September 2013 "Mont Blanc Rally".
The Ford Escort:
The squarer-styled Mark II version appeared in January 1975. The first production models had rolled off the production lines on 2nd December 1974.
Unlike the first Escort (which was developed by Ford of Britain), the second generation was developed jointly between the UK and Ford of Germany. Codenamed "Brenda" during its development, it used the same mechanical components as the Mark I. The 950 cc engine was still offered in Italy where the smaller engine attracted tax advantages, but in the other larger European markets in Europe it was unavailable. The estate and van versions used the same panelwork as the Mark I, but with the Mark II front end and interior. The car used a revised underbody, which had been introduced as a running change during the last six months production of the Mark I. Rear suspension still sat on leaf springs though some contemporaries such as the Hillman Avenger had moved on to coil springs.
The "L" and "GL" models (2-door, 4-door, estate) were in the mainstream private sector, the "Sport", "RSMexico", and "RS2000" in the performance market, the "Ghia" (2-door, 4-door) for an untapped small car luxury market, and "base / Popular" models for the bottom end. Panel-van versions catered to the commercial sector.
A cosmetic update was given in 1978, with L models gaining the square headlights (previously exclusive to the GL and Ghia variants) and there was an upgrade in interior and exterior specification for some models. Underneath a wider front track was given.
In 1979 and 1980 three special edition Escorts were launched the Linnet, Harrier and Goldcrest.
Production ended in Britain in August 1980, other countries following soon after.
As with its predecessor, the Mark II had a successful rallying career. All models of the Mark I were carried over to the Mark II, though the Mexico gained the RS badge and had its engine changed to a 1.6 L OHC Pinto instead of the OHV. A "Sport" model was also produced using the 1.6 L Kent. A new model was released, the RS1800, which had a fuel injected 1790 cc Cosworth BDE engine. It was essentially a special created for rallying.
The works rally cars were highly specialised machines. Bodyshells were heavily strengthened. They were characterised by the wide wheelarch extensions, and often by the fitment of four large spotlights for night stages. The Cosworth BDE engine was replaced with 2.0 L BDG and gave up to 250 bhp (186 kW; 253 PS) by 1979. It was complemented by a strengthened transmission, five-speed straight-cut ZF gearbox, five-linked suspension and more minor modifications.
The Mark II Escort continued its predecessor’s run on the RAC Rally, winning every year from 1975 to 1979 and racing in a variety of other events around the world. In the 1979 season of the World Rally Championship, Björn Waldegård took the drivers’ title, Hannu Mikkola was runner-up and Ari Vatanen finished the year in fifth place, all driving Escort RS1800s.
These drivers’ successes throughout the year gave Ford the manufacturers’ title, the only time the company had achieved this until the 2006 season, when Marcus Grönholm and Mikko Hirvonen won the title for Ford in Ford Focus RS WRC 06. Vatanen won the drivers’ title in 1981, again at the wheel of an RS1800. This victory came despite the arrival on the WRC scene of the venerable four-wheel drive Audi Quattro. Ford placed in the top three in the manufacturers’ championship for the sixth year in a row.
The 1.6 L (1598 cc/97 CID) engine in the 1975 1.6 Ghia produced 84 hp (63 kW) with 125 N·m (92 ft·lbf) torque and weighed 955kg (2105 lb). For rally use, this can be compared to the 1974 Toyota Corolla which output 75 hp (56 kW) and weighed 948kg (2090 lb).
The 2.0L RS2000 version, with its distinctively slanted polyurethane nose, and featuring the Pinto engine from the Cortina, was announced in the UK in March 1975 and introduced in Germany in August 1975, being reportedly produced in both countries. It provided a claimed 110 bhp and a top speed of 110 mph (177 km/h). For acceleration to 100 km/h (62.5 mph) a time of just 8.9 seconds was claimed by the manufacturers. The 2.0L engine was also easily retro-fitted into the Mark I, along with the Ford Sierra’s five-speed gearbox, for rallying and other sports.
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