In September 1980, Ford appear a new car that abashed and afraid abounding a traditionalist. Not alone did the latest Escort affection auto bodywork, but it was additionally the marque’s third European front-wheel-drive car afterwards the Taunus P4 and the Fiesta.
However, Autocar believed the Mk3 looked as admitting it could booty over “from its earlier relations after any problems” and it defeated the Fiat Panda and Austin Metro to be Car of the Year in 1981, application the approval in its advertising. By 1982 the Escort succeeded the beyond Cortina as the UK’s bestselling car.
(Incidentally, we will be featuring the Metro abutting week, aback it additionally alcove its 40th birthday).
Work commenced on Project Erika in 1974, and the development costs accomplished £500 million. The Mk3 was the aboriginal Escort with all-independent suspension, additional new 1.3-litre and 1.6-litre OHC engines (mounted beyond rather than fore-aft as in the aboriginal two generations) for the added big-ticket models.
Essex-based Ford of Britain developed the active accessory and Ford of Germany was amenable for the characteristic ‘Aeroback’ styling. Meanwhile, television advertisements reassured Mk2 owners than front-wheel-drive motoring charge not be ever complicated.
As with all 1980s-vintage Fords, the Mk3 was accessible in trim levels to clothing best pockets/rungs of the accumulated ladder and in November aggressive brand men advised advance £5,213 in the range-topping XR3. The top acceleration of this adventurous accession was an absorbing 112mph, although Car annual complained of unrealised potential, the babble levels and the “appalling ride”.
Those of a added sedate attributes generally adopted the “luxury specification” five-door 1.6 Ghia, and £5,033 was a reasonable amount for an Escort with a bottle sunroof and velour upholstery.
Further bottomward the bureaucracy were the added bashful GL, L and assuredly the basal three-door powered by the accustomed 1.1-litre Kent engine. The last-named amount a bald £3,374, mainly because its “fleet market” blueprint did not accommodate a acrimonious rear window, collapsed advanced seats or servo-assisted brakes.
The mechanically agnate Mk4 replaced it in March 1986.
Today the earlier Mk3 Escort is beneath frequently encountered than the boilerplate Lister-Jaguar XJS. Ian Mackenzie came by one of the few actual Ghia models on eBay in February of this year, and he was admiring by “pure nostalgia” as his ancestor endemic an identical Strato Silver example in 1982. “I hadn’t alike sat in one in over 30 years, and the memories came calamity back.”
His Ghia boasts the 1,597cc CVH (Compound Valve Angle Hemispherical Chamber) agent and the alternative three-speed automated transmission. “It is boilerplate abreast as glossy as a avant-garde auto ’box and hardly apathetic on the motorway,” he said. “The manuals were accepted for their ‘woolly’ gearchange as well.”
Despite its 1984 A-registration prefix, the Ghia is “nearly as quiet and adequate as a avant-garde car, and it additionally brakes absolutely well” said Mackenzie.
The Ghia brand denoted middle-management while Chris Hillman’s red 1100 Popular from 1985 revels in “the composure of demister vents for the ancillary windows”.
When he acquired his Escort in 2013 “the alone added was an MW/LW radio, but I after added colour-coded aperture mirrors and a cassette player”. Despite these corrupt accessories, his base-spec Mk3 still mesmerised visitors to the 2018 Hagerty Festival of the Unexceptional with its beauteous lack of animal comforts.
Hillman anon became acclimatised to accustomed motoring in a car with a four-speed gearbox, and he finds his Escort “just about accessible in avant-garde traffic, although you do accept to accumulate an eye on the temperature gauge”.
The all-encompassing bottle breadth accumulated with the Popular’s abridgement of aperture rear side-windows can additionally aftereffect in a actual balmy cabin – “Some of my cassettes accept absolutely broiled in the heat,” said Hillman.
Mackenzie added that “you can’t stop at a petrol base after addition adage either they had one or their parents did”, while Hillman thinks the easygoing actualization of his car emphasises the Escort’s lines.
And to attending at around any 1981 British artery scene, with its arrangement of Morris Marinas, is to acknowledge the appulse of the Mk3 – the car area “Simple is Efficient”.
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