Almost 1,800 Fords took over the grounds of the National Motor Museum for Beaulieu’s biggest Simply Ford yet as 3,080 participants enjoyed baking sunshine at the rally.
The impressive display covered the Beaulieu parkland on Sunday [May 6] and smashed last year’s rally total of 1,500 cars.
At the heart of the display was an anniversary line-up of Ford Escorts in honour of the legendary model’s 50th year.
Each of the Escort’s six generations was represented by Mk1s used daily, pristine family saloons, vans, cabriolets and rally cars. Factory models including the Escort GT, RS, XR3i and Cosworth also turned heads.
Throughout the day, show-goers voted for their favourite Ford of the show in the People’s Choice Award. Fittingly, the prize went to a special 1979 Ford Escort RS2000, owned by Martin and Rita Lewis, from Witney in Oxfordshire.
Replicating the rally cars from the Escort’s motorsport heyday, the RS2000 had been painstakingly built to competition specification by Martin over 13 years. This Escort’s period-perfect paintwork and graphics were reminiscent of the cars that took part in the RAC Rally of the 1970s and 1980s, while a high-spec turbocharged engine was fitted under the bonnet.
Martin said: ‘I always wanted to build this car, it’s a lifelong ambition fulfilled. I can’t believe that I won this award, I’m really made up!’
Martin and Rita were presented with a trophy and Autoglym prize by Beaulieu managing director Russell Bowman.
The runner-up was Mark Hudd, from Wiltshire, for his Escort Mk1 van.
Mark, who has extensively modified his impressive van, said: ‘Underneath, it has full four-wheel-drive Cosworth running gear and it develops about 500bhp.’
Fellow runner-up Paul Ainsworth has owned his desirable high-performance Mustang Shelby GT500 since 2006, when he bought it in his native Canada.
Paul said: ‘I took the car with me when I moved to Arizona, followed by a move to the UK. So now the car can be rained on!’ Both Paul and Mark were presented with Autoglym prizes.
Personalised examples of the popular Ford Focus, Mondeo and Fiesta were well represented, many featuring bespoke paintwork, uprated engines and lowered suspension.
Much-loved modern-day Fords featured heavily in the packed club stands, including strong showings from ST220 Enthusiasts, the Dorset RS Owners Club and Midlands ST Owners Club. Granada Nutz showcased a range of classic Granadas, while the Ford Society club stand featured a mixture of old and new Fords.
An unusual sight was a Cortina Lotus Mk2 which was originally used as a police car on the Isle of Wight.
Equally eye-catching were two Model T-based hot rods with powerful V8 engines.
Rare sights were a top of the range 1980s Ford Sierra Ghia and third-generation American Ford Thunderbird, while Ford dealer Hendy Ford showed a selection of new performance Focuses and Mustangs.
Simply Ford is part of Beaulieu’s growing range of Simply rallies, which continues with Simply Porsche on June 3, Simply VW on June 16, Simply Land Rover on June 24, Simply Jaguar on July 8, Simply Japanese on July 29 and Simply Smart on November 11.
To buy advance tickets or for more details go to beaulieu.co.uk/events.