New and now in stock Corgi Vanguard VC01501 Ultimate Ford Escort RS Collection Model Car
The Ford Escort dominated both sales charts and motorsport podiums throughout its 34-year production life. This collection celebrates that success and showcases one iconic sporting incarnation of each generation. From the moment Ford motorsport mechanic Bill Mead spotted a prototype being tested at Ford’s Boreham facility one morning in early 1967, the Escort was destined for motorsport immortality. He turned to Ford’s Competition Manager, Henry Taylor, and said ‘Blimey one of those things would go with twin-cam in it!’. They looked at each other and both instantly realised the potential. Shortly after, Ford Product Planner, Bob Howe, managed to ‘borrow’ a plastic mock–up bodyshell so Mead and colleagues could secretly trial-fit Lotus-Cortina running gear into it before hurriedly returning it, empty and undamaged. With the concept proven, Ford PR supremo Walter Hayes got busy and project J25, the Escort Twin-Cam, officially commenced. Roger Clark and Jim Porter took its first victory, the Circuit of Ireland Rally in April 1968, a further 29 International and British Rally Championship wins would follow. Victories came on track as well, with drivers such as Frank Gardner and Barry Lee bolstering Ford’s ‘Total Performance’ image.
The Advanced Vehicle Engineering factory in Okenden, Essex, was created to manufacture RS Escorts and from November 1970 produced the Cosworth BDA engined RS1600, the ultimate Mk1 Escort; thus, an example is included here. Almost 1.1 million Mk1 Escorts were manufactured before it was crisply restyled for 1975 to create the Mk2. Project ‘Brenda’, as it was known internally, was produced until 1980 and dominated both the sales charts and motorsport podiums as successfully as its predecessor. Ari Vatanen and David Richards’ overall victory in the 1981 World Rally Championship (WRC) in a Mk2 RS1800 was the icing on the cake, however a Mk2 RS2000, in a fashionably bright colour, is surely the era’s most iconic, aspirational sports saloon and is included here.
Ford totally re-invented the Escort in 1980 with project ‘Erica’, which used all-new front-wheel-drive running gear in an elegantly styled hatchback body. The hot hatch XR3i variant was fun to drive but required no sacrifices in comfort, practicality or economy and sold in huge numbers as a result. Rallying had become the preserve of purpose-built four-wheel drive Group B supercars in the early eighties though, so Ford built an Escort-based car for Group A racing, which allowed less modification. The RS1600i was based on the XR3i but was sprinkled with genius by Mike Kranefuss and his team in Cologne and proved a global race winner which is why an example represents the Mk3 in this set.
Ford followed the ‘Turbo’ zeitgeist, launching the Mk3-based Escort RS Turbo in 1984. When the Mk3 was heavily revised to become the Mk4 in 1986, the RS Turbo was made into a more mainstream model, retaining its amazing pace but improving its practicality which is why a Mk4 RS Turbo is included here. Rallying’s legislators stepped back from the outrageous Group B supercars and by 1992 Ford found themselves contesting the WRC with the fabulous, but over-sized, 4-door Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth 4×4.
Ford Competition Department Manager Stuart Turner told his engineers they needed the Cosworth 4×4 running gear under the smaller Escort bodyshell. They scoffed, told him it was impossible, then did it anyway, and the outrageous bi-winged Escort RS Cosworth was the result. As a road car it became an instant classic, lauded by Jeremy Clarkson and others, on the rally stage it achieved its aim, scoring nine WRC wins in the hands of legends such as Carlos Sainz; a fitting finale for the RS Escort.