• Ford Escort RS1600

    Ford Escort RS1600 - The Potent Mix

    Attachment 1272

    "Ford Escort RS1600 - The Potent Mix".
    This was how Ford's advertising campaign announced the Escort RS1600 to
    the world in early 1970. A combination of Escort Twin Cam chassis and running
    gear allied with Ford's newly developed Cosworth sixteen-valve twin cam BDA
    (Belt Drive Type A) engine unit. The announcement heralded the birth of what was
    to become, along with its Mk11 descendant the RS1800, arguably the most
    successful rally car of the 1970's.

    The RS1600's BDA engine unit was
    often described as a detuned Formula 2 racing engine. The design was actually
    based on Cosworth's very successful Formula 2 race unit, the FVA (Four Valve
    Type A). In truth, the two units shared only the design philosophy of the
    narrow-angle four valve per cylinder layout, there being no actual common
    components. Most significantly the expensive gear driven camshaft arrangement of
    the FVA was replaced by a toothed belt drive for the BDA. In it's basic form as
    fitted to the RS1600 the BDA produced 115 PS DIN, sufficient to propel the car
    from 0 - 60 in about 8.5 seconds and provide a top speed of almost 115 m.p.h.
    Quite a performance for a modest family saloon in the early 1970's.

    Production of the RS1600 began at
    Ford's Halewood assembly plant in January 1970 with the first cars going on sale
    in April/May of that year at a cost of 1447. Initial production cars were
    essentially re-engined Twin Cam's and were only available in White. Homologation
    of the RS1600 into Group 2 was achieved in September 1970 on the basis of one
    thousand vehicles having been constructed. In fact, best estimates suggest that
    only around 1137 RS1600's were actually produced over the vehicles entire five
    year production span to the end of 1974. From November 1970 production was
    transferred to Ford AVO's (Advanced Vehicle Operations) purpose built assembly
    line at Aveley, South Okendon where it was joined by a new model, the Escort
    Mexico. Two additional colours, Sunset Red and Maize Yellow were also made
    available at this time with further additions to follow at the end of
    1971.

    The specification of the RS1600
    changed only in detail throughout it's production life, with one major
    exception. From October 1972 the original cast iron cylinder block, which was
    essentially a standard production item, was replaced by a purpose made light
    alloy component. This item was specifically designed to allow engine capacities
    of up to two litres, which would enable competition cars to remain fully
    competitive for many years to come. RS1600 production was at it's peak
    throughout 1971 and 1972 with the numbers going into a gradual decline during
    the following year. Once the RS2000 was introduced in late 1973 very few
    RS1600's were sold as road cars. Only a few dozen vehicles are believed to have
    been manufactured in 1974, with production finally ending in November of that
    year.

    Due to the versatility of the AVO
    production line a hole host of performance and cosmetic options became available
    for the cars including the Clubman Pack (a competition orientated pack including
    uprated suspension and safety items) and the Custom Pack (a luxury road pack
    including cloth trimmed interior). Possibly the ultimate was Special Build,
    introduced in 1972, which allowed many factory fitted performance items. Indeed
    it was possibly to have virtually a full group 2 spec. rally car from the
    factory, although this would have more than doubled the cost of what was already
    a very expensive Escort.

    The whole purpose for the RS1600's
    existance was of course to provide Ford with a competitive race/rally car, so it
    is in this area that the car is most commonly remembered. Once the cars
    reliability was established it went on to take many international rally wins
    including the Thousand Lakes in Finland, the Safari, Circuit of Ireland and
    three consecutive outright wins on the Lombard RAC rally from 1972 to 1974. Many
    famous drivers such as Roger Clark, Timo Makinen, Hannu became synonymous with
    the little Escort. On the circuits the lightweight RS1600 racers from the likes
    of BroadSpeed and Zakspeed developed a giant killing reputation using 2 litre
    fuel injected versions of the BDA engine developing up to 280 b.h.p.
    With the introduction of the
    re-styled Mk2 Escort in 1975 the RS1600 was replaced by the RS1800 which
    featured an enlarged version of the RS1600's all alloy engine. As a road car
    this was even rarer animal than it's predecessor, but in competition form took
    over from where the RS1600 left off and remained a major force in rallying right
    up to the end of the 70's. Ford then withdrew the model which had became
    obsolete due to the introduction of the new front wheel drive Escort.