The UK-built first-generation Ford Escort was not only a success in Europe but also dominated the rallying scene for years.
The first things that come to mind when you think about the Ford Escort typically aren’t good. For Americans, the Escort was really nothing more than basic transportation that over the years became less and less of a quality product. When it first hit the US market in 1981, it clearly had potential but by the time of its demise in 2003, the Escort was a bland attempt of a compact sporty car. In Europe, however, the Escort had a different story.
It first launched in the UK in late 1967 and was an immediate success. Built in England, buyers had the choice of a two-door coupe, sedan, wagon or even a panel van. Along with a choice of inline-four engines that had decent enough outputs, buyers could opt for either a three-speed automatic or four-speed manual gearbox that sent power to the rear wheels. Was it a particularly exciting car? Not really, but the Euro Escort was good at everything it was designed to do and it quickly became a best-seller, unseating cars like the BMC Austin/Morris 110 and even Ford’s own Cortina.
The compact Escort also sold quite well in Germany and by 1974 Ford built its two-millionth unit, claiming the model’s success was unmatched by any other Ford model sold outside of the US. That’s quite an accomplishment for the automaker considering it was up against compacts from Euro brands such as Opel and BMC. The Mk1 Escort also sold quite well in Australia and New Zealand. Along with its success among the general public, the Euro Escort went on to a successful career in rally racing. The Escort Twin Cam was built for Group 2 international rallying and was powered by a 1.5-liter inline-four that had a Lotus-made eight-valve twin camshaft.
More importantly, the Mk1 Escort turned out to be one of the most successful rally cars ever made, having picked up a string of victories throughout its career including the 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally. Because of this victory, Ford launched the RS1600 which was followed by the RS2000. Unlike its predecessor, the RS2000 was supposedly an easier car to handle and it came with a larger and more powerful engine, a 2.0-liter four. In addition to winning its own share of rallying events, the RS2000 has been widely credited with helping to inspire the beginning of the hot hatch market.
This Escort RS2000 that’s now up for auction on eBay is clearly not something you’ll see every day. It ain’t no replica and is reportedly in perfect condition, being one of just 4,500 produced. It was imported to the US in 2008 and comes with two sets of wheels and the original intake and radiator. As of writing it had a top bid of $29,600 but that price will likely increase because of just how unique of a find this car is. Thanks Ura for the tip.