The Escort was the right car at the right moment for Ford's Competition Department in Boreham, Essex. Famously, one morning in spring 1967, mechanic Bill Meade saw an Escort prototype on test and remarked to boss Henry Taylor, "Blimey one of those things would go like hell with a Lotus twin-cam in it". That remark led to the Escort twin-cam’s creation and the winning began in 1968. However, when it came to considering Ford's entries for the 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally, Ford driver Roger Clark suggested using the rally-proven heavy-duty Type 49 bodyshell, and replacing the powerful but troublesome Lotus engine with a simple reliable Cortina 1600GT unit, correctly reasoning that the 16,000 mile rally was more about endurance than out and out speed.
Hannu Mikkola and Gunnar Palm won the event in FEV 1H, the world’s most famous Escort, and Ford capitalised by launching the Escort Mexico road car six months later. Built at their new Advanced Vehicle Operations Centre in Essex, the Mexico was effectively, like FEV 1H, an RS1600 but with the complex and expensive engine replaced by a 1600 Kent Crossflow.
OYL 553L is a genuine AVO built Mexico and retains its original Type 49 bodyshell. From 1990 until rescued by Ant Anstead and his team from Evanta, it was stored in a garage in the South East, partially stripped and prepared for restoration. With help from Escort expert Chris Martin at Classic and Retro, Evanta have restored it to a very high standard in its original Sebring Red. In the tradition of the fast Ford they chose to subtly modify it as they restored it from a bare-metal shell.