The First ‘World Car’
The first Ford Escort was produced in Europe in 1968 as a rear-wheel-drive replacement for the Ford Anglia. It was marketed as The small car that isn’t due to innovative storage space and compact dimensions. A version of the sturdy, reliable third-generation Escort was developed for the U.S. market in 1980.
The introduction of the first-generation version in North America coincided with the release of the MK III Ford Escort in Europe and saw the car switch to front-wheel drive to compete with the Toyota Corolla, Volkswagen Rabbit and Honda Civic. The car was discontinued in 2002 and made way for the Ford Focus after a long, successful run as one of the world most reliable family cars.
America’s Most Popular Small Car
Ford’s Escort had gained enormous popularity in places like Great Britain, where it was the best selling car in 1976 and became the vehicle of choice for their police force. Riding high on the wave of success, it was launched in America as the small car that was taking over the world.
Those who remember the 1980s probably know it as the most popular family car of the decade. It was a paradigm of practicality, and Henry Ford branded it as being an excellent value — perfect as a second car for the family and with cheaper running costs than any other model on the market.
The Second Generation
While the first generation Escort was all about pragmatism, Ford responded to criticism of the car’s conservative look and feel in 1991 by remodeling it with flush fitting glass and new sheet metal. They also extended the wheelbase by 4″ for a smoother ride. The handling of the car was greatly improved by a new suspension system equipped with a rear anti-sway bar.
In 1992, Ford released its first four-door hatchback version of the car which some people saw as a marketing mistake for the much loved Escort. While it was still a popular car, the modernizations that had been gradually implemented into the model meant a price increase. The simplicity of the Escort, along with its reasonable sticker price and low running costs, had been what made it the run-around of choice for families all over the world.
How the Third Generation Spelled the End for the Escort
The car underwent a major transformation in 1997, discarding the angular body-work in favor of a curvier, more modern sedan profile. A brand new two-liter, four-cycle SOCH Split Port 100 horsepower engine proved the makeover wasn’t limited to the car’s aesthetics. Ken Block, rally driver and coinventor of DC shoes is a huge fan of the Ford Escort and actually raced in one until he spectacularly crashed and destroyed it in 2018. The final edition of the Escort was said to be the best; however, the advent of the Focus meant the end was nigh.
The European MK I and MK II Ford Escorts are very popular among classic car enthusiasts and can fetch price tags of $30,000. You may have thought that buying a classic car would be the only way to get your hands on a Ford Escort these days, but you’d be wrong. If you have the means to import a car from China, you can get your hands on a brand new model.