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Just taken on a Mk1 Escort Van or four-door saloon project? Here are a couple of build ideas to get you started, courtesy of the mighty (digital) pen of Simon Coulson.

mk1 escort van


If the four-door is an exercise in retro restraint, then the load-lugger (nicknamed the Boogie Van) is anything but — sorry factory fans. With good Mk1 vans getting increasingly rare, this is out last chance to recreate a golden era when customising commercials was the done thing. The difference is, this one will be far better built than one done by a 19-year-old in the street in 1979 — starting off with those hand-rolled custom arches. We’ve also added a one-piece rear door (still available from Smith & Deakin), and spent many hours tracking down a pair of porthole star windows for the sides.

Other trick body mods include a one-off front spoiler and de-handled doors, then it’s time to prep for paint and for a custom, we’ve kept it somewhat restrained — Ford Marine Blue, found on facelift Mk3 Cortinas, but brightened up with some carefully hand-painted green and blue side stripes. Now firmly in fitting-up mode, a jack-up kit has been sourced and fitted to the axle to allow (generous) room for some 15 inch slotmags (staying 13s at the front). Powering this beast is a 2-litre Essex V4 from a Corsair, with the manifolds plumbed straight into those sidepipes, because who needs silencers? Finally, it’s time for the interior, and this van’s piece de resistance — a full retrim in green Draylon with twisted gold piping. Oh yes indeed.


If there’s one golden rule to stick to when messing around with the good Ford’s work, it’s that with four-doors KISS (keep it simple, stupid) should always apply. So unlike a politician, we’ve practised what we’ve preached with this peachy Portuguese 1100 and not thrown everything from the Burton Power catalogue at it. Instead, we’ve carefully stripped the shell down before respraying it in Ford’s finest Maize Yellow — a suitably period shade that is bound to get the diehards nodding their heads in appreciation.

Once the paint has hardened, we’ve refitted all of the external brightwork, most importantly keeping the full-length bumpers and overriders, adding some 1300E hockey sticks to the rear panel, before jumping on a plane to Australia and bringing back a pair of rare Super chrome side trims as hand luggage. With the suspension suitably lowered, we’ve bolted on a set of Retro Ford’s new Lotus-style steels (7x13s, naturally) along with hub caps, then turned our attention to under the bonnet, and what better to power this sleeper than an injected Pinto and Mazda five-speed? With the original interior cleaned up and refitted (because black works best with Maize Yellow), it’s time to hit the highway.

mk1 escort van

These project ideas first appeared in the October 2018 issue

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