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A brief history of the Escort Rally car and it’s Gearbox!


The Ford Escort rally car is one of the most iconic rally cars in motorsport history. It has been a legend in the world of rally racing for decades, with its success on the stages and dominance on the rally circuit. From its early beginnings to its latest iteration, the Ford Escort has been a symbol of performance and excellence.

The history of the Ford Escort rally car dates back to the late 1960s. In 1968, Ford launched the Escort, which was a compact car designed to replace the outgoing Cortina model. It was an immediate success, with the car going on to become one of the most popular cars in its class. It was during this time that Ford also began to develop a rally version of the car, which would go on to become one of the most successful rally cars of all time.


The first Ford Escort rally car was the Escort RS1600, which was launched in 1970. This model was based on the standard Escort, but with several modifications to make it more suitable for rally racing. The car featured a 1.6-liter engine, which was capable of producing up to 120 horsepower. It also had a rear-wheel-drive system, which was perfect for the rough and muddy terrain of rally stages.

The Escort RS1600 was an immediate success on the rally circuit, winning several rallies in its first year of competition. It was also one of the most reliable cars in the rally racing world, which made it a favorite among drivers and teams.

In 1975, Ford launched the Escort RS1800, which was an evolution of the RS1600 model. The car featured an improved 1.8-liter engine, which was capable of producing up to 180 horsepower. It also had a redesigned suspension system, which made it more stable and easier to handle on the rough terrain of rally stages.

The Escort RS1800 was highly successful on the rally circuit, winning several championships throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was one of the most dominant cars in the rally racing world, with some of the most famous drivers of the time behind the wheel, including Ari Vatanen, Hannu Mikkola, and Bjorn Waldegard.

In 1981, Ford launched the Escort RS1700T, which was an innovative model that incorporated several new technologies, including turbocharging and four-wheel-drive. Unfortunately, the car was never officially released to the public, and only a handful of prototypes were ever produced.

The final version of the Ford Escort rally car was the Escort Cosworth, which was launched in 1992. The car featured a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, which was capable of producing up to 227 horsepower. It also had a four-wheel-drive system, which made it one of the most advanced rally cars of its time.

The Escort Cosworth was highly successful on the rally circuit, winning several championships in the mid-1990s. It was also a hugely popular car among fans of rally racing, with its distinctive blue and white livery becoming an iconic symbol of the sport.


One of the key reasons for Fords Rally success was the innovative gearbox it was equipped with.

The Ford Escort gearbox was the first of its kind to feature a five-speed manual transmission, giving it a significant edge over its competitors. This allowed drivers to maintain high speeds even on challenging terrains, giving them a much-needed advantage during races.

Another crucial aspect of the Escort gearbox was its durability. The gearbox was made using high-quality materials, which ensured that it could withstand the rigors of rallying. This made it a reliable choice for drivers who depended on their cars to endure long and rigorous races without any breakdowns or mechanical faults.

One of the most significant advantages of the Ford Escort gearbox was its adaptability. It was designed to allow drivers to adjust the gear ratios according to their driving style and the terrain they were driving on. This gave drivers the flexibility to optimize their car's performance in different situations, making it a formidable opponent on the rally circuit.

The Ford Escort and its gearbox had a profound impact on rallying, and it remains a celebrated model in the racing community to this day. It represented a shift in the way that cars were designed and built for motorsports, focusing on speed, durability, and adaptability.

The Ford Escort gearbox was instrumental in helping the model achieve its many victories in rallying. Its innovative design, durability, and adaptability made it a formidable opponent on the track, and it continues to be celebrated as an iconic model in the history of motorsports.

Durability, innovation and adaptability are also the hallmarks of the BDH Race Hardware H Pattern Shifter and one of the reasons BDH has based its shifter on the legacy of this historically brilliant gearbox.


In conclusion, the Ford Escort rally car is one of the most iconic rally cars in motorsport history. It has played a significant role in the development of rally racing, and its success on the stages has made it a legend in the world of motorsport. From its early beginnings in the late 1960s to its latest incarnation in the early 1990s, the Ford Escort rally car has always been a symbol of performance, reliability, and excellence.

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