The Ford Rally Car at KARTEC

 Escort MkI
 Escort MkII

When the original Ford Escort first hit the road, Ford cars were already known as great rally cars, following victories in the world's most important rallies - Monte Carlo, Safari, Acropolis and RAC. The Escort was to boost Ford's motorsport fortunes still further andwould go on to become the world's most successful rally car.

In 1968 the original 1.6-litre Escort Twin-Cam started its competition career by winning the Circuit of Ireland, Dutch Tulip, Austrian Alpine, Acropolis and Scottish rallies, all in eight weeks. By the end of its first season, the Escort had also won the famous 1000 Lakes Rally in Finland, which helped Ford secure the World Rally Championship for Makes. Ford Escorts won the World Championship again, in 1969.

The 'works' Twin-Cam Escorts continued to win all over the world in 1969 and 1970, while special overhead-valve-engined cars dominated the toughest ever event the 16,000-mile London-Mexico World Cup rally of 1970, taking first, third, fifth, sixth and eighth places. It was as a result of this, the Escort Mexico production model was developed.


As the Ford Escort was developed through the 1970s, the 1.6-litre 16-valve RS1600 took over from the Twin-Cam. By this time, the cars had a reputation for strength and reliability. Engines for motorsport were progressively enlarged, first to 1.8-litres with 205 bhp, and later to 2.0-litres with up to 250 bhp.

By 1975, RS1600s had won world-class rallies as far reaching as the East African Safari (1972, when Hannu Mikkola and Gunnar Palm became the very first European-based crew to win this event), the British RAC (three times in succession, 1972 - 1974), the Finnish 1000 Lakes (five times), the Arctic Rally in Finland and New Zealand's Heatway Rally.

No matter what the competition, the Escort was always successful, at all levels of the sport. Near-standard Group 1 Escorts (this is the 1970s equivalent of today's Group N 'showroom' category) were also often victorious, memorably with three consecutive wins in the 1974, 1975 and 1976 Tour of Britain events, which combined racing with rallying.

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