A Picture for Sunday: 1990 Ford Escort CLX

There is nothing remarkable about this car apart from its unusual state of preservation. 

1995 Ford Escort CLX. This has a 1.6 litre 16v engine.
1995 Ford Escort CLX. This has a 1.6 litre 16v engine.

It’s a CLX, which is quite luxurious in Escort terms: swirly velour upholstery, rear armrest, rear head restraints, alloy wheels, colour coded this and also that. But it does remind me of the 1988 Chevrolet Corsica. Critics damned the Escort for its mediocrity and conservatism. Ford marketed the car as having “classical” style. Yes, classical Chevrolet style from 1988.

Not only did the Escort somehow ape the incredibly bland Corsica but it also affected to use the ingenious body-side/wheel arch solution of the 1989 Peugeot 605. I am on trickier ground with this criticism. Peugeot launched the 605 in 1989 and Ford launched the Escort in 1990. I don’t know for certain when the first 605s were shown in the press and I don’t know how late in 1990 the Escort was released – I seem to recall it was in the autumn but

1988 Chevrolet Corsica
1988 Chevrolet Corsica. While the Escort is not exactly a prestige car, it still shows up the Corsica as being very unrefined. You can see that despite its uninspired styling, the Escort was finessed and polished to a level the Corsica can’t even dream of. I drove one of these for a while. I can’t remember anything but the colour. It was rental car white.

can’t be certain. What I think might have happened was the problem of wandering designers or wandering clay modellers who may have brought the 605’s distinctive bodyside solution to Ford. I have a diagram below to make the idea clear. Notice that under the bodyside groove the body bulges outwards to extend to the wheel arch lips. It’s quite subtle but I don’t know if anyone has used it before. It is a very distinctive principle with which to solve the problem of getting the main body side to blend to the wheel arch lips.

1989 Peugeot 605. Notice the sections sketched on the image. Image: Wikipedia
1989 Peugeot 605. Notice the sections sketched on the image. Image: Wikipedia

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

14 thoughts on “A Picture for Sunday: 1990 Ford Escort CLX”

  1. For me, the last Escort was and still is not a desirable car. A car with no special positive characteristics and for sure the Escort was not built to last forever..
    Thinking at this Escort – i remember two peculiar points:
    – the omnipresence of the oval Ford-plum – the designer seems to get paid for integrating this theme as often as possible. the door-pulls, the little indicators, the grill, the fog lamps, the watch, some buttons and surely some more parts has this plum-design.
    – the very poor quality of the rear bumpers – i am convinced they were made from a factory that usually was producing yoghurt pots. I never saw another model with so much torn rear bumpers.

    1. Well – i never saw a torn rear bumper at an Autin Montego, because here in Germany i did nearly never had the opportunity to see a Montego 🙂

    2. That´s quite true. They were like egg-shells. All in all this Escort is certifiable rubbish. I suppose it´s durable and undemanding and I can see why the Focus was needed. Imagine if they had done another one of these or something like it.

  2. The design work for the 1990 Orion and Escort wagon was farmed out to Ford Australia, although the cars were never sold there. Instead they got the Mazda 323 based Laser and Meteor. I think they’re the best looking members of that series, but perhaps that’s to damn with faint praise.

    1. The Escort or the Laser? The Escort is not that *interesting*. On its side is refinement of the visual sort. While the Golf had robustness on its side it also suffered from the last vestiges of VW’s rather blockheaded approach to detailing and sculpture. Comparatively Ford’s effort nudged the game along only to find the oxyacelyene blow-torch of the Astra’s sleek-modernity cutting into its ovine character and the next Golf’s silly cloth-decked a-pillar trim gnawing at its perceived quality. Little wonder then that they had to strike back with New Edge design.

  3. The Escort / Orion. I think the Laser / Meteor was a Ford USA job – it was sold as the Escort and Mercury Tracer there.

    Ford Australia’s styling department were doing some good work at that time, particularly the E series Falcon. Pity that these cars’ engineering and quality control didn’t match their good looks.

  4. I think Peugeot does this flared rear wing thing regularly. Wouldn’t the 306 be considered the same ? Although I think it can be a pretty car, the widening of the 306’s body towards the rear was quite unsettling to me for a long time.


    The new 508 also has this flared wing I think although they didn’t use it to make a smooth transition with the arch lip because there’s still a chamfer around it ? It also has the same ‘widening towards the back’ effect as the 306 I think.


    I wonder if the inspiration for them was the 305 V6 Rallye ?


    Otherwise this might not be just a Peugeot thing. Was the Clio 1 also using this technique ?


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