RS2 Online

Escort RS2000 Bathurst Racer

The following article was written by Liam Kirkness, who owns one of the 25 Mk1 RS2000’s that were exported to Australia

It was 1975 and Ford Australia needed to import 25 Mk1 RS2000’s to qualify for Group C racing. The cars were sent on their way to Australia and arrived in May 1975. The colours of the cars were 3 Modena Green, 9 Vista Orange, 3 Stardust Silver, 6 Olympic Blue, 1 Sebring Red, 1 Daytona Yellow, 1 Diamond White and one unknown. When they arrived they were prepared for Australian Compliance which involved about thirty different items, such as:

  • Clear washer lines were changed to Black rubber.
  • Australian inertia seat belts and buckles.
  • Additional lap sash belt for rear.
  • Fitment of Australian Compliance Plates.
  • Km/h Speedo
  • Carbon Canister for Emission Control (Connects to Fuel Tank and Air
    Cleaner, to limit the amount of fuel vapour.
  • Vacuum pressure relief fuel tank cap
  • Different R/H Door rear view mirror
  • Adjust the arc on the wipers
  • Instrument illumination switch (Allows two levels of illumination).

Then after pre-delivery most of the cars went to Ford dealers around Australia. Some of the cars were kept as road going cars but the majority were converted to race cars. My car (the Diamond White RS2000) was owned by Bruce Hodgson who is a well known Ford Australian race / rally driver. He received his Mk1 and prepared it for the 1975 Hardie Ferodo 1000 at Bathurst. The car was logged with CAMS (Confederation of Australian Motor Sport) in October ’75. Then he competed in the race were he came 13th Outright and 6th in the class of 1301cc-2000cc after doing 141 laps.

As far as I know he used the car in the 1976 Castrol International Rally in Canberra. I am still trying to find proof whether it was the same car. Bruce kept the car until late 1976 and sold it on. It still retains the original engine as Group One Spec.

The history of the car after that is still not exactly clear, but I think I am the 4th owner.

I found the car by sending letters to all the Ford clubs in Australia stating I was looking to buy a genuine Mk1 RS2000. It took a while for any replies but then one day I received a phone call from a guy in Sydney by the name of Tony. We spoke for about an hour discussing a car that he owned that was a genuine RS and one of the 25 cars originally imported. I asked him how much and we did a deal. Because of the distance involved (it’s a long way from Perth to Sydney!) I purchased the car via a home video he shot. The car had been off the road for about seven years and in that time Tony had stripped the car and painted it. He went to England and purchased quite a lot of new parts and additional items such as the wheels, centre console, Cibie driving lights.

To cut a long story short, about six months later and after spending a great deal of money, I finally received the car. It was very dirty and full with boxes of parts, which I think it took me about a day to sort out. I spent the next few months finishing the car off to get it ready for licencing. I still came across quite a few problems, the main one being the engine which was rebuilt into another block.

I have now done about 6,000 km’s since the rebuild. I have changed the head since then to run on unleaded fuel and fitted a milder camshaft. I have received a lot of good comments about the car and even won an award for ‘Top Escort’ at The All Ford Day in October 2000. It was celebrating 75 years of Ford in Australia and there were about 15 Escorts there.

My car club, The British Ford Owners Club, had organised a display at Rally Australia and my car was invited to take part. There were only seven cars allowed. We had a 1965 Mk1 Lotus Cortina, Mk1 Capri RS3100, Mk2 Escort (Flat nose RS), Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth 4×4, Sierra Cosworth three door, Ka rally car on loan from Ford Australia (was part of the Ka Championship in Europe) and my car.

It was an excellent show and we got to do a display lap around the Langley Park Special Stage every night. On the first night we had all the drivers waiting to go on their parade lap standing in the front of our stand. They walked in and started looking and sitting in our cars. I was talking to Juha Kankkunen about my car, as he had owned one as a road car. He really liked it and I took a photo to prove it !!

Top rally driver Juha Kankkunen admiring Liam’s RS2000

As you can see it has been pretty interesting so far and hopefully more to come, as I am still researching my car’s history but also the whole 25 cars.

Our thanks to Liam for submitting this interesting article.