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Ford Escort Mk1

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    Ford Escort Mk1

    Way back cira ’96 at the age of 16, my mate Alex (Al) bought his first car – a pov-pack ‘L’ Pepper Red 2-door Mk1 Escort.
    It was already well worn at the time, yet he learnt to drive in it, and in the coming years he used it to compete in Hillclimbs and Motorkhanas.
    Over the next few years, it had the battery relocated to the boot, the 1300 non-crossflow was swapped a 1600 crossflow, extractors and a single 40phh Solex was added.
    Soon after the engine was then given a dodgy rebuild when it destroyed a piston…

    (Photo is taken @ Bryant Park Early 2011)
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    I met Al in the early naughties through the local car club and we quickly became good mates.
    I was punting my Dads AH Sprite around (the now defunct) Gippsland Park Hillclimb and Al was in the Dustbin.
    A year or two later Al did what most young adults do and nicked off to the UK – I figured he’d be back in a year or two, but he ended up staying 10.
    The Dustbin languished in his parent’s garage under a cover… waiting…

    The new year of 2011 was welcomed in and Al returns from the UK (he was actually kicked out!).
    We catch up for a beer at his parents place and talk turns to the Dustbin;
    “What are you going to do with it, mate?”
    “Dunno. Probably should rebuild it.”

    “Probably should rebuild it” is where it started… Al drove the Dustbin up to my place and we sat down with a pen and paper to throw ideas about and come up with a bit of a budget.
    Now Al’s a details man – everything has to be ‘just so’ and that mindset is carried though his everyday life (he trims his box hedges with the help of a 2 foot square to get the corners exactly 90deg, ffs...).
    Whatever is to be done, has to be done ‘properly’. However with the Dustbin, neither of us had any fucking idea what 'properly' was…

    Now by this time I had a place of my own and a decent shed out the back, and enough knowledge of cars, welding and fabrication to make myself one dangerous individual.
    I also had possession of my Dads hammer & dolly kit, along with a $500 MIG welder bought from Repco, a 4” angle grinder with a dodgy bearing, a pair of blunt tin-snips, a beer fridge and an internet connection.
    Oh and blind ignorance.

    The plan we decided on was to strip the Dustbin to a bare shell, fix the rust (it is an Escort remember), give it a respray in its original red, rebuild the 1600 crossflow and 4-speed, rebuild the brakes,
    fit better suspension, fit an English Axle with an LSD, refurbish the 13” hotwires and retrim the interior from Blonde to Black.
    Modest expectations for a modest budget. However the best laid plans of Mice and Men…
    Classic Auto Fabrications:

    On the 18th of October 2011, with the Dustbin in my shed we did the logical thing and pulled the doors off first.
    Followed by the bonnet and boot.

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    This allowed us better access to strip the interior, which was followed by the engine and gearbox. Careful bagging and tagging of fasteners and clips was undertaken, so they could wither be replace or refurbished. Lots of photos of the disassembly were taken. Beer was also drunk.
    Slowly over the next few weekends we progressively tore the Dustbin down to a bare shell on axle stands - we had crap everywhere. One thing I didn’t realise was that when you strip a car it grows to 3 times its original size…

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    At this point we started to have a good look at the rust issue. The rust in the back of the guards we knew about, as well as in the fuel tank and spare wheel well.
    And the front valance didn’t look quite right either…
    Al lifted the insulation over the firewall/heater bubble and we were met with disappointment – the join of the firewall and bulkhead was GONE.
    I played Mr Positive; “She’ll be right Al – I’ll fix it”. I was quietly panicking inside…
    Al drilled out the spot welds holding the heater bubble on, and removed it:

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    The front valance was then attached with a cold chisel, and large lumps of filler came off... Hrmm…
    “Are new front panels available Al? It might be cheaper and easier to replace them, rather than repair it all.”
    “Yeah they are. I’ll search online and see where from.”

    One great thing about Dagenham Dustbins, is that EVERYTHING is available for them for reasonable money – and if the local suppliers don’t have it, it’s a week or less from the UK.
    Al Googled new front end panels; “Oh, new front Mexico guards are now available.”
    Now THIS is where the project started to go sideways…

    I suggested we should probably unpick the front end panels and have the shell media blasted, as the rust is a bit more significant than we had anticipated, and Al agreed.
    Al set to it with drill, angle grinder and cold chisel – what was revealed was… unpleasant…

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    A mate of my Dads has successfully modified a pair of engine stands to make a body rotisserie, so one weekend we made a trip to Supercheap Auto to procure a pair of their finest $90 Chyna engine stands. Some box tube and flat bar had the heads made to pick up the bumper mounts and with the help of the engine crane and brute force, we got the body shell mounted. Thankfully I picked pivot pretty damn close, so it was only a little top heavy (but manageable).
    Off it went to the local media blaster who had a good record of blasting car bodies.

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    Al ordered new Mexico front guards (these have a little flare to accommodate wider tyres) and a new front valance, new radiator crossmember, and kick panels.
    What came back from the blaster though, was a bit scary…

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    Myself and Al:
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    More to come...
    Attached Files
    Classic Auto Fabrications:


      i never realised there was another hill climb. me and the kids regularly park at the access road to watch the mine dredgers, never klnew what it was for.

      also, needs more angry zetec.

      I am junkie for swedish high quality shitboxes. my latest fix is this...

      robslothyoung - follow me on insta.


        Watching with interest.
        2017 Ford Ranger XLT (Jeep Wrangler recovery vehicle)
        2007 KTM 250 SX

        Originally posted by Monza
        I've never considered myself the type of guy to eat arse but I am currently reviewing that policy


          I can see where this is going. I started my V8 MGB GT restomod in 2003 and finally finished in earlier this year. Man - you guys are deep into the well !!!


            You need to remain focused.......
            .... because every driver experiences the destructive potential of the effortless surge of power available through the smallest of body movements.

            Dr Hoon

            DrNick is king!!!! No, Mark Webber is now! Long live the king!... hold on a minute mate, Ricci is in charge now


              I like where this is going.
              Rust is lighter than carbon fibre.

              My Italian 510


                BF XR6T - TE Sedan - 75 TX Coupe - Atlas SS - VF SS Redline

                - PSN: rotacoupe

                This is obviously assuming all your AUX outputs are doing something. Ie idle control, and the other does water spray, and the other updates your Instagram automatically etc.


                  Im sure all of us have at least one memory from our youth, that involves a Mk1 Escort.

                  Thank god the vinyl back seats were easy to wipe down


                    Awesome! Looking forward to updates and great story over a long ownership.


                      I hope you haven't been lending out your shed space for 10 years? That's a quick way to ruin a friendship ha.
                      GAS 260Z RB26DET
                      GAS 1600 3SGE BEAMS




                          Can never have too many mk1 escort projects.

                          Zoomed in on post blast pic.
                          Didnt see anything untoward
                          So I assume was more rust holes.?


                            Originally posted by garvice View Post
                            I hope you haven't been lending out your shed space for 10 years? That's a quick way to ruin a friendship ha.
                            Nah Brad - it was only 2 years...

                            I'm probably going to disappoint everyone, as it hasn't ended up with bubble arches, roll cage and a 2.7 Warrior...
                            Last edited by Lurch; 30-06-20, 06:11 PM.
                            Classic Auto Fabrications:



                              The blaster did a great job blasting everywhere and giving it a coat of etch primer (in hindsight Epoxy would have been better), but he left the roof, bonnet and boot for us to strip the paint from ourselves –
                              some paint stripper, roll of cling film, scraper and some GP thinners had the roof back to bare metal.
                              This also gave me the excuse to purchase a proper spray gun to accompany my shiny new 3hp McMillan air compressor…
                              I’d also had a win on eBay – a seller was selling a portable Techna spot welder for half-price, so I snapped it up.
                              Machinery House also had a special on their baby 3in1 sheet metal machine, so I order one of them as well.

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                              The rust wasn’t ‘too’ bad. At least not for an Mk1 Dustbin.
                              Inner kick panels were gone, a rust hole in the passenger floor, fuel tank and spare wheel wells, firewall and bulkhead had rusted through and the previously mentioned lower radiator crossmember.

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                              I bought a sheet of 1mm cold rolled and then I started at the back of the car and worked my way forward, first repairing the rust in the boot, splitting the well seams to clean out the
                              rust that had sweated into existence between the join.

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                              Next came the passenger floor, followed by the kick panels.
                              This was all pretty straight forward, but the challenging bit was coming up…

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                              Attached Files
                              Last edited by Lurch; 30-06-20, 08:01 PM.
                              Classic Auto Fabrications: