1971 Ford Escort Mk1

Twin Cam

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At a Glance
  • Seller
  • gt40mirage
  • Location
  • Wolfesboro, NH
  • Vehicle Make/Model
  • Ford Escort
  • Vin No.
  • BBATLL65191
  • Exterior
  • Sunset Red
  • Interior
  • Black vinyl and cloth
  • Mileage
  • 93,000 kilometers
  • Engine
  • 1.6-liter DOHC Inline four cylinder
  • Transmission
  • 4-Speed Manual Transmission
  • Suspension
  • MacPherson strut front suspension with a live axle on leaf springs in the rear
  • Brakes
  • Slotted front disc brakes and rear drum

1971 Ford Escort Twin Cam

Few cars garner as much affection among rally fans as the Ford Escort Twin Cam. These rather unassuming cars propelled Ford’s Competitions Department to the top of the rally world winning two World Rally Manufacturer’s Championships and a string of international victories. The successes kick-started Ford’s famous Advanced Vehicle Operations plant and Rallye Sport performance dynasty. It is said that when Ford motor sport engineer Bill Meade saw the Escort prototype being testing he said, “Blimey, one of those things would go like hell with a Twin Cam in it.” The success of the Lotus Cortina and the performance advantages of the Lotus engine were obvious. Considering the Escort weighed in at 30 pounds less than a Cortina, there was no doubt what an improvement the power from the Lotus engine would make.

Meade and Team Manager Henry Taylor decided to attempt to shoehorn the engine and running gear from a Lotus Cortina into a prototype body. Over a weekend the two, with a group of volunteers and a big hammer, were successful in transplanting the running gear. They added radius arms to keep the larger rear axle under control and Capri front MacPherson struts with disc brakes. The front suspension had a forward-mounted anti-roll bar added. Wider 13-inch wheels were added all round and the batter was relocated to the trunk to free up space in the engine bay and improve weight distribution. The engine had to be slanted to allow the airbox to fit. They lowered the stance of the car and added a black painted grille and a split front bumper to boost air flow to the oil cooler.  Production started in early 1968 at the same time as the standard model was hitting the showrooms. The Twin Cam was hand-assembled separately at Ford’s Halewood plant. 

While immediately successful on the rally circuit, Ford knew that the Lotus engine was going to need an upgrade in order to keep ahead of the competition. Their answer was another hybrid engine. Cosworth, developed a twin-cam, 16-valve aluminum cylinder head for the 1599 cc Kent motor with sturdier, belt-driven valve gear. The BDA, Belt Drive, Series A, produced 120 bhp and 112 lb ft of torque. Because of the success of the Twin Cam in competition, the demand ramped up and production was moved to Ford’s new AVO plant in Aveley with the last 200 examples being built with a lighter, all-alloy engine designed by Brian Hart to enable a capacity increase in the competition cars. 

The Twin Cam has aged well and is very usable and competitive on the historic rally scene. It is the original fast Ford on the rally scene. The Escort had a combination of agility, speed and reliability that helped it be successful both in the hands of a works driver, as well as a privateer. 

This 1971 Mk 1 Escort Twin Cam was one of just three twin-cam examples delivered new to Ford of Portugal. The car was converted to left-hand drive in Portugal when new. It is powered by a 1.6-liter DOHC inline-four with Weber 40DCOE carburetors backed by a 4-speed manual gearbox. The engine was rebuilt by Brett Sims Motorsport, Hampton, UK. While never having been completely restored, the car has had an exterior repaint at some point. The original finish can be seen in the trunk and engine compartments. The majority of Halewood built twin cam cars were finished in Ermine White, however Maize Yellow and Sunset Red were offered as special-order options at the end of production. This is thought to be one of three factory produced Sunset Red cars. 

While the car was not campaigned in period, it has participated in a number of vintage rally events including the 2013 Rally Costa Brava Historic and the 2014 Bordeaux Sud-Ouest Classic. Some modifications have been made including a roll bar, racing seats (original seats included with sale), rally instrumentation and a driver’s sideview mirror. Lotus badges have been added to the correct Springalex steering wheel, front grille and rear deck lid. It has slotted front and rear disc brakes and Minilite alloy wheels with Vredstein tires all around.

The car was inspected by marque expert Ian Sutcliffe in July of 2018. He states that the car is “without a doubt a factory-produced, original Escort Twin Cam which bears both its original chassis and body plates as well as the chassis no. stamped in the RHS suspension top reinforcing plate.” He does note that, “it can be seen, where the holes in the RHS bulkhead top (where the brake/clutch fluid pipe and throttle cable passed through) have been welded up during the conversion to the LHD. The reinforcing plate for the pedal box remains on the RHS lower bulkhead.” The car also retains RHD windscreen wipers, however the entire dash panel has been changed to LHD.

The love rally fans have for the Escort Twin Cam is well deserved. With World Rally Championship titles in 1968 and 1969, as well as a 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally win driven by the Finnish legend Hannu Mikkola and Swedish co-driver Gunnar Palm their legendary status is cemented in motorsports history as one of the most successful rally cars of all time.


This Mk1 Escort Twin Cam is one of three known to exist with the factory Sunset Red color and it is especially vibrant. While the exterior has received one repaint in its lifetime, it is thought that the engine bay and trunk both retain the original paint. The exterior paint has held up well and while not perfect it is in extremely good serviceable condition. The only noticeable wear points are where one would expect around the door gaps. The roof painted in colors to represent the Portuguese flag makes this already unique car even more appealing. It is not known at what point in its history that the roof was painted in this manner. The wheels appear in very good if not excellent condition. The bumpers and other plated items appear in good original condition with no obvious major flaws. 

Lotus badges have been affixed to the front grille and rear deck lid and a driver’s sideview mirror has also been added. The car does retain its original RHD windshield wipers.


The interior of this Mk1 has been fitted for rallying with instrumentation, rally timers, roll bar and fire extinguisher installed. The installed seats are quilted vinyl with cloth inserts and are in excellent condition. The original factory seats are included with the sale.

The added rally instrumentation is all in good working condition, as are the original gauges. A Lotus emblem has been affixed to the steering wheel. As with other rally cars, the interior is sparse, but functional and provides just enough comfort for a day on a historic rally circuit or just cruising around the neighborhood

Engine and Drivetrain

The engine received a refresh by racing engine experts Brett Sims Motorsports in 2011. The receipts for the work performed can be found in the documentation section. The engine bay shows signs of use but is in good original condition. The original Sunset Red finish can be seen in the engine compartment, as can the original factory badge with the color name. The exhaust manifold is correct, but the exhaust system itself is aftermarket replacement. 

Receipts show that the differential was rebuilt in 2011 and the ring gear and clutch plate were replaced in 2015. The car was serviced in 2019 with an oil change, new spark plugs, clutch adjustment and fluid top-off. The owner does note that the engine has a very minor oil leak.

Trunk and Storage Compartment

In the trunk you can see the stickers saved from the Mk1's most recent historic rallying events on the inside of the decklid. The trunk contains a full-sized spare. It is in good original condition and retains its original Sunset Red paint. .


The underside of the Mk1 is clean. It shows use and a bit of surface rust on the exhaust, but nothing out of the ordinary. Receipts supplied by the current owner show a brake service/replacement in 2015.

Documentation and Spares

This Mk1 retains all of its original chassis and body plates, as well as the factory chassis stamp on the right-hand suspension top reinforcing plate. A full report by Marque expert Ian Sutcliffe was completed in July 2018. Mr. Sutcliff goes into great detail about the car and its originality in his inspection and denotes all items that have been potentially changed or were added in period to the car. He leaves no doubt that this 1971 Ford Escort Twin Cam Mk1 is a factory-produced original Escort.

A file compiled by the previous and current owners with receipts of work completed on the Escort is included with the sale. The factory original seats are included.

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1971 Ford Escort Mk1

Twin Cam

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1971 Ford Escort Mk1