TUMUT’S Brian Hartshorn has found a way to make flares and 1970s design cool again.
It’s his 1975 Ford Escort with its “warm” engine, trick wheels and tyres, and flared wheel arches, and it wins people over the moment they see it.
To say Brian is a car enthusiast would be putting it mildly.
“I’ve owned 32 cars, ten of which were small Fords, and four these which were Escorts,” he said.
However, it was his son Brendan who found this vehicle, when it was a humble beast residing in Wagga Wagga a few years ago.
“It was an automatic with a 1300 engine,” Brain recalled.
“It was riddled with dents, but luckily no rust.”
It now has a two-litre engine with a “warm” cam, down-draught Weber carburettor, extractors and a sports exhaust.
“It’s basically to RS 2000 specifications,” Brain said, in reference to the prized sports Escort model. Brian started shaping the car’s trademark flares, but soon realized this was a job for an expert.
“I got Phil Buckman in to do the body,” he said.
Darcy Mildren, Ben Thomas and Brian’s son Brendan were others to help the car in its journey from zero to hero. The gearbox is now a four-speed manual, and there are Saas seats and steering wheel, a Smith tachometer, and under the flared archers are Minilite wheels. The brakes and suspension have been beefed up accordingly.
“It’s not a show car; it’s just a fun car for me,” he said.
“It’s quite sporty to drive; and ride’s correspondingly hard due to the stiff suspension.”
Brian said the car is now very valuable, due to its rarity.
“A bloke in Holbrook offered me $20 grand for it,” he said.
“You never see them for sale, here or in England (where they are from).”
However, it hasn’t won everyone in Tumut over.
“My wife doesn’t like it,” Brian said. “She thinks it’s too primitive. You do suffer in summer, because it has no air conditioning.”