This is a public service more than a very interesting post.
When I wrote about the Astra F, I noted that there were very few good images of the 1980-1986 Ford Escort. Well, here is a clear image of an unmolested example. And it is not that nice to behold.
And this is the rest of the car.
The residual boot is a nod to the salooniness of the predecessor. I don’t have a lot more to say about this one.
12 thoughts on “A photo for Sunday: 1980 Ford Escort”
The one thing Ford managed, with these in particular and their 1980s catalogue in general, was managing to get a cohesive global look, which is a more difficult task than it sounds. The venetian-blind light lenses are distinctively Ford, and could be off an American or Australian model (not necessarily an Escort); the grille ditto, and the surfacing too. This must surely count for something.
I find it interesting how Ford kept the short wheelbase and RWD proportions with this car, though they switched to FWD. Were they afraid to put customers off? Opel, who changed layout at about the same time, adopted a much more modern look with a long wheelbase for the Kadett. I wonder how these two cars compare in interior space and accessibility.
The Ford looks like it is missing 10cm behind the b-pillar. These aren’t pleasant vehicles in any trim variation. I agree the Ford range was homogenous but that doesn’t save this car in isolation. People buy a car not a range. I don’t think the second last Kadett was very much better but the last Kadett was.
The missing 10 cm are especially obvious on the 5-door models. They have incredibly short doors, and tge rear door has a large cutout for the wheel arch.
I remember the Kadett D as looking rather cheapish, but it couldn’t have been too bad. It was very popular. The estate was the number one choice for everyone who needed a compact car with a lot of space. No Golf Variant was born at that time, and the Escort was short and had an inclined back, so probably wasn’t competitive on space level.
I remember that Ford made a big deal about the aerodynamic properties of their so-called “aeroback” that debuted with this Escort and carried forward to the Sierra. Compare and contrast with the Mazda 323 from the same period, which didn’t have the residual boot. My Dad had the Mazda. It had some thoughtful touches like a really good toolkit behind a plastic flap in the boot.
Looked at pragmatically, for a company trying to drag its conservative clientele into the second half of the Century, I always thought that the Mark 3 did a good job. The vestigal boot (as on the Volvo 340 before) just gave enough of a hint that it wasn’t really one of those fancy French hatchbacks. With the Mark 4 a facelift, the next stage should have been to a more radical Mark 5 but, in true Ford style, they lost the plot and produced something very ordinary, if, by the end of its facelifted run, a much better car.
For this month, the real find would be one of the Brazilian Escorts sold in Scandinavia – Sweden, Finland and Norway according to Liepedia – from 83-86.
They had the Renault-developed CHT engine, and were considered inferior to the European made cars particulary in corrosion protection, so are possibly extinct.
The reason they made it over? An exchange rates thing, apparently.
One will show up on my street this week, no doubt.
How is it the mundane Escort gets a reaction while the HRV doesn’t? The Escort almost defies analysis – I mean, like the Tagora, there’s nearly no essential, characteristical elements. The HRV concept could be applied to a 4.5 metre CUV, a hatchback and an estate and still be recognisably the same design.
It’s easier (and more satisfying) to rant about something mediocre than to elaborate on something that’s essentially right – although I have to say I’d like to see a longer wheelbase on the Honda as well.
I once owned one of these. It was my first car, bought for £400. It had terminal rust and shot rear wheel bearings, which made for lively handling characteristics. I replaced the wheel bearings and other bits and pieces, but the rust would get it in the end. On the plus side, the drivetrain – although horrid to use – was reliable and could take punishment. Which was good, because with a 1.3 carb-fed engine and 4 speed box, you needed to abuse it in order to make reasonable progress.
Despite its glaring deficiencies, this is not the worst Escort I have ever driven. That was a 1992 model (mk 5?) with the smooth, ‘aero’ design. It was horrifically bad.
Mazda took issue with Ford’s claims for Erica’s aerodynamic efficiency. Ford claimed a cd of 0.385 and Mazda, who also refuted claims of their new 323 being a derivative of the 1980 Escort made the assertion that their own wind tunnel tests had obtained different results. The matter was settled in the Jan ’81 issue of Car where both were tested at Mercedes’ windtunnel, which showed that Ford were not overstating the Escort’s cd, but that Mazda had understated theirs. Interestingly, Citroen also subjected an Escort to a windtunnel test at the St-Cyr facility. They found its cd to be 0.392 but that their own GSA recorded 0.345, which really shouldn’t have surprised anyone except those who believed all wind tunnels achieved the same results.
I had lengthy exposure to Mark 3 and 4 Escorts and Orions. To be honest, I’ve always considered the Escort to be a nice looking car – at least in launch spec. My family had four of them over a ten year period and I also drove innumerable versions during my car leasing days. They did suffer from a lack of rear space owing to the short wheelbase. There was also wild differences in how they drove. Ford revised the suspension and damper settings on an almost weekly basis, but only really found a decent compromise with the Mark four version, which is thirty years old this year.