The inside story of how Rallye Sport Fords were created by Ford in the 70s and 80s, enabling works’ and private teams to be fully competitive in national and international rallies and races, to win many championships, and for RS cars to be bought by over 100,000 enthusiast customers! With around 200 photos and illustrations, many previously unpublished, this formerly untold story is brought vividly to life.
The inside story of the creation of Rallye Sport Fords in the 70s and 80s. Popular with enthusiasts, essential for works teams and private owners to compete in motorsport, these affordable performance cars achieved phenomenal success in rallying and racing.
In the 60s, Ford built the sensational Le Mans-winning GT40, started making high-performance production cars the Lotus Cortina and Twin Cam Escort, began recognising how motorsport success had improved the company’s image, and sponsored Cosworth in Formula 1. Two Motorsport works teams were developed: Boreham, Essex for rallying and Cologne, Germany for Touring Car racing.
In 1970 Ford established Advanced Vehicle Operations (AVO) in the UK, with 350 people, to produce limited volume sporting Ford cars. The first was to have been the GT70, a two-seater sports car for rallying, but it was never made. All subsequent AVO Rallye Sport cars were based on production Fords. They sold to thousands of customers, and in the UK spawned the Ford RS and AVO Owners Clubs.
Most significant was the Escort RS1600/1800, with its Cosworth engine, the mainstay of many rally teams, while Escort Mexico and RS2000 were used by enthusiastic Clubmen. The Ford Escort won more competition events than any other single marque in motorsport history. There was also the Capri RS2600 in Germany, winner of many Touring Car race championships.
In 1975 the energy crisis and company politics caused AVO to close, but its design principles evolved later into Special Vehicle Engineering (SVE), since responsible for many sporting derivatives, starting with the Capri 2.8i and Escort XR3i.
This story moves to Ford Motorsport in the 80s, behind the scenes of a second breed of motorsport-inspired Rallye Sport cars. The Clubmens Escort RS Turbo, the sensational Sierra RS Cosworth, the technically advanced RS200 four-wheel drive International Rally Car, the World Touring Car Champion Sierra RS500 Cosworth, the Escort RS Cosworth four-wheel drive International Rally Car, and other projects that never made it.
Mike Moreton, car enthusiast and engineer, spent 23 years at Ford in the frontline, working for Stuart Turner as Product Planner and Project Manager, making it all happen – first at AVO, and subsequently at Ford Motorsport, working with talented and dedicated people, negotiating with industry giants, and meeting celebrities. This is his story of the Rallye Sport cars, from dream to reality, how and why they happened, the political arguments, the failures and the successes.
About the author
Born in Birmingham, Mike studied at Wrekin College, Shropshire, going on to National Service for the Army Infantry Commission in Korea, Kenya and Japan, acquiring a taste for speed and danger along the way. A Rootes-qualified mechanical engineer, and always interested in cars, Mike ran the family dealership, plus built and club raced an MG TA and two quick Specials. Mike worked as a design/development engineer for Vauxhall in Luton before spending 23 years with Ford, where he was involved in engineering, product planning, marketing and motorsport. It was during his time there that he project-managed and planned the Ford Rallye Sport cars in the 70s and 80s, and was first inspired by his boss, Stuart Turner, to write this book. Mike has also worked for TWR/JaguarSport, where he was project manager for the Jaguar XJ220 and acted as operations director for Aston Martin. Mike is now Managing Director of KBD Design. In his spare time he is designing/renovating an old house in France, where he moved in 2002.