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Lot 21: Ford Escort 1300 GT Rally Car

Car, H&H Sales Limited (13 March 2010)

Introduced in January 1968, Ford's original Escort was the latest of a line of small family cars, specifically engineered to be simple, cheap to buy and economical to run. Like previous small Fords, the Escorts had front-mounted engines, driving the rear wheels, and had independent front suspension, and a beam rear axle suspended on leaf springs. The Escort, though, was the first small Ford to use the robust little 'cross-flow' 'Kent' engine, which proved to be remarkably tuneable for use in races and rallies.

Ford soon built up a range of Escorts - two-door and four-door saloons, an estate car and a light panel van - along with a choice of 1.1-litre and 1.3-litre engine sizes, of which the most highly tuned was the 72bhp unit which powered the 1300GT model. From mid-1968, too, there was also the limited-production Twin Cam, which was related to the celebrated Lotus-Cortina model, for it featured a 1.6-litre 2ohc Lotus-developed engine, and a heavy duty drive line.

Escorts of this type were in production until the end of 1974, with a total of more than one million being produced in the UK alone at the Halewood factory, near Liverpool. Tens of thousands were of the GT derivative.

Although the Twin-Cam, and that car's successor, the RS1600 were most suitable for motorsport use, the 1300GT was also very competitive in 1.3-litre classes. For the 16,000 mile London - Mexico Daily Mirror World Cup rally of April-May 1970, which included a complete circumnavigation of Europe and South America, Doug Harris bought a standard 1300GT, prepared it with all available factory-supplied pieces to stiffen up the body structure, and improve the chassis, and contested the event as a genuine private owner. Although only 23 of the original 96 starters finished this gruelling event, Harris (and co-driver Mike Butler) carried out their own on-event service and repairs, and completed the event, their Escort being the smallest-engined car to make it to Mexico City, and also the winner of its capacity class.

After the event the car was used in minor events, then completely re-engineered for the UDT World Cup Rally of 1974, when cars had to be driven from London to Kano in Nigeria, and return by way of Turkey and Yugoslavia to the finish in Munich. This is thought to be the only car (and certainly the only Ford) which competed in both the original World Cup rallies.

For the second event the car was given a 1998cc overhead-camshaft 'Pinto' engine, along with the flared wheel-arches which featured on so many Escort competition cars of this type. Like many other cars on that event, the Escort did not survive the double crossing of the Sahara desert.

In later years it became a club rally car, and endured at least one major special-stage accident, but the original body shell, much of the trim, and the engine survived, and has been restored to '1974 World Cup' visual condition, and a 1998cc Pinto engine is still fitted to the car. Period features still present include the roll cage, the competition turrets for the rear dampers, and Bilstein competition struts and dampers, the appropriate Halda navigational equipment, a plumbed-in fire extinguisher, and a ZF limited-slip differential.

A genuinely historic privateer Escort, 'CMF 730H' is offered for sale with original road registration document (showing ownership by the Ford Motor Co Ltd of Warley between July 1971 and July 1972), MSA Historic Rally Vehicle Identity Form (2001) and MSA Competition logbook (2001).

Lot Details
Auction Car
H&H Sales Limited, Stoneleigh Park
Lot Number21
Outcome NOT SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Condition rating0
Registration numberCMF730H
Chassis numberBB48JC33356
Engine numberDRH903907
Engine capacity (cc)1998
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors