Ford Escort RS1600 Custom
- Mileage: 7,939
- Year: 1972
- MOT Expiry: Exempt
- Exterior Colour: Electric/Monza Blue
- Interior Colour: Grey Herringbone Cloth
- Top speed: 113
- 0-60mph: 8.9
- BHP: 113
- Transmission: 4-Speed Manual
- Engine Capacity: 1601cc
- Engine Configuration: 4 In-line
"Ford Escort RS1600 - The Potent Mix". This was how Ford's advertising campaign announced the Escort RS1600 to the world in early 1970. A combination of Escort Twin Cam chassis and running gear allied with Ford's newly developed Cosworth sixteen-valve twin cam BDA (Belt Driven Type A) engine unit.
Production of the RS1600 began at Ford's Halewood assembly plant in January 1970 with the first cars going on sale in April/May of that year at a cost of £1,447. Initial production cars were essentially re-engined Twin Cam's and were only available in White. Homologation of the RS1600 into Group 2 was achieved in September 1970 on the basis of one thousand vehicles having been constructed. In fact, best estimates suggest that only around 1137 RS1600's were actually produced over the vehicles entire five-year production span to the end of 1974. From November 1970 production was transferred to Ford AVO's (Advanced Vehicle Operations) purpose-built assembly line at Aveley, South Okendon. where it was joined by a new model, the Escort Mexico. Two additional colours, Sunset Red and Maize Yellow were also made available at this time with further additions to follow at the end of 1971.
The specification of the RS1600 changed only in detail throughout its production life, with one major exception. From October 1972 the original cast iron cylinder block, which was essentially a standard production item, was replaced by a purpose made light alloy component. Due to the versatility of the AVO production line a whole host of performance and cosmetic options became available for the cars including the Clubman Pack (a competition-orientated pack including uprated suspension and safety items) and the Custom Pack, as featured here, which was a luxury road pack that included cloth-trimmed interior.
The whole purpose for the RS1600's existance was of course to provide Ford with a competitive race/rally car, so it is in this area that the car is most commonly remembered. Once the cars reliability was established it went on to take many international rally wins including the Thousand Lakes in Finland, the Safari, Circuit of Ireland and three consecutive outright wins on the Lombard RAC rally from 1972 to 1974. Many famous drivers such as Roger Clark, Timo Makinen, Hannu became synonymous with the little Escort. On the circuits the lightweight RS1600 racers from the likes of BroadSpeed and Zakspeed developed a giant killing reputation using 2-litre fuel injected versions of the BDA engine developing up to 280hp.
Advanced Vehicle Operations (AVO) Type 49 body, Custom Pack, Triple coachline in white, Front quarter bumpers, Flared front wings, Strengthened chassis rails, Strengthened flitch plates, Reinforced front suspension strut top mounting plates, Rear radius rods, Safety glass, Anti-burst locks, Aluminium grille in black, Six pod sports binnacle, Leather-trimmed sports steering wheel, Heater fan, Two-speed windscreen wiper, Interior courtesy light, Ashtray, Spare wheel, Jack.
This impeccably restored RS1600 looks sensational in its original colour of Electric/Monza Blue (code U), presenting just as it did leaving the AVO facility back in 1972. The quality of the restorative work is exquisite and very true to factory specification, with even panel gaps all round and a flawless finish to the underside. The gleaming bodywork is accented by all the right details including the Custom Pack triple coachline, FoMoCo rear lights, and Cibie sealed-beam units, all factory-correct and as manufactured by Ford’s Advanced Vehicle Operations.
The car was previously owned by marque expert and proprietor of ASM Restorations, Andrew Stapley. ASM meticulously restored the original shell to the incredible show condition in which it now presents, the only imperfections being some very light marking to the original FoMoCo side glass and windscreen.
As a factory Custom Pack car this example was spec’d from new with Contour semi-bucket seats in grey herringbone cloth. The original fabric is extremely well preserved front and rear, with only some expected light wear to the driver’s bolster as evidence of use. The interior also boasts immaculate black looped-pile carpet with the sound insulation kit fitted. The door cards, headlining, and padded dash top are unmarked and the leather-trimmed RS steering wheel also presents in fine condition.
Being an early example this car features the 140mph speedometer and 8,000rpm rev counter. All gauges are fully functional along with the heater fan on both speed settings. At the rear of the car the boot area retains the original blue jack and wheel brace wrapped in the fawn muslin bag. The FoMoCo branded earth strap and black rear light protectors complete the factory finish.
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION
The RS1600 sports the Cosworth-designed BDA (Belt-Drive A series) engine boasting a 16-valve cylinder head and twin belt-driven cams, instantly recognisable from the pale blue cam cover. As noted on the Ford RS1600 Register, this example is fitted with an earlier 691M cast iron block rather than the 711M cast iron block, and features Twin-Weber 40DCOE carburettors. The engine bay is impeccably detailed to show standard.
WHEELS, TYRES & BRAKES
The car sits on pristine 5.5x13in pressed steel wheels with cooling slots and stainless domed hubcaps, which also present impeccably. They are wrapped in matching Firestone 175/70 R13 tyres (including the spare) with plenty of tread remaining. Stopping power is provided by the Girling Powerstop remote servo-assistance brakes, with discs at the front and drums at the rear.
As 1 of just 1,137 RS1600s ever produced, this example was built at Ford’s Advanced Vehicle Operations (AVO) factory in Aveley in December 1971. It was originally supplied by Tate Cars Ltd in Leeds in April 1972 and has seen just four keepers since that time, with the current owner being an avid collector of rare and immaculate Fords. Photographs in the history file document the comprehensive works carried out by highly regarded ASM Restorations. There are also plenty of invoices in the paperwork for parts and labour as well as a copy of the original Buff Log Book. The car is recorded on the RS1600 Register.
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