The Ford Escort RS Cosworth was Ford of Europe’s answer to creating a competitive Group A rally contender. Based on a shortened AWD Ford Sierra floorpan, they mated it to the “new” Escort bodyshell. However, no panels are really interchangeable with the standard Escort. Flared fenders, large wings, scoops, and vents all designed with the goal of homologation for Grp A helped distinguish the car’s silhouette.
For that homologation to be awarded FIA regulations required 2500 (later raised to 5000) examples to be built. The Escort Cosworth was a successful road car, and Ford ended up producing over 7000 before the end of production in 1996.
These Escort Cosworths were true “forbidden fruit” in the USA in the 1990s. Enter Sun International – the now defunct, but well-known importer of said fruit. Based in Manhattan Beach, California, Sun brought in a variety of cars in the 1980s and 1990s – Renault R5 Turbos, several Group B rally cars, 1970s/1980s Ferraris, and the Ford Escort Cosworth.
That Rear Spoiler! Let’s get to it, this is the item everyone is going to be talking about on this Escort Cosworth. This specific car was featured on the TV show “Wheeler Dealers” (Discovery/Motortrend Networks) in 2017 – Season 14, Episode 1. On the episode, Escort Cosworth RS designer Frank Stephenson assisted in the addition of the third wing, which was part of his original design. There are photos of the hand drawn sketches included in the documentation file with the car from the show.
Upon wind tunnel testing as part of the TV show, the third wing was shown to increase downforce around 30% – so this modification is proven, not just a cosmetic addition. The episode goes into great detail about the work with Frank Stephenson and it creates a very unique look – taking the already insane and iconic Escort Cosworth double spoiler and going… further.
This specific car is a four-owner example showing just over 51,000 miles and in the striking shade of Imperial Blue over Black Leather. Featuring 18” Compomotive wheels and fast road suspension (original wheels and springs kept with it), and Morette twin headlamps, the look is tasteful and period correct.
Part of the TV episode work included a number of mechanical maintenance items. Rebuilt turbo, engine out re-seal, new axle boots, new catalytic converter (test pipe currently fitted), rear main seal, and a new clutch are among the highlights.
The later production cars (such as this one here) are generally known as the “small turbo” cars, as they used a Garrett T25 turbo instead of the larger T35 of the “big turbo” early cars. Make no mistake, this car is still quick despite the label! We argue that the names “big turbo” and “small turbo” should be replaced with “homologation turbo” and “standard turbo” – as too many people are missing out on these later ST cars that are truly quick, despite the moniker.
The turbo spools immediately and thus presents a car that is easier to drive around town without the turbo lag of the earlier cars. This is the one to drive daily if you choose. Also of note, is that this car has been upgraded to the 280bhp chip, and feels strong under boost. Having had several of these Escort Cosworth RS cars, we can tell you this car is well sorted for driving enjoyment.
The interior features the “Lux” package details – Recaro leather seating, A/C, factory sunroof. While many Escort Cosworth interiors suffer from the Ford plastics of the era, this interior is in very good condition. It still has its original owner’s manuals, three factory keys, original tool kit and spare, factory wheels and suspension, extensive documentation folder, and several boxes of miscellaneous spares. Also with it are two great publications, including Graham Robson’s delightful book from the Rally Giants series, and the book by Dan WIlliamson that goes over factory originality and details.
Around 7000 in total were made but there are less than 30 known to be stateside.
Thanks to Escort Cosworth specialists Northwest European.