1974 Ford Escort mk1 - Second Rebuild

I had run the Escort in its original 1600cc configuration for a year or so, and though it was fun, I new in around 2003 that I wanted more. We talked over what exactly to do with it and settled on doing an engine conversion that lots of others were doing at the time - fitting the Vauxhall/GM 'Red top'.

The Red top is a fairly strong engine, with a 16v cylinder head designed (and produced, in some cases) by Cosworth. It's pretty similar to what a road-going, normally aspirated Cosworth YB engine would be, with a healthy 150bhp as standard.

At the time the engines were fairly easy (and cheap) to get hold of (times have changed!) - the only real issue being the custom bellhousing, clutch and bearing needed to mate the Vauxhall block to a Ford gearbox. Many people do these components now, but at the time SBD Motorsport were the only people with the parts available off-the-shelf.

Removing the original crossflow engine:

The Vauxhall engine can be ECU driven, but we didn't have the budget for that so we stuck with a a distributer - which meant cutting back some of the bulkhead for clearance. We are starting to cut!

New crossmember fitted:

Trial fit of the replacement engine:

Engine bay repainted and starting to dress the engine:

A larger transmission tunnel had to be fabricated to fit the bigger 5 speed gearbox:

Although the original axle would have probably taken the power of the new engine, we decided to uprate it to the much stronger (and wider) Capri 2.8 'Atlas' and fit a strong single piece propshaft:

Refurbishing a set of Austin Princess 4-piston calipers:

Calipers fitted to the Capri 2.8 struts and vented front discs:

Probably the biggest job of all… in hindsight (and with enough money, which I didn't have at the time!) these should really have been done in steel, not GRP. But, when you're a recent graduate on the bottom rung of the ladder, you do what you can:

Interior we kept pretty simple - stripped the original paint off, painted it white and fitted a rev counter (the 1300XL didn't have one in its original gauge cluster) as well as a basic centre console with battery cut-off and an Omex rev limiter, since the engine would have no other form of safety from over-rev.

1974 Ford Escort mk1

  • Chassis stitch welded as per Ford 'blue book'
  • GRP bubble arch extensions fitted
  • 2.0 16v DOHC Vauxhall Astra GTE/Calibra/Cavalier GSi 'Red top' engine
  • Ford Sierra Type-9 5 speed gearbox
  • Twin Dellorto DHLA 45 sidedraught carbs
  • Facet solid state fuel pump
  • Adjustable fuel regulator
  • Capri 2.8 Atlas rear axle with 4.1:1 final drive
  • RS 'anti-tramp' bars
  • Capri 2.8 rear drums
  • Single piece heavy duty propshaft
  • Heavy duty single leaf springs
  • Gaz adjustable rear dampers
  • Capri 2.8 Bilstein front struts
  • Austin Princess 4-piston calipers with vented discs
  • Double width/Anti-dive front anti-rollbar mount
  • Twin-cam / heavy duty front anti-rollbar
  • Compomotive MO 8×15 wheels, alloy extensions on front hubs
  • 205/50×15 tyres

  • blog/escort_restore_2.txt
  • Last modified: 2021/03/06 12:44
  • by john