A newly converted rally legend – Ford Escort Mk2

This 1978 Ford Escort Mk2 has been carefully rebuilt from scratch by its Australian owner.

The Ford Escort Mk2 was designed to replace the Mk1 Escort, one of the most popular cars in Europe when it was in production and a famous successful car on the racetracks and rally stages of Europe.

Fast facts – The Ford Escort Mk2

  • The Ford Escort Mk2 was launched in 1974 as a joint project between Fork UK and Ford Germany. It used the same basic interior unibody, powertrain options, and chassis as the outgoing Mk1.
  • The replacement of the Mk1 Escort was a mammoth task, it became a legendary vehicle during its lifetime and one of the most successful rally cars of all time.
  • Although very different from the Mk1, under the exterior body panels, the Mk2 is almost the same car and continued the Mk1’s winning streak.
  • Both Mk1 and Mk2 Escorts are among the most popular creations from Ford’s European operations today in the 1960s and 1970s.

The arrival of the escort

When the Ford Escort originally launched in 1968 as a replacement for the outgoing Ford Anglia, it was a revelation. It had a modern styling, a stiff unibody chassis, had a more powerful engine selection and was available as a two-door, four-door and station wagon (station wagon).

Image descriptionThis is the Mk1 Ford Escort Mexico, a special version of the car created to celebrate victory in the 1970 London to Mexico World Cup rally. Image courtesy Ford UK.

What nobody really expected was the success of the escort in motorsport, especially in rallying. During its active years, from 1968 to the mid-1970s, the Mk1 Escort won a number of rallies and races, becoming one of the most successful rally cars of all time.

This success was despite the car’s relatively simple suspension with MacPherson struts in the front and a rigid axle on leaf springs in the rear.

Ultimately, Ford would sell well over two million copies of the Mk1 Escort. By the mid-1970s it was clear that the rumor was out of date, and so a project was embarked on to bring out a new escort that would be known as the Mk2 or Mark II. The first escort then became known retrospectively as the Mk1.

Big shoes to fill in – the Mk2 escort arrives

The Mk2 Ford Escort was introduced for sale in January 1975 with an all-new, no-nonsense styling that was much more in vogue in the mid-1970s.

Somewhat controversial, they decided not to change much of the Escort under the new outer body panels, it kept the same inner unibody and much to the chagrin of many, it kept the same rigid axle on the leaf spring rear suspension.

Ford Escort Mk2 1

Image descriptionThis Escort has been rebuilt from scratch, but it is still equipped with its (overhauled) original matching-number engine.

It offered the same body options as the Mk1, including a two-door, four-door, van back and station wagon. The original engine options were also offered, although expanded during production, offering larger and more powerful engines, including the popular Ford Pinto 2.0 liter and the 2.0 liter Cosworth BDG.

Despite the rapid development in the world of rallying in the 1970s, the Ford Escort Mk2 proved to be shockingly resilient, in the 1979 World Rally Championship (WRC) season the Mk2 Escort Ford won the manufacturer’s title with Björn WaldegÃ¥rd taking the driver’s title in his Mk2, followed by Hannu Mikkola in a Mk2 in second place and Ari Vatanen in a Mk2 in fifth place.

Vatanen would win the drivers’ title in a Mk2 against the might of the Audi Quattro in 1982, a remarkable feat of driving in every way and a good indication of how brilliant a properly sized Mk2 can be.

Ford replaced the Mk2 with the third generation Escort in 1980, this was a completely new car with an all new unibody body and a front-wheel drive layout instead of rear-wheel drive. None of the escorts released after the original Mk1 and Mk2 ever achieved a level of notoriety comparable to that of their ancestors.

The 1978 Ford Escort Mk2 shown here

During the production of the Mk2, Escort Australia had its own manufacturing facilities and the model proved to be a bestseller in the country and in neighboring New Zealand.

Ford Escort Mk2 16th

Image descriptionThis is the 2.0 Pinto in-line four-cylinder engine which has proven to be a popular high-performance engine in the Escort and is a remarkable improvement over the Kent in-line four-cylinder.

The escort pictured here has been converted to a high standard in Australia by its current owner over the years. The steel unibody body was soda-blasted down to the bare metal, all rusted parts were replaced with new sheet steel and then repainted in Nitrous Blue.

The original 2.0-liter Pinto four-cylinder in-line engine was upgraded with an improved FR32 camshaft kit, two FAJS (Weber replica) 48mm carburetors, wound steel pipe elbows, a three-core aluminum radiator, a new clutch, and a starter high level rebuilt engine and fuel pump.

The car has been fitted with new moldings and rubber throughout, it has four Cibie headlights installed in the front and it has carbon front quarter bumpers, a carbon rear bumper and a carbon duck lip spoiler on the rear.

It now runs on JBW RS4 13 inch alloy wheels with new Federal Super Steel tires. Inside, it has a three-spoke Momo steering wheel, Recaro bucket seats, carbon door cards, and a custom dashboard with an aftermarket cluster.

This escort is now up for sale by Collecting Cars in a live online auction. If you want to learn more or register to bid, you can click here to view the list.

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Images courtesy of Collecting Cars

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