When it comes to Ford, many extremely successful cars come to mind. One is the very popular and enduring Ford Escort, which was in production for 36 years, from 1968 to 2004. The Ford Escort was a family engine, albeit a small family car. With six generations of Escorts launched over its 36 year lifespan, it’s time to check out the third generation model – Escort MK3 which was hugely popular across the pond in the UK.
Because there are so many variants when it comes to the Ford Escort, unfortunately not all of them can be mentioned. But let’s start with the standard base Ford Escort MK3 and move on to arguably the best Escort ever built in the form of the RS Turbo. So the basic Escort MK3 was very popular and moderately cheap. It was very basic and came with a 1.3 liter CVH engine, which was connected to a four-speed manual transmission. The appearance of the base version of the Ford Escort MK3 was attractive and quite nice, but nothing spectacular. While the base MK3 would get you from place to place and provide you with a strong, durable and reliable car, it never gave you the extra thrill and excitement that the RS Turbo offered. So let’s have a good time…
Here’s what went wrong with the RS1600i
Towards the end of the 1970s, sales of the earlier MK2 Escort began to decline and it began to show its age. This is when Ford developed the Escort MK3, which went on sale in September 1980 and became extremely popular very quickly. Unlike the rear-wheel-drive system found on the MK2, the MK3 had a front-wheel-drive system with fully independent suspension mounted all around.
What really got people talking about the Ford Escort, and what got people so excited about the Ford Escort, was Group A MK3 homologation in the form of the RS1600i. Bred for Ford’s thirst for motorsport, this hardcore version of the MK3 has received numerous upgrades specifically designed for racing. This included a revised aero package, improved suspension and a highly tuned engine. Although the MK3 RS1600i was so successful that Ford sold 50% more than it needed to be accepted into Group A, it was a flop and earned very little.
Was the MK3 RS Turbo the best of the best?
That’s when Ford decided to upgrade the MK3 yet again. They developed the RS Turbo quickly, and with extra power it was able to produce 132 hp and 133 lb-ft of torque rather than the RS1600i’s 115 hp and 106 lb-ft of torque. Ford hoped the RS Turbo would be impressive enough to compete on both circuit and rally. But since the RS Turbo was also a Group A homologation, this meant that 5,000 production cars had to be built in a year. Because of this and many other delays, the RS Turbo was finally launched in October 1984 and finally went on sale in early 1985.
The RS Turbo came standard with an advanced viscous-coupling limited-slip differential, as well as being the first-ever small Ford to feature a turbocharger. The Ford Escort MK3 RS Turbo housed a 1.6-liter CVH inline four-cylinder engine, water-cooled, naturally aspirated, with wet sump lubrication, a single overhead camshaft and two valves per cylinder. Which, of course, was arranged transversely. This rather impressive 1980s engine was mated to a 5-speed manual transmission, while electronic ignition was paired with the turbocharger, intercooler and Bosch KE Jetronic fuel injector to produce as much horsepower as possible.
Just like the RS1600i, the chassis of the RS Turbo was established on the body of the standard MK3. While the majority of the car was built using steel body panels, fiberglass was used to add that racing element. The suspension used on the RS Turbo was pretty much identical to the already upgraded RS1600i suspension. But unlike the RS1600i, the RS Turbo featured anti-roll bars front and rear. To help the RS Turbo in races, longitudinal tie rods, transverse arms with reinforced rubber and separate coilover shock absorbers were added to the rear of the vehicle. At the front of the vehicle, the RS Turbo featured an aluminum crossmember, TCA tie rods and MacPherson struts. Although speed is key in rallying and racing, stopping is also quite important, which is why the Ford Escort MK3 RS Turbo has been fitted with the same 240mm ventilated front brake discs as the RS1600i, while the rear drums increased by 180 mm. at 203mm.
It’s easy to see why the Ford Escort was one of the best-selling Ford cars in Europe. its appearance was eye-catching, while its construction was reliable and trustworthy. They have provided you with a fantastic family car that could quickly turn into an absolute beast of a car that could keep you entertained for hours. With the Ford Escort MK3 RS Turbo’s fairly advanced setup, for its time anyway, it was able to reach respectable speeds of 132 mph. While it could manage a straight-line 0-60 mph in 7.8 seconds. Of course, providing its driver with insane amounts of fun!