Time to take a poke around the dusty crevices of The Carchive and see what we find. It’s not always pretty, there are some absolute horrors lurking among the heros, but everything is worth equal scrutiny whether it be celebrated or derided.
This time we’re looking at a car which has managed to fluke itself something of a cult following. In fact well-preserved examples of the breed can sometimes command such ridiculous values that I conservatively estimate this brochure to be worth something in the region of £50,000. You’re looking at my retirement fund, right here.
“Take the Escort Saloon for real family car appeal”
‘The Escort knew exactly what it was; an ordinary car for ordinary people. Luxury features didn’t exactly abound. Instead the text went absolutely mad for practical features, like a parcel shelf, rubber flooring, easy-to-clean headlining (for all those Brylcreem accidents) and padded sun-visors. And THREE ashtrays. Remember, this was 1973; a time where four cigarettes made for a nutritious breakfast alternative, and an effective method for accelerating puberty in your children.
It’s almost as if Ford knew that you expected to be miserable and have low expectations in their new car:
“Basically equipped to keep everyone happy, with a price to match”
You could have a radio, if you wanted, so you could stay abreast of Englands daily loss of territory and increasingly poor performance on the international scene. And you could have an automatic gearbox, too; to further dampen your driving enthusiasm.
“Take the Escort L, for that little extra comfort”
Little would appear to be the operative word.
“Like the feel of deep-looped pile carpet under your feet rather than rubber flooring? Lost without a map pocket?”
Well, yes. In fact, to even imagine a car coming without those simple items seems implausible, even inexcusable. There’s more: Reversing lamps and hazard warning flashers were touted as being advanced, desirable features, not bare necessities.
“Now to the absolute luxury of the XL interior”
Now we’re talking! Suddenly the puritanical simplicity of lesser Escorts makes way for the indulgence of “deeply embossed upholstery“, giving you the chance to sample “real style in the door trims and heated rear window“. And “a cigar lighter and vanity mirror too” so you can watch yourself smoking, which we must remember is the UKs number one pastime.
Luxury in the same mould as laying in a silently effervescent jacuzzi while listening to Brahms, drinking Chateauneuf du pape while being gently and eternally stroked by a beautiful….er, sorry I got a bit carried away. And there were rectangular headlamps, too.
“Take the Escort Sport or GT for stylish performance”
Both of these offerings provided a 1300cc with some choice tuning additions; “Weber twin-choke caurburettor, high-lift cam, bigger valves, four-branch exhaust manifold. All standard” This conspired to pump out 82hp (SAE method), or roughly the same power as an electric window motor from a ’73 Buick Riviera.
It was enough, though, to take the car perilously close to the 100mph mark, and reach sixty from rest in 12.6 seconds. In that day in age, that was nowhere near as tediously gradual as it seems now. However, it was still somewhat less rorty than the RS badged models of the same basic shape. There was the RS Mexico, of course; the RS1800 and RS2000, and the Lotus-flavour Twin Cam. Each of those, today, if proven as numbers-matching, range in value from silliness to insanity. Even a basic, two door base model gets the old-school-Ford guys all hot under the collar and result in frenzied eBay bidding wars. It’s amazing how many of these things get “found in barns”. Or, in many cases, are bought, taken to a barn, photographed with a bit of dust sprinkled around the place, then advertised for diabolical, immoral asking prices.
You quickly realise that the world is a strange place when you remember how unremarkably the Escort was regarded at the time.
(Disclaimer; All images are of original manufacturer publicity materials, photographed by me. Copyright remains property of Ford, who now sell cars with air conditioning and cd-players)