Rally Roots: An Escort To Grow With
Good parenting

Let’s imagine that you’re a parent. More specifically, let’s imagine you’re the parent of a son or daughter who has just reached driving age. Along with all the anxiety that comes with teaching your kid how to become a citizen of the road comes the even more important decision of deciding what their first car should be.


While many teenagers will have to put in long hours at part time jobs to afford their first car independently, it’s often the parents who have the biggest say in what sort of vehicle their kid takes out onto the road.


Of course there are always those occasions where parents with more money than sense go out and buy their teenage kids whatever car they want. You all know those stories about the high school kid rolling around in a brand new M3, Porsche or maybe a luxury SUV…


But more often than not, when choosing a first car for their kid a parent is looking for something a little more practical. Sometimes it’s handing down the former family car, and other times it means heading out and finding an affordable and sensible used car.


Generally, while looking for a car for their newly licensed driving child, a parent will want something that’s safe, reliable and that can stand up to the abuse of an inexperienced driver.


Also, parents will probably want their kids driving around in something that’s slow. That last thing you want is your teenage kid driving something with tire-smoking power and enough speed to quickly get into trouble. We all know the result of the inexperienced driver plus fast car equation. It’s just common sense.

First love

But what happens if you’re a die-hard car enthusiast and your kid is reaching driving age? Some enthusiasts might approach this dilemma just as a normal parent would, but more often than not, you’d like to inject some of your own automotive enthusiasm into your kid’s first car. You want their first car to be something more than just basic transportation.


That brings us to the Mk1 Ford Escort you see here. For someone who lives and breathes cars  – more specifically European Fords and rally racing – then this Escort might be the perfect automobile to put your teenage son in.


Norway’s Bjorn Viko is a huge rally enthusiast whose collection includes an ex-works Ford RS200 (more on that soon), and when it came to providing a vehicle for his son Ole, he knew that the beloved Mk1 Escort was the perfect choice.


17-year old Ole actually hasn’t even got his driver’s license yet, but he already has his first car. And what a car it is.


Regardless of where you live in the world, I think we all know the significance of the Mk1 Escort to the world of rallying and grassroots motoring. Even as an American who was never had access to these great cars, it’s hard for me to ignore the importance of the early Escorts.


Ole’s Escort might not be the world’s most heavily modified or insanely polished Mk1 in the world, but is that the stuff you really want in a first car?

Rally roots

The body of the car is subtle. There’s no race car graphics, big wings or huge rally fog lights. Instead you’ll find little touches like a modest chin spoiler and flared fenders that provide just the right amount of aggression.


There are other little details like carbon fiber bumpers, but the car is largely pure and original – just as you’d want your first car to be.


Pop open the hood and you won’t find a fully built race motor or a modern engine swap. This car keeps true to its working class roots with a lightly modified 2.1 liter OHC four cylinder.


With light induction and exhaust work, the Escort outputs about 150 horsepower. It’s no powerhouse, but the Escort has never been about pinning you in the seat with its acceleration. Like the beloved Toyota AE86 this is a car that rewards finesse and helps to train its driver.


To handle the horsepower that the sweet revving OHC four is putting out, the drivetrain has been upgraded with a banjo differential assembly and a Quaife LSD.

Starting out right

Wheel and tire set-up is crucial on a car like this, and Ole’s Escort doesn’t disappoint in this department. It’s running a set of properly retro 13″ Minilite wheels with Advan slicks for that perfect meaty sidewall look.


Let’s not forget the brakes either, which have been upgraded to a set of discs from a newer model Ford Sierra.


Inside, the cockpit has everything you’d expect from a grassroots rally car. There’s a full roll bar, fire extinguisher and a pair of Sparco bucket seats with matching harnesses.


I also like the fact that there’s a classic style three-spoke dished steering wheel rather than a modern design.


For the most part, all of the Escort’s original equipment has remained in place, with only the truly necessary bits updated and modified.


If your average parent looked at this Escort as a candidate for their kid’s first car, they would either laugh or shiver in fear. But for someone who genuinely loves cars, it actually makes perfect sense.


So many rally drivers have cut their teeth driving machines like the Mk1 Escort. It’s a car with simple mechanics, a car that’s not overly powerful and (hopefully) won’t get you into trouble. Most importantly, it will serve as something you can develop and grow with – whether it’s wrenching or driving or anything else you do with a car.

When it comes to a first set of wheels, I’d say it’s hard to ask for anything better.



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nice car, nice pics.  wow that exhaust manifold design looks terrible.  we've come long way.


I'm driving a Chevrolet Spark LS as my 1st actual car. I take it on the mountain road and do 120kph before braking hard to enter a corner 1km above my city. It might be a small unpowerful car, but it's so fast downhill, really fast.


Really nice car


Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes. I'm a Honda guy but I love RS Fords. (or non RS in this case). What a rad first car.


i am quite jealous of this kid, i'd love a retro rally car like this for my first set of wheels!


That's a loving parent....an Escort with a roll cage and a very easy to clean interior.   :)


Trying to find one for my 2nd car... They're the RWD equivalent of what I've got now.
One day.


Would love one of these as my car now, let alone my first car! Sadly the cost of the Mk.1 and Mk.2 Escorts (even the four doors) seems to be spiralling.


realy nice, more of these cars please


Amin_nfs My Moulton's fast downhill, really fast. Thank the Lord for sensible bike clips...


Such a cool first car!


wow nice


im confused. Why on earth would a light, rear wheel drive, twitchy, sports saloon car be the "perfect" car for a learner driver? What about the fact that apart from the seatbelts there are NO safety features?

This is amongst the worst possible cars i could reccomend for a learner. The moment they get enthusiastic in the wet they're going up a tree. Idiotic.


It's because the parent in this case trusts his sun as being perfectly capable of handeling a car like this even with little experience. I don't know if you understand what trusting his son means. It means a lot!

boosted un busted

I hate that kid soooo much what a jammy sod. only joking hope he has lots of fun with the blue oval. that car looks like lots of good times waiting to happen. that's the best thing about old school motors you can have so much crazy fun but at a lower speed. plus being a small car it will feel mental fast but not mental speed, so much car win.  just one last word " bend that bitch and ill rip your balls off"  :)


Good toy ;)


he's doin' it right!


R.I.P Paul Walker


dovvv Not all learners are useless behind the wheel. Also underpowered rwd cars are usually very predictable and they start sliding very progressively which helps a lot and especially teaches the driver. Mk1 and Mk2 Escorts have always been considered as the perfect first car for a driver that wants to improve.


Nikhil_P is that how you start every conversation from now on?


dovvv car has a full race seat, harness,roll bar, cutoff/kill switch, no places to store an iphone so no texting and driving, and is demanding for it's driver to pay attention to just that driving! Not enough power to get into any trouble either. The only flaw I see from a daily standpoint are the slicks but if the guys got a RS2000 on the side I'm pretty sure he has a daily set of wheels for this car. Seems like a great car, hope your children don't grow up to be car enthusiasts but I'm sure that prius you will end up buying them will be very nice!!


SuzyWallace I know right? It's so yellow and awesome.


If I could find one, I would own that car!


I'm fairly sure this car won't be able to be driven on the road anyway? Or was that Sweden that's ridiculously strict?


Its been a long time since I was a kid but my pseudo-HS Chevette is my everyday driver. Thoroughly recommended!


I keep coming back to this article as inspiration for my own Mk1 2 door: https://fbcdn-sphotos-c-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xfp1/t31.0-8/1669819_10152092467441263_394686074_o.jpg