Whilst Ford’s rallying history can be traced back to before the Escort, with cars such as the Anglia and Lotus Cortina, 1968 is the important year as far as blue oval rally fans are concerned, as this year saw the launch of the Mark I Escort. The Escort redefined rallying, dominating from its launch through to its replacement by the Mark II in 1975.
The Mark II Escort resulted in a ‘the King is dead long live the King’ situation, as the 1800cc RS1800 picked up the reins left behind by the Mark I. The first win for the Mark II came on the 1975 RAC rally, with an Escort also winning the event the following year for a fifth time. The Escort’s wins in the British Rally Championship were of even greater dominance as it secured 1st place in the championship for 8 consecutive years between 1971 and 1978.
1979 witnessed the Escort dominate the World Rally Championship, taking the Constructors and Drivers titles with wins on the Portuguese, Acropolis, New Zealand, Canadian and UK rounds, the UK for the eight time in succession.
As Ford switched development to the new front wheel drive Escort, which would culminate in the aborted RS1700T project, Ari Vatanen entered a privateer Mark II Escort rally team in the 1980 and 1981 World Rally Championships and took the driver’s title in 1981, a feat not achieved before or since.
VHK47S made its debut in the hands of Bjorn Waldegard on 1977 San Remo Rally where it finished 5th overall.
Over the next two seasons the car would make various appearances in the hands of a number of drivers. In 1979 the car was one of two wide bodied Escorts built specifically for the Monte Carlo Rally this time the car was driven by Hannu Mikkola and finished 5th overall, whilst the sister car finished the event 2nd overall in the hands of Bjorn Waldegard. After the event the two cars spent a period of time on display outside of Ford’s works facility at Boreham.
They were re-commissioned and sold to Raymond Street, head of the Publimmo Corporation, who exported them to Monaco, where they were registered 3256 and 1493 and used on various events around Europe. They returned to the Monte Carlo rallies of 1980 and 1981 in the hands of Ari Vatanen and Bjorn Waldegard respectively as privateer entries for Publimmo Corporation.
After running several high profile drivers in a variety of cars the Publimmo Corporate went bankrupt. Although the head of the organisation had a soft spot for the Monte Escorts and it is alleged that he had them shipped down to Corsica as 1300Ls before they could be seized by the liquidators.
After several years the cars found their way back into mainland France with VHK47S being campaigned in several French National Rallies and Hillclimbs disguised in a lurid red and yellow colour scheme. After several years of inactivity a British enthusiast traced the cars and ultimately purchased the cars and returned them to Britain before commencing a restoration programme.
Engine : Four-cylinder, 2ltr, in-line, longitudinally mounted in the front of the car, four valves per cylinder, 256bhp
Induction : Twin Webber 40s, Normally Aspirated