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Modern Art Monday: a Martini-liveried Ford Escort RS Cosworth

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Of all the cars I could have expected to see on display at Atlanta’s Caffeine and Octane car show, this one was pretty far down the list. The monthly Sunday morning car meet that’s outgrown every parking lot it’s ever been moved to delivered a car that’s exceedingly rare in this part of the world. It’s a real Ford Escort RS Cosworth wearing the gorgeous Martini racing livery. Only a handful of these cars ever made it stateside so it was not surprisingly overlooked by many of the people walking past it. Those that knew, however, had a hard time keeping their jaws off the floor, myself included.

For some brief history and more shots of this awesome machine, click past the jump.

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Like many of the greatest cars in history, the Escort RS Cosworth was a homologation special. Ford wanted to compete in Group A of the World Rally Championship with a high-powered Escort but needed to build at least 2,500 of these as road-legal cars first. They all looked like relatively normal road cars but they moved like few others could. Power came from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder Cosworth YBT engine and it delivered 227 hp and 224 lb.-ft. of torque. They had full-time all-wheel drive, five-speed manual gearboxes, Recaro sports seats, and a distinctive “whale tail” spoiler. They were true rally cars for the street.

Just over 7,100 were ultimately built between 1992 and 1996. This one was built in 1992 and sold in left-hand drive to the Italian market as a Miki Biasion special edition car. Biasion, an Italian himself, was one of the factory drivers picked to compete with the Escort RS Cosworth in WRC spec the following year. To build up the hype in the Italian market, Ford sold 120 Miki Biasion special edition cars exclusively to his home country. It has the numbered plaque in the center console and Biasion’s signature to prove it.

This car wears the legendary and exceedingly gorgeous Marini Racing livery. While I’m mostly positive the Escort RS Cosworth Biasion raced in 1993 wore a different livery, he was known to compete with the Martini colors in Lancias. Supposedly, the livery on this car wasn’t an aftermarket addition, rather a factory or dealer option that was exclusive to the Italian market. I couldn’t independently verify that, but it’s what the kind owner claimed.

Regardless, it’s a Ford Escort RS Cosworth wearing a Martini livery in America. No more words are needed.

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[Images © 2016 Hooniverse/Greg Kachadurian | Full size images available on Flickr | Sources: ClassicDriver, Wikipedia (no shame)]