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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.

Travelling companion

It’s easy to see why the Morris Minor Traveller was one of the best-loved variants of the Morris Minor. Introduced in 1953, it was equipped with the same independent torsion bar front suspension, drum brakes, and rack and pinion steering as its saloon sibling but, with their foldable rear seat increasing versatility, many Travellers were used as trade vehicles, says Derek Goddard. Derek and Gail Goddard, the owners of this superbly restored example, have run Morris Minors since before they were married in 1974.
“Our honeymoon vehicle was a blue Morris Minor van — it was a rust bucket,” says Derek.

Super Leicht Gullwing

It’s fair to say that nothing much in the classic Mercedes world gets past Mercedes-Benz Club stalwart Garry Boyce so it wasn’t surprising to learn that around 15 years ago he had sniffed out an extremely rare 300SL lightweight Gullwing as well as a 1958 300SL Roadster hiding away in the Waikato. The cars were not for sale but Garry eventually managed to persuade the owner to allow him and his restoration team to take a look at the Roadster. They discovered a very distressed but largely unmolested car. The car was so original that the body had never been off the chassis, meaning most of the parts and fittings were still present and correct, as they had been fitted by the factory.