More Than Nostalgia: An Escort With A Hint Of Porsche
Your first set of wheels

What kind of car did you take your driving test in? Maybe you live in a country where the test car is provided for you, or if you live in the USA like me you’re required to bring your own vehicle when it comes time for the big test. For some that means bringing their own car, and for others it means borrowing a car from a friend or family member and heading out to earn that badge of freedom.

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I myself took the test behind the wheel of the 1991 Ford Escort wagon that my mom was driving at the time. Even if I have no desire to ever drive that car again, it will always hold a special place in my heart and it wasn’t a bad machine to learn the ropes of the road with. Of course, I live in the United States where the words Ford Escort never really meant much than a throwaway commuter car.

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In Europe though, it’s a different story. Over there, if you say Ford Escort, people probably imagine a MkI or MkII model being flicked sideways through a rally course or an Escort RS Cosworth ripping up some tarmac. Here it was a replacement for the infamous Ford Pinto, over there it’s a rally icon and cult classic.

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The enthusiasm that those in the UK and Europe have for the Escort didn’t stop when the car moved to a front-wheel drive platform in 1980. The newer models might not have quite the same recognition as the early cars, but as you’re about to see, the fanbase is equally enthusiastic.

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We caught up with this Mk4 Escort at Snetterton Circuit and it immediately caught our eyes with its tasteful style and attention to detail. It’s owned by Jeremy Bonner and coincidentally, this little Escort was Jeremy’s first car.

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When he first acquired the car some 19 years ago, it was a lowly 1300 Bonus model, and in the nearly two decades since, he’s transformed the Escort into something more than anyone could hope for out of their first car.

Perfect balance
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Jeremy is a bodyman by trade and over the years he’s worked in a few different shops before opening his own business, Carrera Bodyworks, in Suffolk. While he spends his days doing paint and bodywork on all manner of show cars, he’s also used the humble Escort as a canvas to hone his craft.

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As you might have guessed by the name of his shop, Jeremy is a Porsche fan and when it came to choose a color for the Escort, Porsche’s Polar  Silver was an easy choice. Along with completely repainting the car inside and out in the Porsche silver, he also did some body smoothing and other subtle modifications. Look close and you’ll see things like flared out fenders and the addition of later model Escort headlights.

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While his specialty might be paint and body, Jeremy wanted the Escort to be something that did more than just sit and look pretty.  To give the car some more grunt, he ordered a brand new 2.0 liter Zetec motor with a race tune from Dunnell Engines – a well known Zetec specialist.

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Among the massaging done to the motor are a ported and polished head, competition valve springs and a set of Dunnell’s home brewed performance cams.

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The icing on this mechanical cake is a pair of Weber 45 carburetors which further improve the Zetec’s response and just as importantly make that beautiful induction noise when Jeremy leans on the pedal.

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The engine is mated to an RS Turbo gearbox with Quaife straight cut gears. As you might expect, the engine bay is presented with the same attention to detail and cleanliness as the rest of the car.

The little details
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To get the Escort sitting right, Jeremy installed a set of AVO coilovers, with a fair amount of negative camber dialled into the rear to handle the car’s aggressive wheel set-up.

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The wheels are Borbet Type As and they measure 16×9 at each corner. The centers have been painted in a Porsche Riviera Blue, which is another example of Jeremy using his Escort as a P-Car homage.

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The Porsche theme continues on through the interior, where both the driver and passenger seats have been replaced with those from a 911 GT3.

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The GT3 seats are fitted with a set of Willans harnesses, and in addition to securing him tightly in the cockpit they are a big conversation starter when Jeremy takes the Escort to car shows or meets.

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Additionally, the car is equipped with a Les Hicks roll cage in the rear, and a number of a high end audio components throughout.

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The installation of this audio equipment, along with the door cards and headliner have all been trimmed in a custom black and grey leather. Just one more little detail that helps to set the car off.

For life
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What I especially like is the way that Jeremy has addressed each and every part of the car, without going too far in any one direction. As always, balance is the key. It’s also no coincidence that the car has a bit of a ’90s vibe to it, with Jeremy wanting to capture some of the feeling of his youth. Nothing says early ’90s like Borbet Type As, right? I remember seeing ads for them in magazines when I was a kid.

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With a combination of patience and attention to detail, he’s surely created what is one of the most complete Mk4 Escort builds in the world.

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As someone who has changed cars way more than anyone would deem normal, I have nothing less than a tremendous respect for Jeremy, who’s not only stuck with his first car for almost 20 years, but has transformed it into something that’s so much more than just a piece of nostalgia.

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35 comments

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1
Speedhunters_Bryn

Icon of the British scene from over the last decade, good to see here!

2

I'd have stuck with the mk4 lights myself and a touch less camber, but otherwise an amazing build. Great work!

3

As you said in the article, this is probably the most complete build as far as addressing all areas of "modification" without going in any direction to an extreme. I think this is be the best car, as far at addressing all "areas" of a car build, ever featured on Speedhunters.
If the builder only RAISED (i know, shoot me) the car a little and dialed out the camber then this thing is the coolest daily driver ever! Great job on the build, sir.

4

I remember seeing this at Ford Fair, I thought then, and still do now, if the rear wheels had just a little less camber it would be perfect. But I never noticed things like the Mk5 headlights!

5

wow brilliant. i can't get enough of that smooth, subdued, 90s show car style. would love to see more cars like this on SH

6

Straight cut gears = music to my ears :)
As a kid, dreamed about a XR3(brazilian sport version) for a loooong time.

7

Question: what is involved in putting carburettors on a brand new motor? I want that song but I don't know the ins and outs of going "backwards" from injection to carbs... =P

8

Great car! Love those seats.

9

InnerToxicity it really depends on the engine. In this case with the Zetec you just ditch all electronic parts on the engine and just use the "mechanics" left, i.e all the stuff thats rotating.
On a newer engine with variable valve systems, tons of Eco stuff, non-distributor ignition and so on you need to modify a lot more. Technically you could even run a VR38 on carbs. Adjusting of the carbs should be done by a professional, so that you not damage the engine by running lean.

10

What about say, a Peugeot 206 16v?

11

InnerToxicity that engine looks quite similar to the Zetec, but I don't know anything about working with those engines. Look up some forums for your car, pretty sure someone has done a carb conversion on a 206 before.

12

Strange that theres no mention of Jez working for Max Power magazine.

13

"I live in the United States where the words Ford Escort never really meant much than a throwaway commuter car." So true. When I found out about the UK Escorts I felt slighted. Even though I'm in Canada

14

DaveT You and me both eh.

15

not going to lie, i was expecting a Porsche engine... but great car though, even if i do prefer the original mk1's and 2's

16

Good to see some Borbet A love on a Ford.

17

Ford of America never treated their people right. Removing bolts from radiators to save money, avoiding lawsuits by playing loopholes, and producing poorly built cars - while Europe, Australia, and the rest of the world got amazing vehicles. As an American, I can't hate Ford enough. Last brand I'd ever buy.

18

I would get rid of these fn' amplifiers...

19

Tons mate, search j4 or/ and jp4 engine. 1.6 16v psa engine used in saxo VTS, 106 gti, etc, etc.

20

hats off to the owner/ builder he's stuck with it made his car one of a kind and 100% his own (not my cuppa tea but still lot of  hard work gone into that car and you can't knock that) I've still got a long road in front of my mk4 rs turbo resto but reading this keeps me hope full :)

21

gvidon Why? There's nothing wrong with rocking out once in a while.

22

HachiRocker it's heavy and I believe low quality. Terribly loud when someone drive with it down the street. Engine sound is the best quality in-car music.

23

This car was an inspiration to me an my first car (also a MK4 Escort) many years ago when I first saw it in Ford mags. Loads of great, new ideas that had never been seen or done before. Glad its still alive and developing.

24

@RoyBacer Really? I don't remember that... any idea when and in what role?

25
Speedhunters_Bryn

@RoyBacer Maybe you're thinking of the one and only Gez Jones? Lover of 3ltr Alfa Romeo 75s and Wings West kitted Civics? I was a staffer on Revs for a while and don't remember this Jez doing time in Max Power Towers :)
I do stand up a lot to be corrected though ;)

26

gvidon HachiRocker When he wants to listen to the motor he can turn the volume down?
Nothing wrong with the complete package.

27

This thing is still going?! I remember first reading about this car in PerfordmanceFord or FastFord years ago! Its nice to see it's slowy evolved and is still going. It was somewhat of a breakout car back in the day. Also nice to see something very british on here, by which i mean a bit of everything, all thrown into one car. lol

28

Remember this from back in the day too and quite local to me too.,Good to see it still full of new ideas.
Maybe speed hunters should do a feature of twins euro style rst too?????

29

Very very nice. Does anyone know what headlights they are from?

30

I've just seen the description at the bottom and found out what ones they are

31

Mk6 escort 1996 onwards

32

mk6 escort 1996 onwards

33

what size rubber wheels you have

34

Thats so British! everything about it.

35

MilesHayler Yea camber looks gash

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