By Chris Derbyshire
Chris has kindly allowed MAR Onine to share an article originally published in the South Hants Model Auto Club (SHMAC) newsletter “Wheel Nuts”. For more details about the club visit our collectors club page.
The Mark 1 Escort had been released in 1968 and was proving to be a great success so what were Ford doing entering the 1969 3 Cities Rally in Austria, in a Ford Zodiac? Navigator of that car Jim Porter explains..
Big Fords were not selling too well and some genius in Ford’s Sales department thought that if the Escort could win rallies then maybe the Zephyr/Zodiac could too. So Stuart Turner was asked to “Do Something”. He got British Vita Racing in Rochdale to prepare a car & entered the 3 Cities Rally. This was a European Championship Rally but so obscure that no-one would notice if it was a total disaster. The rally route started in Munich and was fairly easy to the Austrian border, but then got more difficult through Austria and into Hungry and really tough in the last 100 miles, possibly as tough as anything they had come across before. As Jim reported in period ‘I think we shook the opposition in cars with more power and weighing less than the Zodiac. But we sat there surrounded by silence and cocooned in comfort!!’ Surprisingly they won the class but this was down to Roger not the car. He had to work hard to beat a BMW 2500 and the BMW 2002s (in a different class) which were much quicker. The Zodiac was 14th overall which gives a better idea of its capabilities than the class win! Anyway the class win was used in Ford’s advertising for a while but there would be no more Zodiac entries!
So when Jim Porter asked if we could do a model I was a bit stuck. There was the dreadful old Dinky, but on the horizon Lansdowne were about to release the very car we needed.
The model was fairly easy to strip as all Lansdowne’s are glued together with PVA glue, so drop in warm water and all the bits come off easily!! Fortunately, Jim has loads of old photos which were of great help when it came to making the decals, whilst the Minilites wheels came from BTS Mouldings, in Hastings.
Only six of these Zodiacs have been made of this unique rally car and all were pre-sold.
Chris would like to thank Jim for the history and the photographs which allowed him to make this model.
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