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We dig up the Fiesta Escort hybrid built by Ford Motorsport – the Fiescort from 1979.

It all started at Boreham in 1977, when Peter Ashcroft, engineer Allan Wilkinson and his drivers had time to discuss Ford’s rallying future. Spurred on by Wilkinson’s abrasive opinions, they needed a new Group 4 model. Under current regulations, the best way to replace the Escort, they thought, was with a ‘better Escort’ – still with a front-mounted, in-line, engine that drove the rear wheels. Ideally, though, it would have more power, be lighter, and have better traction – and someone at Ford would have to be persuaded to build 400 of them to gain sporting homologation. An alternative suggestion – of developing an entirely new car with its transverse engine and transmission behind the seats, but driving the rear wheels – was put up by Len Bailey, but did not make much progress.

Early in 1979, in great secret, the Wilkinson/Mick Jones design/development team at Boreham started work on the P1 project, which was soon nicknamed Fiescort. With all the best marketing reasons in mind, this car was to be a clever amalgam of Fiesta and Mk2 Escort thinking. Effectively it was to use a Fiesta cabin and structure, to which most of a Mk2 Escort front-end would be grafted. The basic difference, though, from the Fiesta, was that this was a front engine/rear drive car, still with a ‘north-south’ BDG engine up-front.

Behind the bulkhead, and out of sight, was a new floorpan, while the transmission was by a much-modified racing Hewland transaxle in the tail, all matched to independent rear suspension which Wilkinson would design. By June 1979 a mock-up was complete, and by August the only prototype in existence was nearly complete. 

Unfortunately, this was the time that management decided to close down Boreham’s World Championship programme at the end of the season. The Fiescort, the true ancestor of the RS1700T, went no further than this. After being stripped out, it was sold for scrap value, and has not been seen since. Shame.

Words Graham Robson

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