Today’s Ford Escort is has a multipurpose history going back to 1973 when it was built along with 19 others for Motor Circuit Developments (MCD) to take part in an ad hock celebrity series of races.
The Ford Escort Mexico was a not so limited edition special built to celebrate the success of Hannu Mikkola driving FEV 1H, which I looked at last week, and his team mates in the 1970 Daily Mirror World Cup Rally that covered 16,000 miles in 25 days.
Built at Ford’s Advanced Vehicle Operations (AVO) plant in Aveley Mexico’s came with a strengthened competition spec unitary body shell known as the type 49, by all accounts a much copied item these days. The Mexico like FEV 1H was powered by the Kent cross flow motor albeit only the 1600 cc / 97 cui version with an 8 valve head which produced 96 hp.
Ford of Britain and John Webb of MCD introduced the idea of celebrity racing in 1970 inviting pro’s and celebrities alike to race Ford Capri’s which helped broaden the appeal of motor racing well beyond seasoned anoraks like your truely. When I was first taken to a race meeting at Brands Hatch in 1973 Ford were promoting the 3 litre / 183 cui Ford Consul GT executive saloon in celebrity races, round the world yachtsman Chay Blyth winning on that occasion.
For the 1974 season a batch of 20 Celebrity Escort Mexico’s, all registered in 1973 was upgraded at AVO to racing spec with a safety cage, three point harnesses on both front seats, battery cut off switch, fire proof rear bulkhead with the only concessions to performance being uprated Bilstein dampers and RS 4 spoke alloy wheels.
This particular Celebrity car is known to have been driven to a win by Radio and Television presenter Noel Edmonds. Lella Lombardi, Tony Lanfranchi, Patrick Neve and Richard Lloyd also drove XNO272L through the course of the 1974/1975 seasons.
After it’s celebrity racing career was over MCD director John Webb took the car over and used it until the early 1980’s, even used it on his wedding day. For a period during the 1980’s this car was kept in storage until it was dusted off and put on display. John sold the car in 1990 and the current owner acquired it in 1992 since when he has used it on classic car tours, holidays with an occasional sprint and hillclimb thrown in for good measure.
Thanks for joining me on this ‘Perfect Car For A Wedding #7’ edition of ‘Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres’ I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I will be marking the 500th edition of ‘Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres’ with a look at a Kurtis. Don’t forget to come back now !
PS Just noticed that according to the WordPress Post Counter this is my 500th blog. I’d like to sincerely thank everyone who has contributed to, followed and especially recommended what has become the GALPOT journey of discovery.