Remember last June? That was when MST Cars (part of Motorsport Tools) first detailed its ambitious plan, in collaboration with Great British Sports Cars, to build roadgoing, rear-wheel drive Escorts once more. Not just restoring existing shells, either, but creating new cars with new components. Oh yes, to Group 4 rally spec as well, with more than 200hp and IVA type approval for the road. Buyers were to be offered Mk1 or Mk2 bodies, Duratec, Millington or BDG engines, the best in suspension and brakes and a whole lot more. It sounded awesome - and almost too good to be true.
But 18 months later, here it is: the MST Cars Escort, road registered and with a 70-plate. Photographed by MT near their North Wales base, the first car looks as brilliant as you'd hope for a freshly assembled rally-spec Mk2, dinky gold Minilites just wider than the arch extensions and the evocative shape having lost precisely none of its impact despite its age. Lest it be forgotten, Ford stopped producing rear-drive Escorts in 1980; they've remained familiar in classic rallying, of course, but there's no escaping the fact that that's an awfully long time ago.
Motorsport Tools managing director, Carwyn Ellis, told PH that this car is a fully up and running prototype, developed to test the Duratec powertrain and its ATR throttle bodies, an Atlas rear axle, AP brakes and Bilstein coilovers in situ. It's an engineering build so obviously isn't representative yet of the finished product from inside - but it appropriately demonstrates what buyers will be treated to in the thrills department. Each new Escort will be fully customisable, with manual or sequential gearboxes, a wide or standard body, fully stripped or trimmed interior; no two will be the same. Although we're willing to bet that each one will be epic.
Production is expected to be up and running soon, with Ellis explaining that MST Cars expects "build times to be six months" with "around 12 cars to be made per year" - which represents something close to maximum capacity given the "huge interest" already shown. Moreover, the workload comes on top of the new bodyshells that MST already produces for customers, so it's fair to say the firm has a busy year in store. On that note, MST is inviting orders for 2021 now, with Escort prices starting from £65,000 plus VAT. Let's all form an orderly queue...
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