When Ken Jones set off from Nottingham with his mates in his 1970 3 litre / 183 cui Ford Capri registration “EVO 281J” to spectate on the Lombard Esso Scottish Rally in June 1976 he could have had little idea how his Samaritan spirit would either enter rallying folklore or be rewarded.
Today’s featured Allied Polymer Group sponsored works Ford Escort RS1800 first came to the public’s attention in November 1975 when Timo Mäkinen and Henry Lydden over came several punctures and drove the car to victory on the RAC Lombard Rally to become the first driver and co driver pairing to win the Rally three times in a row.
The following season LAR 801P was assigned to Finish young gun Ari Vatanen, seen at the wheel in these photographs taken at Castle Combe’s recent Rally Day, who despite crashing out of the 1975 RAC Rally was offered a shot at the 1976 British Rally Championship.
Ari and co driver Peter Bryant went into the 1976 Scottish rally on a high, having won the previous championship round the Western Mail International Welsh Rally a month earlier and were leading the Scottish at the start of stage 13, but only managed to roll out of the stage after the crown wheel and pinion in the differential broke, depriving the rear wheels of any drive from the engine.
These parts were hitherto considered so reliable that no spares were carried by the Ford Team and rival manufacturer Opel’s service chief Robin Turvey recommended to Ford service chief Mick Jones that he look for a 3 litre Ford Capri which would have the necessary parts in the back axle to keep Ari in the Rally.
With time ticking away innocent passer by Ken Brown was flagged down by Peter Bryant and kindly agreed to let Mick and and Ari along with Fords Competition manager Peter Ashcroft take the pieces they needed from his back axle of his 3 litre and fit them to the stricken Escort.
Ari and Peter set off with just enough time to remain in the rally, but with the rear axle ratio’s no longer optimised for the high rpm four cylinder BDA motor, they completed just four more stages before retiring from the event that was won by the RS1800 driven by Russell Brooks who finished ahead of another RS1800 driven by Roger Clark.
Ari and Peter went on to win the 1976 Manx International Rally which was enough for them to secure the British Rally Championship, Ari won the title again in 1980 with Dave Richards a year before the same duo won the 1981 World Rally Championship.
A couple of weeks ago I was at an event where Ford’s Mick Jones was one of the guests of honour and he recounted how after Ken Browns back axle was repaired the dealer had a mishap when trying to deliver the Capri back to Ken and so the damaged car was sent to the works competition department at Boreham for further repairs, when Boreham tried to deliver the car they too had a mishap and eventually it was decided to rewards Ken’s loyalty to the brand with a spanking new car.
Footage of Ken Brown’s 1971 Capri’s encounter with works Ford Rally team described above can be seen on this youtube link.
Thanks for joining me on this “Ken’s Samaritan Karma” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again for Mercedes Monday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !