Sure, plenty of manufacturers have long racing pedigree, but the likes of Aston Martin, Ferrari, Jaguar et al weren’t selling their wares to the general John on the street. You weren’t seeing a proliferation of DB4s down your local cul-de-sac, no matter how many titles Aston Martin won in 1959.
But with Ford there is a proper connection to that bloke next to you in the office. Think Jim Clark in a Cortina in the British Saloon Car Championship, or in the same car on the RAC rally. Move later and think Andy Rouse in a Sierra. All these racing superstars received a road equivalent. Whether it was Lotus breathing on the Cortina or Cosworth helping give the Sierra that little extra, the man on the street could dream of driving the car they just saw blast the opposition.
And it’s not just the bigger cars which received the faster on-road treatment Ford began to breathe on their smaller kit as well, the Escort became famous for rallying before the effect tricked down to the smallest stuff in the range. That history remains today, which is why we took our wonderful Mk8 Fiesta ST to meet its forefathers recently, beginning with that very first hot Fiesta: the XR2.