The Rare Rides series has touched on the Ford Escort a couple of times before, via the sporty EXP and extra sporty Mercury Tracer LTS. And we’re back with more Escort today! This one carries no sporting pretense whatsoever, and unlike the prior two actually wears an Escort badge.
It’s an early wagon with the seldom-selected Squire package.
Escort debuted for the 1981 model year and was a new direction for Ford’s compact offering. Eighties box styling and front-drive happily took over for the departed and maligned Pinto. Though the Escort was a new name for North America, Europeans were on their third generation Escort at the time. Seeing cost savings, Ford’s intention was to share parts between the North American and European Escort versions. However, that message got lost in translation between the design teams, and the resulting cars shared no body parts. Though they were similar in profile, the North American version stood on its own: It was larger than the Euro Escort in every dimension and had more trim.
Escort was initially available as a three-door hatch and four-door wagon, with a 65-horsepower 1.6-liter inline-four at launch. The engine was a new design from Ford, called CVH. Said engine was shared with the European Escort, as well as the later Sierra and Fiesta. The 1.6 was available through the 1985 model year and had optional fuel injection by 1983 (88 HP). There was also a turbocharged version for ’84 and ’85, good for 120 horses.
The final body style to arrive was the five-door hatch, available for 1982. In its initial year only, Escort offered an SS trim package that featured tape stripes, black trim, and wider tires. General Motors quickly pointed out that it owned the SS name, thus in 1982, the Escort GT was born in its stead.
Toward the beginning of its run, Ford offered a Squire package on the Escort, keen to offer a trio of wood-clad wagons for traditional wagon-buying consumers. Simultaneously offered were the LTD Country Squire, Fairmont Squire (also called Mercury Zephyr Villager), and the Escort Squire. Atop the GL trim the Squire package added wood trim and a plush interior. The original owner here ticked all the option boxes and wanted the automatic, tilt wheel, cruise control, air conditioning, rear defrost, rally wheels, and a luggage rack.
Halfway through the 1985 model year, the Escort received a facelift which coincided with the debut of the EXP as a separate model. The 1.6 was swapped with a 1.9-liter engine from the CVH family, available with a carb or multi-port fuel injection. Carried over from the original Escort was the 2.0-liter diesel engine which made 52 horsepower. Throughout its first generation, transmissions on offer included a three-speed automatic, and four- and five-speed manuals.
Escort was refreshed again for 1988, at which point its Mercury Lynx sibling was killed off in favor of the Tracer which was a Mazda 323. The first generation Escort carried on through the 1990 model year before its replacement by the Mazda-derived second generation. But by then the Squire option was long gone, its low take rate meant the ’85 model year was its last.
Today’s Rare Ride just sold on eBay with 44,000 miles. In stunning condition, it fetched $8,777.[Images: Ford]