EAW8V an Escort 1600 Sport: a jpoc car

Spot or EAW8V was a Mk2 Ford Escort 1600 Sport. Just three years old and with a new MOT certificate, Spot was the first car that I ever bought from a garage. Also, it was the first car that I bought that had not already begun to look rather tatty.

Although the body of the Mk2 Escort looked completely different, underneath little was changed and that suited me fine. Although it was built at a real factory, the 1600 Sport was pretty much the same as the Mk1 Mexico that I replaced with Spot. The only non standard part was the tyres which had been replaced with over sized 185/70 13 examples. These almost fitted under the rear arches and with just a little metal bashing Iwas able to eliminate the sound of tyre rubbing on inner arch lip. The fatter tyres made the dry road grip a lot better but the handling was not quite as much fun as in the Mexico.

Spot was also the first car that I bought that came with a guarantee and as a result Ilearned the joys of having the car serviced by a garage for the first couple of years.

Spot lasted me for four years and I took him from 33 to 96 thousand miles. Soon after I bought it, the car developed a few problems. The timing chain tensioner broke and the radiator and head gasket both developed small leaks. The latter was from an oilway to the outside of the block so it could have been worse. The garage liked me as I was a long time customer for Escort parts and so they gave me the benefit of a liberal reading of the terms of the guarantee and as a result, I only had to pay for the new radiator core.

After that, all went well for a year or so until a horrible squealing noise developed. With the help of a friend, I diagnosed a failing propshaft bearing and planned a trip up to Withers for a replacement. As is the way with these things, the heater matrix soon sprung a leak and so I had to buy a replacement for that as well. Withers were a good outfit to know as they used to get a load of parts cheap from the Ford competitions department. For example, an RS1800 would come off the production line and the rally preparation division would part strip it and prepare it for rallying. If the car was to be used on the Swedish rally, it would get a bigger heater and so, after a while they would end up with a large number of unused standard heaters and these were all sold on to Withers.

I went on holiday with Spot, commuted 50 miles a day and basically had a lot of fun in a car that was simple to own and maintain and did everything that could be asked.

In the end, the thing that finished Spot was my own foolishness. At a little over ninety thousand miles it was clear that the engine was on the way out. The sensible course of action would have been to get one of the specialist engine reconditioners to supply and fit a replacement. The next choice would have been to part exchange the car for something newer or even new. Instead, I scoured the ads in motoring news and bought a bored out and tuned engine.

It was cheap and when it went, oh gosh, it went well but there were just too many problems. The first was with the rocker shaft for the valves. There was some problem on the exhaust valve for the first cylinder. The rocker was stiff and the spring would not lose the valve. That needed a new rocker shaft to fix it but at least I had one lying around handy!

The next problem was that it blew a head gasket one Christmas. As the engine was overbored, I needed to go to Cosworth to get the correct part and I was impressed that they were not only at work on the day after Boxing day but they got the gasket to me in less than 24 hours!

The next problem was the dipstick. Somehow, as everything was put together, the dipstick fouled the crankshaft. I discovered this when the first dipstick snapped off at the bottom. Remembering the hassles caused by the loose studs when they got into my other Escort engines, I took no chances and spent several happy hours with a magnet fishing for the end of the dipstick. I got it in the end and found a replacement dipstick and made sure never to leave it in the engine when it was running.

Those problems really paled into insignificance though when compared to the oil consumption. I have never seen anything like it and I have no idea where it was all going! I could do about 250 miles on a tank of petrol but less than 100 on a sump full of oil!

The car was not burning oil, there was no smoke and there were no signs of oil drips when the car was parked and there were no obvious leaks from the engine when it was running. But where was all the oil going? I had no idea and in the end I gave up and part exchanged Spot for a Vauxhall Nova.

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