Welcome to this week’s FC Throwback, where we take a look back at some of our favourite previous feature cars, this week it’s Tom Blackwood’s 820bhp tuned Ford Escort Cosworth from 2016.
Taking a well-recognised example of a performance Blue Oval and providing it with something akin to a new identity can be a struggle, especially when the car in question has been a demonstration vehicle for an established tuning company that has taken great pride in parading its four-wheeled creation in front of the masses at many of the country’s top racing venues. Yup, ditching the immediately identifiable characteristics of a famous Ford is a tricky business that requires a serious amount of determination.
Of course, it helps if your name happens to be Tom Blackwood and you are in possession of a mountain of rare genuine parts with which to shower upon your distinguished Ford. “Tom was looking for an Escort RS Cosworth that he could use as a plaything to hammer around Knockhill,” explains AG Motorsport owner (and Tom’s chief spanner-wielder), Andrew Gallacher. “Around the same time, the guys at Reyland Motorsport decided to part with their ex-demo EsCos. Tom recognised the fact that they were offering up a high-profile Blue Oval with a track record of delivering plenty of smiles to the mile, and he wasted no time in striking a deal for the car before shipping it to my Kilmarnock workshop where we began to make changes that would mark the beginning of the next chapter in the new arrival’s colourful history,” he smiles.
At this point, we should point out that Tom was already in possession of a jaw-dropping collection of classic Rallye Sports; a Group A WRC EsCos, a trio of three-door Sierras wearing the Cosworth badge (including a genuine Italian Superturismo touring car and an RS500 with just six thousand miles to its name), the celebrated Group 4 ‘Eddie Stobart’ Mk2 Escort RS1800 and a pair of – wait for it – minty fresh RS200s are just some of the amazing machines that he holds under lock and key.
Unsurprisingly, he didn’t want to rag a low mileage RS500 or a pristine RS200 around the track, instead deciding to buy the Reyland Escort to use specifically for that purpose. “The car landed at my place as a rolling shell following Tom’s decision to investigate the possibility of treating his new toy to a powertrain that was capable of producing over 700bhp,” continues Andrew. “Dressed in a tired coat of silver paint, the EsCos that I was presented with was still wearing the top-notch Proflex suspension that Reyland had bolted into place. There were various other performance parts that were supplied with the car, but I decided that the best thing to do would be to strip the shell back to its bare metal and treat it as a blank canvas,” he adds.
While Andrew was ridding the car of each of its nuts and bolts, Tom purchased yet another Group A WRC EsCos to use as a breaker that would provide a plentiful supply of parts for his new track warrior! “I painted the project car’s shell in a coat of sparkling silver and applied the same colour to the WRC front bumper and various other pieces of exterior trim that were generated as a consequence of dismantling the rally machine,” confirms Andrew. He also chopped and enlarged the silver stunner’s transmission tunnel in order for it to accommodate a Bara Motorsport FFD six-speed sequential gearbox and the pipework of a custom 3.5-inch stainless steel exhaust system.
Bara also provided a front plated differential that would go on to work alongside a ZF diff at the rear. Group A driveshafts, a Group A rear beam and rose-jointed lower suspension components were appointed alongside the reinstated Proflex dampers and springs, while AP Racing six-piston front stoppers (four-pots at the back) were installed with the intention of reining in the car’s hotly-anticipated lofty number of ponies. More joy was thrown into the mix in the form of a WRC pedal box.
A quick look at the ‘tech spec’ list that accompanies this particular feature exposes the fact that Tom’s expectation of owning an EsCos capable of 700bhp was well and truly exceeded following a chat with Harvey Gibbs at tuning firm, Supreme Car Services. “Decent YB blocks are becoming increasingly difficult to come by, leading to a conversation with Harvey about the possibility of using a Smith and Jones Engineering all-alloy block,” confirms Andrew. The lightweight bottom end doesn’t come cheap, but thick block walls, vibration damping and a massively reduced risk of cracking metal under load provides confidence that encouraged all concerned to compile a list of parts that would be more than happy to propel the ever-evolving Escort past the 800bhp mark!
Sure enough, a YB designed for the job at hand was assembled at Harvey’s Peterborough headquarters. The Smith and Jones block was joined by CP forged pistons, Arrow rods, a strengthened crankshaft, a Nick Waples big valve cylinder head, custom profile camshafts, air injectors, a T04Z hybrid turbocharger and a Pectel P6 ECU fitted with a 4-bar MAP sensor. Subsequent dyno sessions delivered an eye-watering 820bhp (with an accompanying torque figure of over 600lb/ft), and then it was time to send the potent powerplant to Andrew so that it could be plumbed into the space beneath the Escort’s Aerocatch-equipped vented bonnet.
A fuel system comprising a modified Pro Alloy cabin-mounted fluid tank, twin Bosch 413 pumps, custom lines and eight Siemens high-flow injectors that feed the engine with a constant supply of 102 RON petrol joined the party, as did airflow enhancements that include a spindle-free throttle body, a 100mm Pro Alloy intercooler and a tubular exhaust manifold. Engine bay dress-up parts are few and far between (after all, this is a car built for ‘go’ and not ‘show’!), but a freshly painted cam cover, Roose Motorsport silicone hoses and Pro Alloy fluid reservoirs do their best to please the eye.
As you’d expect, this excellent Escort’s interior is stripped bare, although recently-bought Cobra racing seats and Tilton safety harnesses (that are fastened to a brace bar section of a comprehensive multi-point roll cage) provide a surprising amount of comfort whenever Tom is sliding sideways around Knockhill. Elsewhere in his car’s cabin, the expected array of aftermarket gauges are nowhere to be seen, instead replaced by a Race Technology digital display. It would seem that the old cliché is true – less is more…
“We asked our good friend and business associate, Fraser Vincent, to construct a WRC-spec wiring harness that did away with all the sensor, pump and gauge connectors that were present on the loom that we inherited with the car. The end result is a much more straightforward wiring configuration,” Andrew tells us. Perfect for a mega-powered Rallye Sport built for nothing more than serious high-powered hoonery!
And that’s precisely what the car has been used for since Andrew completed the build a few months back. “Tom took his Escort to Swedish motorsport festival, Gatebil, where he enjoyed the delights of Scandinavian track action, and he also has racked up an ever-increasing number of laps at Knockhill!” he laughs. “Additionally, he intends to cart the car to most of this year’s UK-based Ford shows,” he reveals, before informing us that Mr Blackwood’s awe-inspiring Escort remains road legal!
We doubt that this raucous Rallye Sport will see much in the way of action on the nation’s highways, but it will remain a regular fixture at the racing circuit where Tom is only too happy to demonstrate the abilities of his pride and joy as he powers it around hairpins and chicanes at warp speed. Make no mistake – the time and effort that he, Harvey and Andrew have invested in the project has produced a unique Escort Cosworth with a future that promises to be just as fruitful as its well-regarded past!
TECH SPEC FORD ESCORT COSWORTH
Supreme Car Services (SCS) 1993cc YB Cosworth, Smith and Jones Engineering alloy block, CP forged pistons, Arrow connecting rods and crankshaft, Nick Waples big valve cylinder head, SCS custom profile camshafts, painted cam cover, Pectel T6 ECU, 4-bar MAP sensor, Fraser Vincent WRC-spec wiring harness, 8-injector manifold, Siemens high-flow fuel injectors, twin air injectors, Andrew Gallacher Motorsport (AGM) modified cabin-mounted Pro Alloy fuel tank, twin Bosch 413 Motorsport fuel pumps, custom fuel and oil lines, 102 RON Carless Turbo Ultimate racing fuel, AGM oil breather system and catch tank, Group A remote oil filter, 13-row Mocal oil cooler, Ford Motorsport ignition leads, NGK Iridium spark plugs, 65mm spindleless throttle body, T04Z hybrid turbocharger, turbo harness, Pro Alloy 100mm alloy intercooler, tubular exhaust manifold, Tial water-cooled wastegate, Tial blow-off valve, AGM 3.5-inch stainless steel exhaust system, Pro Alloy fluid reservoirs and 60mm alloy radiator, Roose Motorsport silicone hoses
Bara Motorsport (BM) FFD six-speed sequential gearbox, BM 7-inch plated front differential, ZF 9-inch plated rear differential, Group A driveshafts, AP Racing twin-plate clutch, modified propshaft
Proflex Group A Tarmac dampers with remote reservoirs and custom load springs, Proflex custom adjustable top mounts, Group A Tarmac front hubs, Group A square rear beam, adjustable traction control arms, rose-jointed throughout
AP Racing six-piston front calipers with 380mm discs, AP Racing four-piston rear calipers with 315mm discs, Group A pedal box, AP Racing master cylinders, performance pads, braided hoses, AGM custom brake lines
WHEELS & TYRES
9×18-inch (rear) and 10×18-inch(front) Compomotive MO6 wheels painted white, Ecsta LE Sport tyres
Strengthened Group N body shell, widened rear quarter panels, WRC front bumper and wings, roof-mounted air intake, WRC rear spoiler, Morette headlights, smoked rear lights, Aerocatches, AGM sunstrip, kill switches, ATL alloy fuel filler flap
Cobra racing seats, Tilton safety harnesses, multi-point roll cage, Race Technology Dash2 Pro display, custom switch panel, Sparco three-spoke steering wheel, ATL fuel gauge, boot-mounted fire extinguisher
Words Dan Furr Photos Adrian Brannan