Magazine Cover - Classic Cars For Sale - 1000s of Classic Car Reviews, How To Service & Maintenance Guides

Ford Escort Mk1

Published: 8th Aug 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Magazine Subscription
The latest issue of Classic Cars For Sale is on sale now - Pick up your copy from all good newsagents including WHSmith or click here to subscribe now

Subscribe to Classic Motoring Magazine and save over 20%

Subscribe NOW

Available at all good newsagents including WHSmith

Escort became the byword for faithful family motoring lasting for over 30 years. And it started with the Mk1

Any old key usually got into a Ford Escort to a thief’s delight

While most family drivers may have promised themselves a Capri, they usually had to make do with an Escort. This swinging 60s replacement for the old Anglia couldn’t have come a moment too soon in early ’68, because the 105E was looking positively pre-historic against the likes of rivals such as Vauxhall’s stylish HB Viva and BMC’s super advanced 1100. However, Ford knew the market better than any of them and while some motoring pundits dismissed the Mk1 Escort as little more than a jumped-up Anglia (Car magazine, naturally), with its added refi nement and style plus modern rack-and-pinion steering, it had more in common with its sexier coupe sister than the old ‘Anglebox‘. Some thought that the Escort was just a copy of the Viva, launched two years earlier, but Ford had started on the 105E’s replacement back in ‘64 as a pan European car built in entiely new factories across the Continent.

Using Ford’s new cross-fl ow adaptation of the now established Kent engine (1100 and 1300cc) and one of the sweetest gearboxes known to man, the Escort soon took over where the Anglia left off. In fact Motor, testing an 1100 Super, reckoned it was more refi ned than the larger Mk2 Cortina. Naturally an estate and van quickly followed and, so good were the designs, that both survived in mildly restyled Mk2 form up until 1980. A four-door saloon arrived in 1969, almost a year after the Viva went family friendly. Trim levels were a world away from the Anglia, as were the seat designs and general ergonomics. Of course there was a plethora of sport versions such as Mexico, Twin Cam and RS1600 that gave the Escort performance credibility, but let’s stick to the ‘cooking’ versions, which were fronted by the nice and far easier to insure1300GT. This was effectively a Super (two and four-door) with a downsized Cortina GT engine. Although kicking out 72bhp, against‘Tina’s 88bhp, it was just as quick. A budget-based 1300 Sport arrived in ‘71 which shared a fair bit of RS architecture and heritage, but Ford also had plans to move the Escort away from its low grade‘Dagenham Dustbin’ image (and it wasn’t even built there!), with the 1300E.

Costing almost £1200, and built at the famous AVO factory in Aveley, Essex, where the RS were made, the Executive was a little baby brother to the Cortina 1600E, topped with Mexico steel sport wheels and a black vinyl roof. “We’ve yet to meet an executive who would look at one” argued Car and, out of the 5000 produced, how many do you see these days? With the Hillman Avenger and the larger HC Viva from Luton already well established, the Mk1 Escort was starting to look dated when the 1300E was launched in 1973, although it still sold like hot cakes. A year later Ford started to fi t the fl oorpan of the soon-to-be-launched squarer-styled Mk2, to ease production at the start of ‘75. The reason the Escort was, and remains, so well liked is its simplicity. Where the BMC 1100/1300 was a nightmare to work on, the Escort gave fl eet and families what they wanted; an easy and cheap to maintain car. Rivals, mostly foreign, were more sophisticated and appealed more to motoring journalist who changed test cars like their socks, but all that fancy talk meant little to Joe Public when he or she wanted a spare part on a Sunday lunchtime. As with all Fords, every motorists’ shop in the land had that bit you needed in stock. Not that the Escort drove badly; indeed it was a nice, light sweet car that many of us learned to drive in, or bought as a starter car.

Remember that gearchange that even now can’t be bettered and the utterly brilliant Aerofl ow ventilation system? Or, on the other side of the coin, remember the way the clutch cables broke or the front struts rusted the inner wings and punched their way to freedom? And, remember how the door locks were so feeble that any old key would do the trick with some jiggling? Oh happy days! The handling was crisp and, as the faster Escorts proved, could easily be tuned and uprated if you wanted to be Roger Clark. Most folks did something to their basic Escort, even if it was a smaller sports steering wheel, a set of seat covers, a replacement Zenith carburettor to replace the cheapskate sealed jet Ford unit which always went wrong at some point… Or a set of sexy Mexico sports wheels; either bought or stolen to order depending on your conscience! You couldn’t go wrong with an Escort. Apart from being easy to work on, with parts and repairers on every street corner, selling one was simplicity itself. The name Escort said it all for the majority of typical buyers and this carried on with the Mk2, through to the all new front-wheel Mk3, then through the Mk4 generation and indeed right up to the late 1990s, when the trusty name was fi nally dropped to make way for the Focus.

Today, Escorts are a popular sight at classic shows, albeit the more sporty models. And good cars are selling for big money, especially two-door versions, as they are in much demand by younger enthusiasts who either shove in a Cortina Pinto engine, or go all modern with a 16 valve twin cam Mondeo Zetec unit, now facing north-south; special kits are available to do this. “Perfectly practical” was Motor’s road test headline and Escorts have always been all things to alltypes of motorists. And, in this age of electronics and engine compartments which would strike fear even in the likes of Einstein, it’s a car the likes of which we’ll never experience again. And that’s a shame.

When The Car Was The Star

‘Meet the Blunders’ – an everyday story of moronic folk whose inability to drive their Austin 1100 causes bit actors at the wheel of Mk.1 Escorts to plough into telephone boxes. But apart from its starring role in 1970s public information fi lms, the orginal Escort co-starred, in 1300E form, with John Wayne in ‘Brannigan’, was driven by John Thaw into a coffee stall in the fi rst ‘Sweeney’ spin-off fi lm and featured heavily in ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’. A lowly version also appeared in that superb 1971 thriller ‘Villain’...“don’t wake Ma!”.

Classic Motoring

Share This Article

Share with Facebook Share with Facebook

Share with Twitter Tweet this article

Share bookmark with Delicious Share bookmark with Delicious

Share with Digg Digg this article

Share with Email Share by email

User Comments

This review has 0 comments - Be the first!

Leave a comment

Keep it polite and on topic. Your email address will not be published. Please do not advertise products, all posts of this nature will be removed. We do not stock or supply any of these products, we independently review these products.

Subscribe Today
Latest Issue Cover - Click here to subscribe

Subscribe to Classic Motoring Magazine and save over 25%

Britians top classic cars bookazine