT or Sport. The Twin Cam, RS1600 and Mexico had a unit like that in the Cortina and Corsair (known as the 2000e gearbox) – while the RS2000 had its own transmission.
• Autos just keep going. Listen for rumbling bearings in the first three gears of a manual gearbox; once they start making a noise they’ll soldier on for years without problems.
• If the gearbox crunches as you’re changing ratios, it’s probably a stretched clutch cable, which eventually breaks. Replacements are very cheap.
• Although a constant whining from the rear suggests a worn differential, if the noise is only there during cornering it’s because the wheelbearings need replacing. Changing them requires a press.
• Knocking from the front suspension suggests the anti-roll bar bushes have worn. The steering will also be very vague, but replacing the bushes is easy and cheap.
• Exterior trim is largely unobtainable, with used quarter bumpers and the ‘hockey stick’ trim around the rear window particularly difficult to find. Most of the external brightwork is chrome-plated Mazak, so it can’t be restored.
• The wiring loom and switchgear (including the column stalks) can be unreliable; the contacts contacts oxidise and the plastic insulators within the rocker switches break up.

Model history

1968: The Escort two-door saloon is announced, in De Luxe, Super and GT forms. There are 1098cc or 1298cc four-cylinder engines. Soon after, a van appears and the 1.1 and 1.3-litre saloons get an automatic option.
1969: A four-door saloon reaches showrooms, along with an estate.
1970: Engine revisions mean power increases and amended model names. The standard range now consists of standard, L, XL and GT derivatives. The RS1600 also debuts, with a Cosworth-developed 16-valve 1599cc BDA powerplant. The Mexico completes the performance Escort line up, with a 1.6-litre Kent engine.
1971: The 1300 Sport is announced; it’s a lower-spec 1300GT. The Escort Sport also arrives, with XL interior, GT running gear and RS bodywork. The one millionth Escort is built.
1973: Two-door 1300E arrives, using 1300 Sport mechanicals but with luxury trim. Whole range gets improved suspension design and GT model is discontinued at the end of the year. RS2000 appears, with 1993cc Pinto engine.
1974: Four-door 1300E goes on sale with metallic paint, vinyl roof and high-spec interior.
1975: Mk1 Escort is replaced by Mk2 version.

Key clubs and websites

• www.avoclub.com
• www.seoc.co.uk
• www.1300eownersclub.org
• www.rsownersclub.co.uk

Words: Richard Dredge
Ford Escort Mk1 Ford Escort Mk1 Ford Escort Mk1 Ford Escort Mk1 Estate
Last updated: 6th Mar 2015
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Ford Escort cars for sale

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Ford Escort
595 24999 GBP
  • Ford's successes with the Lotus Cortina led to the idea of fitting the mechanicals into the Escort resulting in the Escort Twin Cam being born and becoming one of Ford's most famous production cars. The Escort Twin-Cam went on to achieve many international race and rally victories during its short production life between 1968 and 1971. The Australian built Escort Twin Cam used the same Type 49 AVO bodyshell and 1598cc Lotus engine as the UK specification car but was assembled in the Ford Sydney plant; arguably more interesting and available in a full range of colours from the Ford palette rather than just the Ermine White in which all the home market cars were finished. In total, just 883 Escort Twin-Cams were built before production ended to make way for the RS1600. We are pleased to offer this original road specification Escort Twin-Cam, built in Sydney, Australia on the CKD (Complete Knock Down) assembly line. This Twin Cam was later exported to Auckland, New Zealand before finally being registered in the UK on 8 th August 2002. An inspection of the history file reveals that, as well as a body restoration, the engine was modified to a Ford 1700cc unit with a lightened and balanc

    • Year: 2015

    Last update: 1 Day Old
    For sale
  • see details
  • This superbly presented Ford Escort MKI Mexico replica has spent its entire life in Ireland. The car was supplied new in Eire and was first registered 30th July 1972. The Escort has spent the majority of the last ten years in County Carlow and has come to us in part exchange from its previous owner. Around six years ago the Ford was restored to resemble the highly sought after Mexico and the car was stripped down and treated to an excellent body restoration. The car was fitted with a highly tuned and rebuilt 1600 cross flow engine with 4 branch manifold and twin 40 carburettors. The Ford was also fitted with RS2000 rear axle, poly bushed rear springs, strengthened strut tops and strut brace, oil breather, braided hoses, Jan Speed exhaust, Minilight alloys and push button start. Brakes and suspension were rebuilt and the car fitted with non-standard smarter upholstery and Mexico dash. We collected the car in Dublin having being driven from County Carlow and through the City Centre of Dublin at rush hour. We then drove the car onto the ferry and covered 215 miles from Holyhead to North Yorkshire faultlessly. The Ford was driven over four hours and performed superbly. The charging sys

    • Year: 1972

    Last update: 7 Days Old

    • Mileage: 215 mi

    For sale
  • see details
  • Ford Escort 1.8 TDi Finesse 5dr GREAT CAR OF IT'S TIME+ DIESEL;ONLY 2 LADY OWNER SINCE NEW, WELL BEEN KEPT, DIESEL ENGINE GREAT CAR FOR WORK CHEAP TO RUN, MOT'D AND TAXED, 2 SETS OF KEYS, PARTIAL SERVICE HISTORY, SPACIOUS FAMILY CAR, Next MOT due 16/06/2016, Service history, Air-Conditioning, Alloy Wheels, Electric Windows, In Car Entertainment, 3x3 point rear seat belts, Alarm, Immobiliser, Power steering, Lumbar support, Height adjustable drivers seat, Folding rear seats, Electric door mirrors, CD Player, Airbags. 5 seats, BLACK, All major banks cards accepted

    Last update: 10 Days Old

    • Mileage: 141000 mi

    • Engine size: 1.753

    For sale
  • Redbridge Car Sales
    020 34440405
    see details
  • Stunning Example With Fantastic Service History 8 Stamps With Ford And Specialist Aswell As A Folder Full Of Invoices, 16" Alloy Wheels, Glass Sunroof, Recaro Cloth Interior, Electric Windows, Electric Mirrors, Heated Windscreen, Sony CD Player, Stainless Steel Exhaust System, Blue Silicone Coolant And Boost Hoses. This Car Needs To Be Seen To Be Appreciated, A Stunning Clean Example That Would Suit Any Enthausiast Or Collector., £25,000

    • Year: 1994

    Last update: 15 Days Old

    • Mileage: 86574 mi

    For sale
  • Silverlink Cars
    0191 460 7204
    see details
  • WOW....... same owner past 20 years, full MOT, only 140 miles covered in the passed 4 years !!!! Just look how new the under neath looks, a truly collectible, priced cheaply to sell. what a stunner, you'll struggle find one in this condition at this give away price. so be quick. starts first time, all doors close as they should, does have none original front seats, but apart from that, its a beauty...

    Last update: 26 Days Old

    • Mileage: 73750 mi

    • Engine size: 1.3

    For sale
  • PF Car Sales
    01283 328805
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  • This car is just in at Oldtimerfarm, Aalter Belgium. Steenweg op Deinze 51C. Teusday-Saterday 10-17h (no appointment needed) Sunday: closed. Monday strictly on appointment. We specialize in consignment sales of collection cars. We are proud we can offer this car for sale. A more detailed description will soon follow. In the meantime you can have a look at the very ample photo coverage on the website. Of course Xavier or Olivier will be very happy to give you all possible explanations by phone on +32472401338. Meet us at: Opendeurdagen Fri, September 18, 2015, 9am – Sun, September 20, 2015, 5pm

    • Year: 1973

    Last update: About 22 Hours Old
    For sale
  • Oldertimerfarm.be
    0032472401338
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