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Ford Escort RS Turbo buying guide (1984-1990)

Ford Escort RS Turbo buying guide (1984-1990) Classic and Performance Car
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
16495 27395 GBP
  • Ford Escort RS Turbo

    £16,495 £16,495

    FOR SALE A hot hatch Ford Escort RS Turbo Series 2 with 39,980 miles. EQUIPMENT Body coloured bumpers with black insert, body coloured wheel arch extensions, tailgate spoiler, halogen headlamps, front driving lamps, cooling vents in bonnet, central door locking, heated rear window, dual-tone horn, tailgate wash/wipe, tinted glass, quartz digital clock, aerial incorporated in rear windscreen, 60/40 split rear back rest, soft feel sports steering wheel, tilt/slide glass sunroof, tachometer, electrically operated front windows, Ford Self-Seek Stereo, speaker control. Factory options; Fuel computer, Quickclear heated front screen, electrically operated and heated door mirrors. Dealer Options: Ford alarm. EXTERIOR This stunning example is finished in Diamond White, (Code B3), which has a very good shine commensurate with the cars low miles and careful storage. The factory panels are straight with uniform gaps and all trim sections and RS decals are correct and original. The Ford Security System window etching remains on all glass and supplying Ford Main Dealer number plates remain fitted front and rear. Panels are date stamped and the underside and wheel arch apertures are clean. A very special car. INTERIOR The cockpit of this Escort RS Turbo is near perfect remaining exactly as Ford intended. The fully adjustable supportive Recaro seats show no wear to the Zolda fabric, (Code LW) with the ever popular Shadow grey, red and blue pattern. Matching door cards are pristine and the headlining is tight with no damage. The spotless carpets have been preserved with genuine Ford rubber waffle mats front and rear and retain complete fullness to the pile. All switches, knobs and dials function correctly including the optional rare and sought-after fuel computer. The fully operational Ford Self-Seek stereo radio/cassette with speaker directional control remains fitted with two discreet tweeters and a Ford alarm was fitted in 1991. The boot area is spotless with original build stickers and markings to the floor. A truly magnificent example of this legendary RS Ford. ENGINE & TRANSMISSION The 1.6 OHC (CVH) fuel injected engine with a Garrett AiResearch T3 turbo charger and intercooler is completely factory standard. Producing 132bhp in such a lightweight car, the 0-60 sprint is dealt with in 8.2 seconds and a top speed of 128mph is achieved. A stainless steel exhaust system is fitted emitting a fabulous exhaust note. Having only covered a low 39,980 miles, the 5-speed manual Ford BC box with standard 220mm clutch is light and precise. WHEELS, TYRES & BRAKES The alloy 6X15 RS wheels have been lightly refurbished so that logos and part numbers remain visible and are undamaged. Five matching 195/50 R15 Toyo Proxes tyres with masses of tread are fitted and the car has uprated springs. This fast Ford icon stops as well as it goes with the ABS braking system designed in conjunction with Lucas Girling working perfectly. HISTORY FILE Registered new on 6th January 1989, this fabulous example was supplied new by Ford RS Dealers, Hendy Lennox (Southampton) Ltd, to Mrs Barbara Farminer. She opted for the Ford three year Extra Cover Warranty at a cost of £171 and remained the owner until January 1991 when the then the same dealer sold the car again to Mr Goggins for £9,795. Mr Goggins remained the owner for the next 20 years and cherished the vehicle joining the RS Owners Club with the car in May 1991 and even entering Concours. The Ford RS Owners Club Concours Log Book is in the file. Having had just two former keepers since, the last Mr Gary Ball, only selling due to the acquisition of a 17,000 mile example. The original purchase invoice, virtually every MOT, old tax discs, registration documents and lots of paperwork accompany all the handbooks and spare keys. This vehicle is certain to appeal to a collector of modern classics wanting a low mileage Ford hot hatch! MOT June 2019, HPI Clear. To see a video of this car please click on the link below: https://youtu.be/a85_TMMudEI To see a complete set of photographs of this car please click on the link below: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmrBtoMJ '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

    • Year: 1989
    • Mileage: 39980 mi
    • Engine size: 1.6
    For sale
    £16,495 £16,495
    KGF Classic Cars
    01733425140 View contact number
  • Ford Escort RS Turbo

    £27,395 £27,395

    *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. A collectors Ford Escort RS Turbo Series 2 with one owner and 27,886 miles. EQUIPMENT Body coloured bumpers with black insert, body coloured wheel arch extensions, tailgate spoiler, halogen headlamps, front driving lamps, cooling vents in bonnet, heated rear window, 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, tachometer, Ford ERST 32PS Self-Seek stereo, speaker control. Factory options: Windscreen rapid de-ice, electric heated door mirrors. Custom Pack consisting of: central locking, electric windows, tilting/sliding glass sunroof. EXTERIOR This incredible very early Series 2 example is finished in desirable and optional Mercury Grey, (Code Q7). The factory original paintwork displays an outstanding shine and uniform finish, a true credit to the sole enthusiast owner and exceptionally low mileage. All factory panels are straight with uniform gaps and common vulnerable underside areas have been carefully wax protected by the only owner, an ex-Ford Motor Vehicle Engineer. All trim sections, correct Carello lenses and RS decals are as new, and the supplying Ford dealer number plates remain fitted. The eagle-eyed RS Turbo expert will note the black casing to the door mirrors, correct for a car with optional heated/electrically adjustable door mirrors. A totally original, unspoilt and preserved example, very difficult to better. INTERIOR Presented in perfect order, the fully adjustable and supportive Recaro seats show no wear to the Daytona Raven fabric, (Code SW). The carpets are pristine having been protected from new by two sets of quality floor mats, and the door cards are spotless with none of the common sun damage to the inner door handles, virtually unheard of for an Escort Mk4! All switches, knobs and dials operate correctly and the Ford Self-Seek stereo radio/cassette with speaker directional control remains fitted and operational. The boot area is immaculate with original build stickers to the floor and a straight uncut parcel shelf. A outstanding 1980’s RS Ford interior. ENGINE & TRANSMISSION The 1.6 OHC (CVH) fuel injected engine with a Garrett AiResearch T3 turbo charger and intercooler produces 132bhp at 5750rpm and 180Nm of torque at 2750rpm. In a car weighing just 1325kg, this featherweight contender completes the 0-60 dash in 8.2 seconds and a top speed of 128mph is achieved. An immaculate engine bay allows bonnet up exhibiting with factory panel stamps, wing stamps and all plates and stickers intact. The owner used strictly Ford Motorcraft service items only, a standard upheld throughout. The 5-speed manual Ford BC box is light and precise with crisp clutch action. WHEELS, TYRES & BRAKES The unmistakable RS Turbo light alloy 6X15 RS wheels remain in pristine order with Ford logo and part number stampings clearly prominent. Matching quality Pirelli Cinturato C1 195/50 R15 tyres, fitted brand new in 2017, are virtually unused and the spare is the original Dunlop SP Sport D40 item. This fast Ford RS legend stops as well as it goes with the ABS braking system designed in conjunction with Lucus Girling working perfectly. HISTORY FILE Built in October 1986, this very early Series 2 was registered new on 9th January 1987, the supplying Ford Main Dealer being E Ward of Wellingborough. The first and only keeper, Mr David McGann, registered the car to his business name, David McGann Motor Spares and Accessories Ltd, before transferring ownership to his private name upon retirement. KGF Classic Cars purchased the car direct from Mr McGann, and learnt from him that it was used in the initial years to attend business meetings for the starting up of the association that was later to become A1 Motor Stores. Thereafter, the car was used solely for leisure use whilst always kept in his heated and dehumidified garage alongside his 1969 Cortina 1600E which he has, and still does, own since 1971! His dedication and love for this RS Turbo was simply wonderful and truly infectious, even down to the use of wine bottle corks used to lift the wiper arms off the windscreen so as to preserve the rubber blades! Furthermore, Mr McGann, a qualified Ford Motor Vehicle Engineer, kept a detailed maintenance log since new and throughout, after the first service at E Ward did not meet his expectations, (complaint letter in the history file!), causing him to handle vehicle upkeep himself from then on. The original E Ward document holder contains all vehicle handbooks, guides and dealership literature as well as the service book and a workshop manual. Previous MOT certificates date back to 1991 along with vehicle invoices and even tax discs since 1987. Completing the history file is the original blue V5 document, RS Turbo sales brochure, supplying dealer tax disc holder and spare key with dealer fob. KGF Classic Cars are privileged to both have met Mr McGann and present this amazing example to the market, ready for the next dedicated custodian to enjoy. MOT September 2018, HPI Clear. To see a video of this car please copy the link below: https://youtu.be/JHkMBD_tMV0 To see a complete set of photographs of this car please copy the link below: https://flic.kr/s/aHskBrWTdM 'Like us' or 'Follow us' for exciting new cars coming soon at KGF Classic Cars: https://www.facebook.com/KGFClassiccars https://twitter.com/KGFClassicCars

    • Year: 1987
    • Mileage: 27886 mi
    • Engine size: 1.6
    For sale
    £27,395 £27,395