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Rare twin-cam Escort in the deep south

10 March, 2017


If you enjoy classic racing, then this car could be a great start for you in the healthy South Island classic racing scene. Southland racer John Abbott has a passion for collecting some exciting cars, and his collection includes some notable rarities.

Currently sitting in a corner of his shed, and now offered for sale to free up some garage space is a very rare example of Ford’s mighty twin-cam Mk1 Escort racer.

“Just a handful of genuine factory Escort twin-cams came with rectangular headlights, and this 1968 version was one of four cars bought into New Zealand by Ford,” John said.

Originally intended for Australian racer John Warden, the car was destined for Aussie tracks until Warden’s untimely death, and it was then offered to New Zealand driver Jack Nazer. 

At the time Nazer was well known for his exploits in a quick Ford Anglia, and the Ford Escort was a welcome addition to the racing scene.

“It was originally powered by the Lotus twin-cam engine. In 1969 it possibly raced fitted with a Cosworth FVA, and then, under ‘Cossack’ sponsors colours, a Cosworth FVC engine was fitted,” he said.

Jack Nazar premiered this twin-cam Escort with Dave Simpson’s similar twin-cam at Bay Park on October 5, 1968.

John has owned and raced the car for the past 20 years, and it was now fitted with a Dennis Lyon–built two-litre engine, dry-sumped, and with 48DCOE Webbers, although that engine bay has experienced a variety of engines.

“Jack had it from about 1969–’70, he then sold it to Malcolm Coffey who crashed it in his one and only race at Levin. It then went to Danny Lupp, and I think he had a BDA in it before it was sold to Kevin Ryan, who raced it with a pushrod 1600 Ford motor.”

John then purchased it from a Pete Blomfield and today the car is still in its original shell and relatively rust-free.

“It would be great to see someone put it back to its original specification as it’s got a lot of history. I regularly managed one minute and 12 seconds at Teretonga, and it was always a very reliable car. It will be sad to see it go,” John said.

The Jowett Jupiter turns 70

John Ball has always enjoyed tinkering with old boats and cars. He’s old enough to think having gearbox parts on newspaper on the floor of his bedroom, while the relevant car sat waiting on nail boxes, was a normal part of growing up. His passion has always tended towards old British bangers. He reckons he’s fortunate not to have got caught up in the American muscle scene.
John’s love affair with this Jupiter started in December 2015 when, with some time on his hands during a Christchurch trip, he searched online for ‘cars, before 1970 and in Christchurch’.

A passion for classics and customs

In the highly competitive field of New Zealand classic and custom restorations, reputations are won or lost on the ability to maintain consistently high standards of workmanship. A company managing to achieve this is D A Panel beating Ltd, of Rangiora near Christchurch. Is your classic or custom car restoration stalled, or in need of a refresh, or perhaps you are looking for experts to rebuild that recent import project out of Europe or the ‘States?