Thereís no doubt in my mind that Escort ownership borders on being a communicable disease. Hear me out on this...Every owner we spoke to for this story (with exception of staffer Morley) admitted to having several tucked away in their shed, and agreed it was impossible to turn away a good deal on another.
You can see the attraction. While classic car prices have gone seriously nuts over recent years, Escorts remain at the affordable end of the scale Ė assuming youíre not after a race-inspired rarity Ė and offer enormous bang for the buck.
Plus thereís an international industry that has developed around them, so it doesnít matter wyhether you want to race, cruise, or something in between, thereís someone out there making the bits to help you do it.
Joins us as we meet the owners, get some advice, look at the history and much more...
Australia was the only country in the world that made RS2000 in four-door form. I wasnít really into Escorts at all, but about 16 years ago I came across an RS2000 that had been sitting in a garage for years and I bought it cheap. I bought it to make some money.
As I got involved, I joined the RS Owners Club of Victoria. So when I sold the car, I decided it was a good club, and went and bought another one! Now Iíve had about 10.
We sort of say that once youíve got two Escorts together it quickly becomes four, then eight and then it gets a bit out of control.
A friend of mine bought this car in 1997 with the intention to wreck it. The situation changed and he needed to put the car on the road, which cost him about $200 to get it roadworthy, and it became his Monday to Friday car for the next 14 years! I bought it off him five years ago, really to use it as my club cruiser Ė I also had a Mk1 race car at the time Ė and just intended to fix it up bit by bit.
So I went in to do the engine bay and found a bit of rust that required the guards coming off. That was the beginning of the story Ė it spent three years on a body trolley.
A few things distinguish an RS. In the UK it was the only model available with a two-litre engine, but in Australia you could get a two litre in any model. The most obvious is the four headlight nose cone, and the different rear bumper. Inside they had factory-fitted Scheel seats and a three-spoke steering wheel.
BODY 2or 4-door sedan ENGINE 1993cc SOHC inline four cylinder POWER & TORQUE 70kW @ 5200rpm, 148Nm @ 3800rpm PERFORMANCE 0-100km/h 10.9 seconds TOP SPEED 175m/h TRANSMISSION four-speed, all synchromesh manual SUSPENSION Front Ė independent MacPherson struts, telescopic shocks Rear Ė live axle with semi elliptics, telescopic shocks BRAKES disc front, drum rear power-assisted
This car started out as a standard two-door. Itís a 1972 model and Iíve brought it up to RS specs. There are a lot of differences, so there is quite a bit of work to get them to this stage.
Itís an Australian shell, with local features. Mechanically itís a two litre Ė thereís not a lot of variation there.
However the differential is different, as is the suspension.
The Mk1 RS came out with 13-inch wheels instead of the standard 12.
Iím a hoarder with these cars. I canít help myself Ė Iíll say I have more than 10. My father worked at Ford for more than 30 years. Two of my sisters and I had Escorts as our first cars.
This one was bought as a shell and I did the majority of the prep work on it. It was probably the best shell Iíve ever seen, with the least rust. I tried to get as many original RS parts as I could. Back in the day it was expensive, but itís much more so now.
I borrowed someoneís workshop and they helped with the welding. It took a long time.
People donít seem to care how bad an Escort is these days, because there are so many parts available for them. You can even get complete floor pans. You can fix anything.
I have a real RS as well, and ex Group C race car, which Iím rebuilding at the moment and will put on the road. It belonged to Michael Stillwell and Geoff Brabham.
As for the mechanicals, theyíre really easy to work on. We did a big trip with the club recently and there were issues along the way, but everyone made it back.
NUMBERS BUILT RS1600 Ė 947 RS1800 Ė 300 (est) RS2000 Ė 25 BODY 2-door sedan ENGINE 1558/1835/1993cc OHC inline 4-cylinder POWER & TORQUE RS1800 Ė 172kW @ 8200rpm, 217Nm @ 6750rpm PERFORMANCE RS1600 Ė 0-100 9.3s, 0-400m: 16.9s
TRANSMISSION 4 or 5-speed SUSPENSION Front: indep, with struts, coils & anti-roll bar. Rear: live axle with semi-elliptic springs, tele shocks & control arms BRAKES disc/drum