For some inexplicable reason, the Ford Motor Company Ltd decided to sponsor me as a student apprentice, starting a four-year sandwich course in August 1964.

This entailed four six-month long sessions at Salford Uni interspersed with four six-month stints at various Ford of Britain locations. I graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Mech Engineering in September 1968 and immediately started working in the Ford of Europe Testing Operations department at the then recently opened (Jan 1967) Dunton R&D Centre in Basildon, Essex.


My first work assignment was in NVH (Noise Vibration & Harshness) testing, working in an old facility based at Boreham Proving ground. In November of 1968, I was shipped off to Germany to work in the NVH anechoic chamber based at the old Imbert (Koeln-Niehl) R&D centre.

At this time, the new Ford Germany R&D centre was nearing completion at Koeln-Merkenich a few miles away. This was a twinned engineering centre to Dunton, which in early 1970 heralded the beginnings of Ford Europe.

Right next door to the Imbert facility was the vehicle preparation area for the Ford Germany competition department. At that time, it was headed by Jochen Neerpasch and Michael Kranefuss, both of whom I chatted to in lunchbreaks on many occasions.

They were then mainly working on the Escort Mk1 and Taunus 20m RS (Safari Rally victor). Later, in 1971 we saw beginnings of the successful Capri 2600RS track racing machines. They also drove in many of the racing, hiil climb and rallying events, themselves.


I was on a lucrative foreign service contract for about 18 months, which meant I was able to order a new management lease car (at the ripe old age of 23!).

My first one was a 1970 P6 15m RS in a dark green metallic (Reg#: K-RD 345), complete with those superb Recaro Rally seats. I think it had the “cooking” 75PS engine but was still quite quick (for those days), but of course quite a lightweight vehicle.

I used to drive back over to GB on either long weekends or on short vacations to visit family and friends. Once, I recall driving down the famous Belgian Jabbeke straight en-route to the Ostend ferry terminal. I had spent an hour or so dicing with a BMW at speeds around the 170-175 KM/h mark.

At the terminal, we met up and he enquired what on earth I had under the hood! It was quite a quick car and of course in those days we had very few speed limits. I do now wonder if it had a 90PS engine but think not. Happy days!


I replaced that car with another 15m RS in gold with black vinyl roof and Golde sliding roof; a lovely car. However, that did not stay with me for long, as I had to make the decision to either return to Ford Britain or resign and join Ford Germany (we were not EEC members then), as my foreign service contract was over.

I duly did the latter and moved on to German payroll on 1st April 1971, running the Ford Europe Crash Test facility at Merkenich, up until I left in January 1975. We were just starting to launch the Cortina Mk3 (GB) and its twin the Taunus TC (D). Very different cars indeed from the RWD Cortina Mk2 and FWD P6 respectively.

I then bought my first new car, a 1971 Capri 2.3 XLR in Gelb-Orange, one of the five “Schock-Farben” then available on some sporty Fords.


When I first went over to Koeln, I recall seeing quite a few old G73A Bueckel (Hunchback) Taunus cars. The P3 models (Badewanne) were very much loved in those days and the P7B models were really fine machines, especially compared to the equivalent Mk4 Zephyr/Zodiac equivalents in Ford GB at the time. Ford Germany managers usually had the upper end 23M and 26M models as lease cars, with an occasional OSI-Ford 20M TS for the directors..

This was also the time when Ford Europe started to consolidate not just models but engines too. The Ford Germany V4 and V6 engines were, I think much better than the equivalent (unrelated) V4 and V6 Ford Britain engines. In the end, the V4’s both died out (apart perhaps from Ford selling the German V4 to SAAB). The German V6 lived on of course for many more years. Having started life as a 1.8, it went through 2.0; 2.3; 2.6; 2.8; 2.9 and eventually 4.0 in Ford Ranger pick ups!

Sadly, all good things come to an end and I returned to the UK in 1975. I look back to those days when I really enjoyed my job. Very varied, lots of pressure but also lots of fun!