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bmxnz11's 81 escort van


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One day in 08/09 when we were headed up north for a ride we saw this van on the side of the road in Sanson for sale, rego on hold. Went to check it out, thought fuck thats yuck and carried on our way. The next day over the course of the ride the sun stroke must have really hit me because I started thinking maybe it wasn't so bad after all. Couple days later on the drive back we stop and have a second look. Threw our lowest offer on the table and it was mine.


What would normally take a 2hr drive home ended up being a 5 hour drive getting flat towed. So what did we have then?






This was after I repainted the bumpers black. When this was resprayed blue, EVERYTHING was resprayed blue. Bumpers, wiring, brake booster, the lot. Was tidyish but just gross.


Did the important things like changed a few of the bushes, control arms etc etc and got it a WOF. It even had new windows cut for the sides with new rubber.




Sandblasted the wheels, primed and painted them with 2k, new tyres, put on the chrome wheel trims and rolled like this for awhile.





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Being an escort, the first choice of wheels were always going to be hotties.






I also mucked around with the height with some blocks and springs I had. Treated it as a test van for parts which would end up on my other.




Other then that it sat dormant for 2 and half years because of rust issues. Plan was always to finish the other one, then play with this blue one.




That was until earlier this year when I decided I wanted this thing on the road again....

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I was never working on this van because I wanted to spend all my time working on the other one trying to get it finished. But over new years I got sick of seeing all the old cars out and not being able to do that myself. So on the way home it got me thinking and a plan was hatched. Take 1 week off and see how much rust work I can get done.


Towed it home on the Sunday, got into it on the Monday.


The drivers guard was bubbling on the top and bottom by the door. I knew it had a bit of bog too. Wire wheeled these areas and revealed a few things.




In that ^^^ photo you'll see the top corner is missing. Well here it is..






Everyones favourite fix. Bog and mesh.

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The above was all cut out, only to discover another surprise.




They had welded (I use the term loosely here) a patch over top of the original guard. You can even see where the aerial hole is. I wire wheeled it further back to find the end of the patch.




This was all filled with bog and explains why the guard sat so high up near the window. I cut away all the old repairs (More than what you see in the top photos) and rot on the top of the guard and started making patches. Luckily I had a damaged but rust free guard so I was able to cut the top corner off and graft this on. I don't have any photos of that patch, even though it was the trickiest. The lower section of the guard was cut out and new patches made up. Everything was wire wheeled, primed and sprayed with epoxy to really seal it shut.






Finished product. Should have taken a photo of the top.





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The rear sill was next. No surprises here.






A new sill was made in the folder. Weldy weldy.




Grindy grindy




Because of the slope of the carport I wasn't able to jack the back up and made it a c*** to weld and grind underneath. Oh well, it ended up pretty good anyway.


Again all this was primed and had epoxy sprayed in the sill once it was welded shut.

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Other then this, the A pillars are really tidy show no sign of rust. This is the the passengers door jam, bottom of A pillar.




Cut out, cleaned up, sprayed epoxy etc and new patch in




Bottom of passengers guard.




Cut out, patch made.




Cleaned up.




Also put a patch in the bottom of the drivers door.




All the patches were just primed and later painted black. Didn't feel this van needed any more bog thrown at it.


Also did lots of little jobs over the week that didn't require photos.


- Rebuilt the drivers side caliper as it was grabbing and not releasing.

- Put new door pins the drivers door while it was off.

- Changed over leaking oil pump with a new one.

- Changed alternator 3 times until I found a good one.

- Fixed leaking carb.

- New plugs and leads. Condenser and dizzy cap look very new.

- Flushed radiator. Still need to fix crack in top tank, stop leak putty stuff on it atm.

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Booked a WOF for the following Monday. Waited patiently expecting a big list of jobs but to my surprise it failed on front tyres rubbing on sway bar full lock (Had to use the hotties with big tyres because standard wheels had cracks), window wipers and driveshaft uni.


Changed over the driveshaft to a spare one, purchased wipers, borrowed wheels and I had myself a WOF in time for the weekend. Not bad for a weeks work.


Sporting a new WOF, it was time for some changes.


So before the weekend arrived I returned the borrowed wheels, put my wide rostyles on, and changed the standard rear springs for some reset springs. Again this was used as a test van to see what combinations would work.


Standard vs rest




Threw in some rear air shocks to compliment it. So hard in the back now, rubbish as a shock absorber but nice to have height options and corners like a champ.


Mocked up my sport rubber spoiler and decided it tidied up the front alot. Had to make a repair on the bottom of it before it could be attached, where it had split.


Prepped and painted bumpers and spoiler. Attached a drivers chrome mirror since the holes were already in the door. Tidied up a few other bits and peices and we had a not so ugly van anymore...

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  • 1 year later...

So I got back from my trip and decided to get this thing road legal. Wof man failed it on a couple of things including rust, which I already knew about. Having no job ment I was able to get into it, take my time and do a really nice job. Photo dump coming up.

The first place of rust to attack was the drivers floor. This area had been 'fixed' by the previous owner by layering bog and chicken mesh over the original rust.

2017-03-14 20.37.14.jpg

All of this and some was cut out. I first replaced the lower part of fire wall which meets and overlaps the floor.

2017-03-14 20.40.02.jpg

Whilst I had access here, I cut out the support and lower section of the guard, and the front section of sill.

Replaced the support section with a new piece.

2017-03-14 20.40.41.jpg

The skin of the guard was replaced.

2017-03-14 20.40.55.jpg

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Front sill section. I also made another piece behind this one after it was welded in. 

2017-03-14 20.41.29.jpg

2017-03-14 20.41.47.jpg

Floor pieces all welded in. This was made up in 4 sections. It made sense to replace everything at the time.

2017-03-14 20.42.02.jpg

I also made up a new seat rail since the old one was a tad rusty and splitting around the nuts on the underside.

2017-03-14 20.42.12.jpg

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The second part of the rust work was done here. Bottom of the heater bubble, to of the firewall. EVERY escort rusts here. It's a prick of a place to fix and theres 3 layers of metal to replace.

I felt comfortable fixing this though, having done the same repair on my other van.

2017-03-14 20.39.44.jpg

Took the heater bubble off to assess how much rot there is. There was a fair bit. It followed the join of the heater bubble quite far up.

2017-03-14 21.24.13.jpg

I started with the top of the firewall in the centre. Cut out as much as it needed.

2017-03-14 21.24.28.jpg

Replaced with a new lip I made up. The top of the lip was later trimmed to match the sides.

2017-03-14 21.24.38.jpg

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This only lasted a trip down to the bmx track and the monthly meet before I got stuck into it again. The passenger floor has always bugged me so it was time to get into it and repeat what I had done to the drivers floor.

2017-03-21 21.18.26.jpg

The passengers floor was covered on the inside and outside in bog. Underneath were just patches tacked on top of the original floor.

2017-03-21 21.17.58.jpg

2017-03-21 21.17.10.jpg

Ive cut most of this out. I've replaced the lower section of firewall with new metal, put a new piece in by the gearbox tunnel and now I'm here.

2017-03-21 21.16.47.jpg

After the floor is done, I'll put in the new seat rail and take the sill out. It's rusty from the front to the rear, so I've decided to replace the whole thing.

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  • 1 month later...

Bit slow on updating but that doesn't mean I haven't been working. I made up and welded in another seat rail. I then folded up some sills out of lengths I had laying around, which happened to be thicker then the original steel. I also replaced the bottom of the guard, and made up the remaining floor panels.

Photos or it didnt happen.

Cut the drivers sill out.


Replaced with a new sill. The remaining original sill was cut out after this.


Back of the sill and guard before being primed etc.


There was a crazy amount of dirt in behind the sill.


Replaced the inner rusted strengthening piece.


The passengers floor looking better.


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New sill.


I then had to tackle the top of the passengers guard. To keep the theme up is was rust covered over with bog.


Cut all the shit out.



Made up a new inner section before making up the outer skin.


I tried to take my time shaping the metal to the correct specs. I was pretty stubborn about not wanting to put anymore bog into this, so I tried to make all the repairs as correct as I could.


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  • 1 month later...

So the drivers rear quarter was no better, full of holes, dirt and speaker mesh.


As i kept hitting areas with the wire wheel, it revealed the true damage of the thick layer of dirt. The entire lower rear panel had holes in both the outer and inner skins.



I started on the rear, folding up a couple of long sections for the outer and inner skins.



Following it along I rebuilt the inner rotten inner corner with 2 pieces.







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