Forget the complexity of the modern world. Tony Ginns is transporting us back to simpler times with his historic rally-spec, Mk1 Escort RS2000.
The late 1960s and early 1970s were interesting times for the average British household. While post-War recreation had been increasingly gearing toward growing family time in front of the television, interior designers and manufacturers were specifically integrating the TV into the home in the 1960s, aiming all the living room furniture towards it, acknowledging that it was becoming reflexive to flick the set on in the evenings, and it was around this time that broadcasters began to transmit shows in colour. BBC2’s 1967 Wimbledon coverage was the first colour broadcast in the UK, with each channel increasing efforts until full national coverage was achieved by 1976.
Some folks, of course, are resistant to change. And with good reason. Black-and-white looks better in context; imagine Casablanca or Citizen Kane in colour, it’d be horrendous. And belligerently sticking to the black-and-white majesty of yore is this 1974 Escort, which has resisted the swap to colour from day one. Its imposing monochrome scheme speaks volumes about its purity and sense of purpose, and when you start to pore over the myriad competition-derived details you discover that this isn’t just a throwback to a simpler time – it’s a period-perfect historic-spec creation, painstakingly crafted to transport onlookers to the black-and-white era.
Getting in early
The puppetmaster who’s pulling the strings above this fabulous Escort is Tony Ginns, who — at a spritely 60 years old — would have been just the right age to have sat agog in front of
TV when this Mk1 was rolling off the production line.
“I’ve owned Mk1 Escort rally cars since 1990, and had always really wanted a top-spec historic car,” he explains. His motoring CV certainly boasts the swagger to back this up, bristling with Lotus Sunbeams, various generations of Mitsubishi Evo, M3s, R8s, right back to his first car — a Mk1 Escort 1300E, which ended up running a 1600 on twin 40s. This automotive tinkering has been a lifelong journey for Tony, and the historic Mk1 is a sonorous crescendo.
“I bought the base for this project from a friend six years ago,” he tells us. “It was a fully fabricated bare shell that had previously been dry-stored for eight years. The first two years of the project centred around sourcing and commissioning the engine, gearbox and axle builds.”
This was fastidious and methodical work, as Tony was keen for this all to be absolutely correct to historic specs. The engine is a 2-litre Pinto with the right head — not an injection-type one — and sports a historic dry-sump set-up along with a pair of Weber 48s. A classic-diameter stainless exhaust was fabricated by Ryan Edwards at REEF in the Bicester Heritage complex, and the demands of motorsport are catered for by a high torque starter and high output alternator. The finished motor has a dyno cell readout of 216 bhp; a session on the rollers at Northampton Motorsport yielded a solid and consistent 210 bhp and 147 lb.ft which, in a car weighing just 960 kg dry, is enough for vintage tomfoolery.
The transmission is similarly of-its-time; a four-speed rocket ’box built by Quaife meets a fully-floating plated Atlas axle and 5.1 ZF diff, providing the correct feel and power delivery while also ticking the scrutineers’ boxes – and offering up a hilarious amount of power!
“Commissioning the electrical wiring loom and the panel build was the next important phase,” he continues, “and the following months were a dry build period, before moving on to paint and prep.”
The right gear
A huge amount of thought and preparation went into the chassis, turning this ’74 Escort into a ’70s clubman’s dream. The rear’s been turreted for Bilstein dampers as well as featuring the five-short-link kit, while the front end employs Tarmac-spec roller-top Bilstein adjustable coil-overs, bottom arms that are also adjustable (although not in situ), and a Twin Cam anti-roll bar. The brakes are proper AP items — a Monte Carlo front disc set-up, and solid-disc rears with separate handbrake callipers, working in tandem with the fly-off hydraulic handbrake.
The 8 inch wide Compomotives look supremely fit for purpose with their fat classic Pirellis, and their gold hue is one of the few deviations from the all-pervading black-and-white theme. But the more you look, the more of these details you unearth; there’s a wonderful smattering of yellow, for example, picking out the stitching on the seats and the steering wheel, and the numbers on the gearknob. That’s no accident. That’s there to infuse a beam of sunshine into the harsh monochrome, it gives the car a richer personality and a friendliness.
Speaking of ‘fit for purpose’, take a peep through those regulation-mandated Perspex winding windows and see what you can spot inside. What confronts you there is a beautifully finished retro rally cabin, at once clinically pristine and crying out to be slathered in safari dust and muddy Scandinavian snow. The Sparco Pro 2000 seats are modern because that’s how rally safety works, but they’re very much in-keeping with the car’s spirit, being lightweight GRP items, and you can’t argue with the provenance of the rest of the interior: Safety Devices roll cage, flocked dual-cowl dash, plumbed-in extinguishers, helmet net, Stack gauges, tripmeter… it continues to the millimetre-perfect boot too, with its Blistein quick-lift jack, choice of one or two spare wheels on the post mount, lightweight competition battery and fuel cell with external filler.
The level of effort that’s been poured into getting everything spot-on has been appropriately rewarded with an MSA logbook and a set of historic papers, as is fitting with Tony being a member of various MSA clubs thanks to his continued rallying activities.
As you’d expect, this really has been a labour of love. “Anyone who’s built a car of this quality will realise that every element of it pinches the purse somewhat,” he says, half-smiling, half-grimacing. “But it’s now a work of art, and I treat it as such. Although if anybody wants to treat it differently then it’s certainly more than capable…”
So what’s the best thing about this car, Tony? “I’d have to say it’s the presence,” he says. And we’d be inclined to agree. The finish is utterly flawless, the spec is spectacular, and there’s not a single thing on this car we’d change. Who needs Technicolour? This vision in black-and-white is broadcasting waves of period perfection.
Words Daniel Bevis
Photos Dan Sherwood
See more photos and get the full spec on Tony’s Mk1 Escort RS2000 in the October 2018 issue
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