I’ve just seen my number one scrappage car being driven off into the distance on the back of a truck (top-ten “unbelievable scrappage cars” coming soon to MTI, although we’re going to keep working on the title!) and it got me thinking. The 80s were a fantastic time to grow up in the midst of some pretty damn fine cars. I remember my mum owning a yellow Renault 9, which at the time, was an unusual car to have. Most of the neighbours were sticking with Vauxhall’s and Fords but when the Renault finally gave up the ghost she swapped it for a red Ford Escort 1.1L. OK so it wasn’t anything special but it went on for years only ultimately bring part exchanged for a Volkswagen Golf. Incidentally, my first job in the trade was with Ford and I distinctly remember harking after an Escort RS Turbo. I was asked to drive one of their used 1988 examples from the showroom to the aftersales department which was five miles across town, and to add a little spice to my first encounter, it was pouring with rain. Most of my journey involved trying to grapple with wheel spin in first and second, but stepping out the other end without a scratch, I was totally hooked.
Several years passed and I still hadn’t been in a position to buy one although I still promised myself that one day I would own an RS Turbo. The 90’s proved to be a decade of awful modifications with the phrase ‘Boy Racer’ mentioned in the same conversation as the ‘RS and Golf GTI. My beloved Escort RS Turbo became a magnet for tacky spoilers, dump valves and oversized alloys. Trying to find an original example became almost impossible. Occasionally I’d spot a factory fresh minter but the owners were reluctant to sell, and who can blame them? Several years ago prices fell like a stone but timing and money wasn’t on my side and it seemed
I wouldn’t be starting with the first piece in my dream garage collection after all.
So for a car that, for now, isn’t to be, I’m dedicating our BOTW series to the Escort RS Turbo. Unusually, we’ve decided to include two RS’s, one from 1984, and the other from 1987 onwards. They were so significant in their respective era’s that Ford had successfully created a brand that like VW’s GTI, is still going strong all these years later.
Speaking of VW, whilst the original GTI was boasting its credentials, Ford came along with a little extra punch and started the mainstream craze of turbo-charging. The MKIII RS from ’84 featured a 1.6-litre turbo-charged engine which, in its day, was completely revolutionary. Recaro seats were the latest fashion accessory, and even the body decals were somewhat cool. Although the XR3i was successfully cutting its teeth, the RS was the Escort to have and the VW GTI had its most serious competitor, a rivalry that still exists today between the two manufacturers.
Turbo-charging became the way forward for many and a clever way to increase power for small-time hatchbacks without the need to spend money in development costs. The 90’s became awash with turbo-charging just about everything and the MKIV Escort RS Turbo continued Ford’s success. It may have only had 132bhp but orders flooded in. It ran until 1990 but due to the increase of hot-hatch car thefts and rising insurance premiums Ford eventually killed off the RS Turbo as did many other versions by manufacturers in the same boat. They were replaced with boring, less entertaining alternatives although Ford did release one more swan-song, the Escort RS Cosworth in 1992.
Fast forward to 2009, and like its 70’s brother, the ’84 and ’87 Ford Escort RS Turbo models have become very sought after. So much so that researching this week’s BOTW, prices have topped over £8,500 for original examples which is unbelievable for such a mainstream car. Two have stood out in particular and both are what a collector and petrol head would fall over backwards for.
It seems turbo-charging has made a successful comeback and it looks as if it’s going to stay for some time yet all thanks to the pressures of reducing emissions. The hot hatch is here to stay and the future looks very bright indeed. Hail the RS Turbo for entertaining so many over the years and turning a plain hatchback into what has become an icon in motoring madness.
3 Doors, Manual, Hatchback, Petrol, 57,553 miles, Red. Stunning Is The Only Way To Describe This Multi Show Winning Concourse Car Which Simply Must Be The Very Best Available Worldwide. No Description However Eloquent Could Ever Do This Car Justice. Unused For Many Years Kept In a Carcoon in De-humidified Storage And Only Taken Out To Attend Concourse Shows Of Which It Won Each One Attended. Impeccable Red Paintwork Unmarked Charcoal Recaro Interior, Thousands of Pounds Spent On New Old Stock Obsolete Parts, Including Exhaust System, New Wheels, New Tyres, All Correct Manufacture And Model, Very Low Mileage and Ownership Car Is Better Than New. £8,950
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3 Doors, Manual, Hatchback, Petrol, 57,004 miles, White. Completely original and un-molested 1985 Series 1 Escort RS Turbo Custom. This beautiful example is standard throughout with no modifications at all, standard from Factory. Comes with original dealer window stickers, number plates and factory sunroof. The car has genuine 56,600 miles on the clock with service history and 14 Old MOT certificates to prove it. The car comes with all the original dealer handbooks, service books and supplements, 2 Keys and original radio. Spot lights have been removed as preference but come with the car and all original fittings. The interior is unmarked and immaculate. Body work is completely original throughout. £9,000