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The Escort Maxi Kit Car was a further development Daniel Alonsoof the original kit type Escorts. Homologated in July 1997, it was designed solely for use on tarmac events. It was the last major development for the Formula 2 Escort, and is, without doubt, the best known of the three types.

Outside, the differences couldn’t have shouted any louder. The Cosworth type arches were gone, replaced with bespoke items. Echoing the Group 4 arches of the MK2 Escort, but on a whole new level, the new panels increased maximum width to 1830mm, some 39mm wider than the first kit car. Side skirts and bumpers had to be completely redesigned to suit the new body, and the lower portion of an Escort World Rally Car front bumper was used to beef up the new front end. The bonnet and Gwyndaff Evansroof vents of old remained, and the controversial looking rear wing made a return, though now mounted in the traditional position. Despite this, many cars still retained the production car rear spoiler instead, including those run in the UK by GSE. The changes weren’t just skin deep however; to fill out those new arches, track width had been increased further, meaning changes had to be made to the body itself. Front and rear suspension turrets were heavily modified to alter the top mount positioning, and prevent huge camber angles on the wheels.

Chassis development had been ongoing, with changes and options for most components and conditions. Rear suspension development was constant, with further new systems tried on the Maxi. One was a complex Liam OCallaghan“scissor” arrangement rear beam, though these have not often been seen in use. Roll bar thicknesses increased, as well as further spacing to the rear hubs. At the front, an even longer set of track control arms were used, along with revised alloy compression struts, as well as changes to the subframe itself to help with geometry. Front anti-roll bars also increased in diameter, with some cars having them moved up further into the chassis to avoid the limitations around the front subframe area. An addition carried over from the earlier kit car was the option of eight piston, water cooled brake callipers, giving further improved stopping power and increased endurance of brake components.

Guy WoodcockThe engine and gearbox also continued to evolve. For most, the reliable six speed Xtrac transmission remained, but a seven speed unit was also developed for the circuit, and one of these found its way into Gwyndaf Evans’ car for the 1997 Manx International. The engine saw yet more changes, with camshaft and cylinder head upgrades internally. A further revised exhaust manifold came from Tony Law in Leeds, and the inlet was replaced with an improved roller-barrel throttle arrangement. This increased power to around 280bhp, making the Escort Maxi one of the most powerful kit cars of the time.

Andrew HewitsonThe Maxi made its UK debut on the 1997 Ulster International Rally, with Gwyndaf Evans at the helm. It finished a credible second position, an impressive feat on the narrow Ulster lanes. Evans would also lead the Manx International, and looked good for his second British title, but a big accident meant he would have to wait another year. 1998 and 1999 saw Maxi Escorts making their gravel debut, as well as Liam O’Callaghan taking the Irish Tarmac F2 honours in Gwyndaf Evans’ 1997 car. Further development also saw the Maxi become a circuit racer, with the seven speed gearbox, over 290bhp, and further suspension revisions, it would win a Czech race series solely for F2 kit cars three years in succession.