TWENTY years ago, Geoff Newton’s super-slammed Mk1 Escort graced the pages of Street Machine, sporting a turbo four-pot from a Sierra Cosworth between its chassis rails. But after seeing Mark Dall’Acqua’s DMT351 Mk2 (SM, Jan-Feb ’93), Geoff had always intended to jam a V8 into it at some point. Two decades later, the time finally arrived.
This article was first published in the February 2020 issue of Street Machine
“This build evolved from my son Mitchell,” says Geoff. “When Mitchell was born he had an instant attraction to burnout cars, and he watched the burnout DVDs over and over. Then we started taking him to Summernats, and it was all about the big, blown cars like UNWANTED, UCSMOKE, INFERNO and STRUGLN. So I thought it would be a good idea to build a blown car.”
IMB05S rides on custom 17×8 and 17×9.5 Performance Superlight wheels in the original Escort 4×108 stud pattern. Wrapped in 195/45 Bridgestone Potenza tyres on the front and 265/40 Toyo Proxes in the rear, they’re hiding fat four-pot calipers all ’round – Brembo up front and Wilwood out back
Geoff initially planned to use a triple-rotor 20B Wankel, but a forced stint off the road had him rethinking that idea. “High rpm and a short powerband was going to give me trouble I could do without,” he says.
The front of IMB05S rides on Escort Twin-Cam struts converted into coil-overs using 500lb King Springs and Koni shocks, while the front sway-bar has been biffed in favour of rose-jointed compression struts. An original Escort quick-rack handles steering, while rose-jointed control arms also got the nod
With the turbo Cosworth running gear installed in his original – and super-desirable – Type 49 Lotus Twin-Cam Escort, Geoff started planning the new heart for IMB05S. “I headed over to the only guy I knew who could undertake the precarious job of installing a blown and injected small-block into the little Esky, and that, of course, is the legend Paul Sant of ProFlo,” says Geoff. “My one condition on the build was that we do not cut any of the car; it was to remain the same. Paul never shies away from a challenge, so he said: ‘Easy.’”
Paul kicked off the build around an 8.2in deck-height Dart Iron Eagle block swinging 369ci (six litres in the new money) thanks to JE slugs, Scat H-beam rods and a Scat crank riding on Clevite bearings. A custom-grind Camtech solid-roller bumpstick works the Crower solid lifters and Trend pushrods, opening the Ferrea valves in the AFR 220cc heads. Shaun’s Custom Alloy provided the custom sheet-metal intake manifold that mounts the polished Blower Shop 6/71 pump.
“Blown and injected engines are a different beast to my usual forte of turbocharged four-cylinder motors and aspirated V8s, so I needed to do some homework,” Geoff says. “Paul basically did his usual high-end build and I gave him very few instructions other than: ‘Build it to sit on 7000rpm in the scorching Summernats heat.’ Paul laughed and said: ‘I’ll put a 7500rpm chip in it, but you’ll shit yourself when it hits six!’”
“Paul says the Escort has ‘enough’ boost,” says Geoff. “I was smitten by blown cars many years ago; they have such a different volume of noise”
While a bigger pump could net more neddies, Paul specced the motor to run at around 1000hp to keep it maintenance-friendly. “It will turn the tyres all day in top gear and stay as cool as a cucumber,” says Geoff.
The Blower Shop 6/71 is topped by an Enderle bird-catcher hat and mechanical injection set-up, matching the Enderle 110 fuel pump pushing methanol into the 6.0L donk. An MSD Power Grid handles the zaps, while a Melling oil pump keeps the liquid gold flowing
Behind the methanol-sucking small-block is a manualised C4 and TCE 4500 converter, with a shortened BorgWarner diff out back stuffed with billet 31-spline axles, a full spool and 3.7:1 gears to turn those 265 Toyo tyres into clouds.
ProFlo built a custom header tank for methanol and tucked it out of the way in the passenger inner guard, with a breather behind the driver’s inner and a custom 120L tank in the back. ProFlo also built the custom sump, headers and dual 3in exhaust, and organised a Shaun’s Custom Alloy radiator to fit into the Escort’s nose
With the drivetrain sorted, Geoff’s attention turned to giving the Escort’s body a bit of love, which soon spiralled into a far larger project. “I said to Paul: ‘The next time you see Daniel from Kingpins Kustom Paint & Panel, ask him if he can cut and buff the car for me’,” he recalls.
Kingpins gave the car a luscious show-quality finish via a full respray in Geoff’s top-secret white, followed by a flat rub and buff.
Geoff’s brother Dave lives in the UK, making him a perfect point-man to source small Ford parts, as the scene over there is huge compared to Australia. “Dave offered to throw money into the car and said: ‘Go all the way’,” Geoff explains. “So he’d source parts like a new dash cluster, new rubbers and all the small fiddly bits to make this an even better build than previously.”
Steve from Alltrim freshened up the cabin to make it more passenger-friendly. “I had never previously put people in the back seat, as the harnesses from the Sparco front seats fastened into the parcel shelf,” Geoff explains. “But, knowing my kids would be driving around with me, I decided to take a different approach.” Low-back Falcon seats now live up front, trimmed in Recaro cloth sourced by Geoff’s brother Dave in the UK
With Dave on board, everything went smoothly from then on. “Dan had done his magic on the paint and the boys at ProFlo were putting everything back into the car,” says Geoff. “ProFlo made custom headers, custom methanol tanks under the two front guards, a twin three-inch exhaust, gearbox crossmember and engine plate, just to name a few parts. It progressed quickly from there and before I knew it, it was fired up and tested.”
Alltrim knocked up a new dash top, carpet, seatbelts and trimmed the rear seat. The door cards, rear-quarter cards and kick panels were custom-made by Steve at Carbon Footprint, while an OMP deep-dish tiller and B&M Bandit shifter handle turning and gear-clicking duties
One thing that saved bulk time was the good groundwork already covered during the car’s first build. “Joe from JS Race Engineering has been a long-time friend of mine and he is solely responsible for getting IMB05S to look the way it did with the YB Cosworth engine,” explains Geoff. “Joe did the mini-tubs; four-link rear end with Panhard rod; 330mm cross-drilled front rotors; billet hats and Brembo four-pot caliper conversion; compression struts; custom strut tops; front adaptation of the coil-overs on the original Twin Cam struts; a fully rebuilt Cosworth YB that was ARP-studded; and every other conceivable modification that was required. Without him, this next evolution would never have been possible.”
As always though, there were a few headaches to overcome, as Geoff explains: “First, a broken shifter cable, then a dizzy cap and rotor problem. All in all, it was a great experience, and the kids loved it.”
Geoff got the car to Summernats 2018 for its first outing and had a ball with the family packed on board. “Davo drove the car, and after three laps of cruising it was time to fill up with another 120L of methanol and head back out onto the cruise route,” he says. “The car did stay cool though!”
1971 FORD ESCORT
Paint: Custom PPG white
Brand: 369ci Dart Iron Eagle 8.2
Induction: Enderle bird-catcher hat
Manifold: Shaun’s Custom Alloy sheet metal
Blower: 6/71 Blower Shop
Heads: AFR 220cc
Camshaft: Custom Camtech solid-roller
Conrods: Scat H-beam
Oil pump: Custom sump, Melling pump
Fuel system: Enderle 110 pump
Cooling: Shaun’s Custom Alloy radiator, twin 10in fans
Exhaust: Custom headers, dual 3in ceramic-coated system
Ignition: MSD Power Grid
Gearbox: C4 auto, manualised, reverse-pattern
Converter: TCE 4500
Diff: BorgWarner, full spool, billet 31-spline axles, 3.7:1 gears
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Front: King springs, custom strut-tops, custom Koni coil-over shocks
Rear: King springs, Spax adjustable coil-over shocks, custom four-link, custom Panhard bar
Brakes: Custom 330mm discs and Brembo four-pot calipers (f), DBA discs and Wilwood four-pot calipers (r)
Master cylinder: Adjustable
WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: Custom Superlight; 17×8(f), 17×9.5 (r)
Rubber: Bridgestone Potenza 195/45 (f), Toyo Proxes 265/40 (r)
My brother Davo Newton, who
co-owns the car; Paul Sant and team at ProFlo Performance; Daniel and team at Kingpins Kustom Paint & Panel; Mark Sant at Ontrak Electrical; Steve Maiolo at Alltrim Motor Trimming; Joe Said at JS Race Engineering; my long-time friend Brian Gelding at Small Ford Spares; Shaun’s Custom Alloy; Steve at Carbon Footprint; my children Michaela and Mitchell, and, of course, my wife Ramona (who has never grumbled about my chosen hobby, even after 30 years)