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Ford Escort RS Cosworth: The Next Big Thing

Rallying homologation special is a steal – but not for much longer. Here's now might be the time to buy a Ford Escort RS Cosworth


Why are we talking about the Ford Escort Cosworth? The early 1990s were significant in the social history of the performance car. It was the era when ‘joyriding’ was at its height, when the proliferation of four-wheel-drive cars made ram-raiding practical, and when vehicle security systems could still be beat using a bent coathanger, a pair of pliers and a screwdriver.

Garish-looking hot hatches, designed to appeal to the 20-somethings who could then afford to insure them, were partly blamed for being irresistibly tempting to the less pecunious whose only chance of getting behind the wheel of one was by nicking someone else’s. And so it was that the screaming paint colours, go-faster stripes and in-your-face ‘turbo’ stickers of old gradually gave way to more sober paintjobs with, perhaps, a discreet chrome badge on the boot.

In 1992, however, Ford needed to homologate its new Group A WRC car, resulting in the release from captivity of 7145 road-going versions of the Escort RS Cosworth, which might have looked low-key were it not for the giant, high-level rear spoiler and bulging wheelarches. Some understated colours were offered, though, and the big wing became a delete option on later cars. There was even a sumptuous ‘Lux’ edition.

Beneath the skin was a Cosworth YBT 2-litre turbo engine, tuned to put out around 220bhp through all four wheels. This made for a rapid machine, with 140mph easily attainable and 60mph arriving from standstill in around six seconds. While the Escort Cosworth is now decidedly old-fashioned, it remains an absolute hoot to drive and provides plenty of that old-car ‘feedback’ that modern cars so often lack.

Which is probably why values for the best examples are starting to soar, with the result that H&H Auctions recently sold one for £33,600. Admittedly it was a time-capsule 9000-miler (in conservative ‘Aubergine’), but that benchmark price is sure to drag up the values of all original, cared-for and (preferably) standard examples. They’re hard to find, but they’re worth looking for – and the time of bargains is running out.

Or consider…

Vauxhall Calibra Turbo 4x4 - The 2-litre, 16-valve, twin-cam turbo engine was good for more than 200bhp. Few roadworthy examples left, little classic potential.

Subaru Impreza WRX - The 4WD rally car Ford was aiming to beat. Even early ’90s originals remain a great drive. Unique sound, too.

Audi S3 - Launched three years after the demise of the Escort Cosworth, the S3 also offered 200bhp+ and four-wheel drive, but was far better built.

Words: Simon de Burton/evo Magazine

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