July 3, 2022

This Group A Ford Escort RS1600i loved an illustrious motorsport profession earlier than falling on exhausting occasions within the Nineties, however now because of Guido Futzemann it’s again collectively and searching higher than ever.

Characteristic from Quick Ford journal. Phrases: Jamie Arkle. Images: Adrian Brannan.

It’s exhausting to not really feel a bit sorry for the Mk3 Escort, significantly with regards to competitors variants. The Mk2 wasn’t merely a large gross sales success, it’d damaged rallying data throughout the globe, had received numerous touring automotive trophies, and cemented the RS model within the hearts of European customers. It was, to not put too nice a degree on it, a tricky act to comply with.

Ford realised that the Mk3 needed to carve itself some motorsport credibility, and commenced creating race and rally variations earlier than the automotive hit the forecourts, one thing that finally resulted in legendary automobiles just like the Datapost touring automobiles and, in fact, the short-lived RS1700T rally programme. The on-track (and stage) exploits of those machines boosted the automotive’s enchantment and undoubtedly helped gross sales, with the Mk3 finally occurring to spawn such icons because the XR3i, RS1600i and, in fact, the Collection One RS Turbo.

In the end, the Mk3 couldn’t fairly convey house the identical quantity of silverware because the Mk2, however that doesn’t imply that critical, race-prepped examples didn’t do themselves proud on racetracks throughout Europe.

Extremely modified race variations frequently punched above their weight in varied tin-top championships, with this specific Group A Ford Escort RS1600i being a living proof. It’s now owned by serial quick Ford proprietor Guido, or Prof Futzemann as he’s higher identified (long-time readers could recall a few of the earlier Mk3 Escorts which have benefited from his enter), but it surely additionally has an illustrious competitors historical past, one which’s seen it do battle throughout a few of the worlds’ most well-known and difficult circuits, together with the legendary Nürburgring.

Group A Ford Escort RS1600i

Guido explains, “The automotive was constructed by AutoVeri in Berlin and first pushed by Gerd Ruch and his brother Jürgen Ruch within the ETTC in 1985. After that it was bought to Hüsken-Motorsport in Ibbenbüren, who used it for a couple of years and competed in numerous long-distance races on the Nürburgring.”

Success was exhausting to come back by, although, with a collection of mechanical points stopping the automotive from delivering on its promised potential, and it will definitely discovered itself being re-purposed and reused as a tarmac rally automotive in Belgium. Guido entered the image in 1999, recognizing the tired-looking Escort and deciding it was price taking a punt on.

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“Once I first received the automotive it was a bit battered from so a few years of competitors, and I didn’t know a lot about it, and neither did the vendor,” Guido remembers. “I ended up spraying it Mouse Gray after I purchased it, and it was solely later that I started to analyze its competitors historical past.”

Group A Ford Escort RS1600i

As soon as the automotive’s true pedigree got here to gentle, Guido wasted no time in beginning a sympathetic restoration, which culminated within the RS being repainted in unique Sunburst Purple and re-liveried within the warfare paint it will’ve worn in its ETTC heyday. Which may make it sound like a comparatively simple course of, however make no mistake, it was a problem, particularly as Guido sourced most of the motorsport-specific elements himself.

“It actually had taken fairly a beating throughout its 9 years as a rally automotive, and I ended up changing each entrance wings, the entrance valance and the passenger-side rear three-quarter,” he says.

On the coronary heart of the automotive lurks a Group A-spec 1600 CVH constructed by Neil Brown Engineering – an actual screamer of an engine that pushes out a simple 165bhp because of a modified head, aggressive cam, enlarged throttle physique and suitably beefed-up gas system. The grunt is routed by means of a extremely developed model of the usual B5 five-speed; one which’s had a complicated aftermarket LSD fitted, together with shut ratios and toughened, bolted-in driveshafts. All was fastidiously taken aside and checked over by Guido earlier than being put again collectively and slotted into place, and the entire engine and transmission meeting has proved remarkably dependable ever since.

Whereas the common, road-going Ford Escort RS1600i was a popular and sought-after automotive when launched, varied sections of the automotive press highlighted its barely woolly dealing with, one thing little question not helped by comparisons with its fantastically balanced rear-wheel-drive predecessor.

That’s not a grievance that might ever be levelled at Guido’s instance, although, with AutoVeri having gone to city on the automotive’s suspension and brake setups – precisely as you’d anticipate finding on a automotive constructed to sort out fearsome racetracks.

Group A Ford Escort RS1600i

“It’s received a extremely well-specced suspension setup, so Group A coilovers entrance and rear, entrance wishbones with rose-joints, adjustable prime mounts, race-spec hubs and uprated anti-roll bars all spherical,” says Guido.

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Now, that’s a complicated and enviable setup these days, however within the early Eighties it should been nothing in need of sensational, and positively sufficient to make this Mk3 one of many most interesting dealing with front-wheel-drive automobiles on the grid on the time.

It’s an analogous story with the brake system; peeking between the spokes of the RS alloys will reveal a set of Alcon four-pot entrance callipers, and dinner plate-sized 295mm drilled discs. The rear doesn’t precisely miss out both, with RS2000 callipers and discs doing an excellent job of hauling the Escort to a cease at a second’s discover. Guido’s additionally fitted an adjustable brake bias system and a specifically made throttle pedal, so it’s secure to say that heroic late braking is now very a lot the order of the day.

We’re conscious that we’re paraphrasing right here, but when a race automotive appears to be like quick it usually is, and that’s by no means been more true than when discussing Guido’s Mk3. This technology of Escort has actually received better-looking with the passage of time, and that’s solely helped by this automotive’s squat, low-slung stance and excellent crimson paint.

There’s additionally much more occurring right here than meets the attention, with the shell being an unique from Ford Motorsport. Which means it boasts a smattering of composite panels, with each the bonnet and tailgate being constructed from the thinnest layer of fibreglass.

Group A Ford Escort RS1600i

The cumbersome wheel effectively has been eliminated, the rear home windows are constructed from plastic, and the roof scoop has been constructed from carbon fibre, whereas inside you’ll now discover an imposing welded-in roll cage from Wiechers. Make no mistake, this can be a very critical competitors automotive certainly.

Spartan in all probability doesn’t do the naked inside justice, with close to sufficient every part non-essential having been eliminated, chopped out or in any other case dumped to save lots of weight.

A Sparco bucket seat is bolted to the ground itself, which means Guido needed to assemble a particular one-off sprint so as to have the ability to correctly see out of the windscreen. The steering column is constructed from alloy and options the facility steering system cribbed from, of all issues, a Toyota Carina STW, whereas the pump first noticed service in a Porsche 997. You’ll additionally spot a Stack race show with built-in information evaluation software program and a radio for retaining in contact with race management.

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The automotive’s oh-so-pristine appears to be like belie the truth that the restoration was long-winded and difficult. Guido is one thing of a Mk3 Escort fanatic (he owns one other Mk3 with an ultra-rare 16-valve CVH), however even he admits that the challenges concerned with resurrecting such a uncommon race automotive had been many and assorted, although in fact, the result’s greater than price it.

That stated, it’s solely while you press Guido to explain the way it drives that it turns into clear simply how a lot this Group A Ford Escort RS1600i really means to him.

“It’s a topic that I might simply write a full guide on,” he grins. “I’ve spent a very long time perfecting the dealing with in order that it’s predictable and feels impartial whereas cornering, whereas the brakes actually are superb once they’re warmed up – it’s an actual beast.”

Tech Spec: Group A Ford Escort RS1600i

Engine:

1596cc CVH in interval Group A tune comprising ported and polished cylinder head, race cam, machined throttle physique, gas metering head, uprated gas system, adjustable gas strain regulator

Energy:

165bhp (proprietor’s estimate)

Transmission:

Escort B5 five-speed gearbox with close-ratio internals and aftermarket LSD, bolted-in driveshafts with alloy race-spec hubs, customized shifter

Suspension:

Unique Ford Motorsport 909 Bilstein Group A coilovers all spherical, Ford Motorsport 909 entrance wishbones with uni-balls, adjustable entrance prime mounts, uprated suspension bushes all spherical

Brakes:

Entrance: Alcon four-pot callipers with drilled 295 mm discs, aftermarket pads, braided strains; rear: RS2000 callipers and drilled discs, braided strains

Wheels & tyres:

6x15in RS alloys with 180/570×15 race slicks

Exterior:

1985 Ford Motorsport RS1600i in Sunburst Purple with AutoVeri livery, fibreglass bonnet and tailgate, carbon fibre roof scoop, new entrance wings, widened arches, passenger-side rear three-quarter and entrance valance, spare wheel effectively cut-out, composite Makrolon rear home windows

Inside:

Strengthened shell with weld-in Wiechers multi-point roll cage, carbon fibre door playing cards, customized window mechanism (push to open and shut), floor-mounted Sparco competitors bucket seat, six-point harnesses, customized sprint, floor-mounted pedal field, brake bias valve, fireplace extinguisher, alloy steering rack with energy assisted steering system from Porsche 997, quick-release wheel, Stack race show with information evaluation software program, car-to-pit radio system