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Ford Escort Mk1 buying guide (1968-1975)

Ford Escort Mk1 Ford Escort Mk1 Ford Escort Mk1 Ford Escort Mk1 Estate From affordable road car to highly competitive race and rally car, the Escort Mk1 has worn many hats over the years. And in all the intervening years nothing has changed – Ford’s hugely successful Anglia replacement still offers cheap and fun motoring, with reliability and style. Some examples offer more of these elements than others (1.1-litre cars don’t go too large on the fun factor), but whichever version you buy, those revvy engines and rear-wheel drive combine to give a great mix of driver satisfaction.

During seven years of production, more than two million Mk1 Escorts found buyers. Such success was guaranteed by low pricing and a huge range of derivatives thanks to various body styles and a wide range of engines. So it didn’t matter whether your thing was a 1.1-litre runabout or a snarling high-revving twin-cam, there was an Escort for you.

Now, the Escort Mk1 remains eminently affordable, although some versions are more attainable than others. The RS1600, Mexico and Twin Cam were all the work of Ford’s Advanced Vehicle Operations (AVO) department, and these models are now the most sought after – although the RS2000 is also coveted. But you don’t need massive performance and go-faster stripes to enjoy Escort motoring.

Which one to buy

The choice of Escort Mk1s may be bewildering, but that’s because there really is something for everyone. From unfeasibly cheap load carrier to tyre-smoking sportscar, there’s a version for every occasion. Even better is the fact that tuning and upgrading the cars is so straightforward, with dozens of suppliers able to sell you bits to modify any of the mechanicals.

But you have to be careful; the most desirable Mk1s – and hence the most valuable – are the ones most likely to be faked. So before parting with your cash, join a club and make sure that all is what it purports to be.

Set your sights on something with at least a 1.3-litre engine. Two-door cars carry a premium because they’re often converted into rally weapons, so four-door cars and estates tend to be the most accessible. But it’s the sporting Escorts that will always be the most collectable as they’re the most fun, so hunt down a cracking Mexico or RS2000, having made sure it’s the real deal. Or if your pockets are much deeper, a Twin Cam or RS1600. You’ll pay plenty for one of these, but it’s these editions which provide the most fun as well as the best investment potential.

Tech spec - Escort RS Mexico 1970-1975

Engine 1599cc, four-cylinder 
Power 86bhp @ 5500rpm
Torque 92lb ft @ 4000rpm
Top speed 99mph
0-60mph 10.7sec
Consumption 33mpg
Gearbox Four-speed manual

What to look for

• The Escort Mk1 rusts badly, but most panels are available as well-made repro items. Check the MacPherson strut top mountings, the inner wings, the scuttle and all outer panels. The transverse leaf spring hangers dissolve, along with the sills, rear wheelarches and floorpans. So does the windscreen surround and the boot floor.
• Cooking Escorts use Ford’s Kent engine, in 1098cc or 1298cc guises, with a 1598cc edition in the Mexico; the RS2000 got a 1993cc Pinto unit. The RS1600 has a 16-valve Cosworth-developed 1599cc twin-cam BDA engine and the Twin Cam features a Lotus Cortina-derived powerplant. The BDA and Twin Cam are much harder to work on and parts are far more expensive.
• The Kent engine suffers from worn cam followers, so listen for noisy tappets.
• The Pinto engine has a rubber timing belt that can fail prematurely, but it’s cheap and easy to renew.
• Escorts with a Kent engine could be fitted with a three-speed Borg Warner automatic transmission, but most cars got a four-speed manual gearbox. Of the three different manual transmissions fitted, the 1.1 and 1.3-litre cars have their own ‘box, but with closer ratios if the car was a GT or Sport. The Twin Cam, RS1600 and Mexico had a unit like that in the Cortina and Corsair (known as the 2000e gearbox) – while the RS2000 had its own transmission.
• Autos just keep going. Listen for rumbling bearings in the first three gears of a manual gearbox; once they start making a noise they’ll soldier on for years without problems.
• If the gearbox crunches as you’re changing ratios, it’s probably a stretched clutch cable, which eventually breaks. Replacements are very cheap.
• Although a constant whining from the rear suggests a worn differential, if the noise is only there during cornering it’s because the wheelbearings need replacing. Changing them requires a press.
• Knocking from the front suspension suggests the anti-roll bar bushes have worn. The steering will also be very vague, but replacing the bushes is easy and cheap.
• Exterior trim is largely unobtainable, with used quarter bumpers and the ‘hockey stick’ trim around the rear window particularly difficult to find. Most of the external brightwork is chrome-plated Mazak, so it can’t be restored.
• The wiring loom and switchgear (including the column stalks) can be unreliable; the contacts contacts oxidise and the plastic insulators within the rocker switches break up.

Model history

1968: The Escort two-door saloon is announced, in De Luxe, Super and GT forms. There are 1098cc or 1298cc four-cylinder engines. Soon after, a van appears and the 1.1 and 1.3-litre saloons get an automatic option.
1969: A four-door saloon reaches showrooms, along with an estate.
1970: Engine revisions mean power increases and amended model names. The standard range now consists of standard, L, XL and GT derivatives. The RS1600 also debuts, with a Cosworth-developed 16-valve 1599cc BDA powerplant. The Mexico completes the performance Escort line up, with a 1.6-litre Kent engine.
1971: The 1300 Sport is announced; it’s a lower-spec 1300GT. The Escort Sport also arrives, with XL interior, GT running gear and RS bodywork. The one millionth Escort is built.
1973: Two-door 1300E arrives, using 1300 Sport mechanicals but with luxury trim. Whole range gets improved suspension design and GT model is discontinued at the end of the year. RS2000 appears, with 1993cc Pinto engine.
1974: Four-door 1300E goes on sale with metallic paint, vinyl roof and high-spec interior.
1975: Mk1 Escort is replaced by Mk2 version.

Key clubs and websites

• www.avoclub.com
• www.seoc.co.uk
• www.1300eownersclub.org
• www.rsownersclub.co.uk

Words: Richard Dredge
Ford Escort Mk1 Ford Escort Mk1 Ford Escort Mk1 Ford Escort Mk1 Estate
Last updated: 6th Mar 2015
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Ford Escort cars for sale

12 Search results
Ford Escort
595 44995 GBP
  • - Just c.22,000 miles from new - Lovely condition commensurate with low mileage - MoT to July 2016 In 1980 Ford changed from rear to front wheel drive for their Escort, with all round independent suspension and servo disc brakes on all but the most basic version. As on the Fiesta, the 1.1 to 1.6-litre engines were transversely mounted, while the most sporting version was the XR3, which became the fuel-injected 105bhp XR3i with 5-speed box in 1983. Even more potent were the RS1600i of 1982-3 and the 1984 launched RS Turbo with 130bhp and 130mph capability. Registering just circa 22,350 miles, this immaculate example is described as having "excellent" engine, bodywork and paintwork commensurate with its low mileage. Finished in black with grey interior, the car is only being sold to help fund the vendor's house extension. The impressive specification includes a Ford radio with graphic equalizer, heated front screen and fuel computer as fitted to Custom models. Recently treated to a service which included replacement of the cam belt, tensioner and water pump, the vendor advises the car has at some point been fitted with a 1990 spec interior, larger intercooler and big bore exhaust. Of

    • Year: 1987

    Last update: About 17 Hours Old
    For sale
  • H & H
    08458 334455
    see details
  • - Extensively restored / uprated in 2003 and little used since - Dunnell Zetec 16v engine, 2000E gearbox, upgraded brakes etc - History file includes original invoice from Candor Motors Ltd (May 1968) This smartly-presented MKI Escort started life in May 1968 as an unpretentious 1300cc Super. Now it is an altogether different kettle of automotive fish and clearly capable of springing all sorts of surprises on the road, and probably the track too. Uprated suspension gives it a lower, meaner stance and we understand the modified braking system includes discs at the rear as well as the front. In place of the original Kent engine lurks a far more exciting Dunnell 2-litre Zetec unit, complete with wrapped stainless steel exhaust manifold. The passenger cell abounds with competition-orientated modifications, including: roll cage; Corbeau racing seats; Luke four-point harnesses; Sparco pedals; battery master switch; leather-rimmed alloy steering wheel; and OMEX rev-counter. Where the luggage used to sit are housed the competition fuel system, alloy petrol tank and battery. Outside you'll find a period door mirror and a set of very smart Ford alloy wheels. 'YWC 587F' is now looking for a s

    • Year: 1968

    Last update: About 18 Hours Old
    For sale
  • H & H
    08458 334455
    see details
  • - A pleasingly original example finished in Blue with Grey cloth interior - 19,000 recoded miles and a current MOT certificate into April 2016 - Offered with a collection of old MOT's and original owners handbook Debuting in early 1986 the Escort Mark IV was very much an evolution of its Mark III predecessor albeit that the newcomer was instantly distinguishable thanks to its more rounded nose and smoothed over, rather than 'straked', rear lamp clusters. Internally, the MKIV featured a revised dashboard and various other refinements. Finished in Maritime Blue with Grey cloth upholstery, this particular example represents an interesting proposition for the Blue Oval collector. Equipped with a 1.3 litre carburettor-fed engine and manual transmission, 'F609 EAO' currently displays just 19,000 miles to its odometer (a figure which is reportedly substantiated by twenty-two previous MOT certificates). Reportedly very original, this 'time capsule' Ford is offered for sale with owner's handbook, current V5C Registration Document and current MOT certificate valid into April 2016.

    • Year: 1988

    Last update: About 18 Hours Old
    For sale
  • H & H
    08458 334455
    see details
  • - Finished in Signal Orange with brown cloth trim - 77,000 miles recorded, MoT to June 2016 - Twin Weber 48 carbs, Janspeed exhaust, Spax suspension etc. Ford's long awaited 'droop snoot' RS 2000 was launched at the Earls Court show of October 1975. It was the most luxurious of the sporting Escorts of the time (the others being the Mexico and RS 1800), and was powered by an uprated version of the 2.0-litre OHC Pinto unit employed in the Capri, Cortina and Granada - a four-into-two exhaust manifold coupled to a big bore exhaust system raising its output to 110bhp. This was sufficient to help sprint the Escort to 60mph in 8.5 secs and on to a top speed of almost 110mph. The stiff, but very effective, suspension included radius arms on the rear, and the foam-filled plastic snout and flexible rear spoiler were said to give a significant reduction in drag. Finished in very 'period' Signal Orange, the vendor advises its specification includes twin Weber 48 carburettors, road rally camshaft, World Cup cross member strut brace, Janspeed exhaust, Spax adjustable suspension, sunroof and original polished alloys. Registering some 77,000 miles it is described as being in "good" condition regar

    • Year: 1979

    Last update: About 19 Hours Old
    For sale
  • H & H
    08458 334455
    see details
  • We are delighted to offer for sale this FORD Escort SAPPHIRE finished in Red (Manual), 23,000 miles with grey velour interior only 1 Lady owner from new.;CAR TO CLEAR.;;THIS CAR HAS ONLY DONE 23000 MILES FROM NEW,AND IS ONE LADY OWNER FROM NEW.; MOT TILL OCTOBER 2016.;;Only GBP 750;;;;Please call us on 01642 243002 / 01642-244522;

    Last update: 8 Days Old

    • Mileage: 23000 mi

    • Engine size: 1.597

    For sale
  • see details
  • Lifting the bonnet you'll find the un-modified 2.0i DOHC 16v engine, which produces 224hp and rockets the Escort from 0-60mph in close to six seconds. Being a second generation RS Cosworth this example is fitted with the Garrett T25 turbocharger. This smaller unit reduces turbo lag and increases usability in everyday driving situations compared to the earlier examples.

    • Year: 1996

    Last update: About 1 Month Old

    • Mileage: 36915 mi

    For sale
  • 4 Star Classics
    01483 274347
    see details
  • Ford Escort


    Ford Escort

    This is a unique Ford Escort Mk1 300 GT/HC. It was imported from Portugal were they only had this very beautiful colour. This Escort is in perfect condition and all to original specification. Only the RS wheels and the leather steering wheel is on original but do make this car look great. We speak Dutch, English , German and French. Our cars can be delivered with Dutch, German or Belgium registration. We can assist with the French registration. Transport to your door is possible. We have our own workshop facility with 25 years experience with classic cars.

    • Year: 1973

    Last update: 29 Days Old

    • Engine size: 1.3

    For sale
  • Imparts BV
    see details
  • Year: 1971 Mileage: Transmission: An Excellent example that has been finished in the beautiful Gulf racing colours, based on a 1971 Ford Escort Mexico. This car has been professionally built, and has had a full nut and bolt restoration a number of years ago. Equipment 2.0 Pinto OHC Rally spec camshaft Twin 45′s DCOE Weber Carbrettors Alloy competition tank Boot mounted facet electric fuel pump Filter king filter assembly mounted beside carbs Full stainless steel exhaust system Set of minilite style wheels with track day tyres Radlec aluminium radiator and Kenlowe electric fan 5 Speed sierra type 9 gearbox and quickshift English rear axle Limited slip differential, with panhard rod and lowered single leaf springs Quick ratio steering rack Bilstien shocks all round with coil over struts Hi-spec brakes New hand made trimmed carpets Corbeau targa front seats / Sparco 4 point mounted harness Sparco intercom system Brantz trip meter PIAA Qtr lights Type 49 shell, seam welded and strengthened. Delivery to anywhere in UK & Ireland Available Courtesy collection service from airports can be arranged, we are only 20 minutes from airports and ferry ports. Part Exchange Welcome Finance Availabl

    • Year: 1971

    Last update: About 23 Hours Old

    • Mileage: 1971 mi

    For sale
  • Hollybrook Sports Cars
    +44 28 9267 7719
    see details
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