Ford Escort 2.0 Litre - Buyer's Guide

By: Cliff Chambers

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Like the Mk1 Escorts, the handling of the Mk II Escorts flattered drivers' skills and the Mk II's 2.0-litre grunt was the cherry on top

 

Ford Escort 2.0 Litre

In Britain, the only way to enjoy the grunt of a 2.0-litre engine in a Mark 2 Escort was to pay handsomely for one of the sloped-nose RS2000s. In Australia from 1977, even the base-model GL and delivery van were available with the 70kW ‘Pinto’ engine that took Escorts into 160km/h territory.

The reason was new emission control measures that overnight had slashed power from Ford’s 1.6-litre engine by 14kW. The overhead-cam, 2.0-litre Cortina motor offered an instant source of extra performance while still meeting the emissions target.

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New to the range was a sports-oriented Rallye Pack that included the 2.0-litre engine, bright colours and extra gear that aimed it squarely at younger buyers.  Topping the local range was the popular Ghia with its fake timber dash trim, velour seats, armrests, a clock and additional sound insulation. Air-conditioning was an option and alloy wheels became standard in 1979.

| Read next: Ford Escort Ghia

Two years after announcing its 70kW Escort enhancement, Ford Australia launched a local version of the ‘boy racer’ RS2000. UK cars had alloy wheels but we got steel and Scheel buckets in place of the Brit version’s Recaro front seats. What Australia did get and Britain didn’t was the world’s only regular-production four-door RS2000. Vans with the more powerful engine were popular with private and commercial buyers and there was a Sundowner version with sporty trim and distinctive graphics.

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In addition to decent performance, Mark 2 Escorts offer outstanding chassis balance and durability. So competent is the design that cars with super-powerful BDA twin-cam engines still contest international rally events against modern all-wheel drive models.

RS2000 engine output was unchanged at 70kW and it used a short-shift gear-lever for more precise changes. Extra weight saw the RS shaded in acceleration by the two-door GL but the slipperier shape helped it reach 172km/h which was 7km/h more than the slab-nosed GL.

| Buyer's Guide: Ford Escort RS2000

Automatics use Ford’s C3 transmission which saps more than its share of power. Full-throttle upchanges are jerky and the gearing encourages overtaking drivers to ensure they have considerably more road than is needed in a manual.

Local Mark 2 survivors seem predominantly to be RS2000s and – perhaps unexpectedly – panel vans. You can occasionally find decent Ghias at slightly less than the cost of an RS but Rallye Pack versions very rare.

VALUE RANGE Escort (2.0 litre Ghia)

FAIR: $6000
GOOD: $14,500
EXCELLENT: $23,000

(Note: exceptional cars will demand more)

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BUYER'S CHECKLIST

BODY & CHASSIS

Rust bubbles around wheel-arches or discolouration beneath the vinyl roof on a Ghia will be symptomatic of more serious problems. Most costly and perhaps terminal will be rust around the rear window and in the roof pillars, quarter panels, inner sills, floor-pans including the boot and rear spring attachment points. The mudguards and bonnet used on RS2000 versions are unique to the model and hard to find second-hand. Flimsy bumpers are easily twisted. The polyurethane nose-cone used on RS versions is unobtainable here but can be repaired by a plasti-weld specialist. Acquiring a fibreglass replacement from the UK is another option.

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ENGINE & TRANSMISSION

The ‘Pinto’ engine is simple and durable but age has caught up with many, so rattles and exhaust smoke are common. Camshaft wear generates a high frequency ticking at idle that may disappear as revs increase. Cam drive is via a toothed rubber belt that should be changed every 70,000km. Escorts rarely overheat unless the radiator is clogged or the water pump worn. Ensure engine mounts aren’t cracked. The clutch is cable-operated and carrying a replacement cable is recommended. Vibrations through the drive-line can be due to a failed bearing in the two-piece driveshaft.  Replacement with a single piece shaft is possible, as is replacing the original gearbox with a UK-sourced five-speed.

SUSPENSION & BRAKES

Escort underpinnings are basic, still available and are inexpensive to replace. More than 25mm of free movement in the steering or shock transmitted through the wheel points to a worn rack or mounting bushes. Some cars have after-market strut braces which are worthwhile if you intend doing some club sporting events.  A car that’s drooping at the rear will need its leaf springs reset  or even replaced if some leaves have cracked. From inside the boot, check that the shock absorber mountings are sound. Make sure that the handbrake will lock the rear wheels and front discs which do most of the braking aren’t warped or scored.

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INTERIOR & ELECTRICS

Escort trim wore quickly from new and repairing sad seats and trashed interior vinyl can be a costly business. Dash veneer used in Ghias will split if not protected against sun damage and usually needs to be refurbished . A new dash top was advertised at over $500. Look for mould in the foot-well corners as a sign water is entering the cabin. Make sure all of the internal door-handles work and the hinge pins on two-door cars aren’t worn. Make sure all windows but especially the rears move easily.

1977-1981 Ford Escort 2.0 litre specs

NUMBER BUILT: 25,000 (Aust. approx.)
BODY: all-steel integrated body/chassis two or four-door sedan, panel van
ENGINE: 1993cc in-line four cylinder with overhead camshaft and single downdraft carburettor
POWER & TORQUE: 70kW @5200rpm, 148Nm @ 3800rpm
PERFORMANCE: 0-100km/h 11.5 seconds, 0-400 metres
17.9 seconds (RS2000)
TRANSMISSION: four-speed manual, three-speed automatic
SUSPENSION: Independent with Macpherson struts and anti-roll bar (f) Live axle with semi-elliptic springs, telescopic shock absorbers and anti-roll bar (r)
BRAKES: disc front/drum rear – power assisted
TYRES: 155SR/13 or ZR70S/13 radial

 

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