"The opening chapter of the Ford Escort story really starts with the closing eulogy of the Ford Anglia. The Anglia had ruled Britain’s roads for, well, an awful long time. And with its popularity, American looks and (on the "
Ultimate Escort – Jay Gough’s MK2
Is this the kind of Escort we all crave?
We all have a favourite era of Escort.
Usually, it chimes with the ones we remember as children if we’re young enough to have been born after the Escort itself. Some of the (much) younger people involved with Influx adore a ‘sick’ Mk4. We haven’t found anyone getting too excited about what happened beyond that, though.
With a solid follower base, it’s usually the rear-wheel-drive Escorts that still command the brunt of the affection.
Prices for the early Escorts rocketed a few years back, especially those first two iterations, and now the Mk3 and 4 models bearing badges like XR3 and RS Turbo are following suit. But there’s more to the love of an Escort than simply keeping it dry and shiny and treating it like an upward trend on an investor’s graph, and people like Jamie Gough take this love to the point we’d all really like to take it – by making a Mk2 Escort into just the track-warrior we want it to be.
I’ve known Jamie (Jay) for a while now, and he’s a lover of driving as much as he is a lover of cars’ aesthetics. And handy behind the wheel – indeed he very nearly had the audacity to knock me off the top spot of an F1 simulator challenge at my own wedding, and had he not ran slightly wide at one corner he may well have made my perfect day less than perfect…
Have no doubt – he’s a lover of cars and that shows to anyone who chats with him – and the inevitable conversation about THAT Escort. The 1977 Mk2 Escort RS2000 that showcases his hard work, dedication and passion.
“I’ve owned the car for well over ten years now – it’s been a long and eventful relationship,” he laughs. “A lot of people thought I was a bit mad buying an old RS2000 at the age of 20, but I suppose growing up watching my brother race cars meant it was in the blood.
“The condition of the car was nice, it hadn’t long been rebuilt from a road car into a race car but just needed some finishing touches. It was built up at HT Racing by Ray and Aaron, and also my friend Darren who owned the car at the time.
“Since buying the car it has gone through a lot of changes. I did a few little bits to it and entered a few trackdays to get used to the car, then entered a couple of sprints. I did Brighton Speed Trials four or five years in a row.
“The engine’s had a few evolutions – from a really quick 2.1 Pinto up to a mega quick 2.4 all-steel Pinto, but I had a few issues, snapped a cam, and it died due to cracking a bore because of the angle the conrod entered the block – so we’ve gone down to 2.3 and now it’s a wicked engine.
“It’s good everywhere in the power range and still gives great figures – 245bhp in an 880kg car!
“Body-wise, I’ve added more cage inside, had a carbon roof put on and carbon panels inside and a lot of custom bits – the brake reservoir bracket, for example, doesn’t look much but my mate Neil Dunne took a long time to fabricate it – he actually does a lot of the metal work on this car, he’s a genius!
“Also, a lot of work has been done by my good friend Adrian Hall who has an extremely quick Mk2 Escort himself, he specced the 3-way Nitron suspension to match his car, because normally the shocks for the MK2 Escort are designed for tarmac rally so they’re way too long. He also made the front arms with compression struts and a front anti-roll bar. The whole system is rose-jointed, no bushes anywhere!
“The rubber on the car is quite nice – they’re 10.7″ on the front and 11″ on the rear, and I had some turbo fans made for the front wheels to make it look like the iconic old Le Mans racers. I also felt the need for a change in colour last year and needed something that wouldn’t change the look of the car too much though, so kept the overall colour scheme and came up with the Martini theme, a lot of people said it wouldn’t work, but it defo has!”
The car’s distinctive wheels, livery, overall looks and huge popularity meant Josh Reynolds was compelled to immortalise the car with a cartoon ‘Car-Icature’ version:
Moving on from the car’s looks to its performance, Jay was upbeat.
“This year is quite a big year for me,” he said, “I’ve got my race licence and hope to be racing in the new Ford Saloon Championship. The opening round is at the BHP show, at Lydden Hill in Kent, so keep your eyes peeled!
“Other than that, I’ll be doing a few shows with Meguiars polish at Mallory Park, Silverstone and also the big show at Goodwood Festival of Speed. I’ll also be doing things with Players, like their classic car show at Goodwood, and Forge Motorsport at the Forge Action day later in the year.”
I asked Jay why he chose an Escort in the first place.
“I suppose it came up at a time when I was looking for a track car, I knew who built most of it, I liked the looks, and I was told by my brother that it was an investment. I’m actually a 3-dr Sierra person, haha, and one day I might be swayed, but I’m quite happy with how this Escort looks now!
Before I left Jay to look forward to his first season of circuit racing, I asked him if there’s anyone else who deserves a mention.
“Many thanks to Tom and the Meguiars crew, they know who they are. They help me so much with the car and are a great bunch of people – I couldn’t ask for any more from them.
“Also, Alex at Forge Motorsport and their crew, they help me out massively with sorting out bits and parts! I wouldn’t be in the position I am now if it wasn’t for them.
“Jay and Carl and the rest of the Players family, they also let me into their shows for free and sometimes win prizes” he laughs, “and are a great bunch of people, to be honest.
“Neil Dunne, for all his hard work, Adrian Hall who’s taught me what I know to do with Escorts – anything I need to know about the car or trying to drive fast he’s the man to talk to and is always helping me with the car, fab aero work. Aaron at HT Racing and finally Steve at Vulcan Engineering for my engine work and various other things to do with the car, they’re great and always help me out more than most would!”
Finally, the question we all secretly want to know…
“How much is the car worth? I dunno, what do you think?
“That’s such a hard question to answer because I could be miles away from what anyone else thinks – it’s not just the huge cost of parts (e.g. slicks are £1600!) it’s the blood, sweat and tears of the car, the number of hours I’ve put into the thing is a joke!
“Put it this way – everything has a price but I wouldn’t even contemplate it if the offer was below £50k, and I’ve had a few very close to that already…”
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