Sunday, 26 April 2015

Ford BDR Escort Mk2 1600 Sport...Enquiry for the BDR kit. A desire of the retromechanical kind :-)

AFAIK...a point of view half a world away :-)...

The BDR(a derivative of the Ford Cosworth BDA engine family) was a variant that was offered by Cosworth in kit form to Caterham 7 car owners for their Kent crossflow 1.6 equipped models in 1983. It was basically a kit with the 16-valve Cosworth BDA cylinder head, a set of four Cosworth pistons and the complete camshaft drive system down to the front pulley to convert the venerable Ford Kent crossflow 1600 711M blocked engine to the much desired BDA, in both looks and improved performance as compared the Ford Escort RS1600. Kit comes with dual sidedraught Weber DCOE carburettors. The stock crossflow cast crankshaft, conrods and flywheel may be retained although one would yearn after billet steel components to feel safer when driving spiritedly above 7000 rpm.

Initially offered in 1600cc variant with dual Weber 40 DCOEs, it made up to 150hp with the BD1 camshaft profile. Some three years later in 1986 an improved BDR was offered with a rebore of the 711M block to its max. deemed useable bore of 83.5mm resulting in 1700cc. Camshafts were revised to the BD3 profile. The dual Webers were resized to 45 DCOEs too. This later version made up to 170hp.

Want a bigger rebore on your cast iron block? Apparently, the 711M version is only good for 83.5mm max. bore diameter for 1700cc. Then again, this is no bible quote and the onus is on the owner to check and ensure that the block is not porous at this stage.

To go beyond, one needs to check out the rare, diminishing and costlier South African 831C marked block with a distinct "AX" mark that looks similar but intended for heavier turbocharging/diesel? duties and thus cast thicker where it matters. The AX is deemed safe to about 86mm(Check porosity!) bore for a touch over 1800cc. Gonna knock on the door of some SA relatives soon perhaps :-)!

Thirdly and not the last, everyone expected Ford Racing of the US's new Kent crossflow castings of late (Burton Power's website on this...) to be the new redeemer. This newer tech with stronger material block was meant to supplement Formula Ford's needs and yet knowing the aftermarket tuners' needs, Ford is strangely silent on the max. safe rebore.

Alloy eyeing a 4 bolt mains used BDT at the moment...needless to say, all optioned to go to 2000cc via liners.

In 2015, you will not find a BDR kit offered anyway except by John Wilcox Competition Engines of the UK. Other 3rd party suppliers do still supply the right cylinder heads but you will have to request knowledgeable people to help pick the right bits to form a kit. The Wilcox kit is the 160/170hp version. Some changes have been incorporated into the John Wilcox BDR kit(detailed below) as compared that offered by the original BDR Cosworth kit.

Pricing wise, I believe John Wilcox offers a very competitive product with the technical backup support that you, as a buyer, can depend on. Well, John Wilcox imprints his very own name on the cam lid for reassurance! They even supply the right jettings on the Weber 45s, dynoed for the UK summer weather conditions to start me off!

Some rare details(of my own enquiry) of the John Wilcox 1700 BDR Kit are:
- 3 bolts exhaust flange (port face more inclined than the 4 bolts version)
- 10mm spark plugs
- Valve sizes(dia):1.275" intake 1.08" exhaust (Cosworth BDR had stock BDA 1600 sizes)
- Beryllium valve seats, Colsibro valve guides
- Dynoed to produce 170hp as per Cosworth's original plans for it.
- A little detail to note, as of now is that the cam cover(cam lid) will not be as shown (no longer stocked) but be the same as that of the 2-litre alloy blocked BDG's aircraft quality anodised black cam cover.

Handsomely CNC'ed black anodised cam lid supplied with the Wilcox BDR kit in 2015!

My online readings shows that:

Caterham 7 cars with BDR 1600cc variants in 1983 had the blue cam lid cover...

Caterham 7 cars with BDR 1700cc variants from 1986 onwards had the gold cam lid cover...

Today in 2015, John Wilcox competition engines offers the 1700 BDR Kit in their traditional black Wilcox cam lid.

I have not asked as of yet, but I have noticed online that 1700 BDRs are offered with the BD3 profile set of camshafts deemed the mildest and meant for 2000-7000rpm fast road use. Duration seems a longish 290 degrees with a relatively low valve lift. You could check the specs. I would wait till I get them installed, started and run-in and taken for a drive from the West to the East coast of Borneo before I'll blog some remarks about it :-).

If you own a Kent crossflow unit with the straight/vertical distributor cap, time to order in a side entry unit to allow your plug cables be routed underneath the twin Webers. Owners with the Ford Motorcraft(FoMoCo) distributor will, however, not have that option! However, the Motorcraft distributor has a lower profile and it remains to be seen if it'll route the plug cables underneath the Webers. Upgrading the respective distributor to a more modern constant energy ignition system without contact points is another idea. This, however, doesn't even touch on the programmable ignition timing side of things to maximise drivability but dependant on spring-loaded distributor timing from the 70s. Since I expect to be living under 7000rpm for most of the BDR's actual day to day use I'll live with that for a start. No need to go for crank triggered ignition system at this stage.

Exhaust manifolding wise, I'm planning on the well priced 4-2-1 mild steel unit made by Ashley of the UK, hopefully with dimensions for good road torque manners. Again, a future blog will be made after a test run.

3 bolt Ashley 4-2-1 BDA exhaust manifold

Ford Escort Mk1/Mk2 enthusiasts today without the RS1600, RS1800 badge but having the Kent 1.6 crossflow may still own a BDR unit!

Mouth watering yet? I cannot describe in words why I would want to buy an engine kit that was from 1970 or had its heritage from then. There are many modern "better" and cheaper alternatives, each of which leaves something to be desired. Only the BD engine would do the trick. Something to do with the the aesthetics of the looks of the narrow valve angle cylinder head, the cam lid or the retro sounds of the valve buckets ricocheting with the symphony of the Webers. It must be the racing heritage, the victories claimed in the WRC. I feel the want!! It is set inside of me. I belonged to that era of the early seventies!


  1. In 2015 £8782.00 (without UK VAT and no shipping). That's for the complete BDR cylinder head kit including the dual webers, ignition leads(no distributor). The cam cover is a bit of a mystery depending on Wilcox's stock status. It didn't correspond to their picture on their website and is meant for a dry-sumped engine.