Monday April 10, 2017
After last month’s ‘Car of the Month’ review of the 205 GTi it would be almost rude not to mention the Ford Escort XR3i. The XR3i is synonymous with 80s hot hatch Britain and young men (and ladies) at the time were almost tripping over themselves to get into Ford showrooms to get their hands on this iconic car.
Also after launching our ‘Charity Build Off’ with Mike Brewer and Ant Anstead at the Practical Classics Classic Car & Restoration Show, it also seemed appropriate to talk about the model as Mike and his team will be restoring a 1989 Escort XR3i convertible. With Mike’s Ford and Ant’s 1950s inspired Grand Prix racer going head to head at auction at the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show all in the name of charity, it will certainly be interesting to see how much they go for!
Ford is no stranger to producing ‘hot’ Escorts. It's success in this area goes right back to 1970 with the launch of the MK1 RS1600 and legendary Mexico models followed in 1973 by the Cortina engine RS2000 version. In 1975 Ford ‘re-bodied’ the Escort and the Mk2 was born. The Mexico and RS2000 models remained in the line-up as well as a very short run of RS1800 models.
In 1980 Ford completely redesigned the Escort from the ground up and now in a front wheel drive form the Mk3 Escort came into production. The public came to expect a ‘hot’ version of the Escort – enter the Mk3 Escort XR3 and this 1.6 litre Weber carburettor model was hugely successful, selling over 11,000 units in the first year of production. This 96bhp model could sprint from 0-60 in 9.2 seconds and keeping the right foot planted it would reach a top end speed of 113mph.
Despite the Escorts popularity, Ford were under increasing pressure to compete against Volkswagen and their GTi badged Golf so in 1983 Ford further developed the model. The handling was improved, fuel was now delivered through a Bosch fuel injection system and the ‘i’ was added to the XR3 badging, meaning the XR3i was born.
0-60mph could now be reached in just 8.5 seconds and 120mph was now possible, 6mph faster than the Golf GTi of the time
The XR3i received a facelift in 1986 and became known as the Mk4. Its keen pricing and a dealer on every corner meant that sales success continued with this car until it finally ceased production in 1990.
These hot Escorts are now part of our heritage. Love them or hate them they are a modern classic and their values can only keep rising!