Words and Photography: Ross Delaney | Owner: Darren Cox
For one reason or another, the MK2 Escort holds a special place in my heart. As a youngster the popular eighties saloon was the first classic car I was properly exposed to, helping my father restore his RS2000 during my childhood years.
Growing older, my interests are now very firmly rooted in eighties / nineties motorsport and emulating that look in a road car is something I lust after. Naturally then, the sight of a narrow-body MK2 squatting over little 13” wheels is right up my street and it’s exactly why I’d been hassling Darran to bring his example to our show at Bicester Heritage last August.
I first came across this car at Players Classic back in 2019 but Daz has owned it much longer than that. About 10 years to be exact. He too has always been into old, fast fords, growing up with Cosworths and RS Turbos. After owning a few, he decided a rowdy MK2 built from the ground up was the route he wanted to take and so, when a shell popped up for sale with Jeff Harris of Harris Performance Engines, he couldn’t turn away.
A deal was done meaning Darran ended up with a painted Bermuda Blue 2 door MK2 and a bored 200hp Pinto installed under the bonnet. A big valve head and cam, developed by HPE, was fitted above a bottom end featuring forged pistons and rods with an Omex ECU and throttle bodies controlling the mixture. The unwanted stuff is blasted out through a Harris 4-2-1 manifold and custom built exhaust.
“200 bhp might not sound a lot by modern standards but it weighs so little and is geared for acceleration, so you have to hang on when you drive it as it’ll light the little wheels up very easily,” says Darran. “It’s been clocked at 4.6seconds 0-60 and max speed is around 130mph.”
To make these sorts of hilarious numbers, the Escort is far from standard underneath. GAZ gold coilovers are found up front with GAZ shocks and 3.5” lowering blocks at the rear. A Gartrac anti roll bar and Milton A frame axle kit keep everything firm and tight out back while Darran steers the MK2 through a Quaife quick rack.
Power is transferred to the 13” Minilite wheels through a Cosworth propshaft, Quaife half shafts and a Blackline ATB limited slip differential. High Spec 6 pot brakes slow the Escort down when things get a bit too wild.
The MK2 is a car built to be driven and Daz is a big believer in doing just that. “It’s been used and abused over the years doing track days, quarter miles, shows, plenty of road use and was even my daily for a few months! So, when I think about it, it’s held up pretty well as it’s hardly ever broken down!”
We want to say a big thanks to Darran for taking some time to allow us shoot the car before he headed home from the show. Hopefully we see it once more, in 2022!
2050cc Harris pinto
Forged pistons and rods
Harris spec big valve head and cam
Omex throttle bodies and ECU
Cosworth green Injectors
Harris 4-2-1 manifold and custom exhaust
200bhp and 8500rpm Rev limiter
Lightened and balanced fly wheel
Type 9 5 speed gearbox with retroford short shift
Quaife half shafts
Black line ATB diff
GAZ gold front coilovers
GAZ rear shocks
Single leaf springs 3.5 inch lowering blocks
Gartrac anti roll bar
Anti dive kit
Milton A Frame axle location kit
Quaife quick steering rack
Eccentric top mounts
High spec 6 pot front brakes fully floating discs
Ford motorsport peddle box
13x8 revolution minilites 175/50 tyres
Recaro pole position seats
OMP steering wheel and gear knob
Carbon rear parcel shelf
Custom carpet set
Bermuda blue paint
Mexico front spoiler and bumpers