Nine more secret Fords you never knew existed
Cossie mules, clay cars and a... supercar? Take a step inside Ford's secret Nineties and Noughties vault
Last year we featured some never-seen images from a book called Secret Fords Volume One by former Ford product designer Steve Saxty. The first book featured prototypes, one-offs and cancelled cars from the Seventies and Eighties. The new one focusses on the Nineties and Noughties – take a look inside Ford’s secret world.Advertisement - Page continues below
Ford Escort Cosworth Speedster
The marketing team at Ford realised that putting an Escort up against a BMW M3 was a tough sell. So, it decided to look at developing this Speedster version that might appeal to a wider audience. But when the expensive four-cylinder Porsche 968 Cabriolet struggled it was obvious that this similarly priced Ford would have found ever fewer buyers. The plans to make a show car were scrapped at the last minute.
Cancelled Ford Escort
This unusual-looking car was the last Escort – but the world never saw it until now. The early Nineties Escort was derided by the press and shunned by customers. This was a radically fresh interpretation of the Escort, but it sat on the platform of the old car. So, the engineers and designers took a long hard look at it; they decided that they needed more height for passengers and a new chassis. The result was a new Focus and Ford rebuilding its reputation.Advertisement - Page continues below
Ford Escort Cosworth Mule
This might look like a humble mid-80s Escort wearing a bodykit but it’s not. Underneath lurked a Sierra Cosworth 4x4 that had been stitched into the Escort shell. This car served to demonstrate that an Escort Cosworth – shorter and lighter than the Sierra, could be a rally winner when it completed faster laps than a rally-spec racer in the hands of Stig Blomqvist. Most proof-of-concept mules are ugly lash-ups, but not this one – it was used for several years because it was so good out of the box.
The Essex Mustang
When the Mondeo design phase kicked off in the late Eighties there was the inevitable idea of spinning off a FWD coupe to replace the Capri… or the Mustang (note the famous horse galloping across the nose). This design was created in Essex, and Ford USA was looking at its own FWD coupe based on the Mazda 626 – but in the end it saw sense and decided to facelift the existing Mustang and ultimately develop an all-new RWD pony car.
Ford Focus Estate
The normal Focus hatchback was a startlingly fresh design. Its creators wanted the estate version to be equally different and this was one of the options. It meets the brief of looking unusual but that’s not what estate car buyers wanted. Instead, they were more interested in carrying dogs, kids and washing machines. Thankfully this strange looking Focus was discarded in favour of a more conventionally styled estate.
Ford Focus RS clay model
The Focus RS was developed in secret by a small team of enthusiasts offsite away from the rest of Ford. This is the final sign-off model – a metal-bodied 1.6CLX covered in clay and paint to look like the real thing. Ford always designs cars in silver as a neutral colour but the production Focus RS was only made in blue. So this car was painted a different colour on each side for management to get a feel for how the final car would look.Advertisement - Page continues below
Ford Puma clay model
The original Puma was designed by Ian Callum, the well-known former Jaguar chief designer. He created this yellow Puma at TWR Design as a commission from Ford. Ian’s first car that he designed entirely himself was the Aston Martin DB7, the Puma was the second. “I'm not sure I met the brief of designing a mini DB7!”, he laughs but the result was a distinctive little car that helped Ford enter a red-hot sector of the market – just like the new Puma today.
Ford Scorpio facelift
The mid-Nineties guppy-mouthed Scorpio facelift was derided by many but the story behind it is more fascinating than the car itself. Ford’s new European design boss wanted to make something shockingly different with Ford’s facelifted flagship. This was Plan B, an attractive but far more conventional-looking design. He got what he wanted when the grinning Plan A Scorpio was launched – everyone was shocked. But not in a good way.Advertisement - Page continues below
Ford GN34 supercar
The epic Ford versus Ferrari battle at Le Mans in the Sixties might have flared up on the road in the Nineties if this car had happened. Ford saw that Porsche and Ferrari were making serious money and wanted a piece of the action. But the need to fund the first-generation Explorer won out and this stunning looking car went nowhere. It was left to Honda to shake up the establishment with the NSX, but the GN34, designed in Italy and built in France with a Ford-Yamaha engine, British chassis and German ZF gearbox could have challenged the best.