Although used to identify an estate car version of the Ford Anglia 100E, and appearing on various Ford cars sold in North America, the Escort name started writing a long chapter in the history of European motoring with the debut of the Ford Escort Mk I in late 1967. The long-running Ford Anglia’s replacement had to be fit for mass-market purpose, and was.
First up was a two-door saloon with a curving waistline and characteristic ‘dog-bone’ front grille with headlamps at either end. A three-door estate appeared in spring 1968 and a tradesman’s van followed a year later. The four-door saloon did not arrive until 1989. There was the usual Ford options package — different trim levels (De Line and Super) and a choice of engines (1.1 litre or 1.3 litre).
It wasn’t long before a specialist performance version appeared in the form of a 1300GT with tuned engine and Weber carburetor. A further variation with the same engine set-up was the Sport, with flared front wings, which in turn spawned the 1300E with fancy executive touches like a wood-trimmed dashboard.
Ford was a great believer in the power of race wins when it came to selling road cars and the Escort Twin Cam was a high-performance competition model fitted with a 1.6 litre engine tweaked by Lotus Cars and assembled at Ford’s AVO (Advanced Vehicle Operation) facility at Aveley. The investment was shrewd, with Escort Mk Is sweeping all before them on the rally circuit and going on to become one of the most successful rally cars of all time.
That contributed to the Escort’s massive commercial success, especially in Britain where it comfortably outsold its General Motors competitor, the Vauxhall Viva — though to be fair GM hit back in Europe where the Opel Kadett won out.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
UK (also assembled in Belgium, then Germany)
1967 (until 1974)
940 cc (rarely), 1,098 cc, 1,298 cc and 1,558 cc Straight Four
1300 Sport – top speed of 98 mph (158 km/h)
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
The Escort Mk l’s reach was long – it was not only built at Halewood and Saarlouis in Germany, but also assembled in Australia and New Zealand.