The following article was written by Charles Eveson and describes his ownership experiences of this well known rally car.
LVX 945J…. Full Circle
Hi, I’m Charles Eveson and I owned LVX 945J on two separate occasions in the seventies and eighties. This was the ex-works Escort Twin Cam driven in period by Hannu Mikkola. During the time I knew LVX, it underwent many reincarnations, as you will find out!
The car was originally built for the 1971 East African Safari Rally along with it’s, soon to be famous sisters, LVX 941J, 942J, 943J and 944J. The cars were all fitted with 1600cc Twin Cam engines because Ford weren’t sure of the reliability of the new RS1600 engine at the time. Driving car number 8, Hannu Mikkola retired from the event with what I think was a head gasket failure and it was eventually won by a Datsun 240Z. There is some fabulous footage of this event and the LVX works cars in Duke Video’s The Story of the MK1 Escort.
When the cars came back to England, two were provided for Roger Clark (LVX 941J, the “Old Gold” car and LVX 942J which was re-shelled and painted “Esso Blue”). Graham Robson’s excellent book, The Works Escorts, details all the works Escorts history and is well worth a read!
LVX 945J was sold to David Sutton, of Clarke & Simpson. He dealt with many of the ex-works cars and is now a great friend of mine. He sold it to Graham Lepley, a motor dealer in Derby, who in turn sold it to a retail customer….I forget his name! It ended up with a World Cup 1900cc push rod engine and I bought it off the finance company, Lombard North Central (they were the sponsors of the RAC rally for 10 years or more). The engine only lasted a couple of events and my co-driver John Wilcox (John Wilcox Competition Engines) rebuilt it as a Twin Cam. We had lots of fun and won a few events including the Cotswold Stages Rally and the fabulous Isle of Wight Stages Rally.
I sold the car to a Welshman who used it for many rallies / autocrosses but the shell eventually gave up during his ownership. It must have done over 100 competitive events by then! He re-shelled it as a MK2 RS and I eventually bought it back again in the late seventies! We did a lot of development work on it and upgraded the engine until it was a 2000cc BDG producing about 250 BHP!!
We had several wins but by now the shell was getting tired again. A good friend of mine, Mark Spencer, had bought DKP 191T, Ari Vatanen’s old car from David Sutton. But he hit a tree on it’s first or second outing and bought a brand new Gartrac shell for it. I bought the old shell for LVX 945J at a cost of £400! We straightened it on the jig at work, fitted a new front wing, rear ¼ panel, etc, and a new coat of paint finished the job. We also had the engine uprated to a BDX and it produced 262 BHP on 50 DCOE webers with L1 / BD3 cams. This was a fabulous engine that pulled hard from 4,000 to 10,000 rpm. With the new bodyshell and Gartrac bits, it handled like a dream and I went on to win dozens of events and the 1984 Autocross Championship with it.
Eventually, I then sold it to Roy Edwards who promptly rolled it !! He rebuilt it and I know he had some successes after that. Roy sold the car to Dave Jenkins who rebuilt it as a perfect, and I do mean perfect, Safari replica with a MK1 big wing Twin Cam shell. I went to see the car and it had all the right bits, including a 1970’s dated bag tank! Dave told me it took 2 years to source all the parts but the result was an exact copy. He offered to sell it to me but I couldn’t afford it. It really was a fabulous car!
And so the full circle was completed. After various guises as both a MK1 and MK2 rally car, LVX 945J is back where she originally started…. a MK1 Safari Replica!
I haven’t heard of LVX 945J for a while now but I hope that whoever has her, looks after her! If the current owner would like to contact me via this website, I would be pleased to pass on some of the history and photos of the car.
Our thanks to Charles for submitting this interesting article. If anyone would would like to contact Charles, please email us and we will pass on your details.
We recently found the following clip of the fully restored LVX 945J on YouTube. The clip was taken in April 2008 at the Mutschellen GP in Switzerland. Don’t know much about the event but the car looks great.