1969 Ford Escort 1850 GT World Cup Rally Car

The toughest post-war test for motor car and crew ever is reckoned to have been the 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally, upon which 96 intrepid starters-seven of them Ford factory team Escorts-embarked from Wembley Stadium on April 19.

The 16,000-mile route across mainland Europe, South, and Central America required competitors to ascend hazardous passes as high as 16,000 feet in the Andes and tackle dusty primes as long as 600 miles at required speeds of up to 93 mph.

Not surprisingly, just over a month later, only 23 survivors crossed the Mexico City finish line. The winners were Hannu Mikkola and Gunnar Palm in FEV 1H, the first of five such Works Escorts in the top ten. Finishing 8th overall were former European rally champion Sobieslaw Zasada and Marek Wachowski of Poland, driving the Ford Motor Company-owned and-entered FTW 48H, which was hand-built to factory team specification by British Vita under the supervision of the Works Boreham Competition Department. Still largely original and well-preserved with big-bore “Mexico”-type engine, the 1850 GT is offered today very much as it completed the World Cup Rally.

Having acquired the 1969 1850 GT in May 1984, the current owner commenced a sympathetic refurbishment and has shown and demonstrated what is believed to be the only privately owned Works Escort still in World Cup trim at Ford RS enthusiast and major rally car gatherings (Ford themselves having retained FEV 1H for their museum). Unlike nearly all the ex-Works and competition Escorts, however, this car’s Type 49 bodyshell is still largely original and is very much as it was when it was specially prepared for Ford Competitions with distinctive roof to strut-top protective bars.

Original features, such as a strongbox for the crew’s passports and money and map pockets, have been retained, while the Ford factory chassis plate for what was intended to be a production Escort Twin Cam is included among the 1850 GT’s documents.

Thor Thorson

Thor Thorson - SCM Contributing Editor

Thor grew up in northern Iowa. His father bought a red Jag XK 150 in the late 1950s, and that was all it took; he has been in love with sports cars , racing cars and the associated adrenaline rush ever since. He has vintage raced for more than 20 years, the bulk of them spent behind the wheel of a blue Elva 7. When he’s not racing, he is president of Vintage Racing Motors Inc., a collector-car dealer and vintage-racing support company based in Redmond, WA. His knowledge runs the full spectrum of vintage racing, and he has put that expertise to good use for SCM since 2003.

Posted in Race