The Tokyo Auto Salon is where you’ll find some unique and fascinating project cars, and at this year’s event, this Ford Escort Mk2 was brought in from Malaysia and is currently on display at the Makuhari Messe convention centre where the event is held.

Owned by Rosli Mohamad Said, who also goes by Alie Kuoppa, the project has long been in the making, having been announced back in early 2020 when Alie began discussing with Japanese car culture brand Hardcore Tokyo and the founder of Tra Kyoto, Kei Miura, on creating something exciting for 2021.

This led to Alie choosing the Escort Mk2 to be the foundation for the project, having owned one while he was studying in university. His fondness for the model came from his interest in rally cars, but unfortunately, he could not use his own four-door sedan for the project as it was stolen in 2014. A second Escort Mk2 was purchased, this time a two-door coupe that needed restoration.

Miura had worked on the Escort Mk2 before, having been involved in the development of the Gymkhana Escort driven by the late Ken Block. It was easy then for him to agree with Alie’s idea, which would make the latter’s Escort Mk2 the first to be fitted with a genuine Rocket Bunny Pandem widebody kit.

The kit made for Alie’s Escort Mk2 is different from what was fitted to Block’s car, making it truly one of a kind. After the kit was produced by Miura in Japan, it was then shipped over to Baling, Kedah to be installed.

However, due to certain reasons, the project was in limbo for some time. Nonetheless, Alie was determined to make it happen and created a new game plan where he started from scratch. The Escort Mk2 was stripped down to the bare chassis and a second unit was purchased to serve as a donor car.

Alie also appointed Shah Bandi as the project leader, with of Bandi Sprayworks tasked to restore the car’s entire body as well as install the Pandem kit. The paint finish you see here is a specially mixed pink by Aikka Paint, which is accompanied by stickers designed by Zokusha Stickers.

Wider wheels were also installed to match the wider body, and the Escort Mk2 received 9.5j Watanabe R Type units at the front, while a pair of 11.5j Watanabe Gotti alloys were fitted to the rear. The wheels measure 15 inches in size and are accompanied by 205/50 front and 245/45 tyres.

Next up was the powertrain, and one of the big changes involved the Escort Mk2’s suspension, with the default rear live axle being swapped out for a five-link setup. This is accompanied by Airdrop air springs made by SFS Garage to provide an appropriate stance.

As for the engine, Alie initially wanted to stuff in a Toyota 1UZ-FE 4.0 litre V8, which would have required plenty of other supporting components made by Nissan. Instead, he chose to use a more appropriate engine that better suited the Escort Mk2, a 4A-GE 1.6 litre four-cylinder from the AE86 Corolla.

The 16-valve Twin Cam mill was upgraded to feature HKS camshafts, SK Sanyo individual throttle bodies and a Tonkka exhaust header, with engine management being handled by a Fueltech FT450 – all engine work was done by AMN Motorsport. The engine produces 140 hp and 161 Nm of torque, with drive going to the rear wheels through a T50 five-speed manual transmission and TRD limited-slip differential lifted from an AE86.

Inside, Alie kept things as basic as possible, with only a digital display for the Fueltech engine management system, a Sparco steering wheel, Trapo floor mats and a custom gear knob with the logo of Retro Havoc, the event he founded.

Given the amount of time, effort and resources sunk into the project, plus the heartaches, trials and tribulations experienced along the way, Alie chose ‘Emotion’ as the name of his project car, which seems appropriate. While it may be making its debut at TAS, the car still proudly wears its number plates and road tax disc as it sits far away from its home in Malaysia.