History Lesson: #4 – 1968 Ford Escort Twin Cam
Not everyone is a purebred. In fact, if you’re like most of the people on this earth, you come from two separate and distinctive families. The new Ford Focus ST follows a similarly branching family tree. For the first time the high performance Focus you buy in the US is the same as the one you could buy in the rest of the world.
We’ve tasted from the European performance well in the US in the past as recently as the 2002 – 2004 Focus SVT, which was similar to the European Focus ST170. This “World Car” attitude is very present in the current and upcoming Ford vehicle catalog; the Fiesta has been for sale here for some time now and the 2013 Ford Fusion we’ll be seeing here is very much the same as the new Mondeo seen throughout the rest of the world.
In this series, we’ll look into the history of compact performance offerings from Ford and how two parallel developments in the US and Europe have evolved into the new 2013 Ford Focus ST.
While the Cortina was running around in motorsport, another even smaller car sat on the sidelines, slowly aging: the Ford Anglia. The 105E Anglia was introduced in 1959 and looked quite the part. But, by 1967, the design was a throwback to the old days of Ford Europe and the larger Cortina was siphoning sales from the Anglia line. Ford needed to replace it and by late 1967, the new Escort was introduced. The car was, again, an instant hit for Ford. The Escort was extremely modern for the time, sporting rack and pinion steering, MacPherson struts and the ‘coke-bottle’ styling that was all the rage in the late 1960s.
Someone at Ford’s Boreham motorsport department had the wherewithal to install the brilliant Lotus-Kent TwinCam from the Cortina-Lotus into the new Escort to make the Ford Escort Twin-Cam (TC) for use in Group 2 International Rallying. With more talent at the wheel, the Escort TC won at the 1969 Circuit of Ireland with Roger Clark, the 1969 Welsh Rally with Ove Anderson, finished third at the 1968 San Remo Rally with Ove Anderson and finished fourth at the 1969 Monte Carlo with Jean-Francois Piot.
The rarity of this car has made it an outstanding collector car, recently fetching over $100,000 USD (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2094303/Rare-Ford-Escort-sold-3-000-1968-fetches-65-000-today-thanks-painstaking-restoration-work.html). Made from 1968-1971, production was extremely limited, with only 883 cars made before being replaced and nearly overshadowed by the first of the Ford RS: The Escort RS1600. More on that and the birth of the RS marque next time.