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.