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I was too young for the Lotus Cortina but drooled over its cousin, the Escort Twin Cam from the time they were released in Australia as a youngster…

‘Going Ford Is The Going Thing’ was the tagline of the day. And it was too. At the dawn of the 1970’s their product lineup was irresistible as a kid; Escort Twin Cam, Cortina GT, Capri 1600 GT and 3000 GT V6 and then came the range topping big muvvas, the Falcon GT and GTHO. Both packed the famed 351CID V8, the ‘HO’ the Bathurst homologation special was truly outrageous. All had ‘Super Roo’ decals on the front valances making the striped, candy-red devices lustworthy in a pubescent kinda way. Always a realist, I thought the Twin-Cam the pick of the litter given its cost/size/performance equation, not to mention its looks.

Local, Melbourne, Kew driver Michael Stillwell was racing a BDA powered Escort in Australian Touring Car Championship races at the time, giant killing too, I still think its one of the sexiest touring cars of all time. Others were raced by Allan Moffat, John Bassett, Bob Holden and Garry Rodgers, with plenty of tyre under extensively flared guards they really did, do, look the goods.

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Mike Stillwell giving Don Holland’s Holden Torana GTR XU1 a love tap in the entry to Hell Corner, Bathurst during the 1972 Australian Touring Car Championship round (oldracephotos.com)

Eventually, post university, I was in the market to buy and drove a Twin Cam an old codger (about my age now) in Glen Iris had for sale. But i had been spoiled by a mates Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT I had driven a lot by then. The older Alfa ‘105 Coupe’ made the little Ford seem crude by comparison. Don’t get me wrong, it was quick, but the front suspension was doing one thing, the back another, you didn’t sit nice and low like in the Alfa. The rack had that sort of ‘rattle, chatter, shimmy thing’ no amount of wheel alignments or balance weights fixed on both my Mk2 Cortina GT and Capri 1600 GT. That always gave me the shits with those cars!

The engine was great, I still love Harry Mundy’s work and drive them reasonably regularly, usually mounted in Elans. Imagine motor racing without the Ford Lotus Twin-Cam engine from mild to Hart 416B wild specification!? The gearbox was great too, Fords single-rail box is one of the production ‘trannys of the era, knife thru butter with synchro’s which, when in good nick, could not be beaten.

My heart was with the ‘Twinc but the Alfa was so much more of an integrated, cohesive package with similar performance and matching looks so that’s the way I went. But I still love Cortina’s and Escort’s, mass market for sure but Ford got the styling of the things just right as their sales volumes proved…

Tailpiece…

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Allan Moffat slices his Ford Australia, Alan Mann built, Escort FVA into Warwick Farm’s Esses, bang on line, in 1971 (oldracephotos.com)

 

 

 

Comments
  1. John L says:

    A mate brought an Aussie twin cam back from Oz land with him, and it seemed like a bog standard Escort 1300 2 dr with the lovely motor dropped in. We weren’t impressed with the fit and finish, but it did go well after a little fettling. I do like that motor in the Elan….pity I can’t afford one…….

    • markbisset says:

      Thanks John, my brother had a 1300 poverty pack as a student car which was a good thing, as was the 2 litre he then bought, great cars in their day. The Elan had the less is more advantage- much less weight for 110bhp toncart around! Mark

  2. Paul King says:

    I recall that with a little encouragement from me ,my friend Bob Newey bought Mike Stillwell’s twin cam Escort from their ( his dad’s) dealership in Kew. He was over the moon and brought it around to my place the moment he got it, shaking with anticipation. However it proved to be a most unreliable car. Trying to get the Webers to deliver fuel cleanly was an almost impossible task and it spent more time back at the dealership than being driven. The beautiful induction noise almost compensated for its inability to idle but not quite. It was just too hard to live with day in day out and perform the mundane duties of driving it to work and back in the traffic. So I think it was a great race car but a “less that easy to live with”road car. Pity…. I still recall doing a 100mph down the Maroondah Highway out side of Ringwood with Bob laughing his head off at the pure and brutal acceleration it delivered.

    Paul King

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