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Thread: Ford Escort (Europe) 3rd gen 1980-1986

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    The Ford Escort is a small family car which was manufactured by Ford of Europe from 1968 until 2000. The Ford Escort name was also applied to several small car types produced in North America by Ford between 1981 and 2000.

    In 2014, Ford revived the Escort name for a car based on the second-generation Ford Focus sold on the Chinese market.

    The Escort was frequently the best selling car in Britain during the 1980s and 1990s. A total of more than 4.1 million Escorts of all generations were sold there over a period of 33 years.

    Third generation (19801986)
    Codenamed "Erika", the third generation Escort was launched in September 1980. The car, Ford Europe's second front-wheel drive model, was originally meant to be called the "Ford Erika", but ended up retaining the Escort name. Some say this was due to British consumers' reluctance to let go of the "Escort" badge (as the first two generations of Escort had been among Britain's most popular cars, with the Mk II being Britain's best selling car in 1976), and some say that the Germans were concerned with the song Erika, which was a famous battlemarch of the German armed forces during World War II. The North American Escort introduced at this time was a distantly related derivative. Sales in the United Kingdom increased, and by 1982 it had overtaken the ageing Cortina as the nation's best-selling car, beginning an eight-year run as Britain's best selling car.

    Unlike the Mark II, which had essentially been a reskin of the original 1968 platform, the Mark III was a completely new design, and was conceived as a hi-tech, high-efficiency vehicle which would compete with the Volkswagen Golf and Honda Civic considered at the time the class benchmarks, and indeed the car was launched with the advertising tagline "Simple is Efficient". The Mark III was a departure from the two previous models, the biggest changes being the adoption of front-wheel drive and the new hatchback body. The suspension was fully independent all around, departing from the archaic leaf spring arrangement found on its predecessors.

    It was Ford Europe's second front-wheel drive model launch, the first being the smaller Fiesta in 1976. The car used Ford's contemporary design language of the period with the black louvred radiator grille and straked rear lamp clusters, as well as introducing the aerodynamic "bustle-back" bootlid stump (trademarked by Ford as Aeroback) which would be further developed in the forthcoming Sierra and Scorpio; the stump was proven to reduce the car's aerodynamic drag co-efficient significantly, which was a class-leading 0.37 at launch.

    New were the overhead camshaft CVH engines in 1.3 L and 1.6 L formats, with the older Ford Kent-based "Valencia" engine from the Fiesta powering the 1.1 L derivative, although there was a short-lived 1.1 version of the CVH engine sold in certain markets before it was discontinued in 1982.

    The Escort Mark III was voted European Car of the Year in 1981, fighting off stiff competition from Italy's Fiat Panda and British Leyland's Austin Metro.

    From launch, the car was available in base (Popular), L, GL, Ghia and XR3 trim. From mid-1982, a five-speed manual gearbox was introduced across the range. This was now standard on the 1.6 L versions and could be specified as an option on most 1.3 L engines. A selection of features was available, either as standard fitment or optional extras depending on model, including a tilt-and-slide sunroof, central locking, and electric windows. All models except for base and L were fitted with a check-light system for low fuel, low oil, low coolant, low screenwash, and worn out brake pads. Power steering was not available on European Escorts although it was available on the US Escort. For the 1983 model year, the Ford ATX three-speed automatic transmission (developed primarily for the US version) was available on the 1.6 L engine within a couple of years of the car's launch.

    However, the car attracted criticism from the motoring press at launch due to its suspension, with positive camber on the front wheels and negative camber at the rear, giving rise to the Mark III's infamous "knock-kneed" stance. The Mark III soon had a reputation for a harsh, unforgiving ride. In 1983 the revised suspension mounts from the Escort-based Orion and the larger Sierra steering rack were introduced as running changes for the 1984 model year which also coincided with a minor update for it including a new Escort badge at the rear.

    Another engine, introduced in August 1983, was the 1.6 L diesel engine. Developed in Dagenham, it was remarkably economical for its time, and still is to this day, managing over 70 mpg. It was available on the L and GL models. However, the performance was not so impressive, with only 54 bhp (40 kW; 55 PS) and a top speed of barely 90 mph (140 km/h).

    The Escort estate was initially only available with three doors, but a five-door version was introduced in 1983. In that year, a saloon version of the Escort, the Orion, was launched. It used the same mechanicals as the hatchback, but had a more upmarket image and was not available with the smaller 1.1 L engine. It was also directed at buyers of the earlier Cortina, which had ceased production in 1982, with its Sierra successor not available as a saloon at the time.

    The Mk III model (19801986), was the most common type of car on British roads in December 1989, with almost 1,500,000 examples registered.

    Sporting models
    To compete with Volkswagen's Golf GTI, a hot hatch version of the Mark III was developed the XR3. Initially this featured a tuned version of the 1.6 L CVH engine fitted with a twin-choke Weber carburettor, uprated suspension and numerous cosmetic alterations. It lacked a five-speed transmission and fuel injection. Fuel injection finally arrived in October 1982 (creating the XR3i), eight months behind the limited edition (8,659 examples), racetrack-influenced RS 1600i. The Cologne-developed RS received a more powerful engine with 115 PS (85 kW), thanks to computerized ignition and a modified head as well as the fuel injection.

    The final performance update arrived in the form of the turbocharged 132 PS (97 kW) RS Turbo model in October 1984. The RS Turbo was somewhat of a disappointment; it had been delayed several times and when it went on sale in early 1985 the chassis came in for severe criticism. The RS Turbo Series 1 was only marketed in a few European nations as production was limited to 5,000 examples, almost all in white. They were well equipped, with the alloy wheels from the limited production RS 1600i, Recaro seats, and a limited slip differential. One car only was finished in black; it was built especially for Lady Diana. The Series 2 RS Turbo continued with the 1986 MKIV model.

    Commercial models
    The two-door Escort Van was first sold in February 1981, a slightly delayed introduction caused by large remaining stocks of the Mark II Escort Van. The Van has twin rear doors and unusual small side windows behind the front doors, necessary to provide more over-the-shoulder visibility which would otherwise be limited by the use of the short front doors from the five-door Escort. Derived from the van was a pickup version of the Escort, the Bantam, which was produced in South Africa.

    Source: Wikipedia
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    Last edited by Man of Steel; 12-31-2020 at 03:03 PM.
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    Mk3 RS1600i
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    Last edited by Man of Steel; 12-30-2020 at 01:40 PM.
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    Ford Escort (3rd gen) #3
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    Last edited by Man of Steel; 12-30-2020 at 01:43 PM.
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    Last edited by Man of Steel; 12-30-2020 at 02:12 PM.

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