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Ford Escort RS2000 Automatic, One of One, ex-Henry Ford II

To Be Auctioned

Description

Ford Escort RS2000 Automatic, One of One, ex-Henry Ford II — Long believed to have disappeared, Henry Ford II’s own Ford Escort RS2000, unique in Roman Bronze Metallic, with a Cream Leather interior and Automatic Transmission.

Henry Ford II, sometimes known as “Hank the Deuce”, was the eldest son of Edsel Ford I and the eldest grandson of Henry Ford. Head of Ford Motor Company for 34 years (1945-79), he is generally credited with reviving the firm’s fortunes.

Following the unexpected death of his father, he was released from Naval duty, immediately becoming a Ford Vice President and, after what amounted to a crash course in industrial management, he succeeded to the Presidency of the ailing company in 1945. He promptly set about modernising the Company, introducing many successful models, including the Mustang and the Thunderbird, and by the mid-1950s Henry II had restored FoMoCo to rude financial health, becoming part of the bedrock of the modern auto‐industrial age.

Harrow-born Walter Hayes enjoyed a successful career in journalism, however, with a young family to look after he was seeking a more stable career. Fortuitously the position of Head of Ford UK’s Publicity Department became available and in January 1962, he joined Ford UK at the start of a stellar career that would have an influence in every corner of British Motorsport for decades to come. His inclusion in this story relates to his early acquaintance and subsequent life-long friendship with HF II.

During the early 1960s, HF II engaged in lengthy negotiations with Enzo Ferrari in an attempt to buy Ferrari, with a view to expanding Ford’s presence in motorsport in general and at the Le Mans 24 Hours in particular, however, negotiations collapsed due to disputes over control of Ferrari’s Scuderia racing division. As is well known, the collapse of the deal and his subsequent annoyance, led Henry to launch the Ford GT40 with much documented success, the story of which is well told in the 2019 film Ford v Ferrari  in which Henry Ford II is portrayed by Tracy Letts.

During the crisis of the Ferrari purchase/development of the GT40, and latterly the development of the Ford Cosworth DFV, Hayes would often meet with Henry Ford II. The pair got on well, and thanks to the success of the DFV, Henry appointed Hayes to the board of one of his major projects, the establishment of Ford of Europe at its founding in 1967.

With his own involvement with Ford of Europe, HF II found himself spending increasing amounts of time in the UK and, in 1974, decided to buy a property over here. Married to his second wife, Maria Cristina Vettore, they fell in love with and bought Turville Grange, a stunning Grade II listed property in Buckinghamshire. The estate was the former home of the younger sister of Jackie Kennedy, Lee Radziwill, who lived at the property with her European husband, HSH Prince Stanislas Radziwill in the 1960s. Whilst living at Turville, if HF II had to make longer trips, he would borrow something from the local Ford dealer or would be collected by a chauffeur, however, he liked to be independent and to be able to pop into the village occasionally on his own, so contacted his good friend, Walter Hayes (at this point Vice President, Ford of Europe) and asked him to find him “something special, a bit unusual.”

Although, Henry was able to handle a ‘stick-shift’, he preferred an automatic gearbox and whilst, Ford’s new RS2000 powered by the 2-litre, SOHC, four-cylinder Pinto engine was powerful, and its looks distinctive with a ‘droop snoot’ polyurethane nose and shiny RS badge, it wasn’t available with an automatic gearbox. After some thought, Walter decided to instruct SVE to create a bespoke, one-off, RS2000 for HF II who, after all, was one of the most influential people in the history of Ford. The car was duly built with an automatic box, luxuriously trimmed in Cream Leather with deep carpets, de-badged and meticulously finished in Roman Bronze Metallic, prior to being registered to Henry Ford for his sole use on 8/06/1976 as NUF 617P.

This unique RS commenced the next chapter of its life when it was purchased from Ford by John Redding on behalf of Melvyn Butcher who registered it in his name on 27/5/1978. Naturally, Melvyn was aware of the car’s provenance but used it as his family car for nearly 10 years covering around 40,000 miles, before selling it to John and Scott Redding who registered it in their company name, Webster and Lancaster Ltd. on 13/03/1988. Established in 1960, Webster and Lancaster are very well respected motor vehicle engineers and restorers and, knowing the car’s history, planned to recommission it and offer it for sale. With dozens of projects on the go, they never got around to it and were persuaded to sell it by our late vendor.

Externally, it had become a little tired so, in 2002, our vendor tasked Roger Taylor Classic Cars of Bournemouth with a full external restoration of the RS to a ‘show standard’. There is an invoice within the file totalling £6,632.88 which details the repair of metalwork, preparing, priming and painting the car in its unique Roman Bronze. In the interests of originality and considering the car’s fascinating history, the interior wasn’t touched apart from a good clean. It was added to his Collection and, we understand, made occasional appearances at shows and events, where it attracted much interest before, to all intents and purposes, disappearing for the last ten years.

Henry Ford II was an ebullient, larger than life, character who was CEO of the Ford Motor Company from 1945 to 1979. Often regarded as a ‘tycoon’ in the mould of Rockefeller and Howard Hughes, he fitted well into British Society with his beautiful wives, country estate and noted generosity yet, when whizzing down to Turville Heath in NUF 617P to pick up the newspapers or have a pint at the Bull and Butcher, he was often described as modest, polite and kind.

We are delighted to be able to offer this unique RS2000 that was once enjoyed by one of the most influential figures in the history of the automotive industry and invite and encourage your viewing at Silverstone prior to our sale.

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Seller Info

by Gary Dunne
Published: 7 July 2024 (1 week ago)
To Be Auctioned
Member Since
04 Dec 2023
Phone Number
07740 946796
Currency Options
To Be Auctioned
Seller Accepts
Bank Transfer