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Ford Escort RS Turbo buying guide (1984-1990)

Ford Escort RS Turbo Ford Escort RS Turbo If there’s one car maker that’s renowned for producing one affordable performance car after another it’s Ford. With a string of fast machines to its name that started back in the 1960s, the trend continued in the 1980s with the arrival of the front-wheel drive Escort RS1600i, XR3 and XR3i. For an encore, Ford turned up the wick in 1984 with the launch of the Escort RS Turbo. It’s easy to think of the RS Turbo as little more than a boosted XR3i, but it’s more than that – the suspension settings were altered and there was a viscous-coupled limited-slip diff to get the power down. All 132bhp of it.

Ford kept things simple with the Escort, so if you’re looking for a practical, affordable classic that’s easy to maintain on a DIY basis, then look no further. Despite its desirability, the RS Turbo is still very affordable, and the same goes for parts prices too. As you might expect, some of these are now hard to track down, but all mechanical items are easy to find – often at incredibly low prices.

Which one to buy

Once you’ve decided between Mk1 and Mk2 (which translates as Mk3 and Mk4 in Escort generations), there’s not much to separate one RS Turbo from another. All of the RS Turbo Mk1s came in white, while the Mk2 was offered in an array of colours. Frankly, you’re better off not setting your heart on a particular colour because there are so few really good examples of these cars left, with even fewer coming onto the market.

So decide whether you want a Mk1 or a Mk2 then spend time looking for the very best example you can find. The Mk1 is quite a serious performance machine; once it had morphed into the Mk2 it was quite a different beast. In fact it was less of a beast. While the Mk2 is only a facelifted Mk1, in the transformation the limited-slip diff was lost and the car became more of an executive cruiser that’s as much about comfort as it is about performance.

Finding a car still close to factory spec will be a challenge, especially in the case of the Mk1 which was fitted with unique Recaro seats, bodykit and seven-spoke alloy wheels. But bide your time and find a cracker – because it’ll be worth it.

Tech spec - Ford Escort RS Turbo

Engine 1596cc/4-cyl/OHC
Power 132bhp @ 5750rpm
Torque 133lb ft @ 3000rpm
Top speed 126mph
0-60mph 7.8sec
Consumption 27mpg
Gearbox 5-speed manual

What to look for

• Corrosion is a major issue, but so is crash damage, so check the boot floor and inner front wings for rippling; also inspect the panel gaps.

• Analyse the whole car for rust; wheelarches dissolve, particularly the rears, while the sills, door bottoms, rear chassis legs and spare wheel well all rot badly. So does the crossmember that runs underneath the engine, the bulkhead behind the heater and the battery tray. Window seals (especially the windscreen) tend to leak, the tailgate window surround rots from the inside out, the rear wiper arm surround corrodes, and so does the sunroof surround.

• The engine is based on the XR3i unit, but there are virtually no shared parts. It’s a reliable powerplant, but watch for tuned units which use up (or go beyond) the safety margins. Turbochargers should last 80,000 miles, but hard-driven cars can cut this by three-quarters. Accelerate hard and look for blue smoke; reconditioned turbos are available.

• Ford recommends changing a CVH cam belt every 36,000 miles or three years; half this is more sensible if the car isn’t used much. If the belt snaps the engine is trashed, so it’s worth replacing as a matter of course.

• Fuel-injection systems sludge up, leading to poor fuel delivery and rough running. The key is to use a fuel cleaner/additive and decent-quality petrol. The fuel filter should also be replaced every 36,000 miles. Persistent running problems may be because the car has run out of fuel; once air has been drawn into the system, putting things right can be a thankless task.

• The distributor’s ignition module fails, so suspect this if there are starting problems. Distributors often leak oil at the joint with the cylinder head, but new seals cost pennies and are easy to fit.

• The gearchange is notchy; if it's particularly baulky a rebuild may be due. Linkages and bushes in the gearchange will probably be worn, but replacement is easy and cheap. There’s also a plastic quadrant on the clutch pedal, which wears then fails. New ones are cheap but replacement is fiddly.

• The limited slip diff wears out after 40,000 miles and replacements are no longer listed.

• The steering rack isn’t strong, so feel for heavy steering, vagueness and listen for knocking.

• Suspension problems are likely, especially worn bushes front and rear. They can be replaced with polyurethane items; there are three on each rear wishbone, along with the ones in the tie bars and anti-roll bars at the rear. The dampers also have bushes top and bottom.

• Cracks develop near the front track control arms (TCA) when the wheels are kerbed. Any banging suggests the TCA bushes have split.

• Check the electrics windows work as motors tend to fail, but you can track down used replacements cheaply.

Model history

1984: The RS Turbo debuts with a Garrett TO3 blower, limited-slip diff, big brakes and unique wheels. Ford plans to build 5000, but 8604 would be produced, such is the demand.

1986: The Escort Mk3 is replaced by the Mk4, with the RS Turbo becoming a regular production model. The suspension is softer, the LSD is history and the gearing is taller to improve economy and refinement. But the engine remains as before and there’s now mechanical anti-lock braking as standard.

Words: Richard Dredge
Ford Escort RS Turbo Ford Escort RS Turbo
Last updated: 20th Apr 2015
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Ford Escort RS Turbo cars for sale

3 Search results
Ford Escort RS Turbo
11395 33395 GBP
  • Ford Escort RS Turbo

    £22,100 £22,100

    CORRECT MODEL IS ESCORT XR3 CONVERTIBLE MADE IN BRAZIL 11.000Km original, never restored

    • Year: 1989
    • Mileage: 11000 mi
    For sale
    Rafael Augusto Zanetti
    554199728218 VIEW CONTACT NUMBER
  • Ford Escort RS Turbo

    £11,395 £11,395

    *SIMILAR CLASSIC CARS ALWAYS REQUIRED* SOLD Thinking of selling? Our proven commission sale or SOR (Sale or Return) program is a great way to utilise and access our professional services and facilities while still maximising the return from your vehicle with minimal hassle, stress and time, If you’d like to take advantage of this then please get in touch for further information. Alternatively If you’d like to move your vehicle on quickly and efficiently with minimal delay then we can make an offer on an outright purchase basis with payment and collection arranged soon after. A spine-tingling Escort RS Turbo with just two owners and full history from new EQUIPMENT Body coloured bumpers with black insert, body coloured wheel arch extensions, 90 spec tailgate spoiler, halogen headlamps, front driving lamps, cooling vents in bonnet, central door locking, remote body coloured door mirrors, heated rear window, front windscreen rapid de-ice, dual-tone horn, tailgate wash/wipe, tinted glass, quartz digital clock, aerial incorporated in rear windscreen, Recaro front reclining seats, 60/40 split rear back rest, soft feel sports steering wheel, tilt/slide glass sunroof, tachometer, electrically operated front windows, heated door mirrors. Dealer fit accessories: Laserline alarm. EXTERIOR Finished in striking Radiant Red, (Colour Code P9), this character-packed RS Turbo retains all the manufacturers originality and has a polished gloss smoothness. The desirable 90 spec enhancements such as the face-lift front bumper and rear spoiler are unmarked and straight. Correct decals, aerodynamic aids and original Carello front lighting remain in perfect condition. Tinted exterior glass is security etched and the interior rubber to the rear screen has swelled in places. The front wings are date stamped and the tiny Ford logo can be seen to those who know where to look. The scuttle panel is also correctly stamped and a few minor chips to the bonnet are just visible. A very rare show piece. INTERIOR This fabulous Escort RS Turbo has a perfect and stylish interior which remains exactly how the manufacturer intended. The fully adjustable supportive Recaro seats show virtually no wear to the ' Zolda ' fabric which is grey, red and blue. The prominent side bolsters are firm and the matching door cards are pristine. The carpets were protected by over-mats (recently removed but included), again revealing the care lavished on this example. All switches, knobs and dials function correctly and the 90 spec Ford stereo radio/cassette model 2005 remains fitted with original speakers. A Laserline alarm system has been fitted. The boot area is spotless with manufacturer stickers still on the boot floor and the grey carpeted parcel shelf is straight and uncut. Truly magnificent. ENGINE & TRANSMISSION The 1.6 OHC (CVH) fuel injected engine with a Garrett AiResearch T3 turbo charger and intercooler is completely factory standard making this vehicle a rare example that is now the exception. Quoted figures of 132bhp give this vehicle a 0-60 dash of 8.2 seconds and a top speed of 128mph. The engine bay is spotlessly clean with all factory stickers attached allowing bonnet up exhibiting. A stainless steel exhaust system is fitted and new dampers. The 5-speed manual Ford BC box with standard 220mm clutch is light, precise and a joy to use. WHEELS, TYRES & BRAKES The correct light alloy 6X15 RS wheels remain it what appears to be factory paint with clearly defined and prominent part numbers and light markings. Premium Goodyear 195/50 R15 tyres are fitted all round with ample tread. This ‘hot hatchback’ slows as well as it goes with the ABS braking system designed in conjunction with Lucus Girling working perfectly. HISTORY FILE Truly incredible. Registered new on the 4th July 1991 to Mr Andrew Lloyd who remained the custodian for 16 years until being purchased by the only other owner in 2007. Both enthusiasts have cherished this performance Ford as witnessed by a complete and eye watering file comprising of numerous genuine Ford invoices up to 76,795 miles and specialist thereafter. Specialists include Turbo Technics and recently a major service and cambelt by renown experts, Harvey Gibbs of Supreme Car Services. This latest invoice dated April 2016 at 82,814 miles amounts to £1,959.07. To absolutely verify the 82,843 miles covered every MOT certificate from new is present. All handbooks, including a fully stamped service book, spare keys and instruction pamphlets are contained in the original blue Ford A5 wallet. This vehicle will appeal to a Ford enthusiast wanting a cherished, well maintained and useable Series 2 RS Turbo. To see a video of this car please click on the link below: https://youtu.be/_ZecYUr8btg To see a complete set of photographs of this car please click on the link below: https://flic.kr/s/aHskz6GnyC 'Like us' or 'Follow us' for exciting new cars coming soon at KGF Classic Cars: https://www.facebook.com/KGFClassiccars https://www.twitter.com/KGFClassicCars

    For sale
  • Ford Escort RS Turbo

    £33,395 £33,395

    *SIMILAR QUALITY CARS ALWAYS REQUIRED* SOLD Thinking of selling? Our proven commission sale or SOR (Sale or Return) program is a great way to utilise and access our professional services and facilities while still maximising the return from your vehicle with minimal hassle, stress and time, If you’d like to take advantage of this then please get in touch for further information. Alternatively If you’d like to move your vehicle on quickly and efficiently with minimal delay then we can make an offer on an outright purchase basis with payment and collection arranged soon after. An original unmolested Ford Escort Series 1 RS Turbo Custom with just 17,769 miles. MODEL HISTORY The Series 1 Escort RS Turbo was carefully developed by Ford’s talented Special Vehicle Engineering team whose other resounding successes include the Capri 2.8 Injection and the XR3. The RS Turbo was designed to set new standards in Group N and Group A events, and was quickly dubbed the car to beat. Ford initially planned to build 5,000 RS Turbos, the minimum number required for homologation in Group A, however a total of 8,604 were built due to increased demand. The car was greeted with huge enthusiasm and was only sold through official Rallye Sport dealers. A following that today has amassed into obsession for many a diehard Ford enthusiast. EQUIPMENT Colour coded bumpers with front over riders, laminated windscreen and all round safety glass, RS aerodynamic front and rear spoilers, RS Turbo decals, Ford spot lamps, remote control colour coded door mirrors, colour coded ‘Orion’ radiator grille, RS 3 spoke steering wheel, cigar lighter, rear ashtrays, front door stowage bins, 3-speed heater fan, coin box, radio cassette, trip recorder, tachometer, roof mounted digital clock. Factory specified Custom Pack includes electric windows, central locking, tilt/slide glass sunroof and opening rear quarter windows. EXTERIOR The unrestored Diamond White (code B3) paintwork is exceptional with a brilliant pure shine and uniform finish. Both front wings and windscreen scuttle panel are factory panels with date stampings clearly visible. The correct Carello headlamps, spot lights and the factory glass remain including the Ford inscribed front screen. The offside front wing was repainted after the previous keeper dropped a power tool on it and at the same time the front slam panel and grille were refreshed. The original decals are intact aside from a small section on the driver’s side where the film edge has come away and the rubbers are ever so slightly dry. This truly genuine example proudly displays it’s unmolested and unrestored credentials including visible factory underseal and the often missing foam pads to the underside of the four wheel arch extensions still attached along with the original PDI sticker on the rear wishbone! The underside having never been refurbished displays an honest age and mileage related film of debris. A few small dings are barely visible and gravel rash is evident on the rear wheel arch extensions. An extraordinary opportunity to own a slice of Ford RS history. INTERIOR The interior of this RS Turbo is perfect and pristine. Finished in original two-tone grey Monza crushed velour (code HC), the seat pads and bolsters are very firm and show no sign of wear. The door cards and carpets are in remarkable showroom fresh condition, the latter having been protected from new by Ford rubber floor mats. The original perforated headlining is tight and free from marks and discolouration. The dashboard has remained completely free from cracks, an otherwise common issue with MK3 Escorts. The RS 3 spoke steering wheel still has all the delicate grains and veins associated only with genuine low mileage examples as doe the gear knob. All interior equipment is functional but the fuel gauge is temperamental and the trim pieces intact, including the immaculate rear parcel shelf with the genuine Ford fitted speakers inset. The correct Ford SRT32P stereo and cassette storage holder remains in the car. A preserved Ford RS interior guaranteed to marvel and delight onlookers. ENGINE & TRANSMISSION Fitted with Fords 1596cc turbocharged Compound Valve Hemispherical chamber (CVH) unit, producing 132BHP at 6000rpm, mated to the Bosch KE Jetronic Fuel Injection System. Turbocharged power delivery courtesy of a Garrett T03 turbo, the car accelerates smoothly to a maximum speed of 125mph and achieves 0-60 in 8.2 seconds. The engine produces a delightful note through the standard and original exhaust system. The gear changes are light and absolutely precise allowing both subtle and enthusiastic driving. A truly exhilarating driving experience and exactly in accordance with the low miles covered. WHEELS, TYRES & BRAKES The original 15 X 6 inch RS seven spoke alloy wheels are spotless and the correct factory stampings on the three spokes of each rim are clearly prominent. The original Michelin MXV 195/50 VR15 tyres whilst unworn and in visibly good order, due to age it would be prudent to replace and retain if the car is to be put into regular use. The original spare wheel also shod in the Michelin MXV rubber, is housed in the boot floor which has the manufacturer stickers and blue scribe markings still present. Diagonally split hydraulic circuit brakes with 240mm ventilated discs up front and 203.2mm rear drums bring the car to an assuring halt. HISTORY FILE Registered new on 1 August 1985 this remarkable example has led a very cosseted and sheltered existence. The car has had just three former keepers, and has formed part of truly cherished collections. All original handbooks, guides, supplements and even Ford optional extras literature held within the A5 wallet are accompanied by some previous MOT certificates. Inherent with vehicles of such incredible low mileage, the minimal usage and extended periods of storage mean a documented history file is not present. An original sales brochure and RS Owners Club literature completes the history file along with two sets of keys which correctly fit all locks and ignition. This vehicle will appeal to a serious collector wanting an incredibly well preserved, unmolested example of a truly legendary Ford icon, exactly how the manufacturer intended and now very rare. HPI Clear. To see a video of this car please click on the link below: https://youtu.be/Iyp9yrPueKQ To see a complete set of photographs of this car please click on the link below: https://www.flickr.com/gp/kgfclassiccars/G0A98W 'Like us' or 'Follow us' for exciting new cars coming soon at KGF Classic Cars: https://www.facebook.com/KGFClassiccars https://twitter.com/KGFClassicCars

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