Sunburst Into Life

Sunburst Red XR3i Feature Car

It was early 2007 and Matt was driving down a road when he spotted a white Escort convertible parked on someone’s driveway. It had a broken window, so Matt decided to knock on the door and ask if the car was for sale. The owner said it wasn’t and that kids had vandalised the window since he’d parked it up, awaiting a new gearbox. Matt offered to fix the cabriolet for him, as his friend had recently broken two Escorts for spares. He left his phone number, and sure enough, the owner contacted Matt a few weeks later and Matt took the car away and got stuck in. Matt also serviced the car and arranged an MoT at an agreed price, as the car had been off the road for a while. Once it was all fixed up and road worthy, Matt delivered the car back to its owner who was over the moon with what Matt had done. They got talking about old Fords, and the owner mentioned to Matt that a relative had recently passed away, and he had an old Escort XR3i stored in his garage that was now going to have to be sold. The XR3i had been left in a garage and forgotten about. Matt asked for his number to be passed on, as this sounded like just what he was looking for.
A few months passed before Matt received a phone call. They arranged to meet up so he could take a look at the stored car, and on arriving Matt was not disappointed. The garage door was opened, revealing a part covered Escort peeping out from under a cover. On peeling back the cover, Matt saw the XR3i in bits, with scabby rust patches and a layer of dust. The car had been left in the garage for 12 years, and parts where lay all over the garage. The guy couldn’t remember why it had been taken off the road all those years ago, but there Matt stood, eager to take the Escort home.
No price had been mentioned as yet, so Matt asked the question. “They make good money on eBay” the guy said, but he would like £150 for the car. Obviously, Matt agreed the sale and took the car away.
On getting the Escort home, Matt soon gave it a good clean and checked to find out what parts might be needed. He found that there was water in the engine, so a full rebuild was required. Around this time, Matt was selling some parts on eBay when fellow member Phil Haywood bought some parts and wanted to collect them. He came down from Newark and it turned out that he also owned a Mk3 XR3i that he was doing up. From that day they kept in touch and in 2010, as Matt wasn’t making progress, Phil rebuilt his engine for him. Matt sent Phil the engine in bits, with many new parts like Clutch, Cam Shaft, Bearings, Gaskets, etc. Once the engine was ready, Matt drove up to Newark to collect it. Phil had done a fantastic job and it was also newly painted, ready to drop back in, although it did sit in Matt’s mates garage for two years before being fitted.
Once the engine was in, Matt made a start on painting some of the other parts like the Suspension, and generally tidied the car up.
In 2014, Phil again came to Matt’s rescue, offering to paint the body work for him. Matt arranged for the Escort to be transported up to Newark. Shortly after, the phone call from Phil came, and the car was ready to be collected. What a beauty!
Matt says he loves driving the car, but hates parking it up in case someone damages it when he’s not around. I think that’s only testament to the hard work he and his friends have put in over the years.
Matt joined the XR Owners Club in November 2014 and since then, Matt and his XR3i have been to Cosford, Classic Ford Show, Beauliea, Ford Fair, Knebworth and Chiltern Open Air Museum, and this year’s Pre Season Meet at Gaydon Motor Museum. He is also now looking forward this years show season.

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