VIDEO: Car Dealer celebrates 100 years of Ford

Time 5:19 pm, September 23, 2011

fev-1h-2WHAT with all of the adverts and the posters, you probably know by now that Ford of Britain is 100 years old.

So what you’re probably thinking? There always seems to be some kind of celebration for something in the UK. 60 years of that, 125 years of this, and one year on since the other. We could all be forgiven for getting a little bored with it.

And with Ford we know they’re an old company. Everyone knows of the Ford Model-T, and with its now comical looks in comparison to a Mondeo, just by looking at it we know it’s REALLY old.

I have to admit I am a little guilty for failing to realise the importance of Ford reaching this landmark. It’s because Ford has been with us for so long that 100 years just doesn’t sound long enough. That’s my excuse anyway.

But what with the events last weekend at Goodwood, Ford’s 100 years smacked me in the face in the most hard hitting way possible.

‘The keys Jones casually gave to me was to FEV 1H – an Escort rally car with a potent history record.’

ford-100-years-1For the last month a selection of some of the most emotive and symbolic Fords have been travelling the country on a centenary tour. It ended, fittingly, at the Goodwood Revival last weekend and I was lucky enough not only to watch it but also be a part of it too.

Ford’s Dan Jones entrusted me with the keys to a Ford Escort. But this wasn’t any old Ford Escort. The keys Jones casually gave to me was to FEV 1H – or, in other words, an Escort rally car with a potent history record.

Arguably Ford’s most famous and certainly one of the most important Fords ever, FEV 1H was part of a five car team entry by Ford in the 1970 London to Mexico rally. FEV 1H was driven by the legendary Hannu Mikkola, helped along the way by his co-driver Gunnar Palm, on 16,000 miles of some of the most gruelling roads in the world.

96 cars started the event – from other works entries such as Triumph right down to privateers in Minis and even a couple of Rolls-Royces competed – and only 23 finished, such was the challenge.

Mikkola and Palm entered Mexico City first followed by the remaining Ford team Escorts. It was such a coup for Ford that they created the Escort Mexico for anyone to buy if they fancied it. It joined the Escort RS1600 as the first fast Fords to have appeared on the market.


Waiting to go out onto the track I could see owners and fanatics queuing up to circle the track in their pride of joys. More than 100 Fords sat on the starting grid waiting to be flagged away by Ford director Lewis Booth. From a handful of Model Ts to Model Ys, Prefects, Anglias, Cortinas, Transits, Zephyrs, Zodiacs, Consuls, and commercial vehicles – they were all there, more than 100 cars.

I was sitting there too. One man – dressed as a 1950s policeman – came over to the driver’s window and chatted to me about he had once owned a Ford Escort Mk1 Twin Cam. ‘It was the best car I’ve ever owned and seeing this special car (FEV 1H), I’m getting a little emotional,’ he said. Another chap told me how this very car toured the nation’s Ford dealers after the rally to show off Ford’s motorsport prowess, and how he remembered it as if it was yesterday.

And then it really hit me. You could say that virtually everyone in the country has had contact with a Ford at one moment in their lives. But at that very moment, at Goodwood with light drizzle, the affinity with the brand was extraordinary.

We’ve made a special little film (above) just to mark the event. Get out the tissues – we certainly have!

James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer. In October 2021 he became Car Dealer's associate editor.

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