Matt Robinson 6 years ago 1

Ford's Heritage Collection Is A Treasure Trove Of Petrolhead Porn

While visiting Ford's Heritage Fleet to try out a Mk2 Fiesta XR2 I had a chance to check out an incredible array of Blue Oval metal

Remind me later
Ford heritage After piloting my borrowed Fiesta ST press car through the dazzling array of imposing warehouses that make up Ford's 475 acre Dagenham plant, an unassuming-looking brick building with a tin roof lay ahead. Most would probably assume it's nothing important. But inside is a staggering collection of cars that any petrolhead would drool over. That's because this 80-year-old structure houses the incredible Ford Heritage Collection. Ford heritage _2 This is no museum - it's a workshop that keeps a fleet of 107 cars running. It's not open to the public, but I had been given permission to spend the whole day there. Wrongly parking up at the alternative south entrance, I opened the door to be immediately presented with a dusty RS200 road car (below) awaiting restoration. The diversity here was immediately apparent - sitting right next to it was a mint Ford Galaxy people carrier, clad in a transparent dust sheet. Ford heritage _5 Realising my mistake, I jumped back in the ST and drove up to the top entrance. After hauling back the heavy steel door, I was a little taken aback. I wasn't sure which way I should be looking. The deranged Transit Supervan 3 was off to my right, flanked by three Model Ts. To my left, there was a mid-engined GT, another two RS200s and numerous Escort rally cars from throughout the ages. In the distance a white Sierra RS Cosworth sat on ramps, ready to be worked on, with the Mk2 Fiesta XR2 I'd be driving later next to it. What a place.
Left to right: Björn Waldegard's 1977 RAC Rally-winning Mk2 RS1800 Escort, and Hannu Mikkola 1970 Rally World Cup-winning Mk1 RS1600 Escort Left to right: Björn Waldegard's 1977 RAC Rally-winning Mk2 RS1800 Escort, and Hannu Mikkola 1970 Rally World Cup-winning Mk1 RS1600 Escort
A quick chat with heritage specialist Colin - who was meticulously working under the bonnet of a mint Escort Cosworth during my visit - established the history of this place. It was opened in the 1930s for PDI (pre-delivery inspection) purposes, at one stage it was used for truck repairs by a separate company. It was then taken back under Ford's control as a youth training centre, before becoming home to the Heritage Collection. The building is well ventilated, which helps stave off potentially damaging dampness. This does create a bit of an issue with dust, though, as there's an aggregate yard just behind it. Ford heritage _17 Because of that, the cars are usually clad in dust sheets, but as it turned out I'd visited at an opportune time: with efforts afoot to shift all the heritage cars around, most were uncovered for my eager eyes. The plan is to make the collection a little more ordered, which explained the concentration of motorsport machinery around the north entrance. Ford heritage _9 Further into the building, the less ordered distribution of cars made for a more interesting browsing experience: I had no idea what would be coming next. As a prime example, a 1931 Model AA truck sat in between two cars that could hardly be more different from it: a Mk2 Focus ST and a Mk2 Mondeo ST200. Ford heritage _22 I squeezed between the tightly packed cars that made up the rest of the collection - photographing as much as I possibly could, marvelling at this incredible selection of motors. What's pleasing to see is almost every significant European Ford is here, with the likes of standard Fiestas and Sierras next to rally monsters and performance-oriented brutes. Ford heritage _7 There are many that wish this brilliant selection of vehicles was opened up as a museum. Aside from the fact that the current layout wouldn't work in that way, I'm glad the Heritage Collection is used instead as a workshop to keep the cars running. After all, seeing these things in action at your favourite car show is surely a far better deal than just leering at them in a museum. Want to see more? We've added extra photos of the Heritage Collection below. Ford heritage _18
A replica of the Zephyr that speed camera inventor Maus Gatsonides used to win the 1953 Monte Carlo Rally A replica of the Zephyr that speed camera inventor Maus Gatsonides used to win the 1953 Monte Carlo Rally
Heritage specialist Colin Gray works on a mint Escort RS Cosworth Heritage specialist Colin Gray works on a mint Escort RS Cosworth
You wait all day for a mint Escort Cosworth, then two show up... You wait all day for a mint Escort Cosworth, then two show up...
A Sierra RS Cosworth awaits some fettling A Sierra RS Cosworth awaits some fettling
This Martini-liveried, modified Transit was the Ford WRC team's support vehicle in 2001 This Martini-liveried, modified Transit was the Ford WRC team's support vehicle in 2001
Ford heritage _14
The first production Mk1 Focus RS sits by the south entrance The first production Mk1 Focus RS sits by the south entrance
Not everything in here is a performance car or motorsport hero, normal motors are well represented Not everything in here is a performance car or motorsport hero, normal motors are well represented
A V8 Ford GT supercar sits in the corner of the Heritage Collection A V8 Ford GT supercar sits in the corner of the Heritage Collection
Ford heritage _15
A gorgeous Mk1 Escort Mexico. So much want! A gorgeous Mk1 Escort Mexico. So much want!
One of only six GT70s ever built One of only six GT70s ever built
One of the best automotive collaborations  ever: the Lotus Cortina One of the best automotive collaborations ever: the Lotus Cortina
Two fast Fords from different eras: a Sierra Sapphire Cosworth and a Focus RS Two fast Fords from different eras: a Sierra Sapphire Cosworth and a Focus RS
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The first Ford Racing Puma The first Ford Racing Puma undresses itself for the camera
The beastly Cosworth-powered Transit Supervan 3 greets you as you walk in the main entrance The beastly Cosworth-powered Transit Supervan 3 greets you as you walk in the main entrance
Ford heritage _29