Ford Escort – Russell Brookes’ Manx Rally Winning Car
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Ford Escort – Russell Brookes’ Manx Rally Winning Car – One of three ‘Monte Tarmac Specials’, Russell Brookes’ 1979 Manx Rally Winning Car.
One of three ‘Monte Tarmac Specials’ built by Ford Motorsport in 1979 and the only right-hand drive car, GVX 489T, was campaigned by Russell Brookes in the RACMSA British Open Rally Championship that year, one of the most hotly contested championships at the time, taking the spoils in the arduous Mopar Manx International Trophy Rally co-driven by Paul White.
The Manx event was the fifth round in the home international rally championship series and was held on September 14th/15th over 270 miles of closed public roads in and around the TT course. The 1979 rally was the latest in a line dating from 1963 and had a top class entry from Ford, Saab, Dealer Team Vauxhall, Talbot Sunbeam and Leyland ST.
Within the first three stages, all three top seeds were eliminated! Stig Blomqvist’s SAAB Turbo broke a driveshaft after seven miles, Hannu Mikkola’s Escort snapped a steering arm (as did Malcolm Wilson’s similar car later in the event), whilst Pentti Airikkala had a substantial accident in the DTV Chevette. The first day was all about Tony Pond and his 2.2-litre Talbot Sunbeam Lotus, however, the engine expired whilst Pond was leading comfortably, leaving Russell Brookes (works Escort RS) and DTV Number-2 driver, Jimmy McRae, to fight for victory on the final Saturday. Despite heroic efforts from McRae, including a time 5 seconds faster than Brookes over the longest stage, that saw the Vauxhall’s gear lever fall out at one point, Russell Brookes and Paul White in GVX 489T scored a worthy victory, albeit by only 14 seconds.
Subsequently, the car moved to Ireland in the hands of, reputedly, Ireland’s finest rally driver, Billy Coleman, and was later driven by other rallying luminaries such as Bertie Fisher and Vincent Bonner. In 2003, ‘GVX’ arrived at Montgomery Motorsport where a rebuild and a thorough refresh were deemed necessary to be dutifully carried out retaining the original shell, initially refinished in Bertie Fisher’s graphics but later changed to Billy Coleman’s colours, which it wears to this day.
It is often said that the ‘tarmac specials’ – VHK 74S, VHK 47S and GVX 489T, were the fastest tarmac-spec Escorts ever built at Boreham, beating the likes of the Lancia Stratos, Porsche and other exotica on such events as the demanding Monte Carlo Special Stages, a stunning rally car that could possibly hold its own even today. A very famous and well documented ‘Works’ Escort with an unquestionable history that would grace any serious Ford competition car collection.
SUPERCAR FEST SALE OF ICONIC AND CLASSIC CARS 2023
We are now inviting entries for our Sale of Iconic, Classic and Supercars at Supercar Fest on Saturday 20th May at Sywell Aerodrome. Supercar Fest, now it its fifth year, is growing into one of the leading dynamic supercar events in the UK with more supercars and more action! This year we are delighted to announce that our Sale will also incorporate a special Sale of Ferraris in association with the Ferrari Owners’ Club GB.