My background with Escorts goes back to when I left school and joined a Ford dealer in the UK. I spent the first four or five years of my working life learning to work on the Ford cars of the day, which were Escorts, Cortinas and Capris. Even then the sports models exciting to be around.
I tried other things for a while – got into Porsches and restored a Carrera – but I found myself gravitating back to the old Fords. I restored a Lotus Cortina about five years ago and sold that, with some regret.
Inevitably I went back to the old MkI Escort, which I learned to drive in and passed my test in. Not a twin-cam version, of course!
Having decided a twin-cam was what I wanted, my god, finding a good one was very difficult! I spent 18 months till I found this one through a workshop in Melbourne. It was a matching numbers car, which was important to me.
Like a lot of these cars, it’s had a string of colour changes, going from white to red to green and back to white again. Over that time it’s had a light restoration under the stewardship of Rob Ramsay. Then it had another more thorough make-over under the guidance of John Hodge, which took more like three to four years. The second restoration started as a light rub-down for a colour change and turned into a major nut and bolt job.
The body was fully inspected and found to be in excellent condition throughout with no sign of any rust and no previous accident damage or welding. This was an opportunity to replace the extended rear wheel arches with standard size versions.
It was then primed in grey and re-spayed in two-pack to the original factory specification colour, which is ‘ultra-white’ including the engine bay and boot. Meanwhile the under body was given an anti-rust treatment.
Rob Roy Garage in Melbourne stripped and fully rebuilt the engine, and took the opportunity to get the presentation back to original. This was also a good time to get the gearbox stripped and rebuilt, and the propshaft refurbished and balanced, while the diff was renewed, as a limited-slip set-up.
An electronic ignition was installed in the interests of reliability and low-maintenace.
The radiator was refurbished and the hoses replaced. Of course the twin Weber 40DCOE carburettors were completely reconditioned, while all the lines and hoses were replaced.
New front struts and rear shock absorbers were fitted, the rear springs reconditioned and all the suspension bushes replaced.
Add in a new steering rack, track control arms and steering bushes to make sure it goes where you point it. The original Twin Cam steering wheel was also refurbished at that stage.
The exhaust system is one area that has strayed a little from original. It’s a complete stainless set-up.
Of course the brakes were fully rebuilt using new parts where possible, plus the Girling servo got a work-over.
As for cosmetics, the bumpers were given a new coat of chrome and the original Ford Twin Cam 5J steel wheels were reconditioned, painted and put aside for the moment.
When it came to assembling the end result, there was a big list of tasks to get through. New old stock Lucas headlights were fitted along with a fresh grille. New door window glasses and windscreen went in as well.
Inside, a new headlining and door cards were fitted, while overall the trim was redone as per the factory specification for this car.
To finish it off, new old stock Escort front wing badges and GT1600 stickers were sourced.
The dash is a high-spec thing for its day and that was given a complete work-over with fresh wiring.
Overall the car is about 95 per cent original spec as it left the Homebush Ford factory in March 1972.
These things are a very different experience to driving a modern car – very simple and light and responsive. It now looks and drives as new and is something I know I can rely on. I have a 4WD as daily transport, but I try to get the Escort out every weekend and go for a run. So all that work wasn’t wasted!
LAST ISSUE we managed to mix up the name of the owner and the photographer in Reader Resto! This is in fact Michael Polito, the justifiably proud owner of the stunning Fiat 124 Spider. Our apologies, Michael.
BODY 2-door coupe
ENGINE 1558cc four
POWER & TORQUE 86kW @ 6000rpm 175Nm @ 4500rpm
TOP SPEED 180km/h
TRANSMISSION Four-speed manual
SUSPENSION Front – MacPherson struts; Rear – live axle with leaf springs