Jodie Duffill’s Escort may look relatively stock from the outside, but there’s a red-eyed demon within this Cosworth RS2000 that’s just raring to get out and cause havoc.
Red, it’s often said, is the colour of love. Countless saccharine valentines lay before you as proof; the scarlet lipstick of a thousand harlots and the eye-hopping rouge of Jessica Rabbit’s mini-dress act as a tangy counterpoint to the city boys’ braces of the 1980s – for whatever motive, moral or less so, loving can always be found swathed in sumptuous red.
It’s the colour of delicious passion, and there are few passions as inexplicable but indelible as that between human and petrol-powered machine; the crackle-painted cam covers of a Testarossa, the fading Sunburst glory of an XR3i, and countless Guards Red Porsches march in line to Cupid’s mighty tom-tom.
It’s for this reason that the RS2000 you see here is just about as red as it’s possible to be. Searingly, gorgeously so. This is a car built from pure, unfettered automotive lust, the sort of desire stemmed from lifelong yearning and relentless pursuit of passionate conquest. This is very much Jodie Duffill’s modus operandi, a man with a lengthy history of tinkering with Escorts; one unafraid to take a stock and original RS2000 and tear it to pieces in pursuit of high-octane mischief.
“I’d had a few nice Escorts back in the ‘80s, as you do,” he explains. “In 2009 I decided it was time to go back to my roots, and I bought this completely standard RS2000. But after a couple of months I was just getting bored with the power of the standard Pinto, it wasn’t doing anything for me. So, since I have my own family-run garage, my son and I decided to go all-out with this car and go down the Cosworth route.”
This is a tried-and-tested formula, and it’s not the first time we’ve seen a YB peeping out from behind a droop-snoot… but don’t go thinking this is a run-of-the-mill swap. Jodie’s been obsessive in the pursuit of perfection, the car evolving and developing to satisfy his seemingly near-insatiable performance whims. This is a man who likes to get his foot down, maximum attack at every opportunity, and it was far from a case of simply dumping a Cossie motor in and seeing what would happen.
“We started by stripping the car down to a bare shell, then blasting it to find what sort of horrors might await us,” he recalls. “And we were lucky, as it turned out! The body was remarkably solid. We started by tweaking the transmission tunnel to take the Cosworth T5 ’box.” Purists may wince at this stage, but it’s worth noting that Jodie was building the car for himself, playing for keeps, and this isn’t butchery, it’s art; the car’s being given a new lease of life rather than brutalised for kicks, and since the plan from the off was to turn it into a high-performance machine, a little tunnel massage is merely collateral damage in pursuit of the greater good.
With the bare bones of this giant-sized Meccano set knocked into shape, it was time for Jodie to get shopping:
“I went out and bought a complete Cosworth engine, loom and gearbox,” he says, “along with a baby Atlas axle, LSD, Pace intercooler and radiator, and Pro Alloy fuel cell. We treated the shell to a fresh coat of red paint, then set about building the RS up into full Cosworth spec.”
In this initial guise, with the engine running green injectors and a 3-bar MAP sensor with a T34 turbo, it was putting out about 330 bhp, which is a pretty massive percentage increase over the RS2000’s stock figure. But this was just for starters.
“The car was crazy fun,” Jodie laughs. “It was built to be driven, and it enjoyed going round in circles and pushing plenty of new supercars up the road. But then the chance came my way to buy a complete 500 bhp race engine with very few miles on it, and this is where the fun really began…”
The new engine in question is the one you see here, complete with Garrett GT3076R turbo on a 2wd Cosworth manifold, Escort RS Cosworth inlet manifold, 800cc injectors, Mahle pistons, H-beam con-rods, and a lightened and knife-edged crank. A proper screamer, it sports an aircraft-grade race loom and a DTA ECU, and makes a very aggressive job of pushing out those 500 horses. Indeed, it was a little more than the Cossie transmission could handle…
“We dropped the engine in and did a few mods in the engine bay, then plumbed in the new race loom and DTA ECU,” says Jodie. “Trying to get that power down though, with the Atlas axle on leaf springs, we realised we would need to five-link this beast! And the second major problem we had was that we were getting through gearboxes on every run out, and having to buy every T5 ’box that came up for sale…”
It was immediately evident that 500 lb.ft of torque is too much for a T5 gearbox; it just makes them go pop. So having stripped out the back end and upgraded it to a five-link set-up with a Watt’s linkage, Jodie decided to treat the car to something very special: a six-speed sequential ’box from Elite Transmissions. “We also fitted a DTA digital dash, so that the ECU, gearbox and dash would all be able to talk to each other,” he elaborates. “So now when I’m driving it I know exactly what’s going on!”
There’s no fear of bursting that transmission, it’s essentially hewn from granite, and the rest of the chassis is studded with similarly robust fare; AP Racing brakes, GAZ coil-overs, and of course the three-piece staggered Image split-rims, custom-built for this car to Jodie’s own specs. Everything you see is fit for purpose, hand-picked to be strong, light, and happy to soak up the sort of abuse his heavy right foot dishes out. So why doesn’t the interior look like a race car? There’s a rollcage and that digi-dash, sure, but why isn’t it all stripped out and rocking a pair of lightweight buckets? “Ah, it’s because I’m old-school, and I prefer the standard look of the RS2000 rolltop trim,” he grins. “That, and I just like the comfort!”
Fair enough, really — if anything, that highlights just how keenly this car has been built to be usable. It’s not a showpiece, it’s not about bragging the numbers, it’s simply been crafted with focus to satisfy the appetites of someone who likes to travel really, really fast. “Yes, it’s an animal, but it’s great fun and it likes to be driven how it’s been built – on full boost,” Jodie beams.
So if the idea of desecrating an original RS2000 makes you see red, perhaps it’s time to reassess a few basic principles. This project celebrates the past, but it’s also about living in the present; fuelled by passion and running hand-in-hand toward the horizon.
Words Daniel Bevis
Photos Adrian Brannan
Get the full spec and see more photos of Jodie’s Cosworth RS2000 in the June 2019 issue
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