Ford Escort Mk2s are already crazy without six-hundred horsepower driving the rear wheels, but that doesn’t stop some people from trying. Perhaps one of the craziest rally cars to ever come out of Ireland, Gerard O’Connell’s Escort boasts the sort of stats that would put some single seaters and certain prototypes to shame. Taking something like that out on a public road might be deemed suicidal by some, but with some thirty years of rally experience, O’Connell has the talents necessary to control this powerful rally beast.

Fast corners or slow corners, O’Connell’s Escort is always dancing on the ragged edge of adhesion. Photo credit: Gerard O’Connell

Though its wild fender flares, gold Panasport wheels, and Avon slicks might attract every keen eye, it’s the engine which steals the show. These Escorts have been shown to be borderline-insane with a 2.5-liter, normally-aspirated Millington engine, which make about 300 horsepower on a good day—but this one makes twice that.

Compact and powerful—this Smith & Jones-built motor is a work of art. Photo credit: Gerard O’Connell

Instead of the barking atmospheric mill, O’Connell opted for a turbocharged Cosworth YB engine, as made popular by the Sierra Cosworth and its brawnier brother, the RS500. This turbo setup is perfect: it builds boost without much lag, but it also surges relentlessly towards the redline.

The short wheelbase and the wave of torque make the Escort squirm at high speed and over every camber, yet, with a lightning jab of opposite lock, it can be controlled. Nevertheless, driving it on a damp Irish backroad is a chore only for those with the skill and experience necessary.