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Fast Tracking Fast Fords

FAST FORDS OR FRAUDS? Published: 14th Jun 2013 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Fast Tracking Fast Fords
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Worthy alternative Blue Oval collectibles from our tame ex-Ford PR man and saloon racer This feature is for those who like a rewarding drive and refuse to pay the bloated £20,000-£65,000 prices of the rear drive RS Escort and Capri eras. Even first generation front drive Focus RS frequently demands £10,000 to £12,000 from dealers or RSOC members We survey a varied Blue Oval gang, but what they share is that they offer a performance boost at much lower cost than obvious rear drive RS classics. We targeted from a grand to £10,000 for this buying guide. The Mk1 Escort 1300 GT and the club racing spin off Sport are not the only strangely unloved performance Fords. Pumped out by the thousand, look out for XR and Puma derivatives, plus the ST sub-brand, especially Mondeo. All deserve our investigation! However, we had to exclude the recent Fiesta and Focus STs, which are so worthy, and numerous that we reckon a separate feature should not be far away. The unfashionable rear drive Sierra XR4s and Granada Scorpios should also interest the shrewder classic buyer.



First, Blue Oval speak for beginners. XR-anything designated volume performers in UK but was also used in the USA and South Africa. A dash of distinctive pace was the European role of Fiesta XR2/i and Escort XR3/i, followed by the Sierra XR4i biplane that predated now far more valuable RS Cosworth. The logically named Sierra XR4x4 was the 4x4 variant that also shared the lusty Capri 2.8i injection V6 engine.

RS was the Rally[e] Sport moniker Ford originally applied to Motorsport- derived cars and parts. RS cars at the lowest prices are the two generations of RS2000 Escort front drivers, plus the rare 4x4 RS2000 derivative. An Escort RS1600i is the exception, a collector’s item with genuine motorsport pedigree.

Original Fiestas are starting to attract a strong following now especially earlier edition XR2s and the 1.3 Supersports.

Scorpio was the tag for controversial later Granadas, 24v referring to their 24-valve motors from Cosworth, which are available in a variety of trim levels through to the Ultima.

ST originally stood for Super Touring and was introduced to capitalize on the Ford Mondeo’s British and World Touring Car Championship racing success. Today ST is used globally for the performers beneath RS level. Got all that?


These two were kissing cousins, the CVH turbo (130 bhp) arriving first [June 1990] with that emotive Escort RS1800 nameplate attached to a warm hatch wrapped around the ‘Zeta (nee Zetec) 1.8- litre, again on some 130bhp but the non turbo power is much smoother and more usable.

The RS Turbo was the much wilder ride and a bit of a roughneck if truth be told with evil if exhilarating, handling that demanded brawn behind the wheel over brains as understandably it was similar to first Escort turbos, from which the powertrain descended.

Launched alongside the more mainstream XR2i Fiesta of May 1992, the Fiesta RS1800 was the plus 10 horsepower big brother to XR2i and drove with civilised ease in handling and power. It’s a lukewarm take on the hot hatch theme which was hotting up in the 1990s but a nice pocket rocket all the same.

RATING: RST has no image despite its wallop, choose RS1800 instead PRICES: Then, RS Turbo, £11,950 RS1800 £11,730 Now Turbo £2500-£5250; RS1800, £2500-£5500


Sold in both LHD and RHD guises, the RS1600i was somewhat controversial at its launch as Ford’s first real RS front-drive performer. Some 2600 were sold in Britain, and current owners value this motorsport- orientated evolution of the XR3i for its fine interior and uprated dynamics that included a new crossmember, special Koni damping and revised geometry settings.

The 115bhp RS 1600i would exceed 115 mph, hit 60 mph in 8.5 seconds and return 28 mpg despite having ‘shorter’ racier gearing than the XR3i. Complete with decidedly tasty seats (are they still fitted?) and steering wheel in true RS tradition, the RS1600i on 7-spoke 6 x 15 inch wheels with vivid graphics was a front drive Escort line pioneer with sports heritage. That said, some were quite lukewarm about the car, not least Autocar who found it actually slower than a standard XR3i (admittedly that was a ‘specially prepared’ road test car that Ford was rather famous for back then…) and less friendly, almost nervous, handling.

RATING: Best investment/fun ratio of first generation front drive Escorts: worth a punt if you can find a totally original road car (watch out for trashed track cars) PRICES: Then £6834. Now, £7500 for pristine example, £5000 usable one


The original carburetted XR3 [1980-82] with four-speed gearbox was a sharp looker but on a rough 96bhp it was no dynamic match for the burgeoning Golf GTI classes. Still Britain took 11,500 of them just in 1981 so a few should have survived, whilst the later five-speed fuel injected XR3i was a truly strong seller, shifting over 25,000 units a year and fattening Ford’s balance sheet between 1980-93. Ford reckoned a total of 166,971 X3 and 3i swifter hatches sold in UK Theoretically, you’d be spoilt for choice but take in the crash and burn joy ride factor, and finding a clean one with a history is getting harder by the day.

A second generation XR3i took over until the Escort itself hit Generation 4 in the nineties. From 1991 models and a third XR3i complete with Zetec 130bhp (rather than the earlier 105bhp CVH) pace was weakly marketed, overshadowed by the front-wheel drive RS2000 editions 4 and 5, and missing from the price lists by 1993. The slowest XR3 would exceed 110 mph and hit 60 mph in 9.5 seconds. Expect over 120mph and around 8.5 sec 0-60 mph performances from the last XR3i again with 130 reliable horses; all should return 27-32 mpg into the bargain.

RATING: Naff image, honest performance. Now appreciating PRICES: XR3 Then £5750, Now £1250-4000 XR3i then, £6155: last K-plate XR3i listed at £ 14,250. Now £1500-£5000


The first Escort Turbo [1983-85] was the real motorsport deal, limited to 5576 sales in UK. The second Escort RST [1986-89] saw over 37,000 manufactured and suits everyday use more than its erratic parent.


There were four models, all with 150bhp and an RS2000 badge to boot with sales dating from 1991-96. One stands out of the quartet—the April 1995 onward 4x4. With just 499 credited as UK registered, this virtual Cosworth with an easier owning cooking engine is truly a rare find so this would be the undervalued collectible. Ford sources point to almost 22,500 made, broken into the front drive models of 1991-1995 and the final ‘Mk5/6’ facelift editions with the same transverse 2-litre motor and more than ample 130mph pace. Expect 0-60 mph in less than nine seconds and an average 25-28 mpg for all models, the 4x4 being fractionally slower.

RATING: 4x4 for investment, but spares truly difficult. Front drive excellent and undervalued PRICES: Then £15,995 (4x4 debut at £16,310). Now £1500-£4250
(4x4), £1350-£5000


Hand-assembled by the famous Tickford concern in the Midlands – as was Sierra RS500 – this unique Puma was first referred to as ST160. It was one of few Fords, performance or otherwise, to lose money on each example with approximately 500 sold.

New they were an eye-watering £23,000 for a 155-bhp/7000 rpm front wheel-drive coupe. The last of Boreham Motorsport division’s performers for a (limited) public, these 126 mph fliers (reckon 0-60 mph less than 8 seconds) retain stronger values than the underrated but fine-handling mass production Pumas which is a stylish coupe take on a Fiesta base.

The Racing’s 1.7-litre 16-valve unit (featuring variable valve timing that’s never been used by Ford again) was tuned for another 30 horsepower. Each engine is individually numbered on the rocker cover, carrying a Janspeed exhaust system. Other key ID: Ford Racing blue metallic paint, sports seats in blue, oversize Alcon brakes and fat 17 inch alloys by MiM, part of an extensive track stretch and expensively flared arches.

RATING: Collectable, rare and with an okay sports history
PRICES: Then £23,000
Now £9000-£12,000


Lift the bonnet on a Ford Scorpio 24-valve and it starts to make sense that it should have been badged Cosworth, for the engineers converted the Iron Age Cologne 2.9-litre V6 to fancy quad valves. Ford did not want to make any confusion with the ultra rapid Sierra ‘Cossies’ of that era and so there were no sports ambitions for this car. Thus Scorpio remained an excellent Q-car, its 204 horsepower engine snatched by ravenous Granada/Capri converters in search of power with comfort. These special “Scorps’ operated erratic Ford 4ALD automatic transmissions, but were still rated at a creditable 140 mph with 0-60 mph in under nine seconds. Don’t expect much over 20 mpg unleaded only from this ‘cat’ equipped hybrid, on UK sale from December 1990. Most engines are now in Capris! RATING: Not the loveliest of Fords, but Cologne assembled them properly

PRICES: Priced at £24,875 to £28,135 in late 1997. Now, £500-£1500


T24: 1997-2000. ST200, 1999-2000. ST220, 2005-2007

The petrol-burning V6 STs of earlier Mondeo generations are worthy. An ST was offered from 1997-2007 although there was a 24v V6 Duratec offered for a 1994-95 model year at an official 174bhp. Today’s Mondeo European sales reality is diesel, which attract stronger used prices, but are not covered in this article.

These V6 Mondeos are publicly underrated, but not by the more discerning Ford community. They respect the first edition was the base of supremely successful racer from Andy Rouse which beat BMW, Audi, Alfa and more in World Championship finals. The second generation was handed to Prodrive who smashed all opposition in the BTCC 2000.
Now shrewder Ford buyers have preserved some of the older racing blue Mondies superbly, deservedly attracting stronger values.

Some of the earlier horsepower claims (167bhp for ST24 and 202 as ST200) were suspect, but the 2.5-litre V6s with 24-valve heads bring 140 mph in sight and hit 0-60mph in eight seconds, also available in other Mondeo variants.

ST’s extra interior equipment and sportier chassis manners are worthwhile. The later Mondeo ST220s featured 3-litre V6s, capable of 0-60 mph in less than 7.5 seconds with a top speed beyond 150 mph from an official 226 horses.

RATING: Buy now, they will never be cheaper! Go for the first edition as a collectible, second for everyday practicality (massive boot with an estate option), delivering a turn of meaty pace to an excellent V6 soundtrack
PRICES: ST24: December 1997, £19,980 (ST220: £24,740 in 2007)
Now, ST24 £750-£1000 ST200, £895-£2300 ST220, £2000-6500


Made in Belgium from February 1983, the first rear drive XR4i was a three-door extrovert hot hatch complete with high tailgate bi-wing, low drag aerodynamics and an official 150bhp from the ex-Capri 2.8i V6. A 4x4 successor went into production at the same site exactly two years later and was the more respected of the pair, although it’s cosmetics were constrained to conform to its repmobile status.

The trusty 4x4 Ferguson-based system gave rear-biased Ford handling and stability early Sierras never had plus the strong transmission was the basis for the fabled Cosworth Escorts and Sierras that followed. The XR4i never handled as well as the less sophisticated Capri 2.8i but 4x4 Sierras are almost Audi quattro like. RATING: XR4i the better show/ collector car, XR4x4 for fabled daily durability and q-car enjoyment. PRICES: Then £9170 (£11,500 as 4x4). Now £500-£3000

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