FORD MOTOR CO’s announcement of a revived Advanced Vehicle Operation (AVO) to produce a limited number of complete high performance cars, based on likely candidates within both British and European Ford ranges, is a decision which can do nothing but good for the Company. In one step they will be able to transfer the enormous range of speed equipment previously sold from the crowded Boreham airfield works to the AVO’s 85,000 sq. ft. factory somewhere in south-east Essex. This move will enable the Boreham works to get on with the task of preparing competition cars, while by April the first Advanced Vehicles—the potent BDA 16-valve-engined Escorts— will go on sale. This means that the Escort will once again be homologated for International saloon-car racing with a Cosworth d.o.h.c four-valves-per-cylinder head, theoretically the same as the Formula Two FVA engine layout, which in turn could put Ford in a position to score overall saloon-car victories once more, instead of following the American V8s to the flag.
Looking ahead a little we can see that Ford has now considerably strengthened the ties between German and British production, both the Escort and Capri being made in both countries already, and it is hoped that the AVO division will foster this partnership in subsequent protects: in other words look out for even greater Anglo-German liaison to produce some very exciting versions of the Capri and Cortina range. Remembering the vast range of modern power units offered by the two American-owned branches one can play endless permutation games building imaginary family Fords.
In charge of AVO is Ray Horrocks, formerly with the firm’s car marketing side (now looked after by Barrie Gill, the former Sun motoring columnist). Henry Taylor, who was competition manager at Boreham, is to act as “Performance Programmes Manager” co-ordinating the efforts of 250 workers (when the project is in full swing), some of whom were associated with the previous Advanced Vehicles division established by John Wyer Automotive to produce the road and racing Ford GT40’s.
Although the sales emphasis will be on the points in common between the F2 FVA engine and the BDA, there have obviously been considerable changes to get the unit into even limited production. It produces a docile 120 b.h.p. at 6,000 r.p.m. instead of the INA’s raucous 230 b.h.p. in Series 9 form. Briefly, the main difference is in the use of a 1600 GT Cortina/Capri block and reciprocating parts which are usually limited to 6,000 r.p.m.
The BDA’s camshafts are driven by a single crankshaft driven toothed belt, the standard cam also being operated from the same belt to operate distributor, oil pump and fuel pump. A second section to the crankshaft pulley operates a conventional belt drive for the fan, water pump and dynamo. Weber 40DCOE carburetters supply fuel to the aluminium crossflow cylinder head via small-bore porting (compared to the FVA) and paired inlet valves, a centrally mounted sparking plug surrounded by valves then does its job, paired exhaust valves completing the cycle. A remarkable feature of the basic head design is its unusually efficient mixture combustion. A prototype BDA has covered 20.000 miles in a Cortina, all on 2-star petrol!
The BDA engine is potentially capable of producing up to 200 b.h.p., or 130/140 b.h.p. for tractable road use, and we look forward with interest to a promised extended trial of an Escort with one of these Cosworth engines installed.
Following our test of the Radbourne 650 last month, we hear Radbourne are offering a 6-month/6,000-mile guarantee on the car.
Modifying the Fiat 128 is showing fruit in Italy, one Giancarlo Scotti having prepared two versions, one labelled the “S” for road use and the other, to be called the “SS”, for Group a saloon-car racing in the 1,150-c.c. class. The road car retains the standard capacity of 1,116 c.c. but the restrictive standard carburetter has been replaced by a 34-mm. choke Weber, the camshaft is re-profiled and compression ratio increased to 9.8 to 1. The result of all this work is said to be 80 b.h.p. and a top speed of 100 m.p.h. We know Radbourne are currently engaged in producing similar performance from the same model, which should mean British enthusiasts will soon be able to enjoy a fairly sophisticated answer to the Mini-Cooper S.
Although MOTOR SPORT has jet to be offered a road test of the V8-propelled Capris detailed in the January issue, over in South Africa such a car is very much alive and kicking. Called the Perana V8, it is said to have a top speed of just over 140 m.p.h. and acceleration is in the order of 0-60 m.p.h. in less than 7 1/2 seconds.
Understandably the American engines chosen for the Perana (not to be confused with the British LuMo Pirana) came from Ford, a 5-litre giving a claimed 260 b.h.p. in standard form. However, we were told that the engine was not standard, having modified valve gear, a re-profiled “solid lifter” camshaft, a four-choke Holley carburetter and a 7,000-r.p.m. limit!
The manufacturer of this interesting Capri was Basil Green Motors, 267-269 Commisioner Street, Johannesburg. The prototype’s price is said to be less than £2,300.
The second Northern Racing Car Show will be held at Manchester’s Belle Vue Halls between March 4th and 14th. As well as an enormous number of speed accessories and associated exhibits, there should also be a couple of fresh racing-car designs, including a hitherto secret Formula 5000 single-seater from a small company.