Motorsport owe’s much of it’s history to the publishers of Newspapers keen create events which would resonate and engage their readers, indeed the very first recorded motorsport events emanated from the minds of the editors of ‘Le Vélocipède’, who in 1887 attracted a single car entry for a 1.2 mile race across Paris and ‘Le Petit Journal’, who in 1897 69 entries for a 79 mile ‘race’ from Paris to Rouen. By 1908 individual events took on global challenges such as the 12,000 mile 169 day New York west to Paris race which was co sponsored by The New York Times and Le Martin.
Possibly inspired by another 10,000 mile ten day event the London to Sydney Rally of 1968, Australian advertising sage Wylton Dickson came up with the idea of organizing a 1970 World Cup Rally to link London which had played host to the 1966 World (Soccer) Cup to Mexico which was to play host to the 1970 World (Soccer) Cup at a party in London over a glass of wine while chatting to Irish Rally Champion Paddy Hopkirk.
Wylton, who had never so much as seen a rally before approached Stuart Turner Ford competitions manager who gave him the thumbs up and the Daily Mirror who provided the sponsorship for the event. British Rally Champion John Sprinzel was allowed to set up an HQ at the Royal Automobile Clubs Belgrave offices from which to run the whole 16,000 mile event which crossed 26 countries on three continents in 25 days.
Good to his word when the 1970 World Cup Rally was announced Stuart Turner entered 6 Ford Escorts into the event for Poles Sobieslaw Zasada / Marek Wachowsk, Finns Hannu Mikkola / Gunnar Palm, England soccer star Jimmy Greaves with pro co driver Tony Fall, Monte Carlo Rally winners Raunno Aaltonen / Henry Liddon, British rally stars Roger Clark / Alec Poole and Finish rally legend Timo Makinen co driven by Frenchman Gilbert Staepelaere. Other entries in the 96 car field included a VW Beach Buggy a five car factory Moskivitch team from the USSR and two privately entered Rolls Royce’s a Silver Cloud and a Silver Shadow !
Ford’s official reason for fitting these bars in front of the windscreen was that they were to protect the drivers from Condors in the Andes mountains of South America, but it has been noted that these bars connect the top of the front suspension towers to the top of the A pillars which coincidentally helps transfer suspension shock to the roof diverting them away from some of the weaker welds in the bodywork.
It is thought enough parts were produced for just 8 of the 1970 World Cup spec 1850 GT Escorts, which after the disappointment of easily leading the 1968 London to Sydney Marathon only for the Lotus Twin Cam engine in Roger Clark’s Cortina Lotus to fail, meaning these cars were built to be bomb proof against all foreseeable eventualities. Instead of using Lotus Twin Cam motors Ford Kent 1600cc / 97 cui pushrod motors were bored out to 1850cc / 112 cui fitted with a single Weber carburetor and dry sump lubrication which aids ground clearance. These motors were simple, durable and above all easily repairable, they were tuned to run on the low octane fuel that was to be found in the high altitude andean mountains on the South American legs of the route where stages of 500 plus miles were not uncommon and average speeds in excess of 90 mph were expected in order not to attract penalty points.
Hannu Mikkola had a relatively trouble free run dropping just 9 hours in penalty points over the course of the 25 day marathon, 4 of the other Escorts in the top 6 of the 23 finishers. During the course of the event FEV 1H became one of the most famous of Rally Vehicles of all time and is still among the most loved. As a result of the 1970 World Cup Rally win Ford launched a new sporty version of the Escort called the Ford Mexico with the 1600 / 97 cui Kent pushrod motor fitted to an Advanced Vehicle Operations strengthened “Type 49” body shell.
In 1995 there was a 25th Anniversary re run of the 1970 World Cup Rally, miraculously Ford ‘found’ a new unused Escort shell and built a new car to the same specifications as FEV 1H. Hannu Mikkola came out of retirement with Gunnar Palm to win the rerun as well, the new cars registration is H1 FEV.
Thanks for joining me on this Bombproof Escort edition of ‘Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres’, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !