Europe gets tonnes of awesome iron that, for whatever reason, is verboten on US soil. It’s annoying, especially when said iron is made by THE US car company. The Ford Escort Mark I is one such unobtainable automobile, a nimble little coupe made in the mid ’70s that absolutely killed it on European rally circuits. Britain’s oldest car mag, Autocar, recently made a video review of little bugger so all of us Americans can see what we missed.
The Mark I Escort debuted in 1968 at the Brussels Motor Show. It’s just curvy enough coke-bottle body, traditional rear-drive layout, and precise rack-and-pinion steering made it an instant success in the UK. Initially, it was equipped with a range of tiny Kent inline four cylinder engines maxing out at 1.3 liters. But you’re not here to read about those. You want to know about the rip-snorting OHV 98-horsepower Kent 1.6-liter that was dropped into the the 1876-pound Escort Mexico.
In the late ’60s and early ’70s Ford’s rally team and the Escort was practically unbeatable. In 1970 the team won the London to Mexico World Cup Rally in an Escort. To celebrate the victory, they made the special-edition Escort Mexico.
This is the legendary model that Autocar takes for a spin in its video review here. Not surprisingly, they loved it, praising its nimble handling and peppy power. Unfortunately, Autocar forbids embedding, so you’ll have to hop on over there to see it.