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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
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Ford Escort cars for sale

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Ford Escort
595 34995 GBP
  • Ford Escort

    £1,700 £1,700

    Ford Escort

    Forget your RS & Mexico and get a truly rare specimen of the Escort family, a barn door van . As far as I know there's only a handful for sale globally and the next cheapest one is 4500£/6700€! The car can be inspected on the location, 30 minutes from Helsinki airport, so easy to access from anywhere in Europe. I can help with shipping, particularly to Germany. More photos on request. Vergessen Sie den RS-Mexiko und erhalten Sie eine wirklich seltenes Exemplar der Escort-Familie, ein Scheunentor van. Soweit ich weiß, gibt es nur eine Handvoll zu verkaufen weltweit und die nächste billigste ist 4500 £ / 6.700 €! Das Auto kann auf der Stelle untersucht werden, 30 Minuten vom Flughafen Helsinki, so einfach, von überall in Europa zugreifen. Ich kann mit Versand zu helfen, vor allem nach Deutschland. Weitere Bilder auf Anfrage. See also Escort MK1 GT1300 for sale: http://www.classicdigest.com/cars/ford/escort/26229 and Cortina mk1 1500 GT: http://www.classicdigest.com/cars/ford/cortina/26303

    • Last update: about 7 hours old

    For sale
  • Antti Kaartinen
    see details
  • 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: Milano Autoclassica Mar 20 - 22, 2015 27th Techno-Classica Essen - Duitsland Apr 15 – 19, 2015 Opendeurdagen Fri, May 1, 2015, 9am – Sun, May 3, 2015, 5pm Opendeurdagen Fri, September 18, 2015, 9am – Sun, September 20, 2015, 5pm

    • Year: 1973

    • Last update: 4 days old

    For sale
  • Oldertimerfarm.be
    0032472401338
    see details
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