With a killer stance and a fresh look, Dave Lewis is satisfying his need for speed on the downlow with his stanced Escort RS Turbo S2.

Gaming has a lot to answer for. The vast majority of readers most likely made their high-speed driving debut in pixel form many years before actually getting a real driving licence; it’s a generational thing, but you might have been playing Gran Turismo, Forza, MarioKart or Outrun, those little animated cars worming their way inexorably into your affections. For Dave Lewis, it was a youth spent playing Need for Speed on the PS2 that ultimately led to the creation of the stanced Escort RS Turbo you see before you… although dreams like this don’t get realised through hyperactive thumbs alone, and there’s another age-old influence here that a lot of you will surely recognise: the ‘my dad had one of those’ effect.

front on shot of stanced Escort RS Turbo

Where it all started for Dave

“Yeah, Need for Speed was where it all started, but I also owe a whole lot to going outside and holding the torch for my dad, playing around with whatever hot hatch he had at the time,” Dave recalls. “He had all sorts when I was younger – RS Turbos, XR2s and XR2is, Orions, the list goes on and on, and I’d say that definitely played a big part in what cars I was into from early on.”

It was with a certain sense of inevitability that his first car would be a Ford, and so it came to pass: a cream Mk4 Escort, which soon found itself treated to coilovers and BBS split-rims. One day, when the Escort broke, Dave bought a Mk3 Fiesta as a daily while he fixed it, and the inevitable mission creep saw the Fiesta getting the full RS-rep treatment; it was rapidly becoming evident that he was addicted to finding cool old Fords and making them cooler, and the Fiesta was replaced (when it was retired from service, artfully battered after a couple of years of being run around an inch from the ground) by a Mk5 Escort LX. Yep, that immediately got the treatment too, Dave fitting a square setup of 9”-wide Schmidt rims as well as a bunch of RS aesthetics and a full RS2000 interior.

After a dalliance with a stanced Golf, Dave then bought his old cream Mk4 Escort back again, which was now running an ST170 on bike carbs. With its fresh paint, smooth bay, hydraulic suspension and rare aero accessories it won its fair share of trophies… and then a white RS Turbo peeped in from stage left, like an eager schoolkid desperate to scamper on stage and deliver their line.

Escor tRS Turbo badge

Why an Escort RS Turbo?

“Why an RS Turbo? Well, without stepping into Cossie territory, the RS Turbo was always the dream car,” Dave smiles. “It reminds me of being younger, and no matter who you talk to, the RST is the ultimate icon from the eighties – so when I had the chance to get one of my own, I had to take it. I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to afford one again with the way the prices are going.

“All of the work on the cream Mk4 had been carried out by Taron Reeves [@rstaz28], who’s now a good friend of mine, and he also sold me the Mk5,” Dave continues. “He had this white S2 come in, and we’d always spoken about me selling up to get an S2… he said he would do a deal with me for my two Escorts at the time, the Mk4 and the Mk5, for a price that I was happy with and a bit of a cash for the RS. Having tried to sell my cars separately but got messed about so much, his deal was something I just couldn’t say no to. Chances are, without him I wouldn’t have ever owned an S2 RST at all.”

stanced Escort RS Turbo engine

Perfect base car for the build

The RS Turbo came to Dave in remarkable condition, with no rust to worry about in any of the common areas; indeed, aside from some very minor bubbling under the gutters it was solid as a rock and ready to play. Which is just as well, as playing is what Dave does best. “It was a very good example, certainly one of the best about that I could’ve bought to start with,” he says. “If I’d bought a rot box I would’ve been gutted! The car came completely standard apart from some GAZ Gold coilovers, and I put a set of Escort Cosworth alloys on it.”

stanced Escort RS Turbo interior

Early modifications on the stanced Escort RS Turbo

He really can’t help himself, and these early mods were just a precursor to the radical ideas that were swirling around in Dave’s head. The overarching ethos has been to keep it simple and choose the mods with care rather than throwing the proverbial kitchen sink at it. The interior is a case in point: he loved the standard vibe so decided not to mess with it, aside from adding a Nardi wheel and some beefier audio. Ditto the exterior, which is largely as Ford intended save for a few choice additions: the rare MC Rallying roof spoiler and clear lenses give it an old-school flavour, and Dave went on an exhaustive and painstaking search to find some German green-tint pop-out rear windows, which were eventually tracked down in Birmingham.

The front bumper was tastefully cleaned up with the towing eye groove eliminated and the number plate recess smoothed off, and the arches were cut and flattened by the father-and-son team of Ben and Gareth Bishop at MCB Refinish in Tonbridge. Why? Because stancey things were afoot…

rear 3/4 shot of stanced Escort RS Turbo

Air ride for the stanced Escort RS Turbo

“I bought an air-ride setup for it, and had that fitted by my friends Mitch Bombroff and Zac Shipp at Offset Customs,” says Dave, and this was the real turning point for the project. The strictly polarising point, directly dividing onlookers between ‘awesome’ and ‘ruined’. And wouldn’t it be boring if we all liked the same things?

“So now the car was bagged,” he continues, “but as with all Mk4s the driver’s side driveshaft fouls on the chassis, so I took it to Josh at Gresswells for a chassis notch and he did it perfectly, it almost looks factory… as factory as a chassis notch can be! I then got a stainless Mongoose exhaust and a Pipercross air filter, and eventually my wheels turned up.”

custom aftermarket wheels

Aftermarket wheels for the stanced Escort RS Turbo

Oh yes, the wheels. You’d probably been wondering about those. There’s some true ingenuity and offbeat creativity at play here; it looks for all the world like Dave’s had the centres from a set of original RS Turbo alloys cut out and converted to split-rims, but actually there’s a little more to it than that.

“They’re full custom one-offs,” he explains, “with the faces machined from billets and designed to look exactly like RS Turbo wheels. I did initially plan on getting the original wheels cut and converted into splits, but then I would have ended up with 17” wheels and I wanted sixteens – so I contacted a company called Rimscarnated, who designed and made the faces to suit 16” BBS parts. With the faces created I sent them to Dan at Wheel Unique who helped me get all the lips, barrels and hardware and then refinished and built them all up.

Ford Fair

The results exceeded my expectations massively! Originally they were 9×16” all round, but it turned out I’d measured wrong and the fronts didn’t fit; Dan saved me and got them re-lipped and sorted with a matter of days to spare before I was needed to be at the Players Classic, the first show on the new wheels. The turnaround for him fixing the fronts happened so fast, without Dan the car wouldn’t have made it to Players.”

The stress and drama turned out to be well worth it, as Dave found himself coming away from the show with a Top 10 award – which, given the level of quality you always find at Players, was a truly impressive achievement. Plus it was his birthday weekend, so it couldn’t really have gone any better.

old school seats

Using the car daily

Oh, but don’t go thinking this stanced Escort RS Turbo is purely been built as a show pony. All those days spent playing Need for Speed, all those nights handing his dad the spanners, they meant something. Dave doesn’t just like polishing his cars, he builds them to be driven. “Throughout the summer I used the car daily,” he assures us.

“The reception from other people is mostly very good too; you do get the odd selection of purists or people who once had a friend whose dad had one and believe they should be kept standard, and they love telling me that I’ve ruined it and so on. But for the most part it’s all love and good things.” And that’s just the way it should be. Yeah, there’s always going to be haters, but the mantra has always been constant: your ride, your rules. Dave’s gamified his dream car, and no amount of ‘you’ve ruined that’ can ever take that away from him.

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Photos: Ade Brannan.