Reader Submissions: They Stole It And Gutted It. He Found It And Rebuilt It. Eventually.

They Stole It And Gutted It. He Found It And Rebuilt It. Eventually.

By Petrolicious Productions
September 21, 2018
7 comments

Story and photography provided by Nick Hartland

My name is Nick Hartland and I’m here today to talk about my dad’s Ford. I’m a car enthusiast as well (thanks to him, and his dad, who was a mechanic before WWII), but how many times have you heard the one about a kid who grows up to like cars because he “learned from an early age” or something along those lines? It’s a great story, but perhaps a bit common. I could talk about my Volkswagen and thank my dad for getting me interested in this stuff in the first place, but this isn’t about me.

The 1980 Escort RS2000 came into our family when it was still a relatively modern piece of kit. The car was about six or seven years old when my dad made the purchase, and he hadn’t owned it very long before it was subsequently stolen from him. He loved the RS—having owned a Mk1 Escort (the car pictured is a Mk2) and a Capri beforehand, the RS was a continuation of a trend of sorts, and losing it was by all accounts devastating.

Black over brown with fishnet Recaros and 7”-wide Ronals, it was a very original car that clearly caught the attention of someone besides my dad. Whoever it was, the car was stolen from the workplace, and thought to be gone for good, or in other words, bound for a chop shop or a faraway country. Imagine the surprise then when it was found a few weeks later down a lane nearby? It was completely gutted and stripped of anything of value, but my dad, being who he is, decided to keep the car and rebuild it rather than replace it.

With help from friends and the money from insurance, he set off rebuilding every aspect of the Escort (it needed attention everywhere, such was the degree of its “parting out”), and along the way he added a few modifications and improvements to make the finished project even more special than what was taken from him. It was almost back on the road when an electrical gremlin saw it temporarily sidelined. The birth of my sister turned “temporarily” into “indefinitely,” then I was born. Life “happened” as they say, and the Escort was relegated to waiting in the garage. His famous quote became: “I’ll get the RS back on the road next year!” 25 of them went by.

Then, next year finally came. Moving up to 2015, I’d started bringing my Mk2 VW GTI 16v to car shows with my dad, and along the way it inspired him to get the Ford exhumed from the garage and on the road again after two dozen years off of it. He spent a few years refreshing what needed refreshing, the electrical issue that put it away so many years ago was sorted out, and in 2018 it fired up and received its proper stickers for use on public roads. It was the first time it’d been started in my lifetime, and though we’ve only put a few hundred miles on it since then, we’re looking forward to the ones to come.

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RS2000best
RS2000best
6 months ago

Beautiful Car, I lost my 1980 Black RS 2000 on the 15-Jul-86 in St Andrews Scotland almost identical to this one, it was even worse because it was my 22nd birthday and the first night it was left out of my parents garage, thought we knew who stole it so went to investigate, spent that night in Jail. Reg was CES 702V, I live in Canada now and have a 2017 5 litre Mustang GT lowered and exhausts but not Janspeed and it’s a pig to drive compared to my RS, best car I ever owned and Iv’e had lots. Cheers to a great car and the owners.

luke holmes
luke holmes
3 years ago

Beautiful car. Well worth waiting for. Love the 80’s pictures. Next stop, Radwood?

jimjcmo
jimjcmo
3 years ago

Terrific cars. A great story on top of it!

Lig Ranemloc
Lig Ranemloc
3 years ago

Best Ford ever!

PDXBryan
PDXBryan
3 years ago

Very cool story! As a young American car geek I also longed for the small pocket rockets from Europe (like Escort RSs nd GTIs) that were not available to us here in the “land of the free”.

Jerry King
Jerry King
3 years ago

great story and what a wonderful car. Pure and simple. I wish I could get my hands on one in US. Your GTI looks great as well. I’d take either one! Enjoy!

Nicolas Moss
Nicolas Moss
3 years ago

Its nice to see it all came together eventually! Now … if you were not shaving until he finished it… Just kidding! It was fun to see your evolution also.