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It’s the car I always promised myself, but it’s not a Ford Capri.
Working in the automotive industry I’m around cars every day, but it was childhood memories that fuelled a wish for a Mk2 Escort.
Watching and hearing them on full song in local rallies left a deep impression, but there were also family moments.
I vividly recall going car shopping with my nan and her letting me choose between an ex-Merseyside Police Mk2 or a yellow 1100 as her next car.
My own Escort search got serious 30 years later when my very understanding wife egged me on to ask an elderly gentleman, who had drawn up at the next petrol pump in his stock Mk2, if his car could be for sale.
Handing him a hastily found piece of paper with my details on I thought that was it, but he said he’d lost count of the number of times people had done the same.
A feature in C&SC about South African Escorts, extolling their rust-free shells, got me thinking about importing one, but they came with no history.
After trying to buy a few and seeing some poor ones for sale, I bought a Peugeot 205 Rallye (featured in C&SC, January 2007) while waiting for the right car.
With every website alert now set, this genuine but modified Mexico popped up one afternoon. Having known disappointment before, I was straight on the phone and made a plan to visit the following morning. With strict instructions from Mrs Bailey not to come back empty-handed, I bought it.
For me, it’s the people and stories behind cars that make them special. I was immediately in touch with the car’s previous owners, including Geoff Fletcher.
He had rebuilt it into what I think is a very usable specification: 2.1 Pinto, five-speed ’box, quick rack, rollcage and lots of other period details that underline how he and the car’s subsequent owner, Glyn Morgan, had truly cared for this particular ‘Mex’.
One detail that intrigued was the colour. It was black but the vendor had told me it was originally green, until re-shelled (not uncommon with Fords back then) when it was a year old.
No one knew what the story was, but I was intent on finding out.
With all the V5s, I started a trawl through the names. By chance, a name matching the first owner’s appeared on a trade show exhibition website.
There was a mobile number and the location was about right, too. It was a long shot, but I quickly texted the number – and was glad I did. Incredibly, within 10 minutes I had photos of the Mexico in period and the story unfolded.
As a young man, Jeremy Rose had earned some money working in Angola for Gulf Oil and on his return headed to Perry’s in Finchley to treat himself to a new Escort.
Our Mexico was in the showroom and, rather than wait for the RS2000 he had planned to buy, he chose this one.
It was fantastic to hear about the car’s early days and how it had meant so much to him to be able to buy it.
Eager to understand the colour change, I discovered that, while returning from a day trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, there was a crash in Moreton-in-Marsh, just 15 minutes from where I lived. The car had been kept in London, Kent and Essex all its life, but a key part of its history took place down the road from me.
Superstitious about the colour, Jeremy opted for the new shell to be black. Mystery solved!
Last summer we got together, and 40 years after selling it Jeremy got another chance to experience why the Escort is the car we both promised ourselves.
Today the Mk2 brings back the sights, sounds and smells of my childhood, and now the plan is to make a few more memories with my own children.
- Owned by Nick Bailey
- From Shipston, Warwickshire
- First classic MG Midget (my first car!)
- Dream classic Renault 5 Turbo 2
- Best trip A clandestine run in a Volvo 940 to deliver parts to the Matra factory during the French strikes