AN ESCORT THAT NEVER LEFT THE FAMILY – a 1969 FORD ESCORT MARK 1

It was not too long ago when what we now call classic cars are just used old cars that not a lot of people really cared for. Many of us have bought them not as a novelty item, because they never were back in the day, but rather out of necessity for daily use. Those tired old rides we once owned have been driven hard, only to be sold later to the next owner, just to continue its cycle of being used as transportation from point A to point B. The passing of an old used car from one hand to the next predictably results into its value going south every time. Couple that with the expected wear and tear, those good old cars we have had, eventually died the natural death.

However, there are a few exceptions to the rule because it transcends the norm. Whether it’s about sentimental reasons, or just plain love affair with the automobile, some cars were treated as family members that they never left since they were purchased decades back. This is the story of Obet Roldan’s 1969 Ford Escort that has stayed in the family since his dad bought it in 1970. But unlike many of our “has been” cars that nobody knows where they are now, this Ford Escort Mark 1 was a project that was handed down from father to son. This is the very car that Obet Roldan learned to drive.

The Ford Escort Mark 1 has always been a very desirable car because of its rally heritage. Thanks to its great success with its RS1600 equipped with the Cosworth motor that dominated the series in the late 60s and 70s. With its most famous win in the 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally, the Escort Mark 1 was given the moniker “Mexico”.

Ford Escort was first introduced in Ireland and the U.K. in 1967 and debut at the Brussels Motor Show in 1968. It was a radical new design to replace the aging yet successful Ford Anglia. It’s new design made the Escort an instant hit in Europe and may be compared to what Mustang was to the American Ford. The Escort is everything the Anglia was not. These cars are equipped with the Kent Crossflow engine, the smallest motor in the American Ford fleet that powers the Ford Pinto, a 4 speed manual gearbox, in a front engine rear wheel drive configuration. Escorts are also known for its superb handling. Equipped with a straightforward MacPherson strut front suspension and a live axle mounted on leaf springs, and taking advantage of its good power to weight ratio, Escorts became the favorite of both professional and amateur racers of its day. To date, many Escort Mark 1s are still actively involved in vintage rally series all over the world.

Escorts were also a success in the Philippine market therefore it has been among those common cars you see in the streets back in the day. However, in spite of its fame in the rally world, just like the fate of most old road version cars, many Escorts still have ended up in salvage yards. Yes, there was a time when these cars were just the “hand-me-down” college rides driven all over. But as love for the old car have been outgrown, the ability to purchase newer cars, add to that the 70s influx of more reliable and practical Japanese cars, a lot of Mark 1 Escorts seem to just have vanished in midair.

Obet Roldan’s Ford Escort Mark 1 served its purpose as a daily commuter in the 70s and the 80s. Upon learning about the heritage of the car, Obet decided to bring the car back its former glory. The car has been meticulously retromodded and the yellow paint screams vintage coolness. The car’s 1600cc Kent engine has been beefed out a little and is now equipped with a single side weber 40 carburetor and electronic ignition. The car sits low on period correct 13” RS wheels. This Escort is so eye-catching that it has always become a conversation starter wherever Obet drives the car. Because the Escort was once just an “ordinary” car back in the day, many people would approach Obet telling their stories of Ford Escorts they, or someone they knew once had, and many drivers on the road will always give Obet the thumbs up of approval. This Escort has also won a lot of trophies and best in show awards since its restoration, from different prestigious cars shows around the country.

As the saying goes, what goes around comes around. The old car is back with a vengeance and Obet Roldan’s Escort will not be going anywhere and will hopefully be passed into the next generation.

Do you own a Ford Escort Mark 1? Share it with the Lumang Oto Community.

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