Ken Block’s 1978 Ford Escort Is Retro Done Right

No all-wheel drive or turbos this time for the world’s drift master. No bother.

Hoonigan, via YouTube

“1978 Ford Escort” wasn’t high in Google search rankings until this week. Ken Block, the gentleman responsible for some of the most skilled, knife-edge driving on record, will lionize a ‘78 Escort in his next Gymkhana video production. A lesson to classic car people: This is how you popularize old-school metal for a new generation.

Block occasionally goes retro, but never quite so cleanly stock as this Mark II Escort RS, the European rally special that was never sold in America. His last classic, for Gymkhana 7, was nominally a ‘65 Mustang, yet there was nothing “1965” about a custom widebody ‘Stang with 845 horsepower and all-wheel drive. The Escort is personal. It is Block’s first Ford rally car, yet it gained little attention since the Hoonigan figurehead bought it in 2008.

Unlike his normal Ford Fiesta rally cars that put 600-plus turbocharged horsepower to the ground, Block’s Escort—nicknamed the Rocket Bunny Escort for the Japanese widebody design company that modified the body—has only 333 hp from a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder. It’s rear-wheel drive (the first car so configured in a Gymkhana video), but when Block sits in that Recaro bucket seat, he’ll probably still make 90-degree turns with it. Aside from the obligatory roll cage and flared fenders, the shape is remarkably pure.

Gymkhana 8 is on its way. In the meantime, as if to prove that this Escort’s drivetrain is what he says it is, watch Block happily melting through yet another set of tires: