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This 1974 Ford Escort runs within the household

This article was first published on kiwigarage.co.nz.

Stephen Nightingale quickly connected to a Tropicana Green Mk1 that can serve as his daughter’s daily driver. KiwiGARAGE talks to him about it.

How did you get this car?

Yes, these were really the escort's original factory colors.  You knew how to do it in the 1970s.

KiwiGARAGE

Yes, these were really the escort’s original factory colors. You knew how to do it in the 1970s.

It was given to me by a buddy I had done some jobs for. After driving it back from the South Island, he thought his days were numbered. When I first saw it, I lifted the hood and oil was dripping all over the place. I cleaned the engine and it turned out that an $ 8 piece stopped the leaks. So I got it back on the road, spiced it up, and my older son got his driver’s license in the car. He drove it for 5 or 6 years before moving overseas.

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What made you want to keep it?

It got tired again, but my dad had a big shed in Whangaparaoa so I thought I would let him sit there for a while. Since my daughter was very interested in the car, I thought I should have a little birthday. I spent 2017 tearing it to pieces and found it was a pretty good car in terms of rust, aside from the front guards. Originals cost around $ 900 each. The cheaper ones need a bit of massage, but they fit, and the fit and finish of the new cars were pretty average anyway. I pulled it back and repainted it in its original factory colors. Most of the money I invested – over $ 4,000 – went into the engine. It is a unit that matches numbers and was rebuilt by a man in Onehunga.

Stephen Nightingale is the proud owner of the Ford Escort Mk1 1300L.

KiwiGARAGE

Stephen Nightingale is the proud owner of the Ford Escort Mk1 1300L.

They should give us an overview of the engine work …

The block was in good condition. They pulled it out, bored it out over 30, pounded in new pistons, put in a GT cam, a large Weber carburetor, finished the head, new valve springs and seals, new water pump, fuel pump and oil pump, properly polished Ford intake manifold and aspirator as well as built-in electronic ignition so there are no more points.

How do you rate the condition of 10 now?

It’s a solid 8 out of 10. Good enough for me to happily ride it all day every day.

Lots of legroom and renovated front seats make the Escort a comfortable tourer.

KiwiGARAGE

Lots of legroom and renovated front seats make the Escort a comfortable tourer.

Your longest drive so far?

A friend and I went to Leadfoot [from Auckland to Hahei] and back. It got a lot of attention down there. The way they’re equipped, I thought mate, it’s going to be tough, but the thing was at a hundred kays an hour and could have done it up and down the track all day. It was convenient too. Had to fold the windows down in the heat but there is plenty of front legroom and the seats have been re-sprung, re-foamed and re-upholstered.

Do you have plans to work more on the car?

I give it to my daughter as her first car with the instruction to remove the wheels and just enjoy it. I thought, man, this car needs minilites, but I think I’ll hold off on that until she gets the hang of parking it.

Stephen spent over $ 4,000 on the engine.

KiwiGARAGE

Stephen spent over $ 4,000 on the engine.

Did you notice any quirks while working on the car?

The factory amplifier on the front brakes is clearly an afterthought. It’s stuck there, preventing you from getting to anything else. And the steering columns have been known to go wrong. The pillar comes out at a very small angle, which is the weirdest thing.

Any fond memories of Mk1 escorts from your youth?

I like the history of the Mk1, the rally cars and the racing cars. My mother had a two-door Mk1 that she bought from her mother’s best friend. But it was an 1100 and terribly slow. The car was duck egg blue with a white roof and red interior. I had just freshened it up when it was stolen from outside their home and never seen again.

Stephen's eldest son got his driver's license in the Escort, now his daughter gets it as her first car.

KiwiGARAGE

Stephen’s eldest son got his driver’s license in the Escort, now his daughter gets it as her first car.

What was the first Ford you owned?

A 1970 Mk2 Cortina that I bought from John W. Andrew’s foreman at Royal Oak in 1981. His family was the only owner of this car and I kept it and drove it everywhere for 15 years.

What other specialty cars do you own?

A 1946 Ford Coupe and a ’65 Mustang GT.

The steel wheels stay on until Stephen's daughter gets the hang of it.

KiwiGARAGE

The steel wheels stay on until Stephen’s daughter gets the hang of it.

What was the first car you ever drove and where did you drive it?

My father’s Morrie Thou work truck when I was 12 years old in his mother’s Stanmore Bay creek. When I was good enough, Dad took me to the dairy to buy the cigarettes.

  • Ford Escort Mk1 1300L
  • Owner: Stephen / Kate, Auckland
  • Years of production: 1968-75
  • Engine: 1298 cc 4-cyl. (Now 1330 cc)
  • Output: 47.5 kW (57 PS, ex works)
  • Torque: 98 Nm at 2500 rpm
  • Transmission: 4-speed manual transmission
  • Powertrain: rear wheel drive
  • Weight: 805 kg
  • Length: 3.98 m
  • Wheels: 13 inch steel (Mk2 style)
  • Color: Tropicana green metallic
  • Upholstery: light brown vinyl

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