What Ford did in creating the GT 1600 is exactly what Pontiac boss John Z. Delorean did when he and his band of brothers created the legendary GTO. The recipe is well known. What you do is take the biggest motor you have in your engine roster and stuff it into the front smallest car you make, beef up the suspension and the brakes, sell it at a price premium and watch the dollars roll in.
Delorean did it with the 1964 Pontiac Tempest and Ford did it with the first series Escort. You see, by late 1966 Ford in the UK knew that their famed Lotus engine Cortina race and road car was about to be upsized.
More weight meant less speed. So, while the bean counters were otherwise engaged, the race and rally (R&R) department guys decided to shoehorn the 1.6 litre Lotus twin cam engine into the soon-to-be-released smaller Escort. Said Bill Meade, the R&R chief mechanic "it will go like hell with a twin cam engine in it". And it did!
Lucky Tim Clifton has one of these Escort muscle cars. Built in Sydney at Ford's Homebush factory in 1972 it is one of less than 1200 made in Australia. So it is rare and for those who know, very collectible. "I spent 2 years searching for it" says Tim.
"In April 2011 I found it in Queensland and trailered it back to Adelaide, " he adds. Tim says that the body of the Escort was in reasonable condition and he has not done much to it. The motor, however, was a different matter .It was in need of serious remediation. A complete rebuild, actually. After the motor had been finished the car was resprayed in its original colour of Pepper Red. Next on the restoration agenda will be the interior.
Meanwhile Tim drives the car because "I wanted one to drive around in. I've had a couple of Torana XU1s but I've always liked the shape of the Escort." So if you hanker after one of these pocket rockets from Ford please remember they only made about 1200 of them in Australia, and prices reflect the rarity.
David Burrell is the editor of www.retroautos.com.au