Walter Davies' 1971 Ford Escort RS1600 Racecar
Owner: Walter Davies
City: Toronto, Ontario
Model: 1971 Ford Escort RS1600
Engine: Ford Cosworth 2.0L BDA/G
Prepared by: John Dodd
Ford Motorsport Rises to Dominate International Rallying
Through the 1960s, Ford partnered with Lotus to offer dual overhead cam cylinder heads,
close-ratio gearboxes, extensively re-engineered suspensions, uprated brakes, and other
special features on the Cortina range of mid-sized cars. Ford's sales volume made the
Cortina eligible for FIA Group 2 homologation, so these hopped-up cars could compete in
international races. The Lotus twin-cam engine was wonderful, but the Cortina wasn't
an ideal platform. Especially in rally racing, Cortinas earned a reputation for fragility.
Ford's works rally team looked for ways to strengthen the Cortina. While testing at Ford's
Boreham airfield proving ground, a mechanic on the works team spotted salvation: a smaller,
more nimble, and ultimately much more robust new Ford.
The new model was a subcompact called "Escort". It had been developed to replace Ford's "Anglia" model, and it was scheduled to come on line in 1968. The works racing team arranged to get a pre-production bodyshell and immediately went to work installing a Lotus twin-cam engine.
The Escort was remarkably successful: both in sales and as a rally car. Although the base model was a modest little grocery getter, rally racing victories started coming immediately. Ford won the World Championship Series for Makes in 1968 and 1969. Ford's little Escort dominated the 16,000 mile (25,750 kilometer) 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally, an event so tough that only 23 cars out of more than 100 finished. Escorts placed first, third, fifth, sixth and eighth. (For the Mexico Rally, a simpler and more robust pushrod engine was used.)
Most first generation Escorts were powered by 1.1L and 1.3L versions of Ford's familiar crossflow design, but some export models got even smaller engines due to tax and tariff issues. Initially at the top of the range, the Escort Twin Cam featured a Lotus developed cylinder head and more displacement (1558cc). Then, to capitalize on good publicity from the Mexico rally, an "Escort Mexico" special edition featured a robust 1.6L pushrod version of the Kent engine. The Mexico special edition continued with strong sales even after a more powerful RS1600 model was introduced. RS was an abbreviation for "rally sport".
The Escort RS1600's engine was basically a detuned version of the 1.6L Cosworth BDA (belt drive A-series) 16-valve, dual overhead cam, aluminum cylinder head powerplant. Ford read FIA's homologation rules carefully, then selected a displacement of 1601cc for the RS1600 so they'd cross a class threshold and be allowed to race in the 2-liter class. In 1973 Ford updated the standard RS1600 specification to 1.8 liters, and in 1974 Ford offered a new Escort RS2000 model which featured a 2.0L Pinto based single overhead cam engine which was rated 250bhp and came equipped with a five speed ZF gearboxes. Besides full-tilt racing engines, all Twin Cam, Mexico, and Rally Sport Escorts used heavy duty "Type 49" bodyshells. AVO started with heavy duty export bodyshells and added brackets for rear radius arms, etc. There are detail differences between models in the vicinity of the radiators due to clearance issues.
The Rally Sports weren't intended for high volume production, but enough cars were produced that they weren't rare either. Ford's Advanced Vehicle Operations (AVO) facility in Aveley, Essex, England assembled 1200 Ford Escort RS1600 cars.
According to contemporary magazine reports: price at launch: £1447. Acceleration: 0-60mph in 8.3s. Top speed: 114mph. Power: 115hp (DIN) @ 6500rpm. Torque: 110lb/ft @ 4500rpm. Displacement: 1601cc (97.68cu in). Bore 80.98mm (3.19in). Stroke 77.72mm (3.06in).
Ford Motor Company of New Zealand, Ltd.
Vehicle Serial Number: CLATLT 70593, Model: (blank)
Drive: 2, Engine: G, Trans: 5, Axle: C, Trim E648,
Paint: 1E2 CB1, VC: LL. (Ford)
Walter Davies' Escort RS1600
Walter Davies acquired his Escort RS1600 in 2005 from rally racer Brent Tiney of New Zealand.
In 1973, Tiney had served as a mechanic on the Woolmark-Ford team which dominated New Zealand's Heatway rally. (Heatway was a company that manufactured electric heaters.) Finnish driver Hannu Mikkola and co-driver Jim Porter won that rally by a margin of over forty minutes in a works supplied Escort RS1600. A promising newer driver in international rallying, New Zealand's own Mike Marshall with co-driver Arthur McWatt, piloted a second Woolmark sponsored Escort RS1600 to a strong second place finish. The exact identity of Marshall's car is less clear, as we'll explain. The team's one-two finish was an especially remarkable feat considering that 120 cars were entered in this truly international-class rally!
In early 2000, Brent Tiney found a derelict Escort Mk1 racecar and identified it as the very car Mike Marshall had raced in the 1973 Heatway rally. The car had obviously had a long racing career, but Tiney spent a couple years restoring it to a more original specification before putting it up for sale.
By various accounts, Ford's Aveley factory had arranged at least two and possibly as many as five cars for the Woolmark-Ford team to choose between for this event. However, Mike Marshall strongly preferred a right-hand-drive seating position whereas Hannu Mikkola preferred left-hand-drive. Faced with a selection of left-hand-drive cars, Marshall decided to shift fresh "works" components onto a bodyshell that he personally owned and would lease back to the team.
Dear reader, if you are even remotely interested in rally racing I would heartily recommend you view a spectacular 45 minute documentary on the 1973 Heatway rally. It was produced by NZBC and it's available for viewing in a series of four segments here: "Rally, Like Little Boys in a Man-sized Sport" (TV documentary, circa 1974).
At the very beginning of the second clip, the film-makers show footage of Mike Marshall's car coming together. (Engine and transmission go in at 0:36.) Starting about seven minutes into the clip you can enjoy a long ride-along in Mike Marshall's car, first at moderate speed and then flat out. At about thirteen minutes Mike Marshall describes his approach to powering through corners on loose surfaces. At about 2:40 in the third segment a mechanic briefly mentions that the rear suspension on Mike Marshall's Escort was different from other RS1600 cars ("...like a car we built about four years ago for Roger Clark with the same sort of setup with the links opposed to each other like that."¹) Generally, the film makes it quite clear how damaging rally racing tends to be on hardware. Very extensive rebuilding occurs, which is why issues of provenance can become especially confusing.
Once the RS1600 racecar was imported to Canada, Walter Davies hired John Dodd to convert it from rally to road race spec by generally tightening up the suspension, changing transmission and differential gear ratios, and replacing the engine's camshafts. Lexan windows were installed, and various safety features were updated.
Walter's overbored engine deserves special explanation. It's technically known as a "BDA/G". Ford homologated the BDA at 1601cc to go into the up-to-2-liter class. Naturally, racers soon began asking "Why not bore this block out to 2 liters? What's the point of being at the bottom of the 1601-2000cc displacement bracket when we could be at the top?" So Ford and others started developing bored-out versions of the BDA motor specifically for use in Escort rally cars. The challenge lay in increasing the bore without hitting the engine's water jacket or oil galleys. One of the first specialist machinists to successfully master the details of this was Brian Hart. Hart began offering a 1975cc (90mm bore) specially modified version of the Ford engine block in October 1972.
The Vintage Automobile Racing Association of Canada (VARAC) cuts off eligibility at 1972. In other words, cars and their respective key components must have been available for purchase by the end of that calendar year. By VARAC's rules, an Escort RS1600 may use a 90mm bore engine block because it was available in late 1972 from Brian Hart, but it may only be used in combination with a then-available Cosworth BDA "1.6 liter" cylinder head. Cosworth didn't produce a 90mm "2 liter" version of their cylinder head until 1973 when Ford started producing their own 2 liter engine blocks. (The two liter version of the BDA then came to be known as the BDG.) Oddly enough, the BDA/G combination works pretty well!
Features and Specifications
|Engine:||Ford Cosworth two liter engine.
Brian Hart engine block, with 90mm bore.
16-valve Cosworth BDA cylinder head.
Separate cam carrier.
Dual Weber 48 DCOE carburetors.
Gas flowed intake manifold.
Mallory Unilite distributor.
Mallory chrome Blaster 2 ignition coil with ballast resistor.
Magnecor KV35 Competition spark plug wires.
MSD Soft Touch rev-limiter, chipped at 8,600rpm.
Dry sump lubrication system, including 5-port oil pump.
Fram PH43 oil filter on a Mocal filter mount.
|Cooling:||copper and brass downflow radiator.
13-row oil cooler.
|Exhaust:||custom 4-into-1 header.
|Transmission:||Quaife Rocket 4-speed dog-ring gearbox.
AP Racing 2-plate sintered bronze clutch (just for getting the car moving from a stop.)
|Rear axle:||Ford Atlas axle housing.
ZF limited slip differential.
3.9:1 crown wheel and pinion.
Fully floating axles.
|Front Susp.:||reinforced strut towers and Monte Carlo bar.
RS struts with 350#/in springs and with Bilstein shock absorber inserts.
Compression strut system.
Rack and pinion steering.
|Rear Susp.:||4-link plus Panhard rod.
Bilstein shock absorbers, "turreted" (i.e. re-mounted more nearly vertical).
Leaf springs mounted on "slipper" bearings.
|Brakes:||(master) dual master cylinders with bias bar and remote adjuster, and Lockheed remote reservoirs.
(front) Wilwood calipers and vented rotors,
(rear) Girling calipers and solid rotors.
|Wheels/Tires:||genuine Minilite aluminum 8-spoke wheels (13x7).
Toyo Proxes RA1 (206/60R13 86V) tires.
|Electrical:||no charging system.
|Instruments:||(left to right)
Smiths fuel level guage (E-F),
MSD Ignition shift light,
Racetech water temperature gauge (30-110C),
Racetech dual oil pressure (0-100psi) and oil temperature gauge (40-140C),
Smiths tachometer with telltale (0-10,000rpm).
|Fuel System:||ATL SP122C 22 gallon fuel cell (for Enduro races.)
Twin Facet (Bendix style) electric fuel pumps.
Filter King fuel filter.
|Safety Eqmt:||Schroth Racing 6-point cam-lock safety harness (driver side).
Willans 6-point cam-lock safety harness (passenger side).
Racetech 100W racing seats.
Lifeline Zero 2000 foam based centralized fire suppression system.
Sparco quick release steering wheel hub on a Sparco suede covered steering wheel.
Ford engine with Brian Hart prepared engine block (90mm bore) and
Cosworth BDA 16-valve, dual overhead cam cylinder head.
Dual Weber DCOE carburetors with K&N gauze air filters.
(The RS1600 model came standard with twin Dellorto DHLA 40 carbs.)
Weber carburetor Tipo 48DCOE99/1 No. 7E.
Top right: Mallory Unilite distributor. Center: oil pump for dry sump lubrication system.
Left: MSD Soft Touch rev-limiter, chipped at 8,600rpm.
Right: Mallory chrome Blaster 2 ignition coil with ballast resistor.
Copper and brass downflow radiator.
With cylinder bore increased to 90mm, there's no room for cross-block oil galleys. The traditional
solution is to use a 5-port oil pump and route an external oil hose around the front of the engine.
Details of the dry sump lubrication system: pump and oil pan.
Custom 4-into-1 exhaust header.
A Monte Carlo bar spans and braces between the two MacPherson strut towers.
(Raycroft Auto Ltd. is Opawa, Christchurch, New Zealand specializes in Ford Escorts.)
Lockheed brake and clutch master cylinder fluid reservoirs.
ATL SP122C 22 gallon fuel cell (for Enduro races.)
Twin Facet (Bendix style) electric fuel pumps.
Top left: Filter King fuel filter. Right: oil reservoir for dry sump lubrication system.
Front Suspension / Etc.
Ford Escorts came standard with rack and pinion steering.
As originally designed by Ford, the front anti-sway bar served double-duty as the front half of the
control arms, connecting directly to eyes in the forged lower links. On Walter's RS1600, separate
radius rods have been added and the anti-sway bar is connected in a more traditional manner.
Ford Escort RS1600's have a 29.7ft (9.054m) turning circle.
Upgraded brakes: Wilwood calipers and vented rotors.
Radius rods added to the front suspension alter its geometry.
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Semi-elliptic leafsprings have been clamped tightly to the axle even though the car
has been fitted with both upper and lower trailing links plus a Panhard rod.
Girling calipers and solid rotors. (The RS1600 model came standard with 9" drum rear brakes.)
Ford Atlas housing, ZF limited slip differential, 3.9:1 crown wheel and pinion, and fully floating axles.
Long, level Panhard rod and its attachment to the body (at left).
Lower radius rods in side view.
This is what the interior of a classic rally car looks like. Note particularly the
side intrusion bars, which span both door openings.
Sparco suede covered steering wheel.
Racetech water temperature gauge (30-110C) and dual oil pressure (0-100psi) / oil temperature
gauge (40-140C). Smiths tachometer with telltale (0-10,000rpm).
Sparco quick release steering wheel hub.
Splined connection on the steering shaft. (It appears an adapter has been left in place for
bolting-on a steering wheel without quick release hub. This would restore a period correct
appearance. Most racers now consider quick release hubs to be valuable safety equipment.)
Pedals and Girling master cylinders. Note brake bias adjustment knob at upper right.
Switches (left to right): battery disconnect, fuel pump, ignition, starter (pushbutton), lights, and wipers.
Gear selector for the Quaife Rocket 4-speed dog-ring gearbox. (Note that the
transmission tunnel has been modified to make room for it.)
MSD Ignition shift light.
Schroth Racing 6-point cam-lock safety harness.
Lifeline Zero 2000 foam based centralized fire suppression system.
Roll cage construction details.
Racetech 100W racing seats. (The "w" indicates that this is the wide base version.)
Racetech seats are made in New Zealand.
To weld completely around the circumference of this connection, an access hole was cut in the roof.
Rear shock absorber connection. (Behind: fuel filler detail.)
Escort was Ford's first entirely non-U.S. model to surpass the two-million-car production mark.
Initially, the Escort was only available as a 2-door, but months later 3-door "estate" and panel
van versions were added. Ford finally introduced a 4-door version in 1969.
Most first-gen Escorts were powered by 1.1L and 1.3L versions of Ford's familiar crossflow design.
The Escort Twin Cam featured a Lotus developed cylinder head and more displacement (1558cc).
The Escort Mexico special edition featured a robust 1.6L pushrod version of the Kent engine.
Then came the RS models, with 1.6L and 1.8L Cosworth engines and finally a 2.0L Pinto engine.
Escort Mk1 was campaigned by Ford "works" teams from 1968 through 1975. In terms of competition
it filled and largely dominated the era between the Mini Cooper / Cooper S (raced by works teams
from 1962-70) and the introduction of the Lancia Stratos (1974-81) and Fiat 131 Abarth (1976-81).
The Escort Mk1 was replaced by the Escort Mk2, which was raced by works teams from 1975-81.
Ford Escort Mk1: Coke bottle styling and a dog bone grille.
Export style taillamp clusters and original style bumpers have been retained.
Windshield visor film: Davies Racing - 1971 Ford Escort RS1600
Separate switches for disconnecting the battery and triggering the onboard fire suppression system.
(Walter's battery disconnect switch also shuts off the engine's ignition system.)
Driver: Walter Davies
Escort RS badges.
VARAC: Vintage Automobile Racing Association of Canada
(Walter has served as VARAC's President since 2007.)
CASC: Canadian Automobile Sport Clubs
Ford Escort door handle detail.
Genuine Minilite aluminum 8-spoke wheels (13x7).
Toyo Proxes RA1 (206/60R13 86V) tires.
|(1)||Generally, voices in the NZBC interviews weren't attributed to specific people. I believe that the voice in this clip belonged to Mick Jones who was Chief Mechanic at Boreham. Please contact this writer if you can confirm of refute...|
All photos shown here are from June 2010 when we viewed the car at VARAC's 31st International Vintage Festival
at Mosport International Raceway, near Toronto Ontario. Photos by Curtis Jacobson for BritishRaceCar.com,
copyright 2011. All rights reserved.
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