The Ford Escort, described as “a small family car”, was manufactured by Ford of Europe from 1968 until 2000. The Escort was, frequently, the best-selling car in Ireland during the 1980s and 1990s. A total of more than 4.5m Escorts – of all generations – were sold in Britain and Ireland over this period.
The first generation, the Mark I Escort, was introduced in Ireland at the end of 1967. It replaced the successful, long-running Anglia. Ford’s own advertising campaign at the time boldly stated, WHY WE KILLED THE ANGLIA!
The replacement car, manufactured up until 1975, soon became a great favourite with families and young professionals alike. Its sleek, modern appearance was a move away from the chunky angular cars of the 50s and 60s.
My own first experience of being in the new Escort was when a local man used to give me a lift to underage football games
The Escort had high notions with a promise of real adventure.
My own first experience of being in the new Escort was when a local man used to give me a lift to underage football games. I can still remember that new-car smell. It was a chocolate-brown colour and seemed to be the most fantastic car I had ever been in.
A few years later, these new cars were traded in, and these used models became a firm favourite within the farming fraternity. The car was sturdy enough for country living and many a man shortened his day by simply popping his few milk churns into the Escort’s open boot and was to the creamery and back in time for his second breakfast.
In general, the Ford didn’t always perform well in the wet Irish climate and the Escort proudly maintained that tradition.
Sometimes, an unfortunate farmer could be left stranded when his distributor would fail to distribute
They showed a weakness in damp conditions; having a distributor cap that wasn’t always able to form the essential barrier between the moisture outside and the dry spark inside. And so, as the days got wetter (and the Escort got on in years), trips to the creamery became evermore unpredictable.
Sometimes, an unfortunate farmer could be left stranded when his distributor would fail to distribute! Should this happen at the creamery, a crowd would soon gather. The local curate, fellow farmers and the local part-time mechanic would stand around and speculate on the cause of death. The curate would be of the opinion that, with the help of God, all would eventually be well again.
She needs to be completely stripped down
The other milk suppliers would make amateurish pronouncements; suggesting the malfunction was due to some faulty part; possibly the solenoid or the bendix. One man would even suggest that the speaker might be the cause of the problem. The mechanic would be last to speak, and was cute enough not to make any public diagnosis until he completed a post-mortem.
“She needs to be completely stripped down. She might even need to have her head taken off for a man to get a right look at her.”
At this suggestion, the red-faced curate would shuffle off. The remaining bystanders would feel they could do no more, but one did offer the stranded man (and his empty milk churns) a lift home. The mechanic towed the car to his place and a week later delivered it back to the farmer, saying: “The distributor in her was completely horsed.” His repair bill would come to £15. #
the Ford Escort blazed a trail of freedom and success
In less-damp climates, the Mark I Escort became successful as a sports car, and eventually went on to become one of the most successful rally cars of all time. Ford beat all-comers in the late 1960s and early 1970s, with the Escort’s greatest victory coming in the 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally.
And so, from Mullinahone to Mexico city, from Multyfarnham to Monte Carlo, the Ford Escort blazed a trail of freedom and success... and the exhilarating smell of fumes and dust from that trail still hangs in the air today.