What you see above is not a 71-plate Mk1 Ford Escort, but it might as well be. Officially, to avoid any angry phone calls from Ford’s legal department, this is an ‘MST Mk1’. We’ve already driven and fallen hard for MST’s Mk2, and this follows much the same remit but for the original Escort.
Both of these cars exist because a company in very rural North West Wales called Motorsport Tools sells every component for the first two generations of the Escort for years to support the cars’ still strong rallying scene. And we mean every component, right down to newly fabricated bodyshells.
For years, company boss Carwyn Ellis and his team thought about using all of these bits and pieces to make whole cars. That finally started earlier this year with the Mk2, and now the curvier Mk1 has joined the party. The results of the project were shown off in public for the first time at last weekend’s The Late Brake Show tour in Manchester.
In the base ‘Fast Road & Touring’ version of the Mk1, you get a 2.5-litre Duratec engine pushing out 200bhp while sounding suitably throaty thanks to a set of ATR individual throttle bodies. The shell gets some extra strengthening plates not found on the original Mk1 Escort, and there’s a choice of standard and wide body styles.
Braking is one area that dates an older car the most, but the MST Mk1 shouldn’t be wanting for stopping power. You get four-piston AP Racing calipers at the front squeezing small but effective 267mm vented discs that sit under the standard 13-inch Minilite and Kumho Ecsta V70A wheel and tyre combo. If you want bigger rotors and a better choice of boots, 15-inch wheels are on the options menu.
Bilstein dampers feature at both ends. At the front, this involves height adjustable coilovers, but at the rear, the dampers work with leaf springs as per the original Mk1. Go for the Fast Road & Track version, and that old-school back end setup is switched for a six-link, fully-independent affair.
This also opens up the option of additional powertrains, including a 2.0-litre Ford BDG engine with over 230bhp, or if you’re brave enough, a 2.5-litre Millington Diamond with over 300. In a car this light, that’ll be plenty.
Once built in the preferred spec, your Escort is put through the UK’s Individual Type Approval system to be registered for road use, just as is the case for something like a brand new Caterham. You’ll need to hand over a decent stack of cash to get to that point, though. The starting price for a Fast Road & Touring MST Mk1 is £85,000, while the Fast Road & Track is £95,000 and up.