Ford Escort Mk1 Buying Guide
There’s an Escort for everyone, from humdrum family saloons and estates, to tarmac-tearing sports models
• Project £1000-10,000 • Good £8000-30,000 • Concours £12,000-50,000 •
Running costs ★★★★
DIY Friendly ★★★★★
Few cars were more versatile than the Ford Escort, especially the Mk1 edition that took over from the Anglia 105E in 1968. For most people the Escort represented affordable family transport and while the smaller engines didn’t provide a huge amount of fun, some of the more potent powerplants turned these boxy saloons into giant killers on circuits and rally stages.
With over two million Mk1 Escorts built in a production run that lasted for seven years, this was a car that put nations on wheels. With saloons and estates available along with an array of engines and trim levels, there was an Escort for every budget. Unsurprisingly, decades after the final example was made, most of these cars have disappeared forever, scuppered by rot and high repair costs.
Just as predictably, the cars that are the most coveted are the sporty editions produced by Ford’s Advanced Vehicle Operations (AVO) division – the Mexico, RS1600 and Twin Cam. You’ll pay heavily for really good examples of these, but the more mainstream models are far more attainable although they tend to be harder to find, at least in good condition.
Your AutoClassics Ford Escort Mk1 inspection checklist
Mainstream Escorts featured a Kent engine in 1098cc or 1298cc forms, while the Mexico got a 1598cc version. A 1993cc Pinto engine went into the RS2000, the Twin Cam got a 1598cc Lotus-derived unit while the RS1600 was fitted with a 16-valve twin-cam BDA unit, developed by Cosworth.
The single-cam Kent and Pinto engines are easy to work on and the parts supply is good, whereas the twin-cam units are far more complex and parts are much more costly – if they’re available at all. While DIY rebuilds are no problem with the single-cam engines, the twin-cam units are best left to experts.
Worn cylinder bores and piston rings are the most likely malady with the Kent and Pinto engines, so look for blue exhaust smoke which betrays oil being burned. A tappety Kent top end is also possible, because of worn cam followers. The Kent engine features a rubber timing belt which should be renewed every three years, so replace it as a matter of course if you’re not sure when it was last done – it’s a cheap and easy DIY job.
Most of these Cortinas have a Kent engine and a four-speed manual gearbox (in close-ratio form in the GT and Sport), although some came with a three-speed Borg Warner automatic transmission. The RS2000 got a different gearbox altogether while the Mexico, Twin Cam and RS1600 featured a 2000E gearbox borrowed from the Cortina and Corsair.
The automatic is reliable, largely because the Kent engine isn’t all that torquey. Rebuilds aren’t costly while decent used automatic gearboxes aren’t hard to find.
Of the three different manual transmissions offered, none is weak but wear is inevitable, eventually. Rumbling in first, second and third belies tired bearings but these will soldier on for years. A baulky gearchange is more likely to be a stretched clutch cable than worn synchromesh; a new cable should fix things.
Suspension and brakes
The steering rack rarely gives problems although the gaiters can split, allowing dirt in which leads to rapid wear. If the steering is vague it’s likely that the rubber mountings need to be replaced. If things are really vague and there’s a knocking sound from the front suspension, the anti-roll bar bushes have worn.
The rear wheelbearings are a weakness, so listen for whining as the car is cornered. They’re cheap enough to buy, but replacing them requires a press, so it’s not a DIY job.
If there’s evidence of front suspension leaks it’s possible to replace just the strut, but most owners renew the springs at the same time. This bumps up the cost but it’s still cheap to do.
Many Escorts were fitted with drum brakes all round, but some variants did get front discs. The braking system is conventionally engineered and reliable, although wheel cylinders can leak and the adjusters can seize up.
M G Roadster, 1964 1964
MGB roadster Mk 1 pull handle numbers matching 3 bearing engine and 3 syncro gearbox MOT Sep 2018 45000 miles Restored in 1980's with all receipts. Super Bodywork Lovely patina on interior. Hood & Tonneau cover. Overdrive (on 3rd & 4th Gear and it works!) & correct painted wire wheels. Drives lovely...ready for Summer now. Toolkit & unused spare wheel. Many bills aFor Sale | 22 May 2018 | Stagshaw Drive, Peterborough PE2 8NQ, UK£ 4,400
Porsche 911S Coupe 1967
A complete bare shell restoration of a dry, rust-free car. Body and paint by Apex Autobody in Denver, Colorado. Outstanding panel fit, with original floor pans and upper body sheet metal. Engine and transmission rebuild by Brad Berry in Denver. Full suspension rebuild, all instruments, wiring, brightwork, full interior from A to Z. An outstanding, correct, matching numbers example restored from aFor Sale | 22 May 2018 | La Jolla Boulevard, La Jolla, CA, USA$ POA
Land Rover Defender 90 300 Tdi Diesel 1997
THIS DEFENDER HAS HAD A FULL RESTORATION, IT LOOKS AND DRIVES AMAZING. MECHANICALLY A1, BODY WORK IS EXTREMELY CLEAN FOR THE YEAR AND IN MY OPINION IT'S MINT.IT'S HAD A PROFESSIONAL OVEN BAKED PAINT JOB AND A NEW PUMA BONNET WHICH SET THIS CAR OFF A TREAT!!! ITS FULLY FITTED OUT WITH KBX GRILLS AND VENTS, THIS FULL KIT IS NOT CHEAP AND COSTS OVER £700 ALONE. INTERIOR IS AGAIN IN GREAT CONDITIFor Sale | 22 May 2018 | Lonsdale Avenue, Doncaster DN2 6HJ, UK£ 5,500
Porsche 356C Coupe 1965
This is one of the best 356C series Porsches anywhere. Rare and beautiful colors, matching numbers, full-factory options, and numerous show awards. A restoration to this level costs well over $125,000. A California black plate car. Very hard to duplicate Restored by Porsche 356 expert, Don Emory, of Fallbrook, Calif. A bare shell, full restoration of all components. Has original upper body shelFor Sale | 22 May 2018 | La Jolla Boulevard, La Jolla, CA, USA$ POA
Porsche 356SC 1964
It is extremely rare to find a matching numbers and colors SC Coupe with original body shell and floor pans. Just serviced and ready to drive – a beautiful example! Restored some 20 years ago, this is an outstanding example still in its original colors of Ruby Red with Fawn vinyl interior. It has survived with its original upper body sheet metal. All serial number stampings are in both doors,For Sale | 22 May 2018 | La Jolla Boulevard, La Jolla, CA, USA$ POA
A survivor with original body shell and floors was professionally restored, as needed, by Bill Perrone of The Parts Shop in Huntington Beach, Calif. about 15 years ago. Still with a complete original floor pans and logitudenals it has VIN stampings in doors, front hood, and rear engine lid. There were very few reproduction parts used in the restoration. Largely original bright work, hood handle anFor Sale | 22 May 2018 | La Jolla Boulevard, La Jolla, CA, USA$ POA
Austin-Healey 3000 MKII BN7 1961
From 2004 to 2006, it was completely restored by Austin-Healey expert, Tom Kovacs of Fourintune in Wisconsin. Now in its original colors of Colorado Red with black interior. Having had limited use since, but with regular service done, it is still in top condition. Ready to drive or show. It has an excellent file of restoration receipts, photos, Heritage Certificate and more. One of the finest examFor Sale | 22 May 2018 | La Jolla Boulevard, La Jolla, CA, USA$ POA
Austin-Healey 100M Le Mans 1956
A professional body-off frame restoration, documented with excellent photographs circa 1999, resulting in various Concours awards. Then sent to Healey specialists, Fourintune, in 2007 for a serious going over, with work receipts outlining work done. The 100M had many sporting improvements over the standard, making it a superior car. The standard BN2 engine was up from 90bhp to 110bhp; these carFor Sale | 22 May 2018 | La Jolla Boulevard, La Jolla, CA, USA$ POA
Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Zagato 1961
The extensive restoration included a bare shell repaint to a very high level. Still retaining the rare original alloy bright work. The comprehensive mechanical restoration included: full suspension rebuild, Koni shock absorbers, new front sway bar, rebushed Watts linkage, new oil cooler and lines and all new intake tubing. The engine rebuild included: cylinder head (ported and polished with new vaFor Sale | 22 May 2018 | La Jolla Boulevard, La Jolla, CA, USA$ POA
Few Mk1 Escorts have never been welded because, predictably, most examples have been affected by rust to a lesser or greater degree. As soon as corrosion strikes it needs to be tackled or it’ll just spread and turn the car into a breaker. Original panels have long since dried up, but repro parts are available and they fit well.
The corrosion hot spots are predictable: the front inner wings (especially the suspension top mountings), the inner and outer front wings (and the seam where these meet), the bonnet mountings, the footwells, door bottoms plus the vent at the base of the windscreen.
Rust or bodges in the headlight surrounds are another probability, along with corrosion in the valances, the rear leaf spring mountings, sills and the boot floor. Windscreen leaks (front and rear) are far from unusual, but replacement seals are available and they’re straightforward to fit.
Exterior trim is hard to find unless you chance across something. Because most of the external brightwork is chrome-plated mazak it can’t be restored, while the parts most likely to give problems (and which are the hardest to find) are the hockey stick trim around the rear side windows and the quarter bumpers.
Cloth trim was fitted to the E, GT and RS, while vinyl was standard in the Sport, XL, Super and Mexico. It tends to last well, but if it’s tired there’s nothing to faze a competent trimmer. Most parts are available on a repro basis; the Mexico featured a sculpted rear seat that’s trickier to revive than the standard item.
The Escort’s electrical system is simple, but can still suffer from corroded contacts in the loom as well as the fusebox. If there are glitches start your investigation with the multi-pin connector that feeds into the fusebox, as it can suffer from poor connections. The same goes for the column stalks and the rocker switches – with only used parts available.
- 1968: The two-door saloon range arrives. There are standard, De Luxe, Super and GT editions, with 1098cc or 1298cc engines. A van arrives soon after, along with an automatic option on 1.1 and 1.3-litre saloons.
- 1969: A four-door saloon and estate reach showrooms.
- 1970: Engine revisions mean power increases and amended model names. The standard range now consists of standard, L, XL and GT derivatives, alongside which are the RS1600 and Mexico.
- 1971: The 1300 Sport is a low-spec 1300GT while the Escort Sport has an XL interior, GT running gear and RS bodywork.
- 1973: The two-door 1300E arrives, with 1300 Sport mechanicals and luxury trim. All Escorts get improved suspension and the GT is discontinued at the end of the year. The RS2000 debuts with a 1993cc Pinto engine.
- 1974: The four-door 1300E goes on sale with metallic paint, a vinyl roof and a high-spec interior.
- 1975: The Mk1 Escort is replaced by a Mk2 version.
When the Escort Mk1 was current there was a bewildering array of derivatives available, but in the 21st century things have changed massively. A lot of the more prosaic variants have long since disappeared, with sporty editions such as the Mexico now more common.
If your pockets aren’t deep and you want something that’s rare, hold out for an unmodified regular model – it’s more likely to be surrounded at shows because they’re seen so rarely. But if you want something that’s fun and more of an investment it has to be one of the sportier models. Unless you’ve got really deep pockets this will be a Mexico or maybe an RS2000 – if you want a Twin Cam or RS16000 you’ll need to dig very deep.
Many surviving Escorts have been modified, in some cases very heavily, while there are also plenty of fakes around. AVO cars are most likely to be faked; a Twin Cam’s chassis number starts with BB48 or BB49, RS1600 with BB49 or BFAT while Mexicos are more complex. If the five-digit number is 00001, it means the car was the first built that month, not the first one ever built. These AVO models featured a Type 49 bodyshell, strengthened with extra plates on the inner wing tops, chassis rails, strut towers and rear spring mountings.
|Escort RS Mexico|
Classic Cars for Sale
MGB roadster Mk 1 pull handle numbers matching 3 bearing engine and 3 syncro gearbox MOT Sep 2018 45000 miles Restored in 1980's with all receipts. Super Bodywork Lovely patina on interior. Hood & Tonneau cover. Overdrive (on 3rd & 4th Gear and it works!) & correct painted wire wheels. Drives lovely...ready for Summer now. Toolkit & unused spare wheel. Many bills a
A complete bare shell restoration of a dry, rust-free car. Body and paint by Apex Autobody in Denver, Colorado. Outstanding panel fit, with original floor pans and upper body sheet metal. Engine and transmission rebuild by Brad Berry in Denver. Full suspension rebuild, all instruments, wiring, brightwork, full interior from A to Z. An outstanding, correct, matching numbers example restored from a
THIS DEFENDER HAS HAD A FULL RESTORATION, IT LOOKS AND DRIVES AMAZING. MECHANICALLY A1, BODY WORK IS EXTREMELY CLEAN FOR THE YEAR AND IN MY OPINION IT'S MINT.IT'S HAD A PROFESSIONAL OVEN BAKED PAINT JOB AND A NEW PUMA BONNET WHICH SET THIS CAR OFF A TREAT!!! ITS FULLY FITTED OUT WITH KBX GRILLS AND VENTS, THIS FULL KIT IS NOT CHEAP AND COSTS OVER £700 ALONE. INTERIOR IS AGAIN IN GREAT CONDITI
This is one of the best 356C series Porsches anywhere. Rare and beautiful colors, matching numbers, full-factory options, and numerous show awards. A restoration to this level costs well over $125,000. A California black plate car. Very hard to duplicate Restored by Porsche 356 expert, Don Emory, of Fallbrook, Calif. A bare shell, full restoration of all components. Has original upper body shel