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Paddy's Ford Escort MK1

Written: August 2022

As I write this it's a proper rough Saturday evening at the end of one of those dreary days that drag on and on, The type of day where an unhealthy amount of screentime is consumed and getting some fresh air isn't on the cards. Oddly, today is perfectly similar to a certain Sunday a few months ago, when I sent Paddy a text and told him we'd meet for some photos of his MK1 Escort.

Where most would look to postpone in favour of some sunshine and dry roads, Paddy is not one to let the elements stop him from using his little MK1 and that in itself, before we even begin to talk about the mods, is what makes this car so cool.

These days a good MK1 is going to set you back an eye watering sum of cash and most owners recognise this. So, as a result, a fair chunk of these perky little sixties saloons live inside ventilated bubbles and travel on trailer-back to vintage car shows.

But not Paddys. This MK1 is built to see tar, rain or shine, and Paddy doesn't go easy on it either, giving it a good dose of heavy right foot at every opportunity.

As with most Irish classic Ford owners, Paddy is hugely influenced by rallying and there is none better than the Escort to embody rally culture. But where most MK1s found on the stages wear wide bubble arches, Paddy has retained the original body lines in favour of a cleaner, subtle look. However, his decision to remove the front and rear bumpers gives the little MK1 an aggresiveness to go alongside the manner it's driven in.

Born in 1971 at Fords Irish plant in Cork, this 1100cc MK1 lived a life of hardship until it landed in Paddys hands, where he began the arduous task of restoring it to former glory. Almost every panel has been replaced allowing Paddy the peace of mind that this car is usable in all conditions without the fear of long-term damage.

Quickly realising that the 56HP the 1.1L engine once produced wasn't going to cut it, Paddy used his skills on the spanners to build a 2L 'blacktop' Zetec on Yamaha carbs pumping out 170HP. In a car that sits on 13" wheels, this often feels like quadruple the power at any given time.

Said wheels are Revolution items and sit tucked up inside the arches thanks to modified Capri struts featuring Spax dampers and adjustable control arms. Paddy throws the car around with ease courtesy of a quick rack and Quaife limited slip diff.

On this dull, drab evening the rowdy MK1 brought a splash of colour and noise leaving not just Paddy but I too grinning from ear to ear. You can't help but love a car as simple as this, it goes relatively unnoticed until Paddy drops it from third to second, the open carbs sing and the tail squirms, fighting traction, just as every fast Ford should.


Owner: Paddy Gorman

Location: Blessington, Wicklow Mountains

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