Ford Escort - Buyer's Guide Checklist

Presented by

ford escort 1 ford escort 1
ford escort 2 ford escort 2
ford escort 5 ford escort 5
ford escort 3 ford escort 3
ford escort 4 ford escort 4
ford escort doors ford escort doors

Owner Gareth Walker offers some advice on what to look for if you're in the market for a Ford Escort

A few things distinguish an RS. In the UK it was the only model you could get a two-litre engine in, though here you could ultimately get a two litre in anything. The most obvious difference is of course the nose cone, and the rear bumper is different. On the interior they came factory-fitted with Scheel seats. There are a number of other subtle differences that are less significant – a trained spotter can pick a real one from a made-up car.

Performance and suspension were the same across the local range in the two litre. They had larger front struts and a bigger roll bar, but were essentially the same as a normal Escorts. We unfortunately didn’t get the factory-fitted performance goodies that were available in the UK. However it’s hard to find a standard Escort – they didn’t stay that way for very long.

The dreaded tin worm gets all of them – you won’t find one that’s rust-free. There are areas of poor design, that trap water. On the four doors (and the two-doors do it too), the way the vent system is made, it traps water when you wash the car. On the inside it’s like a cup and the water sits there to rust the car from the inside out. Most four-doors you’ll find a tennis ball-sized ball of rust in the left side, where the water seems to sit lower.

Ford -escort -2

They all rust around what we refer to as the heater bubble in the engine bay. Another poor design – dirt, leaves and moisture gets in through the scuttle panel and can’t get out. And the cars were never painted under there, so it’s bare steel. They rust out there, water comes into the car, into the carpet and then rusts out the floor pans. As for the Mk1s, the windscreens often leak.  Peter says it’s not a real one if it doesn’t leak!

The good news is there are a lot more rust replacement panels out there in the market than there ever have been. When we were restoring cars 10-15 years ago, you were looking to scavenge parts from other cars. These days, for example, you can buy reproduction parts for that heater bubble.

My car has had new wheel arches on the rear – they’re available now. And they’re not expensive. The Pinto engine is a pretty basic old beast and there’s not a lot that goes wrong with them. But we’re talking about cars that are getting on for 40 years old. Engines and gearboxes are pretty basic and there are lots of go-fast parts out there, so there’s no real issue with them.

Ford -escort -5Parts availability has improved over the years – much of it from the UK – so it’s an easier car to restore now than it ever was.

Values have been rising, but are still reasonable compared to the rest of the market. If we’re talking Mk2, a two-door might pull $1000 more than a four-door. There’s a bigger gap between two and four-door cars, if you’re talking Mk1.

Real Mk1 RS2000s are ultra-rare and expensive – we’re talking 25 cars total. Real Mk 2 RS cars have distinct numbers.

A complete four-door in need of a resto is getting up around $10,000; A good tidy driver will be mid to high teens; A good restored Mk1 RS2000 tribute or MK2 RS2000 might be around $25,000-30,000. A nice non-RS will be $10,000-15,000.

For this market, tastefully modified with period gear will be okay for value.

The really rare cars, like the Lotus twin cams and Mk1 RS2000 are expensive. You’re starting at $50,000 for one that needs a lot of work, and far more for something really good. That number could easily double.

Overall a good Escort is a very neutral car. They don’t understeer or oversteer, though you can drive them on the throttle. They have rack and pinion steering and weigh about 1000kg, so despite being pretty basic they work really well. And it doesn’t take a lot of power to get them going well.

 

Sign up to our free weekly newsletter for more unique car reviews and features plus see the latest unique and classic cars for sale.

Subscribe to Unique Cars magazine
- Print edition
- Digital edition