Mk1 Escort capable of mid-11-second quarter-mile times, and it's
powered by a Vauxhall.
may or may but be aware, I am a big fan of the Vauxhall 2.0 16v engine
especially when it is lurking between the wings of an old-skool Ford.
It may not be to everyone's taste, but it is one hell of an engine.
I have seen Kevin Jenkins' car at Santa pod and let me tell you it literally
chews up the quarter-mile, spits it out and demands more, although to
Kevin the Escort seems relatively slow as he spent a good few years
drag racing, competing in many championships with big power V8s and
the like. His passion for cars really resides in drag racing, and unfortunately
this got to a point where everything was suffering: the house, the garden,
the holidays etc. He spent all his time immersed in the sport, as well
as a large amount of his money, so he made the decision to give the
drag racing a rest. Until of course the Escort came along.
over four years ago Kevin bought a 2.0 16v Vauxhall engine for
his next little project, all he needed was to find a car to slot
it into. His intention was to get out and do a few track days,
sprints and the like, but this time working under strict motto
of "If I haven't got the money, the car doesn't get the parts".
Along cam a relatively straight and tidy Mk1 Escort shell on eBay,
so with money in his pocket, he bought the car. Drawing from his
drag experience and from the fact that it would most likely end
up on the quarter-mile at some stage, Ken 'mini tubbed' the rear
inner arches, bringing them hack in towards the chassis rails
to enable his to run big rubber.
created a problem in itself as it meant that the turrets were
then in the wrong place and the shock absorbers rubbed don the
rear of the tyres, so to get around this he fabricated turrets
inside of the boot and suitably braced them with tubing. He wasn't
sure how well it was going to work, bit it turns out it went really
well as once the car was finished and corner weighted it was exactly
as a well-set-up one should be, although Kevin admits that it
was more lick than judgement. When it cam to the axle he knew
that it had to be strong and while he had been down the English
axle with two-piece half shafts road, it still wasn't strong enough.
than opting for the ultra strong but ultra-expensive Atlas axle
that we see under so many high-powered retro Fords, Kevin used
his drag racing knowledge and contacts and imported an eight-inch
Mustang axle from America. It came made to his specification with
billet steel half shafts and a Detroit locker for less than a
third of the price of a similarly specced Atlas, and his is pretty
is no way he will be able to break it. Up front Kevin installed the
Xe, chopping out the bulkhead to enable him to move the engine rearwards
for that all important weight distribution. He made his own lowered
rack mount crossmember so he was able to get the engine in nice and
low. At first he didn't enlarge the tunnel, but after going through
several gearboxes to find the right gear ratios, he settled for a T5
gearbox as normally found behind the Cosworth YB.
had to modify the SBD bellhousing that he had bought and also
make up a spacer plate to get it to fit behind the Vauxhall engine,
but Kevin assures me this really is the best gearbox for the job.
The only downside to this is that he has encountered a few problems
changing gears at high engine speeds and thus he is already on
his third or gearbox. He has planned a way around this though
and is looking to get himself a "proper" gearbox from
America. The weakest link was now the propshaft, a problem that
let itself be known when it snapped at the top of a power run
on the rollers Track and Road - not a pretty sight. It did a fair
amount of damage as you can imagine, but thankfully this is sorted
now with a Gartrac item transferring power form the gearbox to
Xe under the bonnet sounds damn horny as it sucks in gallons of
air through the twin Weber 48s, although these aren't the only
trick up the Vauxhall's sleeve. The car runs a very trick nitrous
setup, using a progressive control system, meaning it can be programmed
to launch with, say 30bhp than after a period of 3-4 seconds feed
in 60bhp, meaning you don't waste all the power in a wheelspin
on the line.
|To say this car launches hard is an understatement,
it regularly picks a front wheel up at Santa Pod. Kevin used to
import and fit nitrous systems which meant there were no problems
installing it to this engine. Thus far the Escort's best quarter-mile
time is 11.58 seconds, although Kevin is sure he can bring it
down to 11.3
I think you will agree this is awesome in a
car that looks so unassuming.
Fords are never finished, and this is no exception. Kevin has
plans to covert to a hydraulic clutch and make a bespoke system
using an electronic line lock in both the clutch and brake lines
in order to lick the brakes and hold the clutch down. This means
that when he is in stage all he has to do is set the revs and
when the green light goes hit the button- the car should launch
perfectly and bring his reaction times right down. There are also
plans to change to an American setup at the rear, as currently
the bard launches take their toll on the rubber bushed link bars.
All this is like music to Kevin's son Keiron's ears as he has
got his eye on the car, which he looks set to inherit when he
is old enough to drive (lucky git - All).
the outside it may appear to be 'just an Escort' but under the
skin lurks a very well-built purposeful weapon of a car. It may
powered by a Vauxhall, but when it overtakes you (and it will),
you'd be forgiven for thinking a BDA lurks between the wings,
as the XE draws hard through Weber 48s and sings the old-skool
anthem of induction noise in your face.
A big thanks to the guys and girls at Epsom Downs racecourse who
let us photograph the car in front of the Queen's Stand
Vauxhall 2.0 16v, steel rods, 87.5mm Omega forged pistons,
standard valves, standard ports, solid lifter cams, dry sump
system, twin 48 Weber DCOE carbs, Direct port fogger nitrous
T5 gearbox, B&N pro shifter, SBD RWD bellhousing modified
to fit T5, bespoke adaptor plate, heavy duty clutch cover
plate. cerametallic paddle, Gartrac single-piece prop. Mustang
8" axle, 28 spline billet one-piece half shafts, Detroit
locker differential, 5.46:1 final drive ratio
Gaz fully adjustable 2.25" front struts, 350lb springs,
adjustable top mounts, twin cam anti-roll bars, quick rack,
alloy hubs, lowered rack mount crossmember, Leda fully adjustable
2.25" coilover rear dampers, 200lb springs, 5 linked
Wilwood four-pot front calipers, vented drilled & grooved
discs, Wilwood four-pot rear calipers, Bias pedal box, hydraulic
handbrake, line lock, additional bias valve for rear brakes
WHEELS AND TYRES
Road:6x13" Minilites with 185/60r13 Yokohamas front,
7x13" Minilites with 215/50r13 Yokohamas rear. Drag 6x13"
with 155r13 tyres front, 8x13" Minilites with 24.5x8x13"
Drag rear tyres
RS front wings, RS decal, RS badges, polycarb windows
Alloy panels, alloy centre console, full cage, carpeted, fibreglass
bucket seats, Autometer gauges, Springalex steering wheel.
Jazz fuel cell, battery & dry simp cell in boot
Skool Ford Drag Championship 2006: Round 2 - Best Burnout
Skool Ford Drag Championship 2006: Round 4 - 1/4mile Fastest 5.6
Skool Ford Drag Championship 2006: Round 5 - Fastest Overall Time
Jenkins web page
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