Wednesday November 27, 2019
Jack Barnes is the owner of a car that can be truly called a ‘time warp’ vehicle.
He came by his 1968 Escort 1100 De Luxe Mk. I three years ago when there were a mere 18,000 miles on the clock and every detail reminds you of why the ‘small cars that aren’t’ made such an impact on British motorists.
There is that “Coke Bottle” styling, the distinctive radiator grille and the general sense that here was a Ford that looked as up to the minute as the Post Office Tower.
The De Luxe was the second-cheapest member of the Escort range – the “Standard” was principally for fleet markets – and for just £635, you gained a heater and windscreen washers.
Front disc brakes cost another £15 7s 4d, radial-play tyres £12 5s 10d and so you could listen to Jimmy Young on the way to work, a radio for £19 19s 6d. A cigarette lighter, a carpeted floor, a water temperature gauge and those fashionable rectangular headlamps were the province of the Super, but your Ford dealer would also be pleased to inform you that the De Luxe cost £18 less than the equivalent Vauxhall Viva HB.
The top speed from the 1,098cc engine was a respectable 80 mph, with 0 – 60 in 22.3 seconds.
Meanwhile, those would-be Jackie Stewarts with finances could not stretch to a GT, let alone a Twin-Cam, were pleased to note the Escort boasted rack-and-pinion steering and the all-synchromesh transmission.
The motoring press were impressed with Autocar claiming ‘It will soon become a force to be reckoned with in the small car market’. Car observed ‘Every so often a car comes along which is better than it ought to be – and far better than you expect it to be’.
That same writer also believed the Escort, ‘will undoubtedly be a big seller’, and this proved to be somewhat of an understatement – by June 1974 Ford had sold two million examples.
It was also the first Anglo-German passenger car with the blue oval badge – “Ford of Europe” formed in 1967.
Dagenham was so proud of the Escort. They even commissioned a range of special promotional drinks to offer prospective buyers. There was “Schhh… De Luxe”,” Schhh . . . Super” and, for the connoisseur “, Schhh . . . GT”. You really could not make this up.
Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Jack’s car is its sheer originality. At a time when there appear to be more Escort Mexicos on the road than actually left the Advanced Vehicle Operations (AVO) works.
That means it is refreshing to encounter PKJ 973 G, which really does look as though it has been transported from another world.
Back in the late 1960s, Ford’s publicity promised a world of sheer grooviness - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFQKnksoZUs – but this was rarely the case, and it was Escorts such as the Barnes De Luxe that could be seen in driveways across the country.
They belonged to a work of The Magic Roundabout on BBC1, shopping at the Co-Op on a Saturday and gossiping about that strange pop singer called Arthur who regularly set his hat on fire. And when ‘Knitweave Vinyl’ upholstery was a selling point in a new car.
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WITH THANKS TO: JACK BARNES