A ‘Ford Legends’ pavilion will headline next weekend’s Taupo Historic Grand Prix, celebrating some of the marque’s most important and exciting race cars.
Over 20 cars will be on display in between the on-track action. They include a healthy mix of Ford racing and rally cars, and Ford-powered single-seaters, such as the Shelby Family’s 1984 Ralt RT4/84 Formula Atlantic.
This particular car – chassis No.504 – was raced on the West Coast of the USA in 1986 by Patrick Shelby, son of Carroll Shelby.
Formula Atlantic gained traction in the UK across the early 1970s with its formula closely based on the successful US Formula B.
The idea was to launch a race category for national competitors with the performance that rivals a Formula Two car, but running costs below that of a modern Formula Three machine.
The Shelby Family Ralt RT4 is powered by a Ford BDD engine – the Formula Atlantic version of Ford’s four-cylinder BDA developed by Cosworth.
It’s supremacy across the series made the BDD variant the engine of choice for several Formula Atlantic teams.
After being steered by Patrick Shelby in WCAR Formula Atlantic Championship, the was car sold to an East Coast collector where it sat in situ in a private collection.
That was until ten years ago when a South Island enthusiast purchased No.504. Next weekend will mark the car’s debut North Island appearance.
1974 European Touring Car Championship RS3100 Cologne Capri.
This Capri is one of only two surviving examples of the factory 1974 RS3100 Cologne Capris raced in the European Touring Car Championship.
The car is fitted with a racing version of the Essex V6 engine used by the road-going RS3100. Ford ever manufactured only 248 RS3100 road cars.
Ford had looked to the Capri as their ticket to beating German powerhouse BMW and their 2800CS on the Touring Car circuit.
The engine has been bored out to 3.4-litres, and with Lucas fuel injection, these engines delivered roughly 440bhp at close to 9000rpm.
A change in the regulations also permitted Ford to fit the Capri with nonstandard cylinder heads.
Missing the first three races of the 1974 season, the Capri would win the remaining trio of rounds.
Unfortunately, the season was heavily truncated due to the global oil crisis, with several events not going ahead as scheduled.
The car on display in the Ford Legends Pavilion next weekend was purchased by Ford Australia from Ford of Europe for Allan Moffat to race. It eventually found its way to New Zealand and now forms part of Matamata’s Gordon Burr’s collection.
After a seven-year rebuild, the RS3100 will be making its first public outing since January 2013.
Mk 2 Masport Escort RS 1800, JB780
Driven by Hannu Mikkola to win the Rally of New Zealand in 1979, the JB780 was built by Ford to try and win the 1978 World Championship by Mikkola, Ari Vatanen and Bjorn Waldegard.
Escorts would win five rallies that season and Ford would finish second in the manufacturer’s championship.
The RS 1800 on display over the weekend has been painstakingly restored with its original body shell, engine, running gear and interior.
The Mk 2 RS1800 dominated New Zealand rallying through to the 1980s.
Escorts took three victories in the New Zealand International Rally and no less than seven national championships in the hands of drivers Blair Robson, Jim Donald, Paul Adams, Tony Teesdale, Malcolm Stewart and Brian Stokes.
The two-day Historic Grand Prix runs over 23 and 24 January at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park.
The main act will be the Historic Touring Car Championship and Formula 5000. But there will also be several demonstrations of famous Ford models and racing from Formula Junior, Historic Sports Cars, Historic Formula Fords, Historic Sports Sedans & Allcomers and Tranzams.