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Top Ten Fast Fords

This could haves so easily been a ‘Top 20’ or even a ‘Top 30’. For the moment here, in date order and in my opinion, are ten truly fabulous fast Fords – and if your favourite is absent, there will be another ‘Top Ten’ later this year!

1) CONSUL CORTINA GT 1963

After driving a prototype Henry Ford II himself ordered ‘you must build that!’ and when the Consul Cortina GT debuted in April 1963, its appeal to fleet and private driver alike was instant - a five-seater 95 mph saloon at a price of under £800. Its appearance was low-key, with discrete shields on the rear wings and slightly wider tyres to denoted its Cosworth-developed 1.5-litre engine, front disc brakes and remote control gear change. The template for virtually all future British fast Fords. 

2) GT40 1964

Not exactly an accessible car to your average late 1960s motorist but how could we leave out the Ford that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans no fewer than four consecutive times? The GT40, the name derives from its height, was planned as the Ford that would defeat Ferrari in endurance races and only 31 ‘road’ examples were made. ‘164 mph, Boot space; laughable, Petrol consumption; wicked’ read the adverts under the memorable heading ‘Would you let your daughter marry a Ford owner?’

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3) CORTINA LOTUS MK. II 1967

The Lotus Cortina Mk. I is, of course, a motoring legend but the Cortina Lotus Mk. II is a very enjoyable car in its own right. These were made in Dagenham rather than Hethel, the famous green side stripe was now an optional extra while the 109bhp ‘Special Equipment; engine gave a top speed of x mph. Roger Clark drove a Mk. II to victory in the 1967 Scottish Rally and Hampshire Constabulary were just one police force who found the Cortina Lotus to be a very entertaining traffic patrol car.

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4) ESCORT TWIN CAM 1968

Some 50 years ago, Ford’s Motor Sport Engineer Bill Meade and Team Manager Henry Taylor embarked on the ‘Blimey Car’ programme which emerged in 1968 as the Escort Twin Cam. A Cortina Lotus engine was inserted in a strengthened 1300GT two-door bodyshell and a year after its launch Roger Clark won the Circuit of Ireland Rally. As for the original nickname, that came about when Meade saw an Escort prototype and remarked – ‘“Blimey, one of those things would go like hell with a Twin Cam in it!’

5) CONSUL GT 1972

The Consul GT was not an out and out sports saloon but a rather clever combination of the lesser spec Granada Mk.1 (these were ‘Consul’ badged between 1972 and 1975). £1,780 bought you the Essex 3-Litre V6 engine, modified suspension, sports wheels and auxiliary lamps. There was no PAS as standard but the steering wheel was clad in ‘simulated leather’ and the GT was capable of 113 mph and 0–60 in 9 seconds. And a press fleet model starred in a certain Euston Films television series.  

6) ESCORT RS1800 1975

This is, to put it mildly, a very exclusive version of the second-generation Escort with only around 109 sold in two years. The road going models used a 1,840cc BDA engine while the rally specification model was powered by a 240bhp 2-litre fuel injected Cosworth engine. To this day, the RS1800 is associated with five RAC Rally victories from 1975 to 1979, and as late as 1980 Ari Vatanen won the Acropolis Rally in a Mk. II. Just take a look at this - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KoiiMqGM53k and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nexgPsjQPQ

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7) FIESTA XR2 1981

Not the original sporting Fiesta – that honour goes to the 1976 1100S – but probably the one that most captured the public imagination. £5,500 seemed a lot of money for a small car back in December 1981 but, in the words of Autocar, ‘the XR2's reserves of grip inspire the sort of confidence that has one whizzing safely round bends and wondering why others cannot seem to keep up’. The 1,589cc engine gave a top speed of 105mph, the pepper pot alloy wheels and driving lamps perfectly completed the Fiestas Mk.1’s styling. And Sunburst Red XR2 is the ideal car for summer cruising with Adam and The Ants’ Prince Charming blaring from the stereo.

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8) ESCORT XR3i 1982

Is this the most uber-1980s car in the history of Ford? The XR3 was unveiled in 1980 but it was the XR3i of October 1982 that became the object of desire for any motorist who owned a Filofax, cassettes of That’s What I Call Music and several gallons of hair gel. Here was an 116mph Escort Mk. III was Bosch K-Jetronic injection, gas filled dampers and five-speed transmission for just £6,278; in the words of Autocar, it was a ‘real rival’ to the Golf GTi.

9) CAPRI INJECTION 1981

The Ford Capri Injection remains a textbook example of how to end production of a popular long-running car with style, verve and integrity. My favourite version is the limited edition 280 ‘Brooklands’ with leather-trimmed Recaro seats, a limited slip differential, and a colour choice was any shade you liked - if it was Brooklands Green. A classic even before the last 280 left the production line in Cologne on December 19th, 1986. 

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10) SIERRA SAPPHIRE RS COSWORTH 4X4 1990

From a distance, a Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth 4 x4 looked utterly respectable; the sort of car a senior accountant would use for travelling to a thrilling auditing session somewhere near Milton Keynes. But he/she would arrive at the office in record time, for beneath that four-door body was 220bhp worth of power, four-wheel drive and a top speed of nearly 145 mph. Maybe Car magazine put it best - ‘there is a sense of occasion about driving the Cosworth, a feeling that it’s out of the ordinary’

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