When Steve Cropley posed the question 'What's the greatest British car ever built?', there was just one car that stood out for me:
Ford built less than 900 Escort Twin Cams, but the importance to the performance car market, motorsport and Ford’s reputation in Europe cannot be understated. Developed by Ford’s competition department at Boreham, Essex in 1967, it went on sale a year later and immediately set the world of rallying alight. The Escort went on to become the world’s most successful rally car.
It’s not just Ferrari and Porsche which can claim that drivers of their cars benefit from its motorsport experience. The Twin Cam showed that this kind of technology was there for the man in the street too. And he was able to use it on the street. The stiffened bodyshell was homologated for Group 3 competition, and the twin-cam engine was lifted from the Lotus Cortina and modified to fit the smaller Escort. It weighed 300kg less than the ‘Tina and offered a 0-60mph time of 8.7sec.
Victorious at the hands of Roger Clark and rallycross legend Barry Lee, the Twin Cam injected pizazz into the Escort range. The 1100 de luxe buyer had something to aspire to; after all, it was a car derived from his family runabout that was able to wipe the floor with an MGB or Mini Cooper S. And through dozens of RS, ST and XR-badged models, it’s a formula Ford has stuck with ever since.
Not only did the Escort Twin Cam usher in a new breed of sports saloons, but the halo model was also worth its weight in marketing gold.