People trying to break into rallying often pick modern machines; rear-wheel and all-wheel-drive Subarus are common picks. But when it comes to slick slides, classic cars can be just as good and just as fun. Ken Block has driven that point home with his modified vintage Mustang and tweaked Escort Cosworth. And now, there’s another way to be like Block. Because a Welsh company is making brand-new Mk2 Ford Escorts.
Ken Block isn’t the only rally star to slide around a Mk2 Ford Escort
Block has several classic Fords modified for racing purposes. In addition to his Escort Cosworth and ‘Hoonicorn,’ he has an RS200 and a 1977 F-150. Plus, one more: a 1978 Mk2 Ford Escort RS, Car and Driver reports. And he’s not the only rally driver to get behind the wheel of one.
Although the US got a version of the Escort, the EXP, we never received the early Mk1 and Mk2 European Escorts. And we especially never got the RS models that dominated rallying in the 1970s, Road & Track reports.
An RS Escort won the RAC Rally every year in the 1972-1979 period. And in the days before the AWD Audi Quattro showed, the RWD Ford Escort Mk2 won the WRC title in 1979. It’s because of those cars that Ford made the Focus RS, Car and Driver reports. And Mk2 Escorts are still common sights at vintage rallies, R&T reports. Legendary racer Colin McRae even briefly drove one, R&T reports.
So, what made the Mk2 Ford Escort so successful in RS form? Firstly, these cars had reinforced body shells, aerodynamic aids, better brakes, and upgraded suspension, Top Gear reports. They also have limited-slip differentials and more power, Classic & Sports Car reports. The rally car’s 2.0-liter fuel-injected four-cylinder engine developed 250 hp.
The original Mk2 Ford Escort was replaced by the Mk3 model for the 1981 model year. And while the RS models are rare, the Mk2 Escort was a popular car overall. However, time and over-eager racers have taken a toll. As a result, clean examples are getting harder to find.
This is why North Wales-based Motorsport Tools is stepping in to help.
MST’s new Mk1 and Mk2 Ford Escorts
Back in 2019, MST announced that it was partnering with UK-based Great British Sports Cars to create updated versions of the Mk2 Escort, The Drive reports. And while some call them restomods, they’re not actually restored original cars, PistonHeads explains. But they’re also not quite continuations like the reborn Blower Bentley, because Ford isn’t directly involved, Top Gear explains. Rather, MST’s cars are brand-new Mk1 and Mk2 Escorts—with a significant number of improvements.
MST offers the Escorts in Road & Touring, Road & Track, Group-4 Rally, and Ultimate Rally Car trims. The racing trims can be ordered in modern or historic racing spec and have extra strengthening, a stripped-down interior, and a built-in roll cage. Plus, launch control and upgraded axles. But all the trims offer a high degree of customization, Hagerty reports.
Each MST Mk2 and Mk1 Ford Escort offers a choice of engine, suspension, transmission, and braking options. The ‘standard’ powertrain combination is a ‘200+ hp’ 2.5-liter Ford four-cylinder engine with a lightweight clutch and either a 5- or 6-speed manual. The Group-4 trim adds a limited-slip differential to that, along with 50 more hp. But if you want, MST will install a 6-speed sequential transmission, and if you get the Group-4 car, a ‘330+ hp’ 2.5-liter four-cylinder racing engine.
Regarding the suspension and brakes, the ‘base’ setup features adjustable Bilstein dampers and 4-wheel AP Racing discs. The Road & Track model also offers Ohlins dampers and larger optional brakes. The Group-4 car offers the latter as well but has racing-spec pads. And instead of the standard fully-adjustable Bilstein coilovers, buyers can spec upgraded Reiger units.
Plus, MST will paint your Mk2 Ford Escort in whatever color you want, including custom racing liveries, DriveTribe reports.
How you can get one
MST only plans to make about 12 cars per year. So, if you want one, you’ll have to get in line quickly. And they’re not necessarily cheap: prices start at about $106k, Hagerty reports.
Still, given that it’s a brand-new customized rally car, that price is rather fair. And although these Escorts are built in the UK, it appears they’ll be allowed in the US under kit car regulations, The Drive reports. Hopefully, that means at least a few more people will get a taste of what it’s like to be Block.
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