An Escort Cosworth With A Story
The Mentor

They say that every good story should have a beginning, a middle and an end. The last two of these I don’t have any issues with, but I must have re-written this introduction 10 times already. When we shoot feature cars and interview the owners, more often than not it’s just a passing occasion. We might find the car online or at a show, arrange to meet, shoot it, have a chat and it usually ends with the completed feature story.

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This isn’t one of those occasions. You see, the Ford Escort Cosworth you’re currently looking at belongs to a long-time friend of mine. In fact, I don’t think ‘friend’ accurately describes our relationship.

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Back in my high school days, when everyone else was cramming for the next exam, I was blissfully reading copies of Redline and Max Power magazines at the back of the class. I always knew that I wanted to pursue a career within the motoring industry, but never could figure out just how I could make that career work.

Not far from my school, there was a small garage situated in a courtyard shared with other businesses. Inside this inconspicuous looking building resided a business called Autograph. Autograph was a signage business that specialised in vehicle graphics and in particular, the motorsport industry in Ireland. I can vividly remember sneaking away from my friends – who had no interest in cars – on our lunch break, just to sneak a peak at the latest factory-prepared, WRC-spec rally car Autograph were working on dressing in a fresh livery.

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Jamie Kent was the main man behind this business and it was he who inspired me towards a career in motorsport media, whether he realises that or not. He always welcomed me into the workshop and was keen to share his latest designs with me whilst showing me the basic skills required for his craft.

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I learned so much from Jamie over the years and how to identify just exactly what good looks like. Beyond the business, Jamie was, and remains, the most diehard Ford fan I know. I often give him friendly stick over his love of the blue oval and in return, I usually get unrepeatable retorts. His love of Ford and of motorsport in general stretches far beyond the realm of spectator. He was an active participant in any way he possibly could. His pride and joy for many years was his own black Escort Cosworth, still a rare sight on the roads now, let alone back in the ’90s and early ’00s.

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In fact, his Escort Cosworth was his dream car and something he had promised himself he would buy before he turned 25 years old. He remembers fondly standing outside the window of a local Ford dealership, staring at a brand new Escort Cosworth on the showroom floor. That would have been the first Escort Cosworth in our hometown and three weeks before his 25th birthday, Jamie would own the second one.

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After 18 months of ownership, Jamie wanted to focus on his work and business. I can’t imagine it was an easy decision to let go of your dream, but it was the decision that ultimately had to be made. He swore though, that one day he would own an Escort Cosworth again.

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Then there was the accident.

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It has been over a decade since that day, but I still remember the exact moment I found out that Jamie had been badly hurt whilst navigating at national rally event. The details of which are unimportant, but there were a lot of people at the time who believed that Jamie wouldn’t make it. I’m not a religious person, but like many others in our tight-knit motorsport community, I prayed everyday for his recovery.

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And recover he did. It was a long and tough journey for Jamie, but he made it out the other side and it’s something that every one who knows Jamie is grateful for. Unfortunately, the accident left Jamie with the ability to only drive automatic cars. As you’re about to see however, this restriction had little impact on Jamie chasing his dream car one more time…

A Pure Bloodline
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If you’ve already chased and caught your dream car once, surely doing it a second time is going to be at least a little bit easier? This time though, things would be different for Jamie. On a shoestring budget he needed to figure out how to not only acquire his second Escort Cosworth, but also how to adapt it so he could enjoy driving it once more.

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As you might be aware, the Escort Cosworth was only ever available in manual with a turbocharged 2.0-litre YB Cosworth engine and four-wheel drive. Needing to think outside the box, Jamie needed to come up with a plan to create an automatic transmission equipped car, but also something that was loyal to the Escort Cosworth’s heritage. I can’t begin to emphasise just how diehard Ford Jamie is, and I’m sure he lost many nights of sleep as he antagonised over the decision to rip the YB motor from its home.

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But then there was a discovery which defined this particular car’s build. Back in the mid-1990s, Ford created a one-off rear-wheel drive prototype based on the Escort Cosworth chassis. This prototype featured a 2.9-litre 24V Cosworth built V6 sourced from a Ford Scorpio mated to the Scorpio’s own automatic gearbox and was aimed at tackling Volkswagen’s VR6 engined cars of the same era. The prototype never made it past the product planners at Ford, but the car itself did make a couple of rare appearances over the years at various Ford shows in the United Kingdom.

This link was all that Jamie and his friends needed to plough ahead with his plans of building a legitimate Escort Cosworth with an unrivalled and interesting associated history. Most importantly, the car would be respectful to the Ford family and heritage.

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The beauty of the swap was that no cutting was required to install the larger capacity naturally aspirated engine and its gearbox. The gearbox tunnel which was originally designed to house a four-wheel drive transmission provided more than enough room for the electronically controlled automatic gearbox. The only required modification was to lower the front subframe – a Ford Sierra item – by just around an inch, to sit the Cosworth V6 low enough for the bonnet to close.

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The gearbox, which features its own external oil cooler, has its line pressure controlled by the engine management system and selects its gear ratio whilst reducing torque on upshifts for a smoother gear change in sport mode.

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Despite the 2.9L V6 making around 15hp less than the stock YB inline four, when you allow for drivetrain losses the amount of horsepower transferred to the ground remains comparable between the two. Yes, the four-wheel drive system will allow for a quicker getaway from a standstill, but the rear-wheel drive setup – an all Escort Cosworth rear end – provides its own benefits to the driving experience.

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Asides from the gear selector, you would be hard pushed to tell the difference on the inside of the car as Jamie has chose to keep everything Ford where possible.

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The only standout change is the removal of the standard Escort Cosworth clocks for a digital cluster. The only reason for this is that the stock Escort Cosworth uses mechanical means to measure speed, whilst the V6 and automatic gearbox uses electric sensors. As far as I’m aware, it’s the only non-Ford part on the car.

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The original cloth Recaros remain, which have survived in excellent condition.

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The exterior has probably seen the most amount of change, although remains a Ford-only affair. A WRC wing replaces the iconic whale tail, but works perfectly with the other WRC panels including the front wings and bumper.

A New Beginning
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It’s clear from the photographs that Jamie was chasing a particular look for his Escort.

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A nose-down aggressive look that wouldn’t look out of place on a 1990s World Rally Championship tarmac event. The Compomotive THs – dressed in O.Z. Racing and Ford Motorsport decals – are a common substitute for the ultra rare (and extraordinarily expensive) Group A O.Z. wheels.

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What Jamie and his friends have created here though isn’t the end of this car’s particular journey. In fact, it’s just the beginning as he now has the base car that he can work with for the next stage of his car life.

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The Cosworth V6s are remarkably tuneable too, with 300hp being offered up relatively easily.

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The car will likely still attract negative comments from those who don’t know the story behind Jamie or the car, but it’s something I think Jamie is perfectly okay with. When a lot of people would have left their passion for cars behind them after what he’s endured, Jamie came back fighting even stronger and has created a car that’s more interesting than any other stock Escort Cosworth out there.

He’s built a car that’s worth talking about and ultimately, that’s what deserves to be celebrated.

Paddy McGrath
Instagram / Twitter: @pmcgphotos
paddy@speedhunters.com

Cutting Room Floor
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62 comments

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1

Legendary Car, Driver and Photograper.

2
Fabrice Carpentier

Nice story !
Nice car!

3

Great story and an awsome car.When the wrc escort came out i never liked it much but with time i like it as much as the big wing verson
Have seen the prototype escort you talk about was painted imperial blue and in one of the cosworth books.
You know of the yb powered anglia with the auto box too.
Still an awsome car. My blue oval fix for today.:-]

4

I'm in love with all the 80's/90's rallycars, and after the Delta, this one is my favorite..

5

Interesting build, I mean a manual 4wd 4 pot would be my preference. But still impressive stuff.

6

I just read the article .... I take that back, in this case a v6 auto would be ideal.  its awesome, good story.

7

I appreciate the build, V6 and auto, but for the life of me, I cannot see that front end as pretty. 
No disrespect intended, IMO a slightly more subtle styling cue would round it off a tad.

Great passion oozes though!

8

Ive always wondered. Why dont we see pictures of the owners? I understand some of them probably dont want to be seen but that almost seems like its equally as important. To know who is behind the car and put a face with that car. Kind of like Samson with the Porches, you should never assume what kind of "cookie cutter" person is behind the madness of any given vehicle.

9

ACSmith6589 That's solid feedback - I agree with you and hope to increase the amount of faces behind the cars. It's just a pity car guys are notoriously camera shy!

10

How did you shoot the first image with this 80s style? Amazing

11
TarmacTerrorist

phenomenal! inspirational story and photographs too, perfectly timed. Does the owner have any words of wisdom about keeping the faith when you get those "this is never going to happen/work" moments? 

I bet he gets some odd looks from the blue rinse posse when parking in blue badge areas :D (a life long pleasure of mine).

12

HunterHunted Yeap, it's an aquired taste for sure, poorly fitting plastic panels that is, but they are rally spec genuine ford parts, as in, that was standard fair then.

I agree it's not the prettiest car, but like you said, it all represents something about the history of the car and the owner, passion

13

Nice car! But OZ stickers on non-OZ wheels?

14

When I saw the teaser pics of this on instagram and found out it was a V6 I was a bit sceptical, but when I found out what the reasoning was behind this, it made me appreciate this car so much more. I love FastFords and I consider this to be a very special one even if it isn't fully original

15

I always believed in the saying "You can take the car away from a man, but you can't take away the car in him". I think Jamie is a good embodiment of that saying. Max respect for him!

16

I bet this makes a GLORIOUS noise :D

17

Fabrice Carpentier Thanks, Fabrice!

18

turbom I haven't been able to find any pictures of it, although I do have a couple of leads to still follow up on. Share them if you can, would love to see it!

19

@Frozenstar Always loved this in the Works Ford blue / white when Kankkunen drove it.

20

@Vincent I may or may not have been listening to the 'Drive' OST when editing these photographs.

21

TarmacTerrorist I'm sure he's lurking around here, he might answer this one himself...

22

@beany It's a really common thing, as the genuine Group A OZ Wheels are rarer than a rare thing. Think they're slightly different PCD too.

23

LukeEVOVIII Glad you like it, it's definitely a car with a background that's worth learning about.

24

James_Turbo It sounds awesome, quite a large bore exhaust on it too so it's certainly not shy.

25

jay8393 Agreed, he's a massive inspiration for a lot of people but is probably too humble to even know it.

26

Cool car. And in spotless condition. But i thought it was another car. A car of mythical greatness and legend. A car buildt with such finish, quality and performance that it basically dominated the early gatebil years. And to top it of, the car also had a legacy and a historic motorsport heritage. It is often known as the Hafsengen escort. A car i still wonder where is. That one and the its fun 3 Porsche. Is there a chance Speedhunters will no an article on one of these or both? perhaps some detective work? the its fun 3 porsche for instance did wheelies at the strip. And did track day events rivaling this legendary escort for greatness.

27

That black and white photo in the Bonus Images section where the Escort is illuminated on the dark background is great. Great story about the human spirit too.

28
Chris 'Haffy' Hafner

I'd have it in a second. Great story and the photos, the best mate!

29

Auto... Ewww...

30

Paddy McGrath turbom I saw an article in car and car conversions magazine back in the 90"s now defunct.Journalist martin sharp was a real ford rs encycopedia of facts.I have the mag some where may take some time to find!!!.I think amazon have the book too with it on"i think"Search cosworth..

31

Should have had a manual stick

32

Think that boost gauge in the dash needs to be functional U0001f60a the cosworth bob engines respond really well to turbocharging. Lovely car, great story

33

These are my favourite kind of Speedhunters features. Great car, with a cool twist but even more than that, an amazing story that makes you smile and remember why we really love cars!

34

Excellent story, I worked for Ford Credit in 1993 and borrowed a new White Escort Cosworth and used it as my wedding car, me driving of course. One year later I borrowed a blue one for my anniversary and drove to London. They were always a car that created an impression and I am pleased to see they still do. I am pleased your friend recovered and I am sure keeping his dream alive helped him through. Love the cars on this site the wider the variety the better, keeps it interesting.

35

Amazing car and a great story behind it!

36

My god this thing is sexy

37

Thanks for the great feedback KevAmid.

38

Mahfoodh You didn't bother to read it, did you?

39

MatsNorway I used to have a poster of that car on my wall in college, it's certainly legendary. I know it ended up badly damaged after a crash some years ago, was it ever re-shelled?

40

Paddy McGrath MatsNorway it was basically upgraded after that...If that's even possible... More Hp++ etc. It was then painted gray exactly like the car in this article. Fun fact. You might have had a poster with photo done by my father. They made a dvd about it and then it was sold to gatebil after that. There is video onboard etc. On YouTube from it setting a hillclimb record.

41

Thommo Read the article before passing judgement. I'm pretty sure if the owner could navigate a manual he would have left it as it came.

42

U0001f62c I like it but an Ecu nightmare apparently as the auto box would think you just stamped your foot down harder when the turbo kicks in and instantly downshift U0001f614

43

Just never ever give up, but it helped to have great friends.

44

Paddy McGrath hehe i bet that your speakers were playing it

45

This is beautiful.  Hell of a car, and it's nice to see a "modern" Escort on SH.

46

MatsNorway Paddy McGrath  Mats, you wonder where the Hafsengen Escort is? Its for sale, you dont have to wonder anymore ;)


http://www.finn.no/finn/car/used/object?finnkode=53189799&searchclickthrough=true

47
TarmacTerrorist

shiftyXTI HunterHunted if you think the escort is bad, never, ever, ever google Rover SD1....

48

I think I wouldn't like it as much as the original, but if I didn't know it was modified, I could have easily believed that it is a limited production car straight out of Ford's factory. And it does look stunning inside out, too. Well done...

49

I'd just like to mention that I know Ford Boreham did protoype 4WD auto gearboxes for the Granada 24v,
I know as I imported one to Norway about 20 years ago. There might exist more of these. I do not have
the gearbox as I sold it on years ago to a guy here in Norway, so who knows where it is now.

50

Mahfoodh Someone didn't read the article properly....

51

Mahfoodh Someone didn't read the article properly....

52

This thing is truly gorgeous! The story to go with it is properly remarkable as well. To see that nothing stood in his way of owning and being able to drive his dream car is a testament to the human spirit and determination to achieve our goals. The engine swap is rather creative I must say. I'd never have thought a Cossie 2.9 motor would fit in the hole piece of cake. I'd always thought of dropping a Duratec 25 V6 from a Mondeo into a Mk6 Escort just for a goof, but I see there is a different way now.

I've always wanted a Cossie, and there's a Sierra Saph RS near me for not a lot of money, and its making some tasty power as well, but there's something just stopping me, mainly because I love the way my ST220 drives and the noise this thing makes is just perfect. Its a driver's car that won't fight you when you want to get into the fun stuff. Such good fun to drive, if a little underpowered. Never realised these Cosworth engines made so much grunt. Bet that thing makes a beautiful noise too!

53

This thing is truly gorgeous! The story to go with it is properly remarkable as well. To see that nothing stood in his way of owning and being able to drive his dream car is a testament to the human spirit and determination to achieve our goals. The engine swap is rather creative I must say. I'd never have thought a Cossie 2.9 motor would fit in the hole piece of cake. I'd always thought of dropping a Duratec 25 V6 from a Mondeo into a Mk6 Escort just for a goof, but I see there is a different way now.

I've always wanted a Cossie, and there's a Sierra Saph RS near me for not a lot of money, and its making some tasty power as well, but there's something just stopping me, mainly because I love the way my ST220 drives and the noise this thing makes is just perfect. Its a driver's car that won't fight you when you want to get into the fun stuff. Such good fun to drive, if a little underpowered. Never realised these Cosworth engines made so much grunt. Bet that thing makes a beautiful noise too!

54

As a Ford nut myself, this is really great to see, gave me a tear to the eye. It's really fantastic to see what he made for sacrifices with his disabilities. Best of luck with that car Jamie, it would be a pleasure to meet you one day.

55

As a Ford nut myself, this is really great to see, gave me a tear to the eye. It's really fantastic to see what he made for sacrifices with his disabilities. Best of luck with that car Jamie, it would be a pleasure to meet you one day.

56

KrisMoffatt  Hi Kris, to quote a line from Shawshank " Get busy living or get busy dying"  and yes there is an awesome sound from it on full song.

57

alex jonson  Thanks for your nice comments, Necessity is the mother of invention eh! :) because not going Henry isn't an option for a Ford freak as you well know. Who knows maybe our paths well cross one day.

58

Amazing car, didn't realise who owned it when I saw it a few weeks ago in Waterford. It brightened up a dull and dreary Monday morning as it passed the Tower Hotel when I was having breakfast. Great to see the iconic lines of the Escort WRC on the public roads

59

I see people not reading the article and saying "it should have been manual" and that makes me sad, because this is exactly the sort of think that I think is awesome to see on SH.   Real stories about people fighting to make the cars they want, to suit their own needs.  The car itself in this case is pretty nice, don't get me wrong, but what really makes this feature is the story.  That makes it awesome.

60

I remember reading the original article on the V6 cossie prototypes and all the journos were raving then - wonder if any survived as i have always loved the v6 sound!. Such a brilliant story that touches the real reason we love cars - passion
Well done Jamie a credit to you and beautifully finished!!

61
JaimeSepulvedaRivera

Great work, I wish I could see any Escort Cosworth in my country. One day I will have one.
Ps: I think he could fit a later Escort, Puma digital cluster. Both uses an EEC V ECU!

62

Great write up and photos as per usual Paddy!! i use to buy UK magazines in Canada when i was in high school and this was one of the cars i always wish we could have got in North America

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