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