It's hard to believe there was ever a time without Ford Escorts in North America, but the '81 was the very first (and, miserable as those early Escorts were, they were much better cars than the Pintos they replaced). The SS was the top-of-the-line Escort for '81, with a whopping 65 horsepower driving the front wheels. Thanks to a short flash of a baseball score (and super-obsessed baseball geeks), we know this advertisement was aired on May 23, 1981.
"and, miserable as those early Escorts were" ... miserable? not sure that accurate at all. These first Escorts were actually quite modern compared to the competition and reasonably engineered for the time period. Also these first Escorts were one of the only cars ever to pass the 5 MPH bumper test with no damage at all. And if you look at the bumpers you can see why, they are build like accordions.
And on the same topic anyone remember the Ford EXP? 10 points if you can name the Mercury version?