BAR308F or Barney to his friends, a 1968 Ford Escort 1300GT was the first car ever owned by jpoc.

I puchased BAR308F, a 1968 Ford Escort 1300GT in the summer of 1978. I was a student at the time and I paid for him with the earnings from a summer job at the Inland Revenue in Cambridge.

I kept the car for three years, during which time I racked up only about 15,000 miles. One reason for this was the prolonged periods during which the car was off the road when I was a student. There were only two real problems. First of all, the engine broke and secondly, I had to replace most of the front bodywork. You will have to wait a while for the details of the bodywork story but it will be here in a week or so.

Having such an early production example did leave me with a few problems. On the non-RS versions of the Mk1 Escort, the gearlever pivots in a grey plastic hemisphere that screws into the extension at the back of the gearbox. Most cars have a metal plate moulded into this. The plate has tabs on it that you fold down to lock the plastic part to the gearbox extension. The early cars didn't and the reason that the later ones did was that owners of the first cars used to complain a lot when the plastic undid and the gearlever came out in your hand!

The manuals just said that you needed to use a thread locking fluid on the assembly and, the first time that mine came undone, that's what I did. Of course, there is no way that you can ever get the threads clean of oil to guarantee a proper lock and the result was that the gear lever would work loose every week or so. In the end, I made up my own plate to hold things in place and that worked so well that I only ever needed to tighten it up every thousand miles!

There was one other odd thing about the early Escorts. All of the later models had a front anti roll bar. This was a trailing bar and it was mounted to the front bulkhead. As well as providing an anti roll facility, it formed the fore and aft location for the front wheels. My car did not have an anti roll bar and so it needed some other means of controlling the front wheel. This came in the form of a short strut that ran from the base of the McPhearson strut back to the main bulkhead.

I have no idea of why Ford changed this set up for an anti roll bar but they must have had their reasons.

Barney suffered one major mishap but not at my hands. A relative was doing some work to prepare the car for an MOT. There was a hole in the floor in the area of the driver's footwell and my mechanic was welding a plate over the hole. The welding heat melted the plastic fuel line that was attached to the chassis rail on that side of the car. Of course, after a few moments, the leaking fuel ignited in a big way. Worst affected was my mechanics arm which I'm afraid to say was burned quite badly. I felt bad about that as he was fixing the car for me as a favour but he was OK in the end.

As for the car, well, the fire did not burn for long and the only area affected was the front part of the driver's door. The original paint there was pretty badly burned but there was no other damage. Interestingly, the rear end of the front wing had also been subjected to the same heat but the Finnegan's Hammerite paint on there was completely unmarked by the experience! It may look hideous but it is obviously tough paint.

Barney suffered one other minor mishap at the hands of an old barn. While he was having his engine rebuilt, the barn in which the work was being done collapsed under the weight of snow. A heavy timber beam landed across his roof but, as luck would have it, the cars on either side were a few inches taller and, while they suffered major structural damage, Barney escaped with a few scratches and minor dents! Also, another length of timber fell end on into the bonnet and went right through but as the engine was out already, there was no real harm done and I got a new bonnet from a scrappy.

I carried out quite a few mods, mostly to the suspension which you will be able to read about soon.

I sold Barney in the Summer of 1981 and replaced him with a Mk1 Mexico, HLN909N or Helen. You will be able to read about her in a few weeks time.

Barney sold for UKP150 to a second hand car dealer who was looking for a car for his wife. Two hundred pounds depreciation in three years cannot be a bad thing now can it? When sold, he was running fine and really, I could have kept him for another few years but I just wanted more speed.

He still had his cosmetic blemishes, the burned paint on the door, the Hammerite front end, the non matching bonnet paint and dents in the roof but he was a good little motor and I miss him.

I can still remember the sound of his engine and the smell of gearbox oil as I screwed the gearlever back into place in the middle of a roundabout in the centre of Northampton one summer.

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