If a 26-year-old German Escort makes you drool, here is your chance to get one!
If you're based in the USA, you'll probably recall that Ford once sold a compact car under the Escort nameplate. It was a strong seller among value-conscious buyers, but neither the first-generation "World Car" Escort nor the Mazda 323-based second generation ever earned a reputation as serious sports machines. Solid and reliable, especially the second-gen, but generally dreary and forgettable machines without any sporting pretenses.
That's mostly how it was with the European-market Escort, too, because this was developed with an attitude of aggressive mediocrity, again to make it popular among budget-minded buyers. However, Ford of Europe had bigger plans for its Escort and actually put some effort into turning the dull-as-dishwater commoner into something special and sporty. This formula was established in the 1960s and applied all the way to the current (and final) Fiesta and Focus ST models.
Among that long line of special Euro Escorts, the RS Cosworth is arguably the pick of the bunch. Underscored by a Ford Sierra rally car's chassis but dressed down to look more like a regular Ford Escort, the Escort RS Cosworth was developed to compete in the Group A class of the World Rally Championship. It had a long racing career, stretching from 1992 to 1998, but while it acquitted itself honorably during this time, it never won a championship in its intended racing formula.
That comparative lack of racing success made no difference to the street cred of the road-going Cosworths, however. Upon its reveal in 1992, the public took the hottest Escort to heart, and it soon earned a reputation as a formidable sports hatchback. Performance was considered to be blistering for the time, with a top speed exceeding 140 mph and the 0-62 mph dash dispatched in a claimed 5.7 seconds.
Powered by a Cosworth-developed 2.0-liter, 16-valve turbocharged engine and sending a solid 224 horsepower to all four wheels through a five-speed manual gearbox, it was a technological and performance marvel in its day. Slapping a huge dual-spoiler arrangement on the tailgate certainly didn't hurt its cause, either, and neither did a set of bulging wheel arches and large (for the era) alloy wheels.
Now, the very last Escort RS Cosworth to ever be made is up for sale, and boy, does it have serious provenance. According to the auction house managing the sale, Collecting Cars, this car was built after the model's original production run ended in 1996. At the time, Karmann (who built these specialty cars under contract for Ford) had some left-over spare parts lying around, so it decided to assemble two more RS Cosworths from the bits and pieces. The only difference between these two cars and the series-production examples is their hoods, which had to be sourced from the next-generation Escort because the correct items had by then long gone out of production.
After it was completed, the last car was used by Karmann's chairman and spent its first two years rolling with dealer plates. This car was then registered and sold to the guy who led the initial RS Cosworth development - Dieter Hahne, former manager of Ford's Special Vehicle Engineering (SVE) department. Herr Hahne held onto it for the next 24 years until he turned 80 and decided that he shouldn't be driving anymore.
Over the past few years, this car has been subjected to a mild restoration. Any underbody rust was removed and proper rustproofing was applied, and it received a fresh coat of unique Auralis Blue paint along the way. There's a new clutch and cambelt in place as well, so the maintenance is up to date. The rest is still in original condition, which means some slight scuff marks on the leather upholstery and a faulty OEM CD player. Remember those?
If you're a US-based fast Ford fan in search of something truly special, this Escort should be added to your wish list. And, because it will be eligible for import to the USA in one more year, you can buy it now and bring it over in 2023, when the car will become exempt from the 25-year import restrictions currently keeping it out of reach. Definitely worth considering, especially as the highest current bid on this piece of history is only about $26,000, which is less than you'd pay for an entry-level, fifth-generation 2023 Ford Mustang. Sure, the cost of importing it will add to that figure, but to own something as rare and unique as this would be truly special.