Modern Classics - 1996 Ford Escort Cosworth

You know exactly what you’re getting with an Escort Cosworth - monster A-to-B performance and the attitude of a right hook to the jaw.

2y ago


You know exactly what you’re getting with an Escort Cosworth - monster A-to-B performance and the attitude of a right hook to the jaw.

The Ford Escort RS Cosworth was homologated for motorsport and was the last of the Escort RS range. It was designed to qualify as a 'Group A' car for the World Rally Championship and was very successful during the 1990s. It became available as a road car from 1992-96 and was produced by the Specialist Vehicle Engineering, (SVE) arm of Ford.

You know exactly what you’re getting with an Escort Cosworth - monster A-to-B performance and the attitude of a right hook to the jaw.

After a quarter-century, you’ll also know much of the lore surrounding the Escort RS Cosworth. You’ll know, for example, that it was developed for the same reasons as those Celicas, Lancers and Imprezas, to be a platform capable of catapulting its respective maker to the front of world rallying.

Homologation requirements being what they were, the standard Escort - front-drive, transverse-engined - wasn’t the ideal platform from which to start. All its rivals, from the Japanese trio to the Lancia Delta Integrale, had all been developed from the outside with the necessary all-wheel drive in mind, and refined further from there.

Ford did have something suitable however - the Sierra Cosworth. Squeeze that car’s guts into a marketing-friendly Escort body (Ford’s Special Vehicle Engineering division, also known as SVE, did the squeezing) and you have the basis of the Escort Cosworth. The body needed work too, of course - while it might look like ostentatious decoration, the enormous rear wing (and the low front splitter) were both designed to assist the car at the high speeds it was expected to reach in rallying.

The familiar 2-litre turbocharged engine also saw tweaks - in went a new Garrett T35 turbocharger and a two-stage intercooler. In original form this developed 227bhp at 6250rpm and 224lb ft of torque at 3500rpm. Figures dwarfed by even today’s Focus ST, but the big turbo meant big lag and then big boost, for a startlingly exciting power delivery. Ford did tone this down a little with a smaller T25 turbocharger in 1994. Those early cars are more tunable, the latter more driveable in standard form.

Finding a standard Escort Cosworth is quite a challenge these days, and the degree to which an example is standard, original and low on miles hugely influences the price you should expect to pay.

'"Despite four-wheel drive, the Cossie has a hot hatchback-like feel: all front-end bite with a playfully mobile tail. The combination of a super-pointy front end and 33/67 front/rear torque-split is a clever and expressive one, for it allows you to set the car up on the way into a corner, turning in with a deliberate lift of the throttle to get the tail moving, then using the quick steering and rear-biased torque split to power through. It's something you need to reserve for open, clearly sighted corners, but it's a treat you'll never tire of.

It's not everyone's cup of tea, and there's no question the car's humble origins and four-cylinder engine lack the kudos of a more exotic body and a sweet-spinning six-cylinder, but the Escort Cosworth is a vivid reminder of the days when rallying still gave us exciting road cars.'" - Richard Meaden, evo 157

Featured Auction.

Estimate (£): £28,000 - 32,000.

As confirmed by the FORD RSOC, this is one of the last 68 built on the 30th December 1996 at the Rhine Assembly Plant in Germany and is finished in rare Petrol Blue with a Grey Hex Cloth Interior. This particular car was well known in the RSOC Concours scene and was shown for a number of years, winning many Concours trophies, which will be supplied as part of the sale. This is the later car with the smaller T25 Garret turbo and not the larger T35 Garett Turbo.

The car and was sold to our vendor some 5 years ago having been enjoyed by a number of previous owners, one of whom had chosen to modify the car. It had been fitted with Azev A alloys, larger brakes and uprated suspension, different stereo (header unit only), RS500 fog light grills, stainless exhaust, Morette headlights and a few other subtle modifications. Our vendor bought it as a modified car but his intention was always to return it, as close as possible, to factory specification and all of these modifications have now been reverted back to standard with new OEM parts. The only non-standard item still in place is a Stage 1 'Super-Chips' chip and actuator.

This lovely RS Cosworth has covered very few miles in the last few years but has been in dry storage, meaning that it remains in virtually the same fabulous condition that enabled it to win prizes. It has all its keys, the original Ford wallet, all the original handbooks, service book, radio instructions, guides and point of sale literature, period sales brochures, all the invoices and photographs from the restoration, and some previous MOT Certificates. An HPI check will show that it is clear, with a number of cherished number plates. The car now wears the number plate it was assigned from new in 1996. We understand that it has covered 56,000 miles from new and has a current MOT.

Great opportunity to find a superb example of a very topical model and, if Concours d'Elegance is your thing, return this Cosworth to the show ring.

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