My love for European Ford Escorts, as has been well established if you follow me on social media, is pure and chaste and true. I’m fond of the American ones, too, of course, but the European Escort has always represented to me a balance of style and capability that’s fiscally approachable even if geographically out of reach. Making my Escort-lust nigh uncontrollable (phrasing) is the fact that I’m on a media email list that often includes auctions for these vehicles. So, I’ve gotta look at them, and now so do you. It’ll be fun, I promise.
1972 Ford Escort Mexico
This is one of six prototype factory-built Ford Escort Mexico four-door prototypes (all other Mexicos were coupes). This was sold by Bidding Classics for about $38,000 and it looks fantastic. The Mk 1 Mexicos were to celebrate the success of the Escort rally cars in the London to Mexico World Cup Rally. These cars featured a 1598 cc crossflow motor powering the rear wheels (initial Escorts were RWD!).
1983 Ford Escort RS 1600i
This third-gen Escort (a Mk III) is a from the year I was born and thus holds a special place in my heart. By this point, Escorts were FWD and the RS 1600i represents an attempt by Ford to make a hot hatch version. By 1983, the RS Escorts added fuel injection. Car & Classic sold this one for a wild $49,000, which cuts a little into the affordability of these cars, although this seems to be extremely minty.
You could eat off that engine bay.
1977 Ford Escort RS 2000 X-Pack
Here’s an Mk II Escort which, according to Car & Classic, was their most searched vehicle of the first half of 2002. I get it. Sharpening the round corners of the Mk I leaves you with a handsome car. This particular model, from Portugal, fetched about $45,000. The cool thing about these is they [Ed note: Oops, got this wrong!] get those huge, wide box fenders.
1979 Ford Escort RS2000 MK II
This car was “prepared and supplied directly from Richard Hammond and his partners at ‘The Smallest Cog.” I don’t know what that means but Classic Cars Auction sold it for $50k and it looks super rad.
1985 Ford Escort 1.6 Injection Cabriolet
This one didn’t seem to sell, or is no longer for sale. I can’t tell. It’s cool. It’s red. I like it.
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Photo Credits: CCA, Car & Classics, Bidding Classics
I don’t understand these fancy Escorts.
My first car was a 1987 Ford Escort. Manual Transmission, manual windows, no AC, AM/FM radio (luxury!), no power steering. It topped out at about 90. (Speedometer only went to 85, and it meant it. There was nothing beyond that.) Tan with some healthy rust coloration in the rockers.
It was a good car.
The 1977 RS 2000 with the X pack is a cool car but pretty sure it didn’t come with a Lotus twin cam (partly because a Lotus twin cam was powering the rival Talbot Sunbeam Lotus). I suspect as standard at least it had a 2.0 Pinto.
There was a Mk1 Escort with a Lotus twin cam though.
Also the RS1600i was actually a homolgation special and only had a very limited run. A more productionised XR3i which looks very similar followed it.
The RS2000 as sold in Europe was fitted with the 2.0L Cosworth BDG twin-cam, not the Pinto TL20H boat anchor.
It’s easy to confuse the BDG and the Lotus TwinCam because Cosworth designed or built many of Lotus’ engines, notably the Lotus Seven, an experimental TwinCam for the 23, and the Cortina, which ultimately led to the BD-series.
Correction, the RS2000 used a 2.0 SOHC “Pinto” in tuned form. The real homologation special was the RS1800 which had a cast iron block 1800cc Cosworth BDA with a single carb and standard flat nose bodywork rather than the RS2000 nose cone. In race form the RS1800s got 2.0 liter aluminum block made by Hart, twin Webers and a ZF 5 speed. As an aside there was also a MK I with a BDA, the RS1600 which replaced the Escort Twin Cam which used a variant of the Lotus Elan engine.
That is my understanding too, especially for the UK market cars. I wasn’t sure if there were BDG RS2000’s in other markets though.
It was possible to bring the MK1 Escort RS (Cosworth) into the USA and license it for the road in 1975, after all John Buffum managed it. (-;
The 25 year rule didn’t take effect until the mid-eighties, thanks Mercedes Benz.
What’s with the fins on the valve cover of the ’83?
That’s an RS1600i; 1.6 CVH non-turbo. The reason for the finned valve cover is to increase strength and cooling (it’s an overhead cam direct-rocker design,) since it’s a homologation special. To use that valve cover in racing, they had to fit it to several thousand examples (5000 IIRC.)
If you actually look at the casting, it actually says ‘Ford Motorsport’ on it. I actually had one of them. I also had the factory 4-2-1 headers, albeit from the US 1.9 CVH (’85 GT.)
I love the narrow grill/large headights trim on the Mark I. I didn’t know-or had forgotten- that some had split front bumpers: looks sharp! And I’ve been a fan of the RS2000 since seeing a show (maybe Wheeler Dealers?) featuring one. It’s the Shitbox ethos: take a pedestrian car, juice it up, and >shenanigans<!
Thanks for dropping some Escort Goodness into an otherwise unremarkable day (thumbs enthusiastically up)
Euro Ford Escorts are plenty cool b/c we never got them like that here in the States, but along those lines, anyone else a fan of the Ford Capri?
As a Mustang guy, they’ve always fascinated me for seeming to hit the sweet spot between the best parts of the base Mustang and the GT, with a good helping of panache added to that intoxicating mix. Pity it never saw a convertible version.
I love the Capri. If I stumbled onto one I could afford somewhere I’d have a hard time saying no to it.
I found out a just few years back that my uncle actually owned one in the ’70s, from back when Ford was captive-importing the German models stateside.
My relatives know my obsession with cars, so I was incensed…”how am I just hearing about this NOW?!”
My dad bought a new 1976 Capri after he came back from Germany. He still speaks fondly of that car but said the carbs fitted to the car stateside were shit.
I didn’t care for the bubble rear window, but the grill, the box fenders? all *chef’s kiss
“a wild $49,000, which cuts a little into the affordability of these cars, although this seems to be extremely minty”
Who knew that high-end Escorts could be so expensive? 🙁
I had the opportunity to drive a rental 1997 Escort wagon on the Autobahn, due to weather the speed was limited to 180 klicks, the car however was very capable, not just getting to that speed happily but had way more to go. The doors made a satisfying clunk, and the interior was much closer to VW of the era. *It was then Peter realized this was a very different “Ford”.*
How the USDM car with the same name could be so different than the one I drove mystified me.
I was offered, in 1992, first dibs on a mk1 escort Mexico that exact colour, but a 2 door. Half cage, built engine, gas shocks and discs all round, little bit of rust and some minor dents. Two hundred pounds. I had nooooo fuckin’ money. I have regretted being that poor at that time the rest of my life.
If I had more money than I knew what to do with, I’d buy a late model gen 1 LX in some terrible brown/auburn color and throw a Focus RS drivetrain under it.
It would be the ultimate sleeper but a death trap at the same time.
Often unknown fact, in 1983 the European Ford RS Turbo had a very similar US analog as the 1983 Ford Escort GT Turbo. It is slightly watered down from 130hp to 120hp but uses the same 1.6L CVH Turbo engine and BC5 manual transmission. The Europe version has a stronger block and increased cooling developed by Ford Motorsport UK and came with Mahle pistons. The US version was developed by Jack Roush for Ford’s SVO and included an analog to the European CHV Turbo head with a more aggressive cam profile, and special SVO pistons. They do look different though with the European version having color matched body pieces and more aggressive styling while the US version had blacked out trim of the standard US Escort. This package was also offered in the Mercury Lynx RS and the Ford EXP Turbos but they are all unobtanium today, thanks cash for clunkers (sarcasm).
Saw plenty of Euro models and liked them. Had an American 91 GT with 5 spd hatchback. Fun little car.
Have You ever Seen the bizarre escorts we Had in South America? They came with Renault based (cht) engines and later with Volkswagen (ap827). In Brasil they also had a model called vw Logus, a two door sedan.
My first car was a MkII 4-door with a mildly worked 1.6L and the 4-speed stick. It was not the fastest car in a straight line but it was the most tactile car I’ve ever driven. I haven’t seen anything close in the US except older Datsuns but those usually have panoramic floorboards and missing pieces you’d never track back down.
Mum had a dark green Mk I coupe. Wish we still had it, it would be a fun car to have I think.
The Escort RS1600i pisses me off because that’s the same platform as the 1980s US market Escort but we got crap cans.
My personal favorite is the MK II RS1800 rally cars, or the late 80s RS turbo.
When it comes to Escorts, for this kind of money I prefer a younger model.
More appreciation of humble cars that provide copious amounts of fun. I heartily approve, and would happily drive any one of the examples shown.
That ’79 gives me feelings.
“the London to Mexico World Cup Rally”
Funny, I don’t see a snorkel on that car.
They dont drive from London to Mexico. They park the car and allow soccer hooligans from London to Mexico to riot turnover and destroy it. Usually very few finishers.
or head over to youtube and look for “white escort simon mckinley”
Unfortunately he is no longer with us
I find your lack of Ford Escort vans disturbing, Matt.
So I brought some!
… I probably shouldn’t mention that I also can locate and import EU market Ford Escorts, including LHDs, should I?
And weren’t you the guy singing the surprise praises of the Escort Pony at one point? 😉
That’s not even remotely a real Pony! >:|
I mean what the hell. It has air conditioning? NO! It has a stereo and speakers? ABSOLUTELY NOT! And an automatic!? IT MUST BURN!
No, we only recognize the REAL Pony around here.
1994-1995. 13″ wheels. 1.9 SEFI. Manual transmission. Manual windows. Two doors. Pop-out rear windows. (No, srsly! They’re pop-outs!) No air conditioning. No speakers. No stereo. No goddamn power steering. No cupholders. Not even the slide-out COIN HOLDER!
Absolute minimalist at its finest 🙂
Well, I wouldn’t necessarily say finest. But I will say that if you because racecar one, you will get in a world of trouble revolving around minimum weight.
Not vans but wagons.
Here, maybe this will help:
Pintos aside, that kinda crazy striping would sell so well right now in our social media era. I mean, Dodge bros are leaving the shipping protectors on their cars b/c yellow, man.