There has been a certain trend in recent years for automakers and independents to recreate and reinvent earlier classics for modern profits. Independent Singer takes Porsche 911s from the 1980s and rebuilds them as glorious cars in the style of the 60s. Land Rover and Jaguar both build classic models – Land Rover and Range Rover Series 1 as well as the E-Type – as modern models and charge you the corresponding fees. Aston Martin went so far as to build replicas of the original ‘Goldfinger’ DB5 from 1964 with working special effects parts.
You will find that all of this lives in a dilute atmosphere. The cheapest of these is Land Rover’s Series 1 Reborn, which starts at £ 90,000 – before you ever think about an import tax to Ireland – and goes up from there. The Astons and Singers start at seven-digit prices, and that’s before you even think of options or bespoke fixtures.
So how about something cheaper? How about something that can rival a Porsche in terms of racing heritage, but that you could actually – a little later – think seriously about building your own driveway? How about a Ford Escort MkII RS?
The original MkI and MkII Escorts (the MkII was actually just a major facelift of the MkI) were made between 1968 and 1980, and while you could have a pedestrian 1.1-liter L model with an exterior mirror, the Escort has become synonymous with the rally stages of the world. In particular, the flared arch MkII Escort adorned with cigarette box logos and a roaring Cosworth BDA engine under the hood became an enduring rally legend, and they can still compete in national rallies today. The escort is so iconic that the late, great Colin McRae commissioned a custom build so he could drive through a forest he owned just for fun.
The escort is so iconic that the late, great Colin McRae commissioned a custom build so he could drive through a forest he owned just for fun
Now is your chance to buy a brand new classic escort. MST Cars Ltd, based in Wales, has been building replacement bodies for MkI and MkII escorts for years and is now taking the obvious next step by turning these grenades into handcrafted, fully functional cars, either for rallies or for driving on the road.
“Fast Road” version
The MST Escorts are based on the Group 4 rally versions (so you get the classic box-shaped wheel arches and wide track) and have a choice of engines. The ‘Fast Road’ version is equipped with a modern 2.5-liter four-cylinder from Ford Duratec, which is tuned to 200 hp. However, you can upgrade to a converted BDG rally engine with around 230 hp or a mighty 2.5 liter Millington Diamond engine with 300 hp. maybe a little more if you feel reasonably daring (though the latter two are more for the serious rally brigade).
The suspension is provided by powerful Bilstein dampers at the front and rear, but the classic rear axle arrangement stays calm, so that this new Escort slides sideways as easily as the original. The Fast Road Escort comes with a five-speed manual transmission, but six-speed and sequential options are also available. The cab can either be extended for rallies or luxuriously designed for road travel – the choice is yours. Needless to say, chunky headlights are optional and there is even the option to have yours sloping nose with the later RS2000 look.
If you’re interested in something that looks a bit more classic (or that you liked in the Fast And Furious films), you can have all of the above specs, but in a MkI Escort form.
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Prices? Well, they start at around £ 69,000 (EUR 77,950) before you dive into the options, which are not cheap but still cheaper than most other recreational activities. Plus, you’d have a car that could go head-to-toe with Ferraris in terms of motorsport heritage, if not exactly straight forward.
And now to talk about taxes (it’s best to sit down for it). Since it is a new build and is not classified as a classic car on a new plate and the upper end of CO2 is displayed on a 2.5 Zetec engine, i.e. the maximum VRT bracket. And then import duty and VAT on top of it.
With a starting price of approx. € 77,000, this equates to € 28,490 VRT, VAT of € 16,170 (assuming that sales consider the price of € 77,000 to be Irish value – no guarantee) and an import duty of 10 percent (€ 7,700 ) plus shipping, call it € 8,500). When it lands in the Republic, bring the final price to around € 130,160.