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Escort Cosworth - The Greatest Used Ford Ever?

Jul 23, 2008
My email inbox has been inundated recently. Whether it's been American pharmaceutical companies offering out-of-the-blue, to increase the size of certain areas of my body (how'd they know?) or one man pretending to be a large banking corporation so he can steal all my money to buy a new anorak, invariably my mail is useless drivel.

There was a highlight this week however with the announcement of the new Ford Focus RS. I was treated to some exclusive pictures of the eagerly anticipated model and can confirm my jaw had to be prised off the floor after half an hour. Once again, Ford has gone with a garish colour scheme like the orange-clad ST, this time breaking out a pot of lime green paint. Despite this slight eye-jerker, you can expect the used Ford market to be inundated with the Focus ST, as the RS promises to be exceptional.

In-keeping with Renault's F1 inspired Clio, the RS features a rear diffuser, bonnet air vents and more bulges than a queue outside a donut sale. From every angle the RS looks menacing yet functional, a point confirmed by the car's interior. Hardcore Recaro racing seats adorn the cabin, going hand in hand with the usual Ford refinements such as air-conditioning and satellite navigation - a perfect microcosm of the RS as a whole. Ford racing purists are getting sweatier palms by the second.

The excitement of the new Focus RS has evoked many nostalgic Ford fans to reminisce about the last truly earth-shattering hot Ford - the Escort Cosworth - arguably the greatest used Ford of them all. As with the latest Focus RS, Ford on occasion feel the need to break free from their production line of commuter mobiles and build a mad car.

Many see the Escort Cosworth as Ford's crowning glory and an example of sheer brutality that has never been bettered. The standard Escort at that time was an prime exhibit of the Ford motor company of old, as it was quite simply a bit rubbish. The idea of buying a used Ford in the early nineties meant a heap of reliability trouble, a bucket-load of rust and a particularly clinical drive once you got it working.

Despite this uninspiring platform, Ford had faith that it could rescue the Escort brand. Having already manufactured the Sierra Cosworth, the 500 and Sapphire 4x4 to great acclaim from petrol heads and with the Sierra making way for the new Mondeo, the Escort was the only model yet to be fitted with rockets under the bonnet. On paper the prospect didn't look too tantalising: the old Sierra undersides mated to a modified Escort body spelled disaster. Yet it proved to be a match made in heaven and despite its rough foundations, the Escort Cosworth was a hit.

Stylistically it was instantly recognisable, not because of the familiar Escort shape - the identical headlights or rear end, but for the gigantic rear wing that seemingly defied gravity as it protruded horizontally for ten miles from the rear windscreen. Clearly this was a boy's car for grown men to fall in love with. The rear wing actually increased drag so much it took 12mph off the car's top speed, which was not an inconsiderable 138mph. The upside of this, in addition to making the car an instant icon, was that the Escort Cosworth was the first production car to produce negative lift, as the car was being constantly pressed to the road as if by a giant hand from above.

It gave the car's owners a big dilemma - the faster you went the better the car handled as it was pushed into the ground, yet the slower you went the more people could stop and stare at the car. Large wheels and huge wheel arches gave the whole car the air of a rallying stallion, with the air vents on the bonnet giving the engine a much needed source of oxygen. All this pomp and circumstance did have one drawback - everyone wanted one. Therefore keeping your Cossie safe required your insurance company to place it into their top insurance bracket of 20 - the same as a Ferrari no less.

In many ways, despite the performance, styling and hefty insurance costs, it retained its identity of being an Escort, whilst shedding the many poor aspects of the base model it was built on. Because the heart of the Cosworth was just a working class Escort, it became an everyday car with an everyman price tag - it just happened to have 227bhp and the ability to out-manoeuvre a Porsche.
About the Author
As used Ford cars become more and more popular, Kevin Creese has been working to promote the used Ford range at Sandicliffe one of the top Ford dealers in the UK.
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