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An Escort to turn heads

Sauntering onto a Cape show ’n shine field on a crisp winter’s morning, with the sunlight not quite yet gleaming off polished hoods, the car most likely to catch your eye is the one that appears to glow with an internal light.

We know, it sounds somewhat mystical, but with that purple-to-green paint flip Ryno Hattingh’s 1967 MK1 Ford Escort Deluxe is a divine head-turner of note.

Ryno has been a feature on the local car scene for many years, and the inventive man from Thornton does most of his own work, this being the third incarnation of an Escort that he acquired in 2010. A word with the guy and you know straight up that this is not his first rodeo.

The Ford Escort marque is no less than iconic. Manufactured in Port Elizabeth from 1968 to 1997, the small family car fast became renowned for its affordability and rugged durability on our rough hinterland roads. Add to this its success in rally motorsport and the fact that when you broke one you could get parts easily, and the Escort became a household name.

Ryno, who insists the makeover job is never quite finished, built his escort to showstopper status in 2017. He says: “It was a six-month project that involved a lot of blood, sweat, money and tears but the end result has earned my car plenty of silverware at shows.”

After the chameleon colour flip, carefully and evenly applied by Ryno himself as such a look demands, the next unusual feature is the sheer amount of screens, seven in all, in this car. The 19-incher in front brings the Playstation to life, and accounts for the second steering wheel on the interior, should there be any confusion. Two under the sun visors, two in the boot and, wait for it, one 7-incher in the engine bay.

Of this, Ryno says: “Besides being ‘just for different’, the aesthetic idea with the screens is to create that dramatic effect when the same video is playing on all screens at once and in sync.” Jackie Crewe had to suggest to Ryno that it’s high time he present a video of the car, in the car, all over the car.

Up front, the Golf Mk1 crystal head lights lead the way, while the incredibly tidy candy pink engine bay houses an original 1300cc powerplant. There’s something otherworldly about the neatness, possibly due to the wires being tucked away out of sight, a modification strategy known to turn the heads of appreciative judges.

Ryno installed 40 Weber sides and a Powerflow exhaust setup, enhancing that engine growl so satisfying to a petrolhead. Of course, and in a nod to an enduring fashion, Ryno slammed the Escort to the ground on an air compression bagged system consisting of a 10-litre Viair tank and compressor with half-inch solenoid valves installed snugly in the boot. All this sets off the Autoquip wheels nicely; it’s all about the tuck after all.

Ryno describes his journey through the evolution of lowering his car, saying: “I started out with spring compressors for the everyday drive and when it came to shows I would remove the springs completely for that look. Think lots of elbow grease. Next I got sleeve overs, which are similar to adjustable coilovers, which still meant I would have to take the wheels off to do a show setup. Again, lots of elbow grease required. Finally, it was time to graduate to electronically controlled airbags, finally, no elbow grease.”

Turning to the Escort’s boot, Ryno has done a full fibreglass custom job. In fact, the guy seems to be rather accomplished at the fibre art, with the interior footwells done out in custom-fitted white molding. Credibly, he says the skill is all thanks to Youtube. The audio system gets a serious boost from the two Ice Power 12-inch subwoofers powered by XTC amplifiers, neatly housed in a seamless candy pink backdrop.

The interior levels up on the neat and tidy theme with a mainly white colour palette. In short, everything is trimmed or sprayed white, with the Momo steering wheel front and centre of the look. Aftermarket quirks include a scale model Escort in the rear and a Steri Stumpie wrapping over the coil in engine bay.

Ryno wraps it up, saying: “My Escort continues to turn quite a few heads at car shows. My plans for the future are to make it even neater, but I’ll keep the colour scheme.”

Look out for Ryno and his spotless Escort at car shows across the Cape peninsula.