58687 Ford Escort MkII Rally PB MF-01X Build and Review

There are some cars that are true classics, and the Ford Escort MkII in it's rally guise is certainly one of those.  The Ford Escort Mk 2 was launched in 1975. Sharing the same running gear as the Mk1 Escort but boasting a new 70's contemporary design aesthetic. 

The Tamiya kit is modelled on the RS1800 that was released to compete in the World Rally championship.  This livery is based on the 1979 car that the rally legend Hannu Mikkola, along with  Arnee Hertz won 4 events, and helped ford with the Rally championship that year.  

I was really excited when I received this kit, being both a fan of classic Ford Rally cars and Tamiya kits, so let's get on with the build :)



The kit comes with a selection of plastic and brass bushings. These are fine, however I always like to use bearings as they give you an even more free drive train when I build my kits so I used a bearing set from www.RcBearings.co.uk . I went for the rubber sealed versions as this car will primarily be used as a rally car.

Wheelbase and ground clearance.

When getting ready for the build you need to ensure that you build the car to the correct specification. As mentioned you have 3 wheelbases to chose from.

Lot of configurations for this chassis but you will need  different prop-shafts 54671 (short) and 54672 (Medium) to do this.

Tamiya 58687 Escort Mk2 uses the long chassis setting. You also need to build it to the correct ride height, in this case as it's a rally car you want the the high setting.

With this sorted it is time to actually start on the build.

Building the MF-01X chassis

The MF01X comes with differentials in the front and the rear of the car. These are the classic Tamiya unsealed bevel gear diffs. 

The MF-01X chassis has bullet-proof diffs, and easy to lock if you want to.

Even though these are quite simple in their construction, you can change the feel of these diffs by using grease. Not too much as it can leak. I used a very small amount of Tamiya AW grease on the gears for the rear diff, and I added a little more on the front diff to make it a little more stiffer than the rear.

The steel shaft adds even more strength to the drive train.
Now it's time to start assembling the rear gearbox. The gearbox is made from a very tough resin. As is the plastic motor mount plate.

The sponge is essential to stop debris getting into the gearbox
At this stage you have to add some sticky sponge tape on certain parts of the gearbox to help protect the internal gears from any dirt and debris. Also ensure that you fit the bearing in the outer gearbox half.

The internal gears are made from durable plastics
The precision moulding ensures that this section is an easy part to build. The differential is the first part to be fitted, followed by the spur gear which slides onto the 5x40mm shaft. I didn't use any grease as I used bearings on this car.

The teeth all mesh well together
The counter gear has two 1150 bearings that help it spin on its 5 x 21mm steel shaft . At this stage you also fit the 1150 bearing into the other gearbox half.  You also need to fit a little more sponge tape on the outer part of the gearbox.

The rear gearbox is now assembled
The two halves then need to be aligned and they fit together easily. I then screwed them together with the 3 screws.

The rear shock tower is mounted in front of the rear wheels as the motor hangs out of the rear
The rear damper stay is also very stiff as it is made out the the hard plastic that the main chassis parts are composed off. It is mounted with two screws, and you also fit two ball connectors that will hold the rear upper arms.

The MF-01 chassis can easily accommodate low profile and standard servos.

At this stage you just want to check the electrics and that the servo is centred so you can fit the servo horn. The servo stay is a new part, again made from the hard grey plastic. I used a low profile servo on this car, but you can fit standard servo's as well.

Legs akimbo!
The steering rods are steel, which is a positive as this car will be rallied and steel will not bend like aluminium. Here you just need to attach the ball adjusters and then clip them onto the servo horn. At some point I will probably swap them out for turnbuckles.

Try to get as close to 24mm as you can
When fitting the servo there are two sets of instructions. One for fitting the Tamiya TSU-03 servo (Futaba S3003) or similar size servos, the other section is for other servos.

There are some little spacers on the B-Sprue that you can use to help get around this distance.

When fitting this servo mount you will need to ensure that the is a 24mm space between the top of the servo horn and the top of the servo mount.

Note : I wouldn't be too bothered if it is not exact, you will just need to adjust the steering rod length to ensure your front wheels are straight. 

The servo mount spacers are all set at different lengths
This stage also has two set's of instructions. One for the STD Tamiya servo, the other for every other make). Here you simply want to use a range of spacers on the B-Sprue.

A small dab of AW grease will help keep the spacer seated when you fit it in the chassis
These spacers help you move out the servo mount to ensure that the spline is along the middle of the chassis.

Precision Tamiya moulding ensures that the parts slide in easily with no slop
You then slide it in and screw the part in to check that it's aligned to the centre of the chassis.

Nice and straight!
As you can see this is the right setting.

NOTE: You may also need to move the servo in the servo holder a little to get the servo perfectly aligned. Just take a measurement, if the spacers do no make it exact, remove the servo mount and loosen the 4 servo screws and move it around a little. I was probably being over the top, but I like to be very exact when doing these things.

I added a little more in the front to help pull the car out of the corners.
When you build the front differential, I would suggest you add some thicker grease (Tamiya AW grease) to make the front differential a little stiffer than the rear. This will ensure your Rally Escort can pull itself out of the power slide in the gravel.  You always want your front differential to be slightly stiffer than the rear differential unless you want to make an unstable car, (i.e for a drift racer). 

I think that they are staring at me....
The 1150 bearings have to be mounted into the plastic bearing holders and mounted into the chassis. These act to protect the bearing load at the front axles, and will stop the chassis cracking around this area. A nice touch and it shows Tamiya's commitment to creating a robust rally chassis.

The steel shafts fit snugly into their mount holes
The steel posts now slide into the front gearbox and you slide on the gears.

Do not forget to fit the battery mounts at this stage
The other side of the chassis involves you just mounting the bearing and trying your best to align the differential.

A little gently wiggle and the two halves slotted together well.

Join the two halves. Take your time here and ensure that the steel shaft rods fit into their mount holes. Gently wiggle it around and the two parts nicely come together. Then you simply fit 3 screws to hold them both together.

There are 3 settings for the chassis length. For the Escort Mk2 you want to go to page 13 of the instruction manual for the long chassis setting.

You can mix and match these to make various chassis lengths
The kit comes with 3 chassis parts that link together. The combinations of these can give you all of the standard short / medium and long M-Chassis settings. When combined all together they actually give you a 254mm chassis so I can foresee some people experimenting with that in the future.

A distant cousin of the TL-01 chassis
I attached the two correct spacers together, and then attached it to the front and rear chassis parts.

Chunky solid steel
The prop shaft is made of steel and will be able to take a lot of power from the motor.

The prop shaft just falls into place perfectly
You need to thread a 2x10mm steel shaft in the main prop shaft at either end after placing the 850 bushing and plastic spacer on the shaft. The instructions ask you to use a drop of rubber cement on these shafts to hold them in, however I used trust AW grease as it's sticky and holds things in a treat.

Assemble the rest of the spacers and bearings, making sure to ensure that you have the spacers facing the correct way around.

The monocoque is now assembled and it's very rigid
This stage, just involves fitting the two prop shaft covers on the shell. I again did not attach any grease here as I had used bearings.

You can also fit the Tamiya 54614 M05 carbon re-enforced one piece arms as a hop-up.
These are the classic two piece arms that come with the M05 cars. NOTE: You can use the Tamiya 54605 M05 VII Lower suspension arms as a hop up to tune droop on the chassis. 

I built these to 5.5mm
Assemble the upper rear arms. TIP: the manual says leave a 6mm gap between the ball adjusters, but after running I would go to 5.5 or even 5mm to lock the rear end down more on the gravel.

Screw pins are fine, just to not over-tighten them
The arms are held in with Tamiya screw pins, the arms once fitted feel fine with very little slop and they drop down well under their own weight.

Easy to build
This kit comes with simple friction dampers that are very easy to build. These are a part that can be upgraded at a later point if you want more damping on your suspension movement. TIP - The Tamiya 54000 M-Chassis aluminium dampers or for Rally the 42355 Big Bore dampers for M-chassis are a great hop-up if you want to run oil shocks. 

some people add a little bit of thick friction grease on the inside to have a slight damping effect
The instructions tell you to build just the rear shocks, but I built all 4 at this stage before moving on.

This reminds me of a M06 from this angle
The rear dampers are just screwed on with 3x18mm step screws, and you have to fit the spacers to ensure that the dampers are vertical. The body posts are next and they screw firmly on to the rear gearbox.

Steel gearbox joints also add to the strong drivetrain.
You also now want to fit the gearbox joints into the rear differential. Before you do this you want to fit the black o-rings into the joint cups. This helps keep the drive shafts firmly seated into the drive cups.

Now we are looking at working on the uprights and the axles. The MF- 01X is able to run low for on-road and high for Rally. The Escort requires you to use the high setting so ensure you use that setting. 

The hubs are a bright red, reminds me of classic Tamiya colours from the past.
The rear hubs have a fixed 2 degrees of rear toe in. This will help the car feel stable when driving. The MF01 uses extenders on the hubs that then hold the ball connectors that attach to the upper arms. They are very tall but that is to accommodate for the fact that the rear tower is also high as it is mounted above the rear gearbox.  The parts all fit together well, and the assembled rear axles feel very sturdy.

The arms move freely once assembled.
Now it's time to attach the rear hubs and fit the short drive shafts. Once you have assembled it all, just check that both arms fall down freely as that will ensure that the car will handle well.

**NOTE** When running longer shocks you will find that the rear left hand arm will not drop as far as the right. This is because it will hit the extra plastic on that side of the chassis. To resolve this just swap out the std 5x8mm ball connector nut (BA9) on the hubs with the Tamiya 9805825 5mm ball connector Long. This is not needed on the std chassis or with M-Shocks as the down travel on the shocks do not allow it to hit the chassis. 

These arms are near indestructible!
These are M05 arms. They are made from two parts, and screw together easily.

The upper arms are a fixed length at the front of the chassis.
The lower front arms are attached with the screw pins. Unlike the rear the upper arms are a fixed length plastic part. This sets the front camber to 0 degrees, making it very neutral.

Everything moves freely.
Again just check everything is firmly screwed in, but not overtightened so the arms move freely.

M05-RA front end
The front axles have M05-RA knuckles that swing in some very sturdy looking moulded C-Hubs. The King pins are fitted through the C-Hub into the front knuckles and they move smoothly, and even with my fetish for shimming I am fine with the horizontal movement.

The drive shafts are steel and will take a lot of abuse
Again this stage has two options for low and high settings. You want to do the latter for this model and that simply involves fitting the step screws and screw pins thought the correct holes in the C-Hub to get the correct height.

The bumper will help protect the shell
As mentioned earlier I built all 4 shocks at the start of the build, so I just had to fit them on the car. Also it's time to fit the front bumper and the front body posts. The front bumper just adds more strength to the chassis holding the two halves together even more firmly

This motor is 25turn and sits between the Std 540 silvercan and the Tamiya Sports tuned in terms of performance.
This kit like many new Tamiya's has a Torque tuned motor included. These are a great motor, they have more speed and torque than the standard 540 motor but are still very reliable and do not sap your battery some lower turn motors.

The kit includes a pinion spacer
When fitting the motor you first have to slide on the motor plate which helps dissipate the heat. The 16t pinion is then attached. This will give you a final drive ratio of 9.45 which will ensure that it has a nice turn of acceleration. You can add larger pinions up to 20T which will give you a FDR of 7.56.

Check the motor mesh with the little spy hole before fitting the cover.
The motor is easy to attach. Once you attach it with the two 3x27mm screws  mounted through a steel motor plate. You then need to slide the motor up until the pinion meshes with the spur gear.

TIP:Just take your time here, look through the little motor mount hole and you can see the gear mesh. You do not want it to be tight as it will make the car slow and heat up the motor, too loose and it can strip the gear. I would fit it against the teeth and then just move it very gently away and then tighten the screws. It's not a hard step, but it's important to take your time here to make sure it's correct.

A fantastic ESC to be included in the kit
Now you just need to fit the receiver and speed controller. Tamiya supplies the TBLE-02S. This is a 60a esc and is able to run both brushed and sensored brushless motors. This is a fantastic addition to any kit.

The specifications allow you to run a brushed motor down to 25turns, it also allow you to comfortably run a 13.5 sensored motor if you decide to upgrade for more speed at a later date.

Installation is easy, the ESC is set-up to run the included torque tuned motor, and you just need to set your throttle points to your controller and you are ready to roll!

The included wheels are already coloured blue to match the kit livery. These M-chassis rally tyres are new to me and they feel nice and soft. You just need to ensure they are mounted correctly.

Chassis pictures

The wheels are then fitted to the chassis and this part of the build is done.

The Tamiya MF-01X is able to run square pack lipo batteries

The motor hangs out at the rear of the chassis, this makes it nice and stable and great on low grip

The wheelbase is 165mm wide. Note the rear 2 degrees of toe-in for better driving stability

The MF-01X has a 20mm ground clearance, ideal for rally.

The body

The shell is made of strong, lightweight polycarbonate and the detail is great. The proportions of the shell looks right and the little details are all sharply detailed.

Tamiya has done an incredible job in creating a scale Ford Mk2 escort.
The kit included a painted shell, which is new to be for a Tamiya. The shell is painted white with the windows smoked. This takes out some of the pain of painting and it saves around £12 or so in spray paints. I was keen on making the kit in the box art as that is my favourite livery for this Escort. If you cannot tell my racing shells have always been interpretations of the classic ford rally colours.

***NOTE*** The shell is painted, but you still need to remove the protective plastic coating before you apply the decals. 

I took my time with the decals, pay caution to the wheel arch stickers
The decals were quite easy to apply. I followed the kit instructions and ensured that they were all cut as close to the coloured edge as possible. For the arches I took my time and used some thin nosed pliers to position the decal, then I would check it would fit before pressing down. The Decals took around 3 hours.. Mostly because of the cutting.. one day I hope Tamiya will pre-cut the decals.

I used some extra trim tape to define the bonnet and doors to give it a little more detail and to ensure that the detail would really pop.

The lights have all been masked and you have light buckets included in the kit so you can easily add some 5mm LED's. The spot lights area also able to have LED's mounted inside, although you will need to drill or ream a hole to feed the wires through. 

The shell has plastic bumpers and wing mirrors that really bring out the detail of this kit.

Here is the MK2 escort with my original Tamiya Escort Cosworth. Two kits that both look absolutely superb!

And one more

Track Test

Lockdown February in the UK isn't the best time to run an RC car. Luckily I live very close to a nature reserve, so I trekked down on my daily exercise with the car and a controller to give it some rally action.

I was running the car completely stock other than a set of bearings. The acceleration was great and the 4WD drive train hauled the Escort up to it's top speed quickly. 

The ground was really hard and there was a lot of ice around. The stable MF-01X had no problem running on both those surfaces. The rear mounted motor ensured that when the grip was low you could balance the throttle and even push it harder to slide out the rear for a classic powerslide. 

The kit pogo shocks didn't seen to have much problem in keeping the Escort in contact with the ground. The chassis is quite heavy and this shell is quite low so you would get a lot of feedback from the car as it would lean into the corners.  I am sure many will look at upgrading the shocks to some Tamiya 54000 M-Chassis Aluminium Dampers, or Tamiya 54753 super mini CVA's

The steering was also very responsive. I had only mounted a basic servo into the car and was running entry level radio gear but I still had a very direct sensation with the steering. I had no problems moving around obstacles, and when the occasional frozen lump of mud would jump out on the path I could easily settle the car down.

The car looked great just driving around, kicking up the dirt. I had a big grin on my face despite the bitter cold making my digits go blue :). It's been a while since I have been able to drive a car outside and I was making every second of this count.  Hitting the brakes on the frozen puddles and watching the car slide before gently popping on the power and regaining control was great fun.. I was tempted to try it on the large frozen pond, although I didn't want to risk it falling into the depths to be lost forever. 

The overall controllability of this chassis was really impressive. The lower stance of the Escort ensured that the car felt stable at all times, even when running on this punishing surface. The durability was also put to the test with the iced hard jagged ground and the chassis had no problems, despite having 40 mins of hard running.  


The Tamiya MF01-X Escort Mk2 Rally kit is obviously going to be popular with a wide range of hobbyists. The scale looks are an instant winner and the extra details ensure that it will look great as a model on the shelf. 

It really comes to life once you get it out on the dirt and gravel. The MF-01X chassis is such a tough capable chassis, it is in its element when you want to kick up some dirt.  The handling is great with responsive steering and a nice overall weight balance. In true Tamiya style there is also a wide range of Hop-ups that you can add to the chassis over time if you want to upgrade it. 

The pre-painted bodyshell might not be to everyone's taste, and I am unclear if the later version of the kit will come with an unpainted shell. For those that do want to create a totally different livery there is a separately available bodyset (Part no 51658) that will be hitting the streets soon. 

There will be some purists that might object to the Escort coming on a 4WD chassis. In reality this doesn't mean anything to anyone that wants to run the car. Tamiya has a range of RWD chassis including the excellent M08 concept. These chassis are not made to be rallied, and the running characteristics of the MF-01X provide you will an experience that is much more akin to the fantasy of being a rally driver. The ability to perform power-slides and Scandinavian flicks with this car is much more important than some pedantic issue about original drive trains. 

Whilst I am missing the track, the Tamiya Escort MKII Rally has been a welcome distraction. The easy to build chassis, great handling and the fantastic handling has really been a great experience, what more could I want from a kit :) Excellent!

tamiya 3292716080888491964

Post a Comment

  1. Great article and fun to read as always. I converted my „parking lot“ TT02 into a Rally Car for this winter running it as the legendary first Audi Quattro. While it was fun to ride too I had to turn it upside down every few minutes to get rid of all the debris in the bathtub chassis. So yeah - makes sense to build a proper Rally Car!

    And it is definitely astonishing how „real“ the driving action looks.

  2. Really makes it hard not to buy the Rally Beetle version of this considering it's on sale right now! :D



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