Steve Morris with his 1987 Ford Escort was a runner up in the ClassicLine sponsored 2019 Gemini Events Pride of Ownership awards. After Motorfest on the 21st & 22nd April, we caught up with Steve to find out more about his retro Escort.

Steve, 52, from Shropshire, has had a passion for cars for as long as he can remember. Playing with Corgi, Matchbox and Dinky toys as a child – wishing he had kept them as they would be worth a fortune now! Steve recalls that he has probably owned about 37 cars over the years, but it was when he approached his self-titled “mid-life crisis years” that he purchased his first classic.

Steve’s first classic was a MK2 2.4 litre Jaguar – which he says almost cleared out his savings at the start of the restoration project. So, the Jag was quickly sold. Then a VW Beetle arrived and also quickly left. Steve’s third classic purchase was a car that he had lusted after as an 18-year-old, a MK2 XR2 Fiesta in Rosso Red. The XR2 Fiesta had one lady owner from new, who apparently cried when Steve drove the car away! Next there was a concours MGB GT, also one lady owner with six folders of history.

The MGB GT and the Fiesta we both sold within three months of each other for a healthy profit. It was then that Steve realised he had an empty garage.

Steve spotted the 1987 XR3i Ford Escort Cabriolet on a well know auction site in March 2019. His first instincts were that the car looked nice. Then he read the description. Two owners from new, all MoT certificates, a Ford silver tag car, belt driven ABS, original paint, no rust of welding. All of which Steve took with a pinch of salt. But after a few thorough internet checks on the car, his research backed up the advert description and a 160-mile round trip to look at the car was booked.

The Escort XR3i was first owned by The Ford Motor Company. The next owner purchased it from a Ford dealer and kept it for the next 30 years.

The silver tag that is pop riveting to the front slam panel reads “no manufactures warranty given”. Steve says, “I spoke to the XR3 Cabriolet Club and was told it wasn’t a press car. More likely a merchandising car to promote the model. These were usually problematic cars and why Ford would not warranty the car apparently”.
In near mint condition when Steve bought the car, there was little else for him to do apart from tax and insure it.

Over the past few months, Steve has had the car machine polished to bring the Radiant Red paintwork back to its former glory with two coats of Carnuba Wax Polish. “All the paint on the car is original Ford paint, apart from the bonnet that sustained paint damage from something falling on it with the previous owner. I work for a classic car restoration company, so I pulled the use of our valet and QC mechanic to check the car over. The underside is apparently dripping in Waxoyl from every hole, with no welding, no rust and everything protected”, Steve says.

The XR3i came with the RS body skirts and original steel wheels with dial wheel trims. “Most people went for the lattice alloys when they bought them. I have a set being refurbished but won’t put them on as this is not how the car was when I bought it”, Steve tells us.

The car is powered by a standard 1.6 CVH derivative engine with the injector factory standard fitted with a 5-speed Ford box. No modifications aside to the factory fitted belt driven ABS.

Inside, the interior is original apart from the speaker covers. Steve tells us that the cloth seats are original, and the door cards are holding up well with only slight lifting away from the glue. The car even has a 10 CD Ford Sony Autochanger in the boot with remote control built into the lower centre console! “I just want to get the CD player working as it won’t read the discs thus denying me my 80’s tunes blasting out”, says Steve.

Now that the car is properly on the road, Steve is looking forward to putting some miles on the clock. With plans to attend events at Himley Hall, Eccleshall, Market Drayton, Ragley Hall, Tatton and Oswetry, we know he is going to have a busy car show season. “I love driving it. Back to basics, no power steering, brakes that are spongy and debatable road holding. That’s what driving old cars is all about. Modern cars are so predictable and precise”, Steve says.

We asked Steve is he has any plans for a future project. Just top down and enjoy the car when the weathers right, he said – sounds great! Steve did mention that might look for another classic to put in his father in laws garage, if funds allow in the future. For now, it’s the Escort and plenty of shows to display it.

Keep a look out for Steve at other Gemini shows and local classic car events around Shropshire, Staffordshire and the West Midlands.

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For further details on Gemini Events classic motor shows, click here.

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