It was on July 4th 1973 when
the Escort RS2000 first went into production at AVO. Initially available in LHD only, it
wasn't until later that year that they started to produce RHD RS2000's for the UK market.
This was announced at the October 1973 Earls Court Motor Show, for which Ford AVO prepared
a very special RHD RS2000 to display. That car is the one pictured above and this is its
In May 1973, AVO built three LHD RS2000's all of which were painted
in Diamond White with blue stripes. Of these pre-production cars, one was registered to
Ford Motor Company, the second was exported to Sweden and the third car's history is
uncertain. All three of these cars are no longer in existence.
Shortly afterwards in June 1973, AVO built a single RHD RS2000
pre-production car which was painted in Olympic Blue with blue stripes. AVO prepared this
"type 49" Escort RS bodyshell to a higher standard than the production RS
Escorts. Unusually, this RS2000's body plate indicates that it is fitted with the
"custom pack option" as standard, which includes centre console with clock, Ford
radio, cigarette lighter, hazard lights, heated rear window, engine kill switch and RS 3
spoke steering wheel. The RS seat's were reclining and trimmed in "plush black
velour" and had no head rest's. Also fitted were a set of RS alloy wheels. The Body
Plate was stamped with the words "SHOW UNIT" which was essentially used for
internal purposes within the Halewood manufacturing plant. There were only ever two cars
with this stamped into the body plate, the other being an RS1600.
Ford AVO used this prototype to announce to the UK buyer's for the
first time at the Earls Court Motor Show, that the RS2000 would be sold in RHD. After the
show, Ford used the car extensively as a display car at RS Dealer showrooms throughout the
UK. Finally it was sold and registered as TKO 425N on 1st August 1974.
The third owners were a couple called Guy and Gina Howard-Wills of
Kent, who bought the car on 5th August 1975 with 17,000 miles on the clock. Several week's
later it was loaded onto a ship accompanying the couple as they emigrated to New Zealand.
The ex-Earls Court Show Car arrived in Auckland and on 13th November 1975 was registered
HN5671. Guy and Gina kept the RS2000 for 6 months before selling it on.
When Robert McLean was 14 years old, he spotted this Olympic Blue
RS2000 in the car park at a race meeting in 1982 and never forgot about the car. In 1988
the RS2000 came up for sale and Robert made lots of enquiries but it was more than he
could afford. The car was sold and disappeared until 1990. Once again Robert enquired but
due to lack of money had to leave without the RS2000. Finally in 1992 his persistence was
rewarded when the RS2000 came up for sale again, and this time Robert had the money and
the Earl's Court RS2000 was his!!
Now the RS2000 has been in dry storage for over 8 years and was used
at the 1997 New Zealand RSOC National Day where it won "Best MK 1 RS Escort".
The car has now done 79,000 miles and is still in original, immaculate condition and
unrestored. It was re-sprayed in 1988-1990 when they also sprayed the stripes on and did a
great job, but for the side stripes which are slightly the wrong shape. The interior is
also still original and in immaculate condition, but the carpet has been replaced by an
after-market one and the black plush seats have now faded to a red-brown colour (still
original Earls Court upholstery though).
Robert managed to track down it original owners, Guy and Gina
Howard-Wills and re-united them with the RS2000 in 1997. It was an emotional reunion after
not seeing the car for 22 years, but it was exactly how they remembered it. Guy presented
Robert with the original UK ownership papers and number plates "TKO 425N" (still
in new condition).