Video: Turbocharged, 600-Horsepower Escort Cosworth Hillclimber

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.

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About the author

Tommy Parry

Tommy Parry has been racing and writing about racing cars for the past seven years. As an automotive enthusiast from a young age, he worked jobs revolving around cars throughout high school, and tried his hand on the race track on his 20th birthday. After winning his first outdoor kart race, Tommy began working as an apprentice mechanic to amateur racers in the Bay Area to sharpen his mechanical understanding. He has worked as a track day instructor and automotive writer since 2012, and continues to race karts, formula cars, sedans, and rally cars in the San Francisco region.
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