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Ford Escort Mexico - Hungry to Rally

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Welcome to our fresh ‘Vehicle of the Month’ story by Jon and his Ford Escort Mexico, that was rally prepared by Taurus Performance and became known as the “Taurus” Mexico in 1971/2. 

His story is a well preserved memoir of the vehicle’s rally years, packed with action snapshots and the long awaited restoration journey - The type of story we love the most! Thank you for letting us share it Jon.

By the way - and quite conveniently - If you are coming to the Classic Car Show taking place at the NEC, Birmingham (11-13th November) - you will be able to see Jon and his car in real life as part of the Ford AVO Owners Club stand. Having been off the road for almost 30 years this is going to be the first major public appearance as to date. Jon has only taken his Ford Escort Mexico out to 3 or 4 local events in East Yorkshire. 

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"Delivery day at F. English Ltd, Bournemouth.  NTK555J and NTK777J being handed over to Garry Polled and Geoff Finney.  This photo originally appeared  in the Rallye Sport Facts newsletter #6 dated January 1971". 
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"December 1970, shortly after delivery as a brand new car".
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"First event for NTK.  The Gremlin Rally which was a round in the Castrol Motoring News Rally Championship in 1971.  Driver John Maddox and Navigator David Trim".
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"Just a couple of weeks later John and David were back in action on the next round of the championship, the Cilwendeg Rally.  Unfortunately this event ended in an early retirement for NTK".
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"After the Rally of the Plains, the next on the schedule was the AGBO rally where John and David were more successful with a top 20 finish (albeit some 30 minutes off the winning time !)"
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"Missing the Illuminations Rally, John and David then took NTK up to Tobermory for the Tour of Mull, the next round of the championship.  Here, once again, bad luck hit them and differential issues led to yet another early retirement".
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"Early retirement on the Tour of Mull 1971"
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"Putting the disappointment of Mull behind them, the next round - The Torbay Rally - saw John and David put in a strong performance which resulted in a finish just outside the top 10, missing out by just 4 minutes !"
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"In April 1972 the popular magazine Cars & Car Conversions carried this piece on Taurus.  What is of particular interest is that, whilst it explains in some more detail the engineering development of their Club Rally engine (for the princely sum of £165), it would appear that the car that the writer was taken out in to demonstrate that Garry's claims were more than just "talk" was none other than NTK555J and driven by John Maddox".
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"After rounding out the 1971 season with the Shenstone Rally and then competing in the 1972 Rallye Bristowe John decided that it was time to sell NTK and so the "Taurus Mexico" as it was known was advertised in Motoring News"
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"After having seen how the Escort performed on the London-Mexico 1970 World Cup Rally (in which he competed in car #73, the Grants of Croydon Morris 1800), Robert (Bob) Robertson decided to buy NTK from John and promptly entered the International Sherry Rally in Spain that September"
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"The "Team", which incuded Bob's future wife modelling on the bonnet of NTK prior to the event"
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"Ready for the off"
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"Bob with his Navigator Anthony Pett on one of the stages. Unfortunately a stray nut in the diff was to lead to retirement and an early return home".
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"Another action shot from Spain"
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"Undeterred, Bob continued to campaign NTK both internationally and within the UK.  1973 though was to be a rather costly year running as car #110 on the Boder Uniflo Rally"
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"In Bob's words...
On a closed stage section they encountered headlights coming towards them on the road.  Presented with the choice of hitting either the trees bordering the road or the somewhat inebriated local in his Hillman Imp (as it turned out) the decision was taken that the Imp was the better option.  Unfortunately this resulted in yet another DNF for NTK".
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"Not to be put off...the damaged outer wing, bonnet, grille and front panel were replaced and, rather than splash out on new "Mexico" stripes NTK aqcuired a slightly different look with the white stripe carried across the bonnet.  Also note that the grille fitted was an early (pre 70) version with the cut-out for the bonnet release handle that was used on the early cars".
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"Bob continued to campaign NTK throughout the 1970's. His final International was the 1978 24hrs of Ypres in Belgium where he ran as car #132.  His overriding memory from that event was the overall pace ! Even today, its renowned as a FAST tarmac rally".
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"Bob finally hung up his helmet (predominantly due to increasing costs and regulations in rallying) and parted with NTK555J in June 1981.  The next few years saw several changes of keeper for NTK555J and unfortunately during this period many of the modifications that had been carried out by Taurus were stripped out of the car".
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"Following a colour change in the late 80's, this is how NTK555J looked when I purchased the car in 1992.  The only clues to it's former history being the roll cage, turreted rear suspension and the rather nicely tuned engine (albeit now running on a twin-choke Webber rather than 40DCOE's)".
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"After running NTK for 4 years, taking part in numerous navigation events and displaying with the Ford AVO Owners Club around the country, I decided that due to the onset of corrosion on the O/S inner wing (a result of the 1973 incident) the time had come to take NTK off the road and undertake a full restoration.  This turned out to be a somewhat longer process than originally anticipated!"
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"After many years of hard work (delayed by house moves, arrival of children and life in general) cutting out rotten metalwork and replacing throughout with genuine Ford panels (wherever possible) NTK was finally ready for paint"
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"Freshly painted by Andrew Stapley and his team down at ASM Restorations"
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"The decision was made to return NTK555J to the livery with which John and David competed on the Tour of Mull 1971"
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"A very lucky find from Ebay...an original Taurus alloy rocker cover (as mentioned in the 1972 CCC article) which arrived just in time for Vulcan Engineering to fit it to the freshly rebuilt engine"
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"Finally in 2022, after a rebuild lasting in total some 26 years, NTK555J the Taurus Mexico drives again".
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"Twin fuel tanks and early "Works" inboard turrets"
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"Original "Works" bucket & recliner Contour seats, Halda Twinmaster and Heuer Stopwatches"

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