British Vita Escort

General Chat with an emphasis on BMC Minis & Other iconic cars of the 1960's. Includes information on MK1 Action days.
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British Vita Escort

Post by Vegard »

Do anyone have pictures of this?
Curious about the livery.

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Re: British Vita Escort

Post by surfblue63 »

There are some pictures on the Mountgreen Vita site
I drive a Rolls Royce
'cause it`s good for my voice

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Re: British Vita Escort

Post by mk1 » should be everyones first stop for any info on BVRT, BRT.

It's a terrific site!
Mark F
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Re: British Vita Escort

Post by rpb203 »

And it even references the true living legend Joss Naylor! He has nothing to do with cars but if you know a bit about fell running you'll know what I mean.

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Re: British Vita Escort

Post by Pete »

On a slightly different topic Norman Grimshaw showed me an interesting article he'd done for Old Stager magazine recently about Vita's Ford Zodiac they ran for Roger Clark. Very interesting and very funny. Great mag if you get a chance to read them.

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Re: British Vita Escort

Post by James Jordan »

I’m interested in The British Vita car driven by Hannu Mikkola (MK1 Escort from 1969/70) it was also driven by Tom Beslo.
Does anyone know if there any pictures of the car? And is there any information of what happen or where it went?
I ask as there is I slight chance that I may own the car. It has been confirmed the body shell on my car was sourced from British Vita in 1970. While it has many similarities to British Vita built FTW47H,48H is has not been prepaired as a Rally car, no seam welding but has the inboard turrets, and 2 link that went inside car and originally open, not boxed in. It’s an early Mk1 body, and has a number stamped on the LH inner wing (opposite wing to VIN)
Do anyone know the color the Vita MK1 was painted?

I realize you may not have any info, however you may know someone here who has.

BTW, if it is the same car it went on to be competed in Sweden by Bo Emma Emanulson who won the 1972 STCC. I am 90% trough restoration.

What is funny is I always thought the car had race history before Bo Emma acquired it.

I have found dark red/maroon paint under the later TIMEX livery

James Jordan email
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Re: British Vita Escort

Post by mk1 »

Hi James,

I am sure someone will have some info for you.

Sadly my best contact for BVRT history isn't around anymore & the "originals" have more or less all died in the last year or two.
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Re: British Vita Escort

Post by Costafortune »

Mark Heath is probably your man for this:

I wheeled and dealed a couple of AVO cars with him a while ago. I do like a nice AVO or TC Escort - I prefer them to Minis if truth be told. :o :lol:

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Re: British Vita Escort

Post by trevorhp »

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Re: British Vita Escort

Post by mk1 »

BVRT - 1970

Saved from Mountgreen before the owner junked it.

Sadly I only have the text, no pictures or links survived the cull.

B.V.R.T. 1970

In tune for the seventies.

The whole scene of competitive motor racing, rallying and tuning on an international scale is alive and constantly changing. To keep to the forefront in active competition it is often necessary to change allegiance and this is what happened at B.V.R.T. at the end of 1969.

When a manufacturer produces a family car for the consumer market, the possibilities for tuning that particular model into a potential competitions winner are matters of conjecture, argument and a personal knowledge of the history of similar models. Above all there is the expense of modifying the original engine, transmission and suspension to withstand the demands of competition driving. Usually this depends on the manufacturer, who has to decide whether competition success of that model will help promote sales and help eliminate any possible defects when the car is built on a production scale.

The car of the sixties was without doubt the Mini Cooper, which won more awards in motor events than any other model. B.V.R.T. helped in no small way in those awards with their own teams of Mini's in racing, rallying and hillclimbs. However, as time went by it became increasingly obvious that although the Mini's were still a power to be recond with, the peak of their development was being approached. With the advent of other models they were gradually falling behind in the evolution of the specialised engineering so necessary for a production car to keep to the forefront of competition.

So, for the seventies, the directors of B.V.R.T. decided to concentrate on the preparation and tuning of Ford cars for their own racing and rallying teams. A further benefit is that this additional experience is now available in the preparation and tuning of customer's cars.

Spring report.

Brian Gillibrand.

Our changeover from B.L.M.C. to Ford is in full flow. As part of a new contract with Ford of France, which calls for us to prepare and maintain an Escort twin cam and a three litre Capri and we have already competed in two French rally championships. The cars were driven by French rally champion Jean Francois Piot and his able co driver Jean Todt. In both events they won their class, finishing 5th and 5th overall respectively.

Our work in hand for Ford involves the building up of eight complete racing Escorts, starting on body shells and finishing with full cars to our race proved specification. These are part of a European sales order, a scheme Ford organize with various European countries such as Holland, Sweden, Denmark and Finland to help boost sales in Europe.

Escort saloon cars being equipped to racing specification at B.V.R.T.

Home Campaign

Whilst this work has been going on the home campaign has not been neglected. Although Harry Ratcliffe has retired, Geoff Wood (who drove so well on our account in 1969) will be upholding B.V.R.T.'s flag again with his 1300 cc Mini Cooper S. This will be fitted with the engine that brought Harry so many victories over the past season, so, as you may see, we have not deserted the car which has been so completely successful over the years.

On the hillclimb side Jeff Goodliff, 1968 and 1969 Castrol / B.A.R.C. hillclimb champion, has changed his mount to try and retain his title for a third time. His new car is to be a Lotus Elan.
Because of class stipulations this must maintain an outward similarity to the standard version but with suspension layout which would shame some Formula One machinery. The mechanics and suspension are as foreign to the car as snow on the equator. As a result of these radical changes Jeff will probably use his now famous Mini-sprint for the first rounds of the championship until his new mount is complete.

January Racing Car Show.

Center of attraction on the Hot Car Magazine stand at the International Racing Car Show was the power unit of Hill Climb Champion Jeff Goodliff's 1300 cc supercharged Mini on loan from B.V.R.T. for the occasion.

February Paris Racing Car Show.

In conjunction with Spontex the first French Racing Car Show was held at the Halles de Paris. Below is a photo of Herve le Guellec in his newly acquired ex B.V.R.T. Mini Cooper S.

COPYRIGHT l.a.t.Photographic

5th April Snetterton Autosport
G. Wood 1st

12th April Cadwell Park Autosport
G.Wood 1st

19th April Croft
G.Wood Two Wins. Autosport

26th April Snetterton. Autosport
G.Wood 1st

Barrie WilliamsVita car for sale Autosport

10th May Mallory Park Autosport
G.Wood 1st

23rd May Rufforth Autosport
G.Wood 1st

22- 24 May Manx Trophy Rally Autosport
Jim Bullough Don Barrow 8th place.

Hill Climb Championship.

5th April Burton Autosport P2
J. Goodliff 1st

19th April Harewood Autosport P2
J.Goodliff 1st Class

24th May Gurston Down Autosport
J.Goodliff 1st

Summer Report.

Hill climbing.

B.V.R.T.'s technical director Jeff Goodliff, twice winner of the Castrol Hill Climb Championship, in 1968 and 1969, is already poised to complete a hat trick. Having changed from the light weight, low bodied Mini Special to a highly developed and sophisticated Lotus Elan. Jeff is again leading the Championship.

As we go to press he has contested all six events so far in the 1970 series and has, on each occasion, managed to smash the class record. On two occasions by such a margin as to obtain the maximum eleven points. It is also interesting that the second man in the Championship and runner up to Jeff last year, Chris Chramer is using a British Vita tuned engine in his Mini Cooper.

Credit for the success of the Elan lies not only with Jeff's ability as a driver and developer but also to Ron Whitham, his mechanic, who turns the car out in immaculate condition for every event.

Big Boots. Jeff Goodliff and the highly developed Lotus Elan.


On the racing side the team has entrusted the driving of it's Mini Cooper to Grimsby driver Geoff Wood, who is largely responsible for the day to day preparation for the various events. To date the car has contested in twenty races at sixteen meetings and has notched up no fewer than seventeen wins.

The programme which Geoff is undertaking is one of the most ambitious ever attempted by a part time driver and already has undoubtedly enhanced the reputation of British Vita throughout the racing world.


The rallying branch of activities is run under the guidance of competitions manager Brian Gillibrand with mechanics Alan Clegg and Nobby Clark. To date the French crew of Jean Francois Piot and Jean Todt are lying second in the Championship, having registered their first outright championship win in April driving the Littleborough prepared Escort. This was in the Cortina Alpine Rally.

Some of you may have read in the local papers of our involvement in the World Cup Rally which finished in Mexico on 27th May after 16,000 miles of motoring through Europe and South America. It all started with a telephone call from Ford's rally boss Stuart Turner only three weeks before the start, asking us to build a car at Boreham for the Polish Rally Championships Sobieslaw Zasada and Marek Wachowski. So Alan Clegg and Nobbt Clark were dispatched in extreme haste to start a race against time. Normally it takes up to eleven weeks to build and complete a car from scratch for competition work. We had just twenty one days.

Working 12 hour days, weekends included, the two lads overcame every problem they met and there were many. However, with less than 24 hours to go, the engine was finally fitted and fired up but it was not 100 per cent. The fault was traced to a hairline crack in a piston. Working all night this was replaced with a new unit and finally, with literally minutes to spare, the car arrived at Wembley for the start.

A truly fantastic achievement and it was definitely worthwhile. Zasada and Wachowski finished the grueling test of endurance and skill, fifth in their class, eighth overall but for losing a wheel in the Route of the Incas, prime in Peru, their position would have been better. However, no one can blame Littleborough for that, we weren't asked to tune up the wheel nuts.

Autumn report.

At the time of going to press, Jeff Goodliff has an unassailable lead, for with only three rounds to go he has 73.05 points from a possible 77, the next competitor lagging at 59.44.

Jeff and his mechanics deserve congratulations on a truly wonderful achievement in bringing the magnificent trophy back to Middleton for the 3rd year running.


On the rally side of our activities, things have been rather quiet. Only one outing for Tony Fall and Henry Liddon in the Danube Rally in which they finished 2nd overall in 1966 driving a Mini Cooper.

This time, at Ford's request, we sailed forth into the depths of Hungary and Rumania with an Escort prepared and serviced by mechanics at Littleborough and with sponsorship from Castrol, Ford and Dunlops.

This time the exercise was not as fruitful as in 1966, for after leading the rally outright at two stages from the end a series of punctures cropped up which lost our men a great deal of time. Then to cap it all, on the last stage they arrived at an unmanned level crossing simultaneously with a train. With no hope of stopping, Tony flattened the accelerator to the floor and the Escort passed within inches across the nose of the train. Navigator Henry Liddon swore he could see the whites of the driver's eyes, it was so close. Unfortunately, this manoeuvre caused the car to leap a good few feet in the air, coming down so heavily on it's suspension that both rear shock absorbers broke away from the axle, thus losing more time. They were lucky not to have been involved in a much more serious accident, such are the dangers of rallying behind the Iron Curtain.

At the finish Tony and Henry were declared 14th due to the heavy time penalties but they were certainly a little more knowledgeable on the operations of level crossings.

New Members.

Two of are new members of our rally team who will be competing in all the Motoring News events in a Ford Escort are Jim Bullough and Don Barrow, who have many years of rally experience behind them. The Motoring News Championship consists of 17 events, the championship winner being the team with the best 10 results. It takes place in various parts of the British Isles on Saturday evenings and usually finishes early on Sunday mornings when most civilized people are in bed.

Jim and Don have competed in 6 events and are already leading the championship by 13 points though there are still many miles to be covered. Let's hope their luck holds and they bring home a most coveted pot.

Winter report.

The season has finished providing four B.V.R.T. champions. Jeff Goodliff has retained the Hillclimb championship for the third year running, Jim Bullough and Don Barrow have carried off the Motoring News Rally Championship and Jeff Wood, with 30 club wins to his credit has been named Top Club Driver.

Jeff Goodliff's Championship winning Lotus

Click Click

Jeff Goodliff

Geoff Wood about to complete his 30th win of the season Mallory Park.

Jim Bullough and Don Barrow Motoring News Rally Champions

New Equipment.

With all the equipment recently installed at B.V.R.T.s Littleborough workshops a greater range of service is offered to customers. Equipment like the latest Sun Dynamometer Rolling Road, which is fitted with brake testing facilities and a computer, enabling it to determine such things as a car's top speed taking into account all relevant factors. A crankshaft balancing machine is also on the list to provide a more comprehensive service for customers benefit. Maximum use is also made of other facilities, such as the expert machine shop services provided by Vitool and a further linking up within the group will be added with a joint B.V.R.T./ Autovita display at January's International Racing Car Show.

Accessories .

World wide sales of competition proved accessories is the proud slogan of Autovita, Vita's latest operation. Autovita accessories cater for the enthusiast who wants to make his car a little more individual, or more safe, or go faster than the hundreds of similar models on the roads around him.

Foam filled explosion proof flexible petrol tank.

Comprehensive range of components for the Mini.


The accumulation of engineering expertise, design talent and tuning skills that has given B.V.R.T. a string of successes in racing and competition fields is now being harnessed to produce a specialized car for the general public. This is a 3 litre Vita Capri, which will be launched at the 1971 International Racing Car Show.

To the discerning motorist who wants something out of the ordinary with high performance, the Vita Capri's top speed of round 125 mph mark with corresponding acceleration will certainly have great appeal and it won't cost him the earth.

The Ford 3 litre V6 power unit is quite potent in it's standard form. So with the B.V.R.T. modified big valve cylinder heads, high performance cam shaft and special air filter, the car's performance is literally breathtaking. To match the extra power, special shock absorbers and a full front spoiler are fitted to prevent any tendency to aerobatics. Special rear window slats and a distinctive colour scheme make for a very elegant appearance and interior wise the Vita Capri has tailored sound insulation and racing type steering wheel. The total package aimed at providing fast, silent, inner city travel.

This line of development has exiting prospects for B.V.R.T. and it is envisaged that other aspects of fast travel could well be opened up by the continued engine and component development in which the company's strength lies.

Anyone for power boat racing?

And 1971

Autovita 1971

Spring report.

British Vita has now acquired the remaining 50% of the shares in B.V.R.T. and the name is now AutoVita Developments Limited. AutoVita car accessories will be handled by the new company, making it a comprehensive service and accessories unit.

The board is H.W Ratcliffe (chairman and chief executive), N.Grimshaw, (group Chairman), J.W.Goodliff, J.H.Barham, B.Gillibrand and R.Taylor.

International Racing Car Show 1971.

Pride of place on the AutoVita Developments stand at this years International Racing Car Show held at the Olimpia in January was taken by two gleaming Vita 6 Capri's and they certainly took the crowd's attention. One was the road model, offering fast luxury inter-city travel and the other a full group 11 racing job tuned to produce 280 brake horse power. The stand was completed with a display of quality AutoVita components and accessories.

Jack Brabham, three times World Motor Racing Champion, was a welcome visitor to the AutoVita Development stand at the show. In the picture Brian Gillibrand (left) sales Director, Harry Ratcliffe, Chairman and Chief executive, explain some points of the Vita 6 Capri to their distinguished guest.

Summer report.

International Stars at Motor Racing Forum.

A thousand motor racing enthusiasts flocked to see and hear world champion racing drivers Jackie Stewart and John Surtees at a racing and rallying forum organised by AutoVita in conjunction with Rochdale's main Ford agents Tom Mellor, at Hollin Hall High School in May.

The forum panel also included ex Northern Saloon Car Champion Harry Ratcliffe and Henry Liddon, one of international rallying's top navigators. It was skillfully chaired by Stuart Turner, Fords European competition director.

After a film show, the panel delighted the fans with their answers, to a barrage of questions. Keen interest was shown by the enthusiasts in a Mini exhibition which included a selection of AutoVita components, a Vita 6 high performance Capri, the new Ford GT 70 sports car and the 3 litre, four wheel drive Capri in which Roger Clark won last years ITV Rallycross Championship.

Vita 6 Test Part 2

Autumn report

If on your travels in recent months you have seen a huge blue and white power boat being trailered up and down the M6 motorway between the Manchester link roads and the Lake District, then you will probably have seen the latest development of AutoVita Development

For several months the company has been developing and testing a marinised version of the Ford 3 litre V6 engine for off shore powerboat racing, a sport still in it's infancy but one which is rapidly increasing in popularity all over the country.

What is marinising? Simply this, to waterproof an engine so that it won't stop running if and when water gets all over it, as very often happens at sea. It all sound simple and in theory it is, in practice it takes a great deal of time and patience.

Having decided to go ahead with the Ford engine the most suitable craft had then to be chosen. Careful consideration was given to many types types but the final choice was a 21 foot Avenger glass fibre hull, designed and constructed for high speeds under all conditions.

Unlike the majority of powerboats, which have outboard engines, British Vita's boat carries it's engine within the hull. This means that the technical boys had to work out an entirely new cooling and exhaust system, complying with strict regulations concerning powerboats regarding fire risk and other minimum safety requirements.


The new boat has been named Vitapower and it's turbocharger, fuel injected engine gives a handsome 280 bhp at 5,900 rpm compared with the standard unit 140 bhp at 4,800 rpm. On numerous visits to Windermere the Vitapower has reached speeds of 60 mph and it achieves 65 mph on salt water, there being less resistance in salt water.

Vitapower has twice been entered in competitions during recent weeks and has confirmed the promise shown in tests. On the first outing it was lying third overall and leading in class when a misfire caused it to slow. Although this was eventually traced to nothing more serious than a louse plug lead, the delay caused was sufficient to bar any chance of winning.

On her second time out in a stormy race round the Isle of Wight, rally driver Roger Clark, with Jim Bennett as navigator, were leading by over a minute when they and the boat were a lmost drowned by a huge wave. Although quickly under way again they had to settle for second place.

Vitapower and the professionalism of the team responsible for her has made a tremendous impact in powerboat circles. Already the technical lads are planning what they are going to do in 1972 and talk of turbo-charging another of the Ford range of engines, but that's another story.

Motor Racing

On the motor racing scene Grimsby driver Geoff Wood continues to dominate the up to 1300 cc class in club saloon car racing with his Vitamin. He is currently lying second overall in the major Hepolite Glacier saloon car championship and is leading his class by a clear margin. In rallying Jimmy Bullough and Don Barrow are contesting the Motoring News Castrol rally championship and a car has been built and prepared for Peter Clarke and Tony Mason from Skipton Yorkshire, who are entered international and national events.

Triple Peak Power from Vita 6

AutoVita Developments have recently helped to break a seven year old record which had nothing to do with motor racing. The record they helped to break was the Three Peaks fell running record of 12 hours 27 mins set up in 1964. Using a Vita 6 three litre Capri, fitted with 22 gallon fuel tank, fell runner Joss Naylor from Wasdale Head, Westmorland and Frank Davies, the well known Ambleside climber, knocked 33 mins off the previous best in a time of 11 hours 54 mins.

Second left is Frank Davies, Joss Naylor and Brian Gillibrand.

The Three Peaks record consists of a runner putting a foot in the sea at Fort William, Scotland and being taken by car in turn to Ben Nevis, 4,406 ft in Westmorland and finally to Snowdon 3,560 ft. At the foot of each mountain he has to run to the summit and back. After leaving Snowdon he has to go to Caernarvon where he is timed until he sets foot in the sea. The record breaking run involved a route of 480 miles. The attempt was officially timed and in addition Joss had to obtain signatures from observers on each summit. Joss Naylor is a leading fell runner and recently set a new 24 hours record when he visited 61 peaks running non stop over a distance of 96 miles.

Crystal Palace Test 1 2 3 4 5

Winter report

Although racing activities in 1971 have been somewhat curtailed by our interest in powerboat development, we have been quite successful in upholding the Ford flag. Jeff Goodliff was responsible for developing and maintaining a racing Escort in the Dutch Saloon Car Championship, resulting in an outright win for Han Akersloot who drove it in eleven hard fought races, certainly enhancing our reputation in Holand.

Han in the process of clinching the Dutch Saloon Car Championship.

Han Akersloot and Yvette Fontain

Meanwhile Alan Clegg and Joe Varley, two of our other mechanics were equally successful in campaigning another Ford Escort, also Littleborough built, in the Belgian Saloon Car Championship with additional races in Germany, Holland and France. Their driver- a girl finished with a very creditable class win in the Championship, in the process also breaking outright five world records.

In the U.K. Congratulations to Geoff Wood driving the VitaMini who won his class in the Saloon Car Championship with a total of sixteen wins throughout the season. A superb effort.
Mark F
"I'm a very friendly Lion called Parsley".

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