A Higher-Than-New Ford Escort RS Cosworth

Salad Days

Ford produced some unimaginable vehicles sporting the Cosworth badge within the mid-Eighties and early Nineteen Nineties, with Sierra and Escort variants dominating in racing and rallying – and on the road.

‘Cossies’, as they shortly grew to become identified, acquired a cult following virtually as quickly as the primary Sierra RS Cosworth arrived in 1985. It wasn’t lengthy earlier than an enormous tuning business constructed itself up across the sub-brand, principally to extract most horsepower from the two.0-litre turbo Cosworth YB engine. A lot in order that it quickly grew to become uncommon to come back throughout an unmodified instance.

The vehicles and the aftermarket business round them shone brightly for a few years. However because the saying goes, ‘you possibly can have an excessive amount of of factor’, and that applies to Steve Richardson.


Today, as SR Autobodies, Steve has constructed up an enviable fame as a positive restorer of Nissan S and R-body vehicles. Many unimaginable examples have rolled out of his Lincolnshire, UK-based workshop – together with Mark’s Challenge Thirty 4 – however he started this journey messing round with Cossies.


“My dad was large on the scene again within the day, and I grew up serving to out in his workshop at weekends surrounded by Cosworths and RS500s. I joined the military after I left college, however after I got here out I made a decision to deal with myself to a Sierra Cosworth,” Steve defined.


“The automobile I went to have a look at turned out to be a canine, however a mate of the vendor, who occurred to be there, talked about he had an R33 Skyline GTS25t on the market and requested if I wished to have a look. I had a check drive and was offered — it was much more automobile for half the cash of the Cossie. To be trustworthy, I assumed I’d by no means drive a Ford once more.”


Time heals all wounds, although, and 12 years on, when HJA Group – one in every of SR Autobodies’ common prospects – referred to as to say they’d simply imported a T25 (aka small-turbo) Escort RS Cosworth from Japan and questioned if Steve would have the ability to perform an underside and engine bay restoration, he jumped on the probability.

“We work on Skylines all day lengthy, so it’s good to do one thing completely different every now and then. The Escort Cosworth is a uncommon automobile in Japan and this one had solely coated 19,000 miles. Even higher, it gave the impression to be fully customary. It’s by no means been modified and, so far as we will inform, has had no bodywork or welding [repairs].”


HJA didn’t simply need Steve to present this unmolested Escort the works although. That they had already discovered the automobile a brand new dwelling, and the UK proprietor was very particular along with his necessities. It wanted to be simply as it could have come from the manufacturing unit – overspray on the underside, liberally utilized seam sealer and all.


“It’s essential to level out that this automobile hasn’t been completed to a concours stage,” says Steve. “As an alternative, it’s precisely — so far as we will get it — as it could have come out of the Karmann manufacturing unit in Germany in 1995. Mainly, we’ve made it messier.”


“I spent hours speaking to my dad, as he knew these vehicles inside out once they had been new, in addition to staying up till 2:00am most nights researching particular objects. I’ve been down some deep web rabbit holes, let me let you know.”

A Clear One


Like a lot of Ford of Europe’s output within the Nineteen Nineties, the Mk5 Escort platform that the RS Cosworth relies on is vulnerable to rust, however as soon as Steve and his group had stripped all the operating gear from the underside, it confirmed to be in remarkably fine condition.

“As soon as we’d cleaned the anti-rust coating off, we discovered it wanted no welding. The proprietor was adamant that it wasn’t to have any, so the place one of many jacking factors was broken, fairly than change it, we needed to pull it again into form,” Steve defined.


That small matter out of the best way, Steve might then think about cleansing and stripping off the paint from the underside — earlier than reapplying seam sealer in a barely haphazard vogue — then getting ready it for recent paint earlier than including the distinctly ‘manufacturing unit’ touches.

“I spent 4 days airbrushing within the varied colors utilized by Ford on the underside — cream, child sick inexperienced primer, black for the wheel arches and even beiges. We acquired a neighborhood paint firm to come back in and scan the unique colors, then as soon as they had been combined, tweaked them till they had been precisely proper.”

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To offer you one other thought of the loopy lengths that SR Autobodies went to with this restoration, the place the sills meet the floorpan they airbrushed a skinny black line on prime of the seam sealer to make it appear to be there was a niche. And the place bolt holes had been masked off on the manufacturing line to cease them getting clogged up with paint, once more Steve was cautious to strategy this in a barely slap-dash method – very similar to a barely disgruntled employee eager to nip off for a tea break may need executed.

“It sounds odd, nevertheless it took longer to do all this in a less-than-neat vogue fairly than making an attempt to make every thing look good,” Steve says.

Bay Watch


With the underside properly underway, Steve turned his consideration to the engine bay.

“The automobile had been parked up for a few years and YB engines don’t like that — there have been oil leaks in every single place. We had no alternative however to tug the engine out, strip it right down to the block and go proper by way of it.”

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SR Autobodies’ vapour blaster was put to good use, with each engine and chassis elements stripped proper again, cleaned up and zinc-plated or powdercoated the place vital. The YBP-spec engine was then constructed up with recent gaskets, seals, nuts and bolts – components sourced from throughout Europe by native Ford predominant supplier TC Harrison, the place Mark photographed the automobile.


Engine and operating gear fitted again up, Steve then reapplied the quite a few manufacturing line touches the Escort would have include, together with decals — faithfully produced and utilized in a barely wonky vogue – and varied paint blobs and markings that line staff used to indicate a selected job was full.


Was Steve tempted so as to add just a few mods alongside the best way?

“No method, this one needed to stay customary. Actually, when it arrived, it got here with a pair of strut braces that I assumed had been aftermarket. However my dad identified they’re real, dealer-fitted Ford Motorsport ones, so we put them again on.”


So good is the consequence, that when Steve took the automobile to TC Harrison for an MoT (car roadworthy) check, they determined to PDI (pre-delivery inspection) it too, identical to any new automobile arriving on the dealership. It scored 97%, which means this Escort might, in principle, be offered with a new-car guarantee.

Constructed To Be Used


Is that this Escort destined to finish up in one more automobile assortment? Not fairly.

“The proprietor is set to make use of it, so we’ve satin clear-coated the underside bodywork, so all they should do is stress wash it after a run. Sure, it gained’t final endlessly, nevertheless it’s higher protected than most fashionable vehicles,” says Steve.


“I’ve acquired good recollections of engaged on this automobile. It was an actual household affair getting it executed, and even my four-year-old daughter helped out by paint-dipping the brake calliper bolts. All of us actually loved it. A lot in order that we’ve acquired one other Escort Cosworth lined as much as do quickly. Although, we’re not anticipating a lot to come back again from the blasters with that one…”

Simon Woolley
Instagram: fireproof_simon

Images by Mark Riccioni
Instagram: mark_scenemedia
Twitter/X: markriccioni

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