The Works Escort Mk2

Throughout the early 1970s, Gartrac modified Escort Mk1 bodyshells for Clark & Simpson in London. These modifications were mainly fitting shock absorber turrets, steel bubble arches and reworking axle's. Gartrac would modify 2-3 bodyshells per week for a number of years.

Gartrac was growing in reputation and the sheer volume of work meant that they needed to move from their small workshop in Farnham, Surrey. They quickly found a new larger workshop in Godalming, Surrey, enabling them to take on more staff, and as a result their output grew dramatically.

Ford had just brought out the Escort Mk2 and realised Gartrac's rapid growth. Ford was looking for a fabrication company that could produce Escort Mk2 bodyshells and parts for their works rally team.

New Escort Mk2 Bodyshell

New Escort Mk2 Bodyshell

Workshop picture in Godalming

Workshop picture in Godalming

They wanted the Mk2 bodyshells to be identical with a kit of parts that fitted every car; this was not the case with the Mk1. Each drivers' mechanic would have their own idea of the best way to build a car, meaning no two cars would be the same. This caused problems when servicing the cars on events, as parts did not fit universally.

The works Escort Mk1 bodyshells were fabricated by Gomm Metal Developments. These shells were gas welded or nickel bronzed which put great heat and stress into the material, which led to distortion and strength problems. Ford wanted the Escort Mk2 to be welded using the new mig welding process. Gartrac had been using mig welders for some time and this helped secure an initial order for five bodyshells to be produced to their exact specification.

Gartrac Workshop in Godalming

Gartrac Workshop in Godalming

Gartrac duly completed the order and Ford was so pleased with the quality of the workmanship they immediately contracted Gartrac to solely produce Escort Mk2 bodyshells for the works team.

Ford also commissioned Gartrac to produce parts which would standardise the mechanic's build process. They fabricated a large selection of parts such as axle's, radius rods, pedal boxes, fuel tanks and oil tanks and suspension components.

Gartrac was given a free reign at the time to offer suggestions on how Ford could make the cars better and they adopted their suggestions quite readily as the cars were becoming faster, stronger and more reliable.

The designs were changing all the time, Gartrac would make modifications to the axle to improve traction, Ford would then revise drawings to incorporate the changes. They would then produce different variations for Tarmac and Forest applications. The same process was used to develop other parts such as the engine cross members, sump shield kits, pedal boxes and suspension parts.


The Barn - Godalming

The Barn - Godalming


The Barn

Throughout the mid 1970s until the early 1980s, Gartrac would regularly take delivery of a car transporter loaded with up to ten brand new Escort Mk2 bodyshells. The only place they had to store them was a dilapidated old barn which was set on the river next to the factory in Godalming, Surrey. At one stage the demand for production was so high they had to store them vertically. It was quite a sight and one can only imagine the value in today's market.

If you look carefully you can see a canal boat through the gaping hole to the right side of the barn.