December 7, 2022

Most individuals’s first automobiles are fairly forgettable, however Jez Bonner isn’t most individuals. His constantly-evolving Mk4 Escort show-stopper has been one of many hottest modified Escorts on the scene for longer than we care to recollect.

Function from Quick Ford. Phrases: Joe Partridge. Pictures: Daniel Pullen.

Assume again to your first automobile. Maybe – if you happen to’re something like us – it was a rusty previous hatchback, picked up for a number of hundred quid and thrashed to loss of life earlier than heading to the scrapyard a number of months later. Or possibly it was one thing new on finance, a frugal runabout with a food-blender beneath the bonnet and a black field inside.

Both means, the 2 key details about most individuals’s first automobiles are that they’re a bit garbage, they usually don’t stick round for lengthy.

Jez Bonner is slightly completely different from the norm. This Escort was his first automobile, and it’s caught with him by way of thick and skinny; he purchased it when he was 17, means again in 1995, for the princely sum of £3000. Rather a lot for a base-model Escort on the time, though the monetary side has develop into more and more irrelevant during the last quarter-century.

The Escort has been progressively evolving all through these a few years – and it’s truthful to say that Jez by no means envisaged issues going fairly this far when he strolled into the dealership as a fresh-faced first-timer again within the Britpop period.

He laughs, “Clearly I needed an RS Turbo, however at that age there was no means that was going to occur. This automobile appeared like a superb deal – a one-owner 1.3 Bonus with 46,000 miles on the clock. It was solely six years previous after I purchased it.”

What’s significantly spectacular – and we’re fairly certain we’ve by no means heard anybody say this earlier than – is that Jez has by no means seen his automobile soiled. It was freshly polished and gleaming when he purchased it, and it’s been a cherished venture ever since. What number of different Ford Escorts have by no means seen mud or rain since 1995? It may possibly’t be many…

Quite a lot of readers will undoubtedly be accustomed to this automobile, because it’s been on the present circuit for a few years, and Jez’s work may even be well-known to modding aficionados – because the boss-man at Carrera Bodyworks, he’s had a hand in additional present automobiles than we’ve had KFCs. And we’ve had a number of KFCs.

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Bear in mind Carl Taylor’s RS Turbo from a number of points in the past? That was Jez’s work, taking inspiration from his personal prolonged Escort construct and refracting it by way of the Gamers prism. The automobile you’re seeing right here, resplendent in Porsche Polar Silver paint, is the genesis of all of it.

Jez says, “I reckon youngsters nowadays don’t have a lot of a hands-on method to modifying as we did again within the day. You see a number of financed initiatives on financed air and financed wheels; we was once pulling bits off damaged automobiles in scrapyards, grabbing XR3 spoilers to placed on our base-model Escorts. I assume it makes a distinction if they’ve dad and mom who’re into automobiles; that conjures up a little bit of ardour.”

Modified Mk4 Escort

It’s true. As a rule, we hear characteristic automobile house owners’ enthusiasm for automobiles handed down by way of the generations, and Jez is nicely positioned to just do the identical; with a handful of children of his personal, he’s doing his best possible to get older disgracefully.

His behaviour’s been fairly rowdy from the beginning, to be truthful. It didn’t take lengthy for Jez to swap in a shoutier engine, as quickly because the insurance coverage man allowed. And since he all the time likes to do issues slightly otherwise, he didn’t go for the RS Turbo swap that everybody else was doing – he determined to bolt in a Zetec, which was a really new thought again then.

Zetecs have been current-model engines within the showroom line-up, so it definitely wasn’t an affordable means of doing issues. And to make it extra enjoyable, it wasn’t a inventory Zetec. No, in 1998 Jez went to the race-motor builders at Dunnell Engines and ordered a recent 2.0-litre unit, constructed up from a crate motor with their very own cams, the top ported and polished the old-school means,  and twin Weber carbs.

The howling fury of all of it (measured at 219bhp on the flywheel) is channelled by way of an RS Turbo gearbox with a Quaife straight-cut gear set inside.

Jez says, “It’s a psychological little engine. The facility supply is savage, and it’s like a VTEC motor – between 5000 and 7500rpm it simply barks, and with the straight-cut gears whining and the induction roar, it actually does sound like a race automobile.”

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Modified Mk4 Escort

It’s a formidable driver’s automobile, though Jez readily admits it’s really extra of an decoration. The engine’s carried out about 150 miles within the final decade, which is principally nothing contemplating how lengthy it’s been in there.

However this construct actually has a better function: “The enjoyment for me is in making an attempt out new issues with the automobile,” Jez causes. Extra artwork piece than vehicle, maybe, though it’s good to know that it may be a fairly bloody devastating road-racer when it must be.

That’s very a lot the tradition it grew up in, in fact; forged your thoughts again to the form of automobiles we have been that includes within the late-Nineties and early -’00s: there have been a number of headlight swaps and smoothing and that form of enterprise. The concept of swapping Mk6 headlights onto a Mk4 Escort appears fairly out-there even immediately, however it’s price remembering that when Jez did this, the Mk6 was nonetheless a brand new automobile. The fellows on the native Ford seller’s components division definitely cocked an eyebrow.

He remembers, “Headlight swaps have been such an enormous deal again then, and this was the latest improve accessible. It took a shocking quantity of labor to get them in there – the within of the bonnet needed to be sliced and have a brand new bit from a Mk6 bonnet stitched in, there was intensive work to the bumper and wings…

“It’s stood the take a look at of time although, hasn’t it? I had thought of swapping a Mk4 nostril again on now that these automobiles are getting so fascinating, however the common consensus on social media was that the best way the automobile seems now’s a part of its character.”

A key a part of Jez’s method with this construct was that, whereas he’s basically a Ford man, he’s all the time been much more influenced by the Euro VAG scene, significantly that of the late Nineties when there was such a zeal for cleanness in Belgium and Germany.

Modified Mk4 Escort

This Escort wears these influences on its sleeve – peer beneath and also you’ll see that the flawless underside includes a carbon-skinned gasoline tank, amongst varied different treats. It’s the form of automobile that you just’d put mirrors beneath at a present so that folks can perceive its holistic nature.

This venture has been dictated from day one by the thought of doing one thing slightly completely different from the established sample that’s usually discovered within the Ford scene. And whereas Mk4 Escorts have gotten more and more collectible and useful nowadays, Jez has owned this one for lengthy sufficient to earn the best to do regardless of the hell he likes with it.

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It’s stuffed with tales, he is aware of completely every little thing about it, it’s uniquely his. A associate for all times, actually – he’d by no means eliminate it, as a result of what on Earth may probably change it?

Modified Mk4 Escort

Now we have to offer a last nod to the Porsche affect. The bread-and-butter of Carrera Bodyworks sees all method of fascinating 911s and the like being lovingly attended to within the workshop and paint sales space (the title is an enormous clue, if you happen to hadn’t put two-and-two collectively), and it’s a loving salute to this on a regular basis craftsmanship that sees the spectre of Stuttgart rippling by way of the tight little Escort.

The Porsche Polar Silver paint, the 911 GT3 seats, the stripped-out performance coupled with luxurious appointments, the hardcore road-racer underpinnings…

If Porsche constructed an RS Clubsport model of the Mk4 Escort, this’d be it. And with Jez’s ardour, aptitude and creativity, it’s simply going to maintain getting higher. As first automobiles go, this one’s fairly exhausting to beat.

Tech Spec: Modified Mk4 Escort


1989cc Zetec (silver prime) constructed by Dunnell Engines, Dunnell custom-spec cams, ported and polished head, competitors valve springs, ARP rod bolts, twin Weber 45 DCOE carbs, shaved and smoothed engine bay




RS Turbo B5 gearbox with factory-fit viscous limited-slip differential, Quaife straight-cut gear set


Avo adjustable coilovers, entrance strut brace

Wheels & Tyres:

9x16in Borbet Kind A wheels with Porsche Riviera Blue centres and {custom} carbon fibre turbofans by Carbon Delight, with stretched 195/40×16 Toyo tyres


Porsche Polar Silver paint, entrance finish modified for Mk6 Escort headlights, absolutely smoothed and delocked, {custom} flared wheelarches, DTM mirrors, {custom} bonnet vent, bee-sting aerial, single wiper, carbon-skinned gasoline tank


Customized carbon fibre sprint by Carbon Delight, carbon steering column, carbon mirror, Porsche 911 GT3 seats, Willans harnesses, Les Hicks roll cage, Momo steering wheel, {custom} leather-based trim, {custom} door playing cards and audio set up, Alpine head unit, JL Audio audio system and subwoofer, Phoenix Gold amps in boot flooring