BITS OF AN ANIMAL COSWORTHS AT COSWORTH A MEET LIKE NO OTHER - COVER STORY
Is it an #Audi
, is it a #Ford
, is it a Cossy? Read on. / #Ford-Escort-Cosworth-MkV
This is a 900bhp #Ford-Escort-Cosworth
. Except it’s not, because it’s powered by a five cylinder Audi engine connected to a Skyline gearbox with a rear subframe from a Nissan S14. Oh yeah, it also has electronically adjustable four-wheel drive…
CHRIS POLLITT /// PATRIK CARLSSON
This Escort Cosworth, if you can call it that, is what marketing people would call ‘a game changer’. Now, this is a phrase that tends to get casually tossed about when someone does something just a teeny weeny bit different and people, who want you to think that that something is actually a lot more exciting than it really is, will call it ‘a game changer’ in the hope that it will grab your attention and make you all giddy. Well, this is more than just a bit different; this is a car that completely and utterly redefines what is possible with the Escort Cosworth and even if it has done so by removing almost all of the #Cosworth
DNA, which we know is going to upset quite a few purists reading this, the finished article is so spectacular, so face-meltingly well engineered that anyone who dismisses it for being ‘not a proper Cossie’ needs to go and sit in the corner and have a quite word with themselves. This is proper alright, and it’s all down to the skill, determination and downright bloody-mindedness of its genius owner, Joakim Stigenburg.
Part of the reason we’re getting so hot under the collar about this car. of course, is because the Escort Cosworth is such an iconic machine, most people are reluctant to mess around with it too much. And this is perfectly understandable, it is an appreciating classic after all. Yes, there have been plenty of stunning big power projects over the years, all based around the equally as iconic Cosworth YBT and yes, we’ve even featured one or two examples that have been the subject of an engine swap as well – but nothing like this. In a world where your typical modified EscCos has a stage four conversion, some coilovers, a set of AP Racing 6-pots and some Compomotive MOs, you have to admit that a five-cylinder Audi 20v turbo engine conversion that’s putting out 900hp at the hubs combined with a Nissan drivetrain and an electronically adjustable four-wheel drive system is something of an eye-opener to say the least – especially so when you consider that our man Joakim did the vast majority of the work himself, at home, and in an unheated garage. And that’s actually quite a big deal, because for starters Joakim is a carpenter by trade, not an engineer or mechanic, so he’s had to learn all the skills you might imagine are essential for a build like this from scratch. Secondly, he’s from Sweden, so on the nights when he started work on the car at 8 o’clock at night and would finish at two or three in the morning, having to do so in a freezing cold workshop really does highlight the determination and passion he has had for this project. How long did it take him to finish it? Ten long years. And it all started when he took delivery of a completely standard 1994 model year Escort Cossie.
“I started off with a 330bhp stage three kit, but after only a couple of months I wanted more power, so I modified it to stage four and around 450bhp,” remembers Joakim. “At this point, I decided that I should really have a roll cage for safety reasons, so I stripped the interior out and started work on building myself one. I guess this was the point where things started to get out of hand!”
“THIS IS MORE THAN JUST A BIT DIFFERENT; THIS IS A CAR THAT COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY REDEFINES WHAT IS POSSIBLE WITH THE ESCORT COSWORTH”
We suspect that from the very start, Joakim had his sights set on more than just a stage four conversion – he’s Scandinavian after all, and when it comes to building big project cars, events like Gatebil are proof that these guys don’t tend to do things by halves. It was the Norwegians that made the quantum leap in Cosworth tuning at the start of the noughties, and we have to assume that these kind of extreme machines served as an inspiration for Joakim as well. In short, he had to have more power and as such, he set about building a fully forged Cosworth YB in order to achieve it and to extract as much potential as he could from the freshly caged shell.
And when we say ‘more power’ we do mean just that, because rather than the 500-600bhp that most people would deem to be about the limit for anything approaching vaguely useable for a fast road car, Joakim had his heart set on double that – and as such, he decided that the standard Ford transmission just wasn’t going to be up to the task of processing that amount of grunt. So, an alternative was required, and as luck would have it, one was about to present itself in the form of a Skyline GT-R33 gearbox, complete with a Pftizner Performance ‘dog engagement’ gear set.
According to Joakim, a similar set-up had been proven on a Skyline with around 2,000bhp so he was pretty confident it was going to be man enough to deal with the power he had planned for the Escort. All he had to do now, was find some way of getting it to fit. The answer to that was to spend many, many hours fabricating and welding in his garage, and whilst he did in the end manage to successfully get the Skyline ‘box in place, by the time he did so, he’d somehow managed to completely change his mind on what engine was going to be attached to it!
“WE SUSPECT THAT FROM THE VERY START, JOAKIM HAD HIS SIGHTS SET ON MORE THAN JUST A STAGE FOUR CONVERSION HE’S SCANDINAVIAN AFTER ALL”
The forged YB was built and dyno’d, but the consensus was that it was just going to take too much hard work in order to push it close to the 1000bhp mark and that, once there, it would just be too fragile. So, it was put to one side and the hunt for a replacement began. And for those that are thinking it’s a crime to discard a Cossie YB in such a careless manner, don’t fret – Joakim ended up de-tuning it to a mere 590bhp and 457lb/ft and slotted it into his Sapphire Cosworth instead.
As it happens the Saph was to take centre stage for quite some time, because after finding a new engine for the Escort, which turned out to be a turbocharged Volvo five-cylinder unit tuned to around 700bhp, this engine ultimately proved to be more trouble that it was worth, and Joakim became so frustrated with it all that he put the Escort to one side in order to spend some time with the Sierra.
“WITH JUST OVER 900HP ON TAP THE 2.5 LITRE AUDI BASED 5 CYLINDER ENGINE THAT NOW RESIDES IN THE FRONT OF THE ESCORT IS AN ABSOLUTE MONSTER”
That was until about two years ago, when the half finished Escort was dragged to the front of the workshop so that Joakim could finally finish what he’d started. Job number one was to find yet another engine, and whilst the six-cylinder turbocharged unit from a Skyline could have been an obvious contender in so much as it would have matched up to the gearbox and would have easily provided the power required, Joakim had other ideas. Again, we suspect that the final choice of engine was inspired largely by the no-holds barred creations that crop up at events like Gatebil, but whether that’s the case or not, with just over 900hp on tap the 2.5-litre Audi based 5-cylinder engine that now resides in the front of the Escort is an absolute monster.
Built up around a super strong diesel spec 2.5-litre, five-cylinder Audi block, the top half of the engine incorporates an old school Audi 7a five-cylinder 20v head. Again, Joakim has done the vast majority of the engine build himself, which has included not just mating the head and the block, but fitting JE pistons and H-section rods, a VAG coil pack conversion, custom Cat cams, a custom dry sump and CPS inlet and exhaust manifold – not to mention the small matter of bolting on a Precision 6466 billet roller bearing turbo and then getting the whole package up and running with MaxxECU engine management. On top of that, he’s had to chop around the front of the Escort in order to get the engine to fit and match it up to that bulletproof Skyline gearbox as well.
The time and effort that has gone into the engine build is one thing, but the amount of custom fabrication and engineering involved throughout the whole car is another thing altogether. For instance, Joakim had to design and build a custom suspension set-up at the front of the car, using a combination of custom driveshafts and Nissan hubs to get power to the front wheels. If that wasn’t complicated enough, the rear of the Escort has basically been converted to a semi-tubular chassis, with a Nissan S14 sub-frame in place that in turn accommodates a hybrid Ford/Nissan suspension set-up. And then there’s the Rallycross style rear mounted radiator, the dry sump tank and fuel cell boot install, the custom home-built cage, the custom centre console that houses all the switch gear…the list goes on and on.
“THE REAR OF THE ESCORT HAS BASICALLY BEEN CONVERTED TO A SEMI-TUBULAR CHASSIS”
One of the Escort’s biggest party tricks, however, is not the top of the range hardware or bespoke fabrication, but the electronic wizardy that’s been employed to make the whole thing work in the first place. The heart of this is a MaxxECU engine management system, and whilst it does the normal things that ECUs do with regards to engine duties, it also supplies huge amounts of data to the large electronic screen situated behind the steering wheel and even allows Joakim to switch from super grippy four-wheel drive, to ultra skiddy rear-wheel drive at the flick of a switch.
Considering the Escort has been built to contest both drift and regular motorsport events, it’s a brilliantly clever modification and one that we’ve never seen before on a Performance Ford feature car.
But then, we’ve never seen a car like this before in PF full stop. Yes, we’re aware that it’s lacking its original Cosworth components and for some, this will always be a step too far, but we reckon that in this instance it doesn’t really matter. Think of this Escort as a source of inspiration, proof of what can be achieved with just a cold garage, lots of late nights and a sheer bloody-mindedness to see a dream project car through to completion. So grab yourself a second hand welder and get to it…
TECH SPEC Ford-Escort / #Ford-Escort-Cosworth
/ Fifth generation / #Ford-Escort-MkV
ENGINE: Audi 2.5-litre diesel block, JE pistons and #H-section
rods, CrMo flywheel, ported Audi 20v turbo 7a head, #VAG
coil pack conversion, Cat cams, bronze guides, #Supertech
retainers, dual valve springs, Precision 6466 billet roller bearing turbo, Precision 46mm wastegate, Tial dump valve, custom dry sump, CP-S stainless exhaust manifold, CP-S inlet manifold, #Accufab
engine management, rear mounted radiator, dry sump tank and fuel cell, 904hp at the hubs, 752lb/ft
TRANSMISSION: Electronically adjustable 4WD system allowing for full rear wheel drive or 50/50 four wheel drive, R33 Skyline ‘box with Pftizner Performance ‘dog engagement’ gear set and modified transfer box, Nissan S14 rear cradle with adjustable trailing arms, custom prop and driveshafts, Skyline differentials, custom trailing arms, knife edge anti-roll bar.
6–pots with 356mm discs (front), Skyline GT-R 2-pot #Brembo
s with 320mm discs at rear
Suspension: custom front suspension with #GAZ-Gold
adjustable dampers, Nissan S14 rear sub-frame with Cosworth spec #GAZ
Gold adjustable dampers at rear.
Escort Cosworth, semi-tubular chassis at rear with #Nissan-S14
subframe, poly windows Interior: full weld-in custom roll cage, custom centre console, custom pedal box, Sparco Lico seats, Sparco plumbed in fire system, hydraulic handbrake.
EXTERIOR: Audi Ibis white Wheels: Nissan hubs, 8.5x18-inch #Toora