Showing posts with label Ford. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ford. Show all posts

Ford Escort RS

Ford Escort RS 1970s British classic sports car

For many motorists, the Ford Escort RS was a must-have. Especially when sporting 'go faster' stripes, it ticked all the right boy racer boxes. RWD - plus light bodywork - were just the ticket ... sometimes literally! Starring in Seventies TV show The Professionals bolstered the Escort's hard-hitting image. As well as doing its sales figures no harm at all!

The RS, though, was more than a rocketship roadster. It doubled up as a top-flight rally car. The Mexico model marked Ford's win in the London to Mexico Rally. The smaller RS1800 version was still ultra-competitive. With its twin-cam motor - and all round disc brakes - many an owner took to the stages. On the road, too, it did not disappoint. An X-Pack of optional extras saw to that. Between its nose and the tarmac, the RS2000 sported a 'droopsnoot' - a polyurethane spoiler/air dam. It cut drag, according to Ford.

Technologically, then, the Escort impressed. Certainly, its suspension was on solid ground. A set of MacPherson struts sorted the front. A live axle - on leaf springs - looked after the rear. The Escort's monocoque steel shell could be strengthened. Its in-line four engine produced 86bhp. Top speed was 103mph. Later versions upped both stats. The gearbox was 4-speed manual. As '70s interiors went, the Escort's was slick. An array of dials, bucket seats and a sports steering-wheel all helped with harum-scarum high-speed shenanigans. Which - if you bought a Ford Escort RS - was usually what you wanted!

Ford Mustang 1

Ford Mustang 1 1960s American classic concept car

Lee Iacocca is an automotive legend! As soon as he set eyes on the Ford Mustang 1 prototype, he knew it could become an American icon. That was at Watkins Glen racetrack - in October '62. Dan Gurney and Stirling Moss were driving the Mustang 1 that day. It wowed the crowd as a whole - not just Iacocca! The young Ford product planner saw potential written all over it. His only concern was that it may be too extreme for the mainstream motorist. He resolved to tone down the car's shape a tad. But - that he had seen the future of Ford - he was in no doubt.

The Mustang 1 Iacocca witnessed at Watkins Glen, then, was never going to be the one which rolled onto the roads of America. The roadster's bodywork - by Troutman and Barnes - was a low, flat slab of aluminium. Good aerodynamics were a given. Cutting edge retractable headlights smoothed the flow of the car's nose. A stylish rollover bar was perfectly in tune with its hair-raising heritage. Two huge air intakes were a clear pointer to the race-bred beast within!

The Mustang 1's motor was German in origin. The V4 was sourced from the Ford Taunus 12M. It was moved back in the chassis - the better to power the rear wheels. 109bhp was on tap - giving a top speed of 115mph. So, while it may not have been in the same league as the P-51 fighter plane - after which it was named - the Mustang 1 still shifted at a fair old clip. A 4-speed gearbox kept things civilised. Capacity was 1,498cc - or 91ci, in old money. Suspension was by wishbone and coil spring. Front disc brakes were a more than welcome feature. Steering-wheel and pedals were fully-adjustable. It would be hard to overstate the impact the Mustang 1 made. Iacocca was Italian-American. In styling terms, the lines of his car saluted the land of his forebears. Two 'dream cars' were duly constructed. In time, Ford Mustang muscle cars did full justice to the Mustang 1 concept. They would, of course, become some of the most coveted machines in the history of motoring. Lee Iacocca made his mark all right!

Ford Sierra Cosworth

Ford Sierra Cosworth 1980s European sports car

The Ford Sierra Cosworth was a performance car for the people. For a start, it was a snip at just £16,000. For that, you got supercar speed and stability - plus, practicality. Ford passed their Sierra shell to tuners Cosworth - based in Northampton, England. And the 'Cossie' was born! Cosworth installed a two-litre twin overhead-camshaft turbo engine. The production car was an 'homologation special' - a certain number needing to be built to allow it to compete in races and rallies. So, such cars are limited-edition by their very nature. Ford's Special Vehicle Engineering department was asked to come up with a competitive Group A car. There were several key components on the SVE's spec-list. Toward the top were a close-ratio 5-speed gearbox, a limited-slip diff and power steering. As well as ABS, anti-roll bars and firmed-up suspension. 4-piston disc brakes were attached to wide alloy wheels.

The Cosworth's body was modified Ford Sierra. Updates included widened wheel arches - and a 'whale-tail' rear spoiler. While the latter increased downforce, it compromised aerodynamics. And was not ideal in cross-winds! Still, if you bought a Cossie to make a statement - and you probably did - the rear aerofoil was spot-on. 'Spirited' drivers praised planted handling - along with fearsome acceleration. Top speed was 149mph.

Of course, the Cossie was a magnet for thieves and joy-riders. Insurance costs sky-rocketed. In time, the tearaways moved on to pastures new. Once rid of its hooligan 'rep', the Cosworth transitioned into performance car respectability. The Sierra Sapphire and 1990's 4x4 version duly followed. A further 16bhp would be coaxed out of the Cossie's 16-valve cylinder-head. In racing, rallying and roadster modes, then, the Ford Sierra Cosworth delivered the goods. Well, not literally!

Edsel

Edsel 1950s American classic car

In brand-name terms, the Edsel and Mercury were peas from the same pod. In reality, the Edsel was made by Ford. Technically, though, Edsel was a marque in its own right. Certainly, it was sold as such - from '58 to '60. Ford forecast that - in the first year alone - it would sell 200,000 Edsels. As it turned out, a mere 62,000 shunted through the showrooms - in the whole of its two-year run. The Edsel had cost Ford $250,000,000 to develop - so, the mediocre sales figures were not good! To say the Edsel was a white elephant would be an understatement. Which was a shame, actually - because it was a car that could have had a lot going for it. Sadly, though, Ford's timing was out. Not that it was really the Blue Oval's fault. Ford's sales team had targeted lower-middle demographics - lodged somewhere between their up-market models and the cut-price Mercury. When the Edsel went into production, however, the automotive industry was depressed. Customers were looking to buy cheap. The Edsel was stuck in marketing no man's land.

As with the Mercury, there were echoes of the Ferrari Dino in the Edsel. At least, insofar as both were presented as stand-alone marques. Both, too, were named after prematurely deceased sons. Dino Ferrari - and Edsel Ford - passed before their time. The cars were fathers' tributes - from Enzo and Henry, respectively. It was especially sad, then, that in the case of the Edsel, sales were so poor. A front-end feature that definitely did not help was the vertically-shaped grille. American buyers simply did not take to it. Ironically, the rest of the car was quite conservatively styled. As compared with its Fifties rivals, at any rate. The Edsel 'brand' comprised 15 models - including saloons, convertibles and station-wagons. The one part they had in common was the floor-pan!

The Edsel's engine came in one of two flavours - straight-six or V8. Peak power was 350bhp. Top speed, 108mph. Manual and auto 'boxes were both 3-speed. Biggest capacity was 6,719cc. Edsels are now highly sought-after. In different economic circumstances, the Edsel may well have been a success. As it is, it has to settle for an impressively high 'one that got away' rating!

Ford Capri

Ford Capri 1960s British classic car

The Ford Capri was European sibling to the mighty Mustang - a massive seller in the US. In essence, the Capri was a standard 4-seater GT. There would be many a variation on that theme, however ... enough to give a spare-parts dealer palpitations! The Capri was manufactured in GB and West Germany. The first model came with the same 1.3-litre in-line four engine as the Ford Escort. In the UK, there were 1.6- and 2.0-litre V4 options. Add to that, a 3.0-litre V6. Germany weighed in with 1.7- and 2.3-litre versions. Stock-taking was already getting complicated. And that was before the cornucopia of trim options kicked in!

The entry-level Capri was the L. The XL was mid-range. At the top of the heap were the GT - and luxury GXL. Thankfully, the body shell was interchangeable. So were the struts - and beam rear axle. There were more parts choices, though, when it came to the 4-speed gearbox. Bigger engines had auto transmission as an option. All Capris had disc brakes up front - and drums at the rear. Rack-and-pinion steering, too, was standard - except for some of the 3.0-litre models, which were power-assisted.

Many a Capri was campaigned as a 'tin-top' racer - often, with much success. They derived from a set of souped-up roadsters. The RS2600 Mk1, for example, was a German 'homologation special'. It came with a fuel-injected 150bhp V6 ... courtesy of top tuner Harry Weslake. In '73, the British-built 3100 appeared - again, built for race homologation purposes. With its Weber carburettor - and over-bored V6 - it made 148bhp. These 'performance car' Capris featured fat alloy wheels and quarter bumpers. The 3100 sported a duck-tail spoiler. Most sought-after of all, however, was the Capri 280 Brooklands LE. Ironically, it was one of the German-built cars! Nonetheless, with its swish leather seats - and British racing green paint - it was a fitting finale to the Ford Capri story. And - as for those overworked spares departments - it is just a shame databases were still in their infancy, at the time!

Ford Shelby GT350

Ford Shelby GT350 1960s American classic sports car

As automotive luminaries go, they do not shine much brighter than Carroll Shelby. So - in '65 - when the erstwhile racer trained his tuning sights on the Ford Mustang, the sports car community sat up. The first-model Mustang had been released the previous year - to great acclaim. It had impressed in every area ... except one. In performance terms, the Mustang underwhelmed. Enter Carroll Shelby!

Styling-wise, the Mustang was fine. So, that was left alone - apart from new side-exhausts and stripes. Shelby headed straight for the engine - a Cobra 4.7-litre V8. He already knew a thing or two about it. He had, after all, been the catalyst for the AC Cobra. When Shelby picked up his spanners, the Mustang's V8 made 271bhp. Ford had already uprated the original spec. Shelby, though, was sure there was more. He was right. By the time he put down his spanners, output had risen to 306bhp. That came, in the main, by modifying the manifolds. Though a Holley carburettor certainly helped. Top speed had risen to 149mph ... with a 0-60 stat of 6.5s. Ensconced in their LA workshops, Shelby and his team had turned a meek and mild Mustang into a muscle car!

But, it would not have been a 'Shelby' without racing attached. It came in the form of the SCCA B-Production road-race series. The Shelby GT350R duly hit the grid. And went on to take the '65, '66 and '67 titles. The R dished out 360bhp. While the roadster was not quite in that league, it was no slouch. Koni suspension was suitably solid. The chassis was well up to taking the strain. Front discs - and rear drums - provided safe and assured braking. Transmission was 4-speed. Carroll Shelby had done it again. Cut from the same cloth as the AC Cobra, Ford's GT350 was already a thoroughbred sports car. And when a class act like Shelby got a hold of it, sparks were always going to fly. In a perfect trajectory, of course!

Ford GT40

Ford GT40 1960s American classic GT sports racing car

The Ford GT40 could have been a Ferrari! In the mid-'60s, Ford were in the throes of a Ferrari takeover. With the deal all but closed, though, their offer was snubbed. That displeased Henry Ford II - to say the least. Hackles suitably raised, he determined to come out fighting ... and hit Ferrari where it hurt. At the racetrack! The GT40 would be his weapon of choice. Fortunately, Ford were in a position to recruit race car constructor Lola to their cause. The British firm had just put the finishing touches to their Mk6 GT car. It had been fitted with a Ford V8 engine. Plainly, the prototype was packed with potential. Perfect timing! Ford leapt at the chance to bring Lola on board ... and duly acquired the rights to the Mk6. Eric Broadley - Lola's founder - would oversee the project.

Not that Ford would be taking a back seat. They would be styling the new car, for starters. Trouble was - for all their commercial success - Ford were not race engineers. The shape they came up with was aerodynamic - but not as much as it could have been. Lola could have made it still more slippery. That was their stock-in-trade, after all. Plus, Ford's plans for the GT40 included roadsters. Which would, of course, need to be factory-built. Thinking ahead - in terms of parts - Ford gave the go-ahead for a steel monocoque chassis for the GT40. It went without saying that it was relatively cheap. The specialised light aluminium tub Broadley had designed was surplus to requirements. So now, not only was the GT40 less aerodynamic than it might have been - it was heavier, too. Ford wanted to have their cake and eat it, too. They wanted a race car to beat Ferrari - while, at the same time, cutting production costs!

The proof of the pudding would come at Le Mans - in the form of the '65 24-Hour race. Sadly - to Ford's palate, at least - the pudding did not taste good. Ferrari won! The following year, though - after some winter-time fettling - the GT40 came on song. Indeed, it would win at La Sarthe the next four times out. The '66 and '67 campaigns were under Ford's own aegis. A privateer team took charge in '68 and '69. In the course of that string of victories, the GT40 did more than just win. It was the first car to notch up 3,000 miles in 24 hours - with New Zealanders Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon doing the driving. And after that - with Jacky Ickx at the wheel - the GT40 beat a Hans Herrmann-piloted Porsche to the flag, by a mere 100m. After a full day's high-octane racing, that was a pretty tight margin. To put it in context, the GT40 topped out at more than 200mph. As a sports car, then, it was anything but lacklustre. Its 4,727cc V8 engine made 485bhp. And no car wins four times on the bounce at Le Mans, without having something special going for it. The Ford GT40 was a fantastic racing car. It was just that - had Eric Broadley and his Lola colleagues been given free rein - it could have been even better!

Ford Mustang

Ford Mustang 1960s American classic sports car

When the Ford Mustang muscle car was first unveiled - at '64's New York World Fair - it triggered a tidal wave of excitement. Thereafter, it became one of the fastest-selling cars in history. It took the Mustang just two years to pass the million sales mark. Lee Iacocca was the whizz-kid Ford executive who conceived the car. It had Sixties all-American looks, straight out of the crate. But, the real beauty of the Mustang - at least, for aficionados - was its long list of extras. Everything, from the engine and gearbox - to suspension and braking - was ripe for user input. Trim options were legion!

And if all you wanted was to cut a dash in your new Mustang, the straight-six motor was more than sufficient. However, if performance was more up your street, a V8 was available. Power outputs went from 195 to 390bhp. If your Mustang was towards the top end of that range, the optional front disc brakes were a wise choice. Standard suspension suited most drivers. It comprised coil-spring and wishbone up front - and a beam axle on leaf springs at the rear. Naturally, a stiffer set-up was there, if needed. Gearbox options were a 3-speed auto, or a 3/4-speed manual.

At full gallop, the Mustang made 130mph. If you wanted more, there was the Carroll Shelby model - with added muscle! A road/race hybrid, it was based on the GT350 fastback. Subsequently, it grew into the 7-litre GT500. By then, it was pummelling out 425bhp. The most iconic Shelby Mustang of all has to be the GT390. It was Steve McQueen's co-star in the '68 film Bullitt. Thanks to that iconic movie, 'pony cars' were hot to trot. Rival manufacturers fell over themselves to build their own take on the trend. But, nothing cut the Mustang mustard quite like the original. And that included Ford's own updates. Later versions - with added flab - lacked the simple, strong styling of their predecessors. For many an owner, the Ford Mustang was their entrée into the American Dream. Waking up was not an option!

Ford Thunderbird

Ford Thunderbird 1950s American classic car

The ultimate classic car? Impossible to say - though the Ford Thunderbird must be right up there! Visually stunning, of course … full-gloss Americana, as it was. But, there was always more to the Thunderbird than met the eye. Its no-nonsense V8 motor made sure of that. In 5.1-litre format, the 'Bird was good for 120mph. The engine was borrowed from the Ford Mercury.

Next to some of its rivals, the visual design of early 'Birds was reserved. There is little that is excessive in the clean, bold lines of the first models. All pedal to the metal sports car styling. That said, it helped if you were travelling in a straight line. 'Birds tended to wade through bends - due to their super-soft suspension set-up.

The Thunderbird was Fifties, through and through. As the decade wore on, though, time took its toll. Like Elvis, it started out in life lithe and agile - with ebullience and looks all its own. In later versions, some of that grace faded. But, nothing can detract from the original. A proud day it was, when the first Thunderbird - pristine and powerful - flew the Ford coop.

Ford GT

Ford GT 2000s American supercar

The Ford GT was the firm's birthday present to itself ... or, anyone with a spare $203,599 lying about! Created to mark the company's centenary, it was released in 2005. The new GT was inspired by one of the finest cars Ford had ever produced. The iconic GT40 racer was a multiple Sixties Le Mans winner. The new GT prototype débuted at the 2002 Detroit Auto Show. Feedback was fulsome! In short order, Ford confirmed that they would be putting the prototype into production. 4,038 GTs were built ... somewhat shy of the 4,500 Ford envisaged.

If the GT's styling harked back to the past, technologically, it was cutting edge. A venturi - cut into the floor-pan - provided plenty of downforce. High-speed grip was further enhanced by huge Goodyear Eagle tyres. And the GT needed every bit of that grip - as its 5.4-litre engine pushed traction to the limit. The aluminium V8 was fitted with a Lysholm supercharger. The cylinder-heads were well-fettled - including high-lift cams. When the Ford engineers finished, there was 550bhp on tap. Torque was massive - 0-60mph turning up in just 3.7s. The GT's body and space-frame chassis chipped in on the acceleration front, too - both being forged from light aluminium. Transferring torque to tarmac was independent, double-wishbone suspension.

Despite its power, this car was way more practical than its race predecessor. GT40 referenced height - all 40″ of it! The new GT was, at least, wider and longer. Performance-wise, too, the new car was more user-friendly. Those titanic torque stats translated to to-die-for acceleration. The GT, though, could mood-shift in an instant - cruising, seamlessly and effortlessly. A 6-speed transmission was there, if required. With the new GT, Ford had homed in on the ultimate all-rounder. To say the least, it took the sales fight to its rivals. A top speed of 204mph was more than competitive in supercar marketing terms. The Ford GT, then, was a nostalgia-laden celebration of speed!