STERLING SILVER – Mk I Ford Escort

My timing must have been perfect the fateful morning when I saw Mark’s Escort again. I had just written a list of cars that I wanted to photograph for some magazines and buried in there was the ‘silver Mk I Escort.’ I reckon it was around 2 years ago or so that I saw the car at the Ford show at Bassendean. It was perched up on the hill with some other old school Escorts and I was drawn to it immediately. Those massive ‘forest flares’ is what got my attention first and then I notice the turbocharged donk. The thing was cool! Since that first encounter, I have been trying to shoot the car.

I misplaced Mark’s number, then he was busy, then I was busy and the circle continued. So you can imagine my shock when I ended up rolling alongside him in peak hour traffic. Thankfully I was driving my gold Mazda 1800 so I didn’t look like some random lunatic waving his hands around trying to get his attention. We wound our windows down, exchanged a convo and the next week I was shooting the car. Finally, mission accomplished!

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During the shoot, I started asking the odd question here and there as I moved my lighting gear around. I soon found out that this was not Mark’s first Escort and he was actually an accomplished race car driver. He has won 2 state championships at Barbagallo Raceway, in two different classes whilst punting around a YB powered Mk II Escort.

That was around 5 years ago and preceding that; right back in the ‘80s, he had a twin-cam Lotus powered example, which of course he wishes he never sold. With his helmet hung up, for the time being, Mark decided that we wanted a decent streeter to punt around in. There was always the option to build one but he had already spied a prime example that was built by the Escort godfather, Mr Rolly Waters. It was for a customer and once he had tired of it, the car was for sale. Mark missed it the first time around so when the car appeared sometime later he grabbed it straight away. “I saw the advert for the car and noticed it was over East. When I spoke to the owner, I knew straight away it was ‘the’ car. I wasn’t going to miss it the second time around” said Mark.

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Pretty soon the vehicle was headed back to the streets of Perth. Mark then started making a few changes of his own to get it a little more suited for road work. One thing that really attracted Mark to the car was the turbocharged 1998cc YB Cosworth motor. “I hadn’t owned a boosted car before so it was new territory for me. I had met Andrew Stevens from Hyperdrive a few times at the track and I knew he was clued up on that sort of stuff so I took the car to him to tune up and work his magic” explained Mark.

Utilising an Adaptronic ECU, Andrew ironed out a few bugs and got the little motor to sing to the tune of 308hp on 18-psi – bloody good performance considering the engine’s capacity. Playing its part is the Garrett ‘Disco Potato’ turbo. This little snail provides excellent throttle response, virtually no lag and it spools up early making a whole bunch of torque. On the other side of the motor is the custom plenum with Bosch injectors which drains the custom fuel tank dry of 98-octane pump gas. Internally, the motor is standard but the whole box and dice have copped a rebuild of course.

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The old gearbox just had to go, it was doing nothing for Mark so he swapped it over for a T5 Cosworth 5-speed with an AP clutch. At the same time, the rear end was upgraded with a Borg Warner diff sourced from a VN Commodore and cut down. 4.11 gears do just the trick. Being a racer, Mark knows that power is nothing without handling or braking ability. Bilstein shocks and Kings springs do their part as does the sway bars and the strut brace on top of the towers. 308mm AP Racing brakes reside on the front with the VN discs remaining from the conversion. The 15-inch race wheels are shod with 225 sized Toyo rubber.

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Inside the car is a pretty damn cool too. You can’t really miss the cage in the back half of the car nor the XR8 Falcon seats that Mark had fitted. The RPM wheel resides in front of a Race Technology’s Dash 2 display unit that keeps track of all the engines vitals and I reckon you could even use it to record your favourite show on Foxtel with it.

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For Mark, the car does the job and does it well. “You would be surprised just how powerful it is and well it goes for what it is. It is more than enough and is such a great car to drive. I have a few other things to change and improve upon and then it is just more driving. I might even take it for a run up on the big track one day. It would be nice to see how she compares”

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