SOLD for £5,250
“Certainly basking in the reflected glory of the achievements of its distant racing and rally cousins, the 1300 GT version has proved a lively, value-for-money favourite with the driver who wants more performance.” ‘Autocar’ 11th February 1971
“Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose” as they say in the Auvergne Rhone Alps region of France where this remarkably well preserved example of Ford’s small family car had resided until just a few months ago. As the full on Twin Cam and RS1600 lit up the rally stages and racetracks in the ‘60s and ‘70s, grabbing the headlines along the way, the man in the street actually needed something a little less highly strung but none the less clearly part of the same bloodline. Escort GT verses RS back then, Focus ST verses RS today; nothing new under the soleil really and the GT was the first step on the Performance Ford ladder for many. A heady 75 bhp was worked very effectively through a close ratio ‘Bullet’ version of the seminal four speed gearbox of rifle bolt change fame. Uprated suspension and a servo for the disc and drum brake set up kept all that power under some sort of control while an oil pressure gauge and tachometer reminded the fortunate driver that they were in a truly ‘Fast Ford’. Though the three door configuration was the more usual choice for competition oriented work, some rally protagonists opted for the four door if only because it offered two additional escape routes if you ended up in the scenery. Today, for us the extra doors provide a lighter and brighter interior as the chunky ‘C’ post of the two door variant appears reduced and the styling has a more balanced look to it.
In this instance we are metaphorically going to dive straight under the car where the metalwork is amongst the best we have seen and it is well worth spending some time perusing the photo gallery or better still viewing the car in the flesh. Pin sharp panel edges, undisturbed spot welds and no excessive under-seal, the underside of the Escort is frankly amazing. There are no nasty rounded nuts or bolts and they look as though they would come apart with ease. The odd bracket and a small section of one chassis rail have a light coating of surface rust and there is some evidence of slight engine and rear axle oil leaks but the structure seems remarkably sound.
Inside the good news continues with the boot and engine bay again displaying perfect seams and no evidence of any past welding or restoration work. The bulkhead and notoriously susceptible suspension turrets which still clearly display the stamped in chassis number are nigh on perfect. The correct air-filter housing and 1300GT rocker cover sticker along with the Weber twin choke carburettor and GT exhaust manifold are all still in place.
Though again exceptionally solid the exterior bodywork has the odd dink in it (as shown in the photo gallery), most notably on the nearside (in the UK) front wing whose fit relative to the door is not perfect. That aside the GT has good panel gaps and the doors open and close very nicely.
Understood to have been repainted in the mid to late 1990’s this is not the finest work we have ever come across particularly in the masking off department, but it has a good shine and stands scrutiny from a short distance.
The chrome-work is generally good (door handles, badges etc.) and though the bumpers have a good finish they are not perfectly aligned and have a few dints, while one over-rider is starting to deteriorate slightly. The lights and trims are all in nice condition including the ‘dog bone’ front grill.
Matt black 13” Cosmic Alloys – the absolute ‘genoux des abeille’ in the early 1970s - are fitted though the finish is chipping in places. The quality brand tyres all have a generous amount of tread remaining and for the originality buff, 12” steelies are in the boot along with appropriate wheel trims, a period backrest extension and the apparently original toolkit plus jack in a hessian bag.
The interior is, as far as we could see, totally original from the rear view mirror, via the (optional) Sports steering wheel fronting the signature ‘six dial’ dash trimmed in eco-friendly ‘fablonwood’, to the pyramid perforated vinyl trimmed seats.
Manufactured in the Ford plant in Cologne, the GT was first registered in France on 26th January 1970 and since the mid -1990s seems to have been owned by a M. Daniel Pujol until it was sold and bought to the UK at the beginning of this year. Showing just 68,652 km (around 42,500 miles) on the odometer it is understood that after it was repainted in the 1990s, it was put into storage and not used. A French MOT dating from 1991 indicates some 55,000 km had been covered at that stage so this, coupled with the lack of wear to items such as pedal rubbers, door hinges and handles seems to indicate that this may well be the cars genuine mileage.
Once you have mastered the long lost skill of pulling the choke knob out, the Escort starts easily showing good oil pressure and battery charge though the clock still seems to be on French time. With a smooth clutch and that delightful gear-change plus light, direct steering the drum tight GT is a joy to drive and with a little heat in the engine the racy red tachometer needle buzzes eagerly around the dial. With three bar oil pressure at a just warm idle, the engine seems to be in good health and certainly doesn’t have any apparent audible issues. This is not to say a thorough service wouldn’t be a good idea with little in the French paperwork to indicate what recent attention the Escort has had.
The appropriate NOVA has been made and after a tweak to the headlights’ aim, some encouragement to the brake lights and a new rear shock absorber bush, the GT passed its first UK MOT on 23rd February this year and is hence ready for UK registration.
A small quantity of documentation accompanies the car including French registration, ‘MOT’ and road tax papers, along with the odd receipt and an Owner’s Manual – in French of course.
For those wanting to enjoy the ‘warm’ as opposed to ‘hot’ saloon experience, and indeed share that with friends and family, this super-solid, hugely original Escort GT could be just the ticket.