Since it was introduced in 1967, the Ford Escort has become one of the company's greatest successes. Designed by and for its European division with a view to the replacement in England of Anglia, this utility quickly rose to the category of global phenomenon with thirteen million units sold during its first two evolutions. In addition, the variety of bodies, preparations and engines present in the range led it to all kinds of markets. In that sense, the United Kingdom made the leap to the continental, Australian and even Asian markets.
Thus the things, to manufacture the units of its first generation not only used the already established factory of Halewood in the outskirts of Manchester. Assembly lines were also set up in Saarlouis (Germany), Cork (Ireland) and Genk (Belgium) out of a total of nine. Thanks to this, it is easy to understand the definition of the Ford Escort as a car "overall”. Being one of the most popular C-segment passenger cars in the motorisation of the European middle classes. However, for fans of motorsports this model presented an unexpected claw.
And it is that, when reviewing the classifications of the World Rally Championship - born three years after the Escort - it is easy to see him in the highest positions. Just below the powerful Alpine A110, Lancia Stratos or FIAT 131 Abarth but always present throughout the decade. A constant that even led him to win the constructors' title in 1979 with an RS1800. The same mount that served Björn Waldegard and Ari Vatanen to win the drivers' title in 1979 and 1981 respectively. Victories that are complemented by the conquest of the European Touring Car Championship in 1974.
With this record, it is logical that Ford Europe paid attention to offering enhanced versions for the general public. Fact that made the Escort one of the most popular and accessible mass sports of the seventies and eighties. True myth for drivers with pilot whims embodied in versions such as the Mk3 RS Turbo.
FORD ESCORT MK3 RS TURBO. A MODEL WITH RADICAL CHANGES
For thirteen years and until 1980 the first two generations of the Escort were sold. A long temporal stretch in which various sports versions saw the light configuring the golden age of the model within the competition. The name RS was created for them, under which models such as the RS 1600, RS 1800 or RS2000 were grouped. All of them preceded by the Twin Cam. Escort's first sports derivation. Tuned by Lotus to be extremely manageable despite the high consumption with averages of 18 liters per hundred.
A very effective car capable of taking first place in the 1000 Rally 1969 Lagos with only 117CV. Improved by the 122CV of the RS1600, brought up to the 140CV present in many RS1800 competition units. Also benefited with a weight slightly below 800 kilos in the lightest. So things, Third generation sports Escorts set the bar very high. Which is why Ford opted for a complete overhaul of the mechanical scheme. Moving from rear to front wheel drive and incorporating new technologies such as the turbocharger or independent suspensions on both axles.
In this sense, the premiere of the Ford MK3 in 1980 brought a first sports version called the XR3. Balanced for the day-to-day, the XR3 benefited without fanfare from electronic injection for its 1-liter engine. Nevertheless, Ford needed a variant with more spark for homologation in Group A. That is why it launched the RS1981i in 1600. A very successful model in sales, but with little interventionist improvements in the mechanics that did not make it a celebrated example in the races. Which is why the brand ventured into a three-year job to finally present the Escort MK1984 RS Turbo in 3.
1984 RS TURBO. THE ERA OF BLOWING BEGINS
During the eighties the automobile industry lived the obsession with the turbo. A technology derived from aviation that allowed to power small engines from F1 to the most modest utility ranges. However, the truth is that at the end of the seventies this innovation moved between the conservatism of brands linked to the atmospheric and reliability failures of those who already tried it. A context in which Ford Europe did not mount turbochargers until a turbocharged version of the Capri 1981 appeared in 2.8.
A good precedent for the Escort RS Turbo, Ford's first compact model with this technology. A breakthrough that boosted its 1597cc inline four-cylinder engine to 132CV at 6.000rpm. Improved set with a special camshaft and Bosch electronic injection for a weight of only 977 kilos. Elements to achieve such a vibrant character that during its only year in production it sold 8.604 units. 5.000 of which went to the United Kingdom from the German factory in Saarlouis where it was assembled. All of them - less three in black for the British royal family - in pristine Diamond White.
A great commercial achievement that also met the competition objective for which the Escort RS Turbo was designed. And it is that, although in rallies it did not have excessive prestige due to the little support of the brand, in the British Touring Car Championship excelled taking six of the nine races contested in the 1986 season. Results that in England gave this model an aura of effectiveness within the reach of the average driver, thus making the Escort RS Turbo a neighborhood myth. Certainly a very special car that ushered in the turbo era at Ford.
P.D. If you want to learn more about the model, we leave you this complete video Guillermo García with a unit belonging to the fourth generation of the Escort.