Keith Adams tells the story of how Tickford helped Ford reinvent its iconic 1600E…
In 1989, the Escort and Orion were coming to the end of their production run, and Ford wanted to send them off in style, as well as introduce a new halo model. Taking its inspiration from the Cortina Mk2 1600E, and intended to sit in the range above the 1.6i Ghia, Ford turned to Tickford to build a limited run of specials.
The Ford Orion 1600E started out as a 1.6i Ghia built at Halewood, and from there they were shipped in batches to the Tickford site in Bedworth for their interior transformation. The Orion was originally available in only two colours Raven, a blue-black metallic and Mercury Grey. Later a small number became available in Diamond White.
Every car was trimmed in soft Shadow Grey leather, and came with front sports seats specially developed for the model from those fitted to the Escort XR3i. The standard Granada Scorpio steering wheel was treated to a leather rim, and the gear lever knob and gaiter were also leather.
A fillet of American Cherry wood veneer was placed on the fascia ahead of the front passenger seat, and matching wood veneer cappings were placed on each door trim panel to complete the ‘mini limousine’ effect. The original build schedule was for 1500 cars being built between October 1988 and July 1989, but this was not quite reached.
Between October 1988 and February 1989 the first 1000 were produced, but a number of these had to be recalled to rectify a paint problem caused by fall-out from a nearby factory, which in turn led to a hiatus in production. The remaining 498 cars were built in June and July 1989.
Nobody knows at present how many of these cars have survived. As with any limited run car, the prices demanded for the Orion 1600E will always tend to exceed those of the 1.6i Ghia, due mainly to their rarity value.