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Paul Torkington - Escort Mk2
Retro Ford
November 2015
Retro Ford November 2015
Best Things Come To Those That Wait
It might have taken 10 years to complete, but Paul Torkington's Mega Group 4 inspired Mk2 Escort is proof that patience rally is a virtue.
Words Luke Wood, Photos Gary Hawkins

"It's been ten years in the making, this Mk2, and a lot has changed in that time - mainly how much stuff costs. For example, Paul and his Dad gave just £500 for this 1600 Ghia shell when they pulled it out of the elderly chap's garage. We reckon it's been a long time since anyone paid £500 for a Mk2 two-door"

It might sound a bit obvious, but a lot can happen in 10 years. Fashion, music, politics, technology - in modern times things can change dramatically over the course of a decade, sometimes beyond all recognition. Just think how crap your phone was back in 2005!

The same can be said for cars. If you look back to where we were 10 years ago, the last-of-the-line Mk1 Focus RS models, which as we all know came as standard with an impressive (for the time) 212bhp and Quaife ATB-assisted front wheel-drive, were barely two years old. Yet, here we are in 2015, just months away from the next generation Mk3 models that promise 345bhp and a four wheel-drive system so clever it's said to come with a 'drift mode' that sends 70% of the power to the back wheels! Evolution and technological advancement are wonderful things of course, we wouldn't get very far without them. Yet, at the same time, there's no denying that certain things, retro Fords included, just get better and better with age.

Take Paul Torkington's Mk2 Escort for instance. It's a project that's taken Paul and his dad Colin 10 years to complete, and while Mk2 Escorts have always had a solid fan base, you could argue that today they are even more popular than ever - especially when they're in Group 4 tarmac mode. Paul admits that it has been a passion for rallying, and rallying Escorts in particular, that's been the main driving force behind the creation of his stunning Mk2.

"My dad has always built rally cars, from Vauxhalls to Cossies," he said. "We used to go to lots of rally events when I was younger, but it was always the Escorts that I liked the best - which is the reason I wanted one so badly for my first car as a teenager."

With his heart set on an old school Ford for his first set of wheels, the pressure was on to find something that would be suitable - which wasn't the easiest of tasks, even 10 years ago. However, as luck would have it, the ideal donor car did eventually present itself. And, in a further twist of good fortune, it turned out to be something of a barn find.

"A friend spotted it at a neighbour's house, or rather he spotted the back end of it poking out of the garage," Paul recalled. "We ending up convincing the guy that owned it, who was 101-years old at the time, to sell it to us. I paid £500 for it! It might have looked like it was in a bit of a state, because it hadn't turned a wheel for 11 years and was covered in about an inch of dust, but when we dragged it out the garage and had a proper look at it, it was in rally good condition. It really was a very lucky find, a two door 1600 Ghia shell with no sunroof - it was a bit of a crowd puller as well when we went to collect it, lots of people came out to watch and were telling me stories about the last time they'd seen it on the road!"

Retro Ford November 2015

While Paul and his dad has seemingly struck gold with the discovery of the Ghia in the first place, they were soon to uncover an even bigger bonus in that the shell was virtually rot free. It would seem that whoever originally bought the Escort was convinced by the dealership to pay a bit extra for a full Ziebart anti-corrosion treatment, something that was offered on a range of new cars at the time, and which basically involved filling all the nooks and crannies with rust protection gunk in a bid to prevent any water from getting in. Now, anyone that can remember opting for Ziebart protection back in the day might very well confirm that it was a bit 'hit or miss' as to whether it worked or not. But in the case of Paul's Escort, it really did seem to have done the trick with only some very minor corrosion to be found on the wings and front panel.

Retro Ford November 2015

"At the time, replacement panels were relatively cheap, so I think I paid about £100 for a pair of wings and the front panel," said Paul. "It's even got the original strut tops, so that just goes to show the condition it was in!"

While the initial idea was to have the Escort as a first, Paul who was 16 at the time, explains that it ended up becoming something a little more extreme. But then, when you've got a dad who builds rally cars for a hobby, and a mum that works at SBD Motorsport, a company well known in tuning circles for its engineering prowess with both Vauxhall Redtop and Duratec engines, it's perhaps not surprising that the Mk2 was destined for bigger and better things.

"I have to say a big thanks to my dad," he continued. "Without him it really wouldn't be anywhere near this good. Between us we've done pretty much all of the work, including any welding that was needed and all the fabrication for the arches, diff and gearbox tunnels and the 'linking' at the rear was all done at home. The only bits we didn't do were the roll cage, which is a multi-point weld-in one from Caged, and the paint, which is Vista Phoenix Orange."

When it came to the choice of engine, Paul admits that he did at first consider a Vauxhall 2-litre 16v Redtop thanks to his family connections at SBD, but after becoming more involved in the Ford scene and spending time at the Ford Shows, he eventually came to the conclusion that he couldn't 'contaminate' the Escort's bay with anything other than a Ford engine. Fortunately, Steve at SBD Motorsport was more than happy for Paul's dad to use the company's workshops and lean on its expertise in order to rebuild a second-hand 2-litre Duratec instead. Uprated with SBD throttle bodies and a 4:2:1 BTB exhaust manifold, it features a coill-on-plug conversion with MBE engine management and, according to Paul, it should be good for around 200bhp. It might not be the most powerful Duratec in the world, but the attention to detail in the bay is absolutely first class. According to Paul, a lot of time and effort has gone into making sure the Escort looks the part, something that really becomes evident when you take a peek under the bonnet. The engine has been chassis mounted, (again using a kit from SBD) with dash fitting used throughout and also incorporates a Corsa B electric power steering set-up. Despite being a home build, it all looks highly professional and we're also a big fan of the dry sump tank installation, which we're told took a lot of trials and error to get right.

Once the engine is fired up, the power is transferred to a Quaife five-speed Type 9 straight-cut dog box to a Fostec fully-floating Atlas axle via a single-piece prop and then into the tarmac though a pair of 9x15-inch Compomotive MOs wrapped in Toyo R888 tyres.

"The engine is only really a temporary measure," said Paul. "It's enough to get the car up and running so that we can iron out any teething problems and it gives me a chance to let me learn how it behaves - we've got a brand new crate Duratec as well, which will be built to 300bhp, but I'm going to get used to this one first. Since it was rolled out the workshop in December last year I've only really driven it hard once, ad that was at Santa Pod. I tried a launch and the gearbox, which was a standard Type 9, blew up on the spot, which is why we upgraded to the Quaife straight-cut box."

Once Paul is ready to take advantage of a bigger engine, we're pretty sure he won't have to worry about upgrading the rest of the car because, like the engine bay, it really has been prepped to the highest of standards. A six-linking and turreted set up at the rear is complimented by Bilstein coilovers all rounds, with tension struts, adjustable TCAs, rose-jointed roller-bearing top mounts and strut brace at the front. With regards to the brakes, AP Racing Pro 2000 4-pots feature up front, with Wilwood 4-pots at the rear, all combined with Aeroquip hoses and a Gartrac bias pedal box.

Retro Ford November 2015

The interior is as you would expect from a motorsport-inspired car, although once again we have to compliment the skills of Paul and his dad on the attention to detail - it put some Works cars to shame! There are loads of neat custom touches in the cabin, such as the homemade centre console that features the switch gear and starter button and we're also a fan of the Speed Hut rev counter and GPS speedo. Combine all the with the Group 4 upgrades, the carbon/Kelvar boot and bonnet and the jaw-dropping quality of the finish and you can see just why the whole project took a decade to complete!

It might have taken 10 years, during which there were extended periods of 'down time' as parts, money and motivation ran dry of course, but as you can see from the pics, it really has been worth the effort. Not that Paul is in any rush to go rallying in it, as he reckons it's far too shiny to get mucky or risk crashing into a tree and reckons he's going to try his hand on circuit events and hill climbs first.

Give him another 10 years to get practicing and who knows though - with an Escort this sorted, and with a bit more power to play with from the 'other' Duratec, we've got high hopes indeed for his rallying career!

Ford Facts
2-litre Duratec, SBD throttle bodies, dry sumped, electric water pump, 4:2:1 BTB exhaust manifold, Longlife system, coil-on-lpug conversion, MBE management, alloy rad, dash fittings throughout, chassis mounted, World Cup crossmember, lowered rack mounts, Corsa B electric power steering conversion, boot mounted fuel tank, separate swirl pot, low pressure Facet pump with two high pressure pumps.
Quaife 5-speed Type 9, straight-cut dog box, SBD Motorsport Type 9 to Duratec bellhousing, single-piece prop, Superclutch twin-plate paddle clutch, Fostec fully-floating Atlas, Watts linkage and four-linked set-up, 4.6:3 CWP.
AP Racing Pro 2000 4-pots (front), Wilwood 4-pots (rear), Gartrac bias pedal box, Aeroquip braided lines throughout.
Bilstein coilovers, tension struts adjustable TCAs and rose-jointed roller bearing top mounts (front), turreted rear with Bilstein coilovers.
9x15-inch Comp MOs (rear), 8x15-inch Comp MOs (front), Toyo Proxy R888 tyres.
1600 Ghia shell re-sprayed in Vista Phoenix orange, Group 4 diff and gearbox tunnel, Group 4 tarmac arches, full Perspex windows, heated front screen, carbon/Kelvar boot and bonnet.
stripped out with multi-point, weld-in Caged roll cage, Corbeau Imola Pro seats on welded seat rails, TRS harnesses, OMP deep-dish steering wheel, Speed Hut rev counter and GPS speedo, SPA digital gauges, custom centre console on gearbox tunnel for switch gear and starter button, carbon look door cards, hydraulic handbrake with cable assist.
Retro Ford November 2015
Paul Torkington's SBD Web page
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