Vince Woodman’s Ford Escort Mk1 RS1600

The front of the Vince Woodman Mk1 Ford Escort RS1600

The front of the Vince Woodman Mk1 Ford Escort RS1600

Few cars can match the racing pedigree of Ford’s Mk1 Escort, from its early days right until the end of its production, the Escort dominated motorsport both on and off of the asphalt.

Those who know their racing Escorts will likely recognise the distinctive livery of this example as that of Vince Woodman’s Broadspeed built cars.

Woodman raced numerous Escorts in the early 70s but the rarest and arguably the most interesting was the works backed Broadspeed example built to take on the 1973 British Saloon Car Championship.

Taking advantage of a loophole in the series regulations, Cosworth and Ford worked together to build a lower displacement variant of its dominant BDA engine. Using the same belt-driven, double over head cam arrangement complete with four valves per cylinder, this baby BD was a no-compromise stab at series success. Officially known as the BDH, it was a for-racing-only 1300cc screamer with power that peaked at 190hp and a rev limit that could exceed 10,000rpm.

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Woodman raced all flavours of Escorts including the little known ‘1300 BDA’ car

The baby BD wasn’t even the smallest engine of its kind, with Ford testing and subsequently ditching a 1098cc BDJ unit designed to compete in another class. Cosworth employees even produced themselves a one-off supercharged BD Engine that was just 785cc, although that’s a different story altogether.

To make the most of the angry bee under its bonnet, the BDH engine cars got extra short ratio hardware inside their Atlas rear axles. These, combined with a 5-speed ZF gearbox saw these little cars punching well above their weight.

The 1300cc Woodman car, along with near identical examples driven by Gillian Fortescue-Thomas and Peter Hanson went on to dominate their class in the series. These cars also gained numerous lap records for their class and at times were alarmingly close to the full-fat 2.0 cars they raced alongside. The advantage was so great that the cars were outlawed by the time the next season started.

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The Broadspeed cars weren’t just quick – they were smart too, each one a testament to the eccentric engineering mastermind that was Ralph Broad

 This particular car XKB 353J was purchased by Vince Woodman himself, his intentions were to once again enjoy the nimble nature of an Escort following the sale of his Broadspeed RS3100 ‘Cologne’ Capri, another car that I will have to feature on this website at some point.

XKB 353J was built around a genuine RS1600 shell and is powered by a 285hp Cosworth BDG engine. Woodman once owned a majority of the most significant works Mk1 Escorts and so knows a thing or two about how one should be built.

Although not entirely true to the Broadspeed cars it is based on, XKB 353J was nearing its completion when Woodman fell seriously ill through a life-changing stroke. Sadly, Woodman can no longer drive the car himself, but he did get to experience the next best thing when family friend and fellow historic racing drive Dan Cox gave Woodman an emotional ride in the car at his home circuit of Castle Combe.