1970 Ford Escort MkI - Toybox

By: Alex Affat, Photography by: Unique Cars Archives

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Former Unique Cars restoration feature, 2.0Lt Pinto driveline, one of the best in the country

The Escort name first appeared in Ford Europe in the 50s as a down-spec cut-price Squire van, which didn’t sell very well. But when the name returned in 1968 on the back of an affordable rear-drive sporty compact, it would birth an enduring lineage of celebrated racers and frequent best-sellers.

Technically speaking, the Escort was a pretty basic package with a live rear axle, leaf-sprung rear and a pushrod-four. However, rack-and-pinion steering and a decent power-to-weight ratio quickly earned it a reputation as a keen steerer.+


The MkI was also a celebrated motorsports competitor, taking out the 1970 London-Mexico Rally and various national and regional rally championships around the world. Indeed, you still see them out there in various grassroots motorsport disciplines to this day, a testament to their popularity and ability to take a punch.

Long-time readers may recognise this stunning Cosmic Blue example as one of our featured Reader Restorations from a few years back.

| Read more: Reader resto - Ford Escort MkI


Built as a father/son project in suburban Melbourne, the journey began with a workable yet clearly unloved MkI Escort shell, which enjoyed a complete nut-and-bolt teardown and rebuild.

During the journey, owners Peter Horder and his son Josh decided perform the popular 2.0lt Pinto conversion – keeping the car on-brand but with a welcome dose of very useable performance.


Body and paint were handled by Preston Panels in Melbourne, interior by Super Trim Coburg, with the retrofitted 2.0lt Pinto engine rebuilt by Duggans Balancing, and the three-speed auto transmission done by Transfixed Automatics.

Various new-old-stock items were sourced to replaced tired and worn items, and the Cosmic Blue Eskie is a frequent Trophy-winner, including: All Ford Day ‘Best Escort’ 2017 & 2018, Small Ford Day ‘Best Escort Mk I’ 2017, 2018 and more.


Peter states that the roof is currently vinyl wrapped white however can be easily removed for the new owner should they prefer it. The car will be sold with two sets of wheels: the Globes and a set of white Simmons FRs.

While it may wear a top-end price for the Mk1 Escort market, it’s truly a top-end calibre of car. As anyone who has undertaken a significant resto will likely attest: you would struggle to build it for that price.


From Unique Cars #447, December 2020

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