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July 2003
Retro Cars
If outright power is what you crave from your classic, then only a Cosworth YB will do.
Welcome to the mad, mad world of retro performance.
Words Phil White & Photos David Wigmore
Shunning the turbo in favour of throttle bodies, Matt's moody Mk1 Escort dances to the sound of a screaming, naturally-aspirated beat..

Matt was "about 21" when he acquired this car as a flat-fronted RS2000 shell. His ambitions weren't awfully grandiose - all he wanted was a daily driver that he could have more fun in than the tiny front-drive hatches most of his peers drove. "I drove to work in it with a 150 bhp Pinto under the bonnet for a few years," he remembers.

But about five years ago, the Escort was recreated as a sprint star. Since then, it has been rather as you see it here. But, as his father explains, " with a steadily-evolving top end". The head is from a 2WD Sierra Cosworth and is ported and polished. Matt has opted for natural aspiration, but through super high-tech Jenvey throttle bodies. "They're super-expensive too", Matt says with a grimace.

But they're effective. Breathing through an ITG filter and receiving fuel via Pi injectors, the engine produces 260 bhp and 200 lb.ft torque. This is aided by Kent Cams reprofiled by SB Developments, which have solid lifters and Isky valve springs. Accralite pistons help too, on the standard Cosworth forged rods and crank. This car runs a 11.8:1 compression ratio, and produces a lovely roar through its Exhaust By Design 2.75 inch bore exhaust system, helped by an SB Developments carbon fibre silencer. All this works in perfect harmony thanks to MBE956E management, programmed by SB Developments.

The whole car is very comprehensively worked over, but Matt is proud that it has been resprayed "the same Signal Yellow it left the factory with". It didn't have Gartrac box arches back then though, or Opel Manta 400-style bonnet cutouts. Nor did it have Alcon four-pot front brakes.

The suspension is about as good as Mk1 Escorts can get, being a six link set-up at the rear. The front end uses tarmac-spec struts with Bilstein inserts and heavy-duty 350lb springs. "It really handles," Matt grins. It needs to, the boy has a lead foot and has enjoyed 10 sprint events in it to date. His results card show eight first places, one second and one fifth, a real endorsement of the effort that has gone into creating this amazing Escort. Oh,and his driving skills, of course.

He's not done yet, though. "I only took it for a little drive," he wails as the Escort limps off the test circuit. "It spent all weekend at 9000 rpm too." The bottom end has failed him. But Matt's resourceful and, as he winds the car onto its trailer, he's already planning to turn misfortune into more horsepower. "He was toying with going to2.4 litres. There's no way that engine's going back in as a 2-litre now," his Dad says. Matt fancies doing a full body restoration too, so the car will be out of action for the rest of the season. But next year it's going to be back, more mental than ever, but still Signal Yellow.

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