When presented with the word 'Escort' do you think of Ford's lamentable eighties front-driver? Or, is what comes to mind 'yay, date night!'? Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Ford Escort will change your thinking - at least if you're an American - but will its price escort your interest out the door?
Chrysler's current economy car with European flair is the Alfa-based Dodge Dart, but in the '70s it was the Simca-sourced Plymouth Horizon and Dodge Omni. Yesterday's '85/'86 Catdog of a Horizon let you have it both ways, and in a jaw-dropping come from behind (no pun intended) win - 51-49% - it proved that two-headed doesn't necessarily mean too expensive.
Ford debuted the Escort nameplate in the U.S. in 1981 as a FWD replacement for the decade old rear-driver Pinto and, nominally, the wait, we sell that here? Fiesta. Looking back, those early Escorts weren't very good cars, but then again a lot of iron from the Reagan era sucked camel butt.
If however you were lucky enough to live in the British Isles or the parts of Europe that people might actually like to visit then the '81 Escort was perhaps an even bigger disappointment because it shifted to FWD a line of cars with a racing heritage and a reputation for being one of the best ways to get some good scoot on a budget.
That Ford of Europe Escort nameplate had already been in market for 13 years and two model generations when Ford decided to switch driving ends. Originally introduced in replacement of the Anglia in late '67, the Escort took the small-car spot in Ford's lineup vacated by the Cortina which had grown in size and status.
The Escort, with its McPherson strut front end, leaf sprung live axle in back and sturdy Kent four proved a suitable and winning base for rally racing which brings us to today's 1971 Escort Mexico/1600GT. That model was named for Ford's win in the 1970 London to Mexico WCR race, by an Escort piloted by rally legend Hannu Mikkola.
This Mexico lived most of its life in Europe, and was recently privately imported to the U.S. as a historic vehicle. The ad notes that the car was originally sold in Macedonia which is coincidentally where I always thought mastodons came from, but apparently I was misinformed regarding that matter.
The Mexicos, along with the RS1600s were built at Ford's Advanced Vehicle Operations facility in South Essex. They didn't just have hotter motors under hood and more gauges in the cluster, these specially built Escorts also had strengthened body shells, notably at the suspension mounts.
The seller claims that the VIN for this one indicates it to be that stronger 'type 49' shell, and if you're well enough versed in Escort lore, you might be able to tell if it has the double plates on the tower tops in the photos and other indicators. Me? Not so much.
What I can tell is that this 1600GT is far from perfect, and is thusly described by its seller as good from far but far from good. He says the shell is solid, but does (nicely) point out some of the notable foibles such as some bubbling on the hood edge and cracks in the red respray.
On the inside reside a pair of the tiredest looking old school Recaros you are likely to meet, as well as a cracked dash and puckered door cards. Overall it looks tired but extremely inviting, like your favorite pair of jeans, or a hooker that lets you call her mama.
Under the hood the 1588-cc crossflow Kent has lost its factory aircleaner supplanted here by a tiny K&N box. Considering how responsive these mills are to a set of DCOEs, I wouldn't sweat that too much. Behind that is a Ford 4-speed with a recently renewed clutch. Power is sent back to an open diff, and the car rides on a set of period-correct Minilites. Up front a pair of cool looking Cibes front the dogbone grille, below which sit snidely whiplash bumpers that do little more than pay lip service to body protection.
The ad claims 62,000 miles on the car, and of course those don't include the miles made by ship to bring the car to America. That's an important factor when considering the seller's set $23,500 price as it's already here and importing one yourself would add to the cost, likely significantly.
Also, it should be noted that clean examples of these are going for well more than this back in England. That makes you wonder if just holding onto one in this kind of shape wouldn't be a prudent investment. After all, they ain't making them anymore. As extra fodder, BaT featured the car earlier this month at seven grand higher on Craigslist.
What do you think about its current $23,500 price tag - especially those of you outside the U.S.? Is that a price that would make this rare Mexico muy bueno? Or does that make this an Escort you'd turn away at the door?
H/T to rent for the hookup!
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