It gives me great pleasure when someone asks what car I drive, as my pride and joy happens to be a 1974 Ford Escort Mk1 in Daytona yellow.
I have owned the “Yellow Peril” since 2006. It was won at auction off eBay back when I was 16 from a nice chap in Birmingham. My dad was excited when he found out I wanted an old Ford as my first car, as he himself has been into them all his life. At least that was the case until he saw how expensive RWD Escorts had become over the years. That was the case at least until he saw how expensive RWD Escorts had become over the years. My mom, well she simply just wasn’t too keen on having another ‘banger’ on the drive.
As with most classic cars, when filling up at petrol stations you usually turn a few heads. More often than not you get chatting with the folk who come over to admire the car. These conversations 99% of the time go one of two ways. Either that; back in the day they themselves learn to drive in a Mk1 Escort (followed by a lot of reminiscing), or that there was once a time when you could go to any scrapyard and buy Mk1/Mk2 Escorts up for a penny a piece. If only RWD Escort owners of the late 80’s and 90’s knew how much of a cash cow their ‘old runarounds’ would become today, that they sure would of taken better care of them and held onto them for much longer than they did. That said, perhaps for future investments we should all be going out today and buying old Sierras and Mk1 Focus’s.
It was my mom who first found the Escort listed on eBay. Back in late 2006, early one saturday morning I was suddenly awoken to the sound of my mobile ringing. I’d only managed to get in a few hours before and having crashed on my mates bedroom floor, I was still hungover as hell from a big night out. After scrambling round trying to find the phone, I answered, it was my mom. She had found a newly listed Mk1 on eBay that was local and that it looked in good condition. Me being me I just couldn’t wait to get home to arrange a viewing, that was until I found out the car was yellow.. After getting back home and reading the listing for myself, I reluctantly agreed to go view the car anyway as it was the only ‘complete’ Mk1 we had seen listed in a while that was within my price range.
So far, the Mk1 has steered me through college, undergrad uni, postgrad, and now even has accompanied me down to London for full time employment, Huzzah!.. cough’.. studentLoan.. crippling debt.. splutter.. In addition it has seen me through; numerous girlfriends, countless camping trips, too many late-night KFC runs, several relocations, and recently even had the honour of being a wedding car for a best mate.
It’s my first car and to this day still the daily driver (I’m now 25).
Upon purchase, the car was a stock 74′ 1.3 XL Automatic. It was in reasonable condition for its age and it drove well considering it was an old automatic, however it wasn’t long before my dad and I had future plans for the car circulating between us. My dad Barry is an ‘old school’ mechanic, he’s been in the trade over 40+ years and runs a garage back home in the west midlands. Back in 2006 the insurance for a young male driver who had recently passed their test was starting to get expensive. Luckily, this helped to narrow our focus on the upgrades that would only improve the overall reliability and practicality of the car without increasing it’s performance too much, which in turn helped control the spending and stopped us from facing a hefty insurance premium.
The top item on our to-do list was to drop the automatic transmission and convert it to a manual. A suitable Type 2 four speed was sourced as the replacement box, along all the necessary bits to bolt on; manual pedal box, flywheel, clutch, clutch cable and ring gear (to fit pre-engaged starter type).
Second on our list was to improve the brakes as the drum brakes were still used for both front and rear braking. The original front suspension struts were replaced with a set of Mk2 Escort struts; along with Gaz inserts, M16 callipers with solid discs. In addition, we also focused on adding features that you would typically find on any normal modern car. Christmas holiday 2007 mainly consisted of installing a remote central locking and alarm kit purchased from eBay. This was followed with adding a Sony head unit, front door speakers, rear parcel shelf 6×9’s and a 6 unit CD changer in the boot. January 2008, the car was taxed, MOT’d, insured and on the road!