Racing Tastefully: Ken Block And A 1993 Ford Escort RS Cosworth Rally Car
Images courtesy of Hoonigan
Energy drink logos obscured by tire smoke produced by turbocharged four-bangers replicating the sound of gunfire with their anti-lag systems: that scene is pretty much the categorical opposite of our idea of tasteful driving. Ken Block is known for a lot of things—by simple fact that he’s a pretty prolific guy—but I’m willing to bet the first image that comes to mind is from one of his gymkhana videos and not his enthusiasm for vintage cars.
With a series of YouTube videos he basically turned an obscure discipline of motorsport into a worldwide movement, and is somewhat subsequently responsible for front-wheel drive cars understeering into curbs in Target parking lots in an attempt to “be like Block.” He’s not really into the classic Italian scene nor does he seem like the kind of guy who goes for wallowing drives in old convertibles for the sake of it, but he clearly loves cars, and as demonstrated by cars in his keep like the downright wild twin-turbo Mustang coupe, the “Hoonicorn,” he does tend to lean to the retro side of the timeline. He also owns a MK2 Escort that gets covered in dirt and flecks of tire rubber often, as well as an RS200, so it’s safe to say he has a thing for fast Fords too.
Last year he purchased an old Group A WRC machine: a 1993 Ford Escort RS Cosworth. We love that car and its odd bodywork in street form, but Block’s body in white ex-rally car was something else. I say was because it’s been modified a little bit in the interim between then and now. Today it’s sporting a wild black and white lightning bolt livery, and while it looks very much in-your-face, we should remember that this era of racing had no dearth of big stripes or garish colors, so it’s a fitting look for a car of this era even if it’s a modern design—the ethos is the same.
Block’s RS Cosworth is making around 350 horsepower from its two-liter turbocharged four, and with an updated roll cage and other minor changes (like rerouting the exhaust to exit from the rear rather than the side) it’s set to compete in modern stage rallies with Block and longtime co-driver Alex Gelsomino taking the car to three events in the American Rally Association Championship this year. He’s also hopping into Ford’s Focus RS RX for some rallycross, and competing in an M-Sport Fiesta at WRC Spain. The schedules for the various cars are below for those interested in following along, but obviously we’re most interested in the Cosworth.
Block will be entering the car in the unlimited modified all-wheel drive category against people like Travis Pastrana, but he didn’t build the old Escort to win: “At the end of the day it’s about going out and trying new stuff, you know, taking on new experiences.” We love that attitude, and when it means the difference between driving another forgettable hatchback and a vintage rally car it’s easy to see why it’s the more route if you have the means for it. I wouldn’t expect to see the car at the top of the time charts, but it’s almost no question that it will have the most eyes on it throughout the race weekends, especially because it’s still street legal; with a few switches toggled—turning off the anti-lag system, perhaps switching off the electronically controlled diff—the Escort is able to commute between stages on public roads. If that’s not driving tastefully, I don’t know what is.