Ford Escort Mk. 2
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 1
At a time when the 'world car' concept was becoming highly fashionable, the Ford Escort entered the fray in 1968 as the replacement to the aging, but always popular, Ford Anglia. Over the years it underwent several styling revisions, and right through the 1970’s it remained one of the most popular cars around.
The first major styling revision occurred in 1975, giving the car a crisp lean flowing style that was well in proportion and arguably a cut above the small car offerings emanating from Japan. The interior was always functional, but was somewhat Spartan in comparison to the Japanese cars – but on the plus side the seats were extremely comfortable even on very long drives.
Apart from the wonderful and exciting RS models, the Ghia
was the top of the bunch, and at least this model could match it with the Japanese in the features list department. There were naturally better quality coverings and carpet and such extras as a digital clock (set on the opposite of the dash to the driver), a cassette player, and special Ghia
The Australian Escort was a concoction of parts sourced both locally, along with parts imported from France and of course Britain. By the late 1970’s and early 1980’s the Escort had matured to a point where it was almost suffering from an identity crisis. In its showroom-floor guise it was a car that presented as the perfect weekday commuter, alternatively it made for the ideal second car, but while undoubtedly adept at fulfilling either role this was selling the Escort seriously short.
Over the years of production the Escort emerged as a tried, proven, and immensely successful competition car, especially on the world rally circuit. Looking at the Escort's sporting career, it is hard to find anything notable that this delightful car had not won.
Owners soon discovered that it could be driven mild or wild, but either way its ability to please was something that was becoming increasingly rare as the austere 80’s approached. Even in the early 1980’s, when the Escort could be considered a little past its use-by date, the base model 1.6 litre version provided a surprisingly brisk drive – all the more surprising given the Escort was still fitted with a somewhat old-fashioned overhead valve engine. The 1.6 unit produced a healthy 46 kW of power, it then driving through a very slick and sporty four-speed manual gear-box.
Those seeking extra zing could opt for the sporty 2.0 litre Kent version – a popular choice that had the Escort fighting well above its station when departing the traffic lights, leaving a bemused look on many drivers of larger engined cars. Combined with the Escort's better-than-average power was handling
to match, making the little Escort quite a lot of fun to drive. It was adept at zipping in and out of city traffic as nimbly as any of the competitive Japanese cars, and even offered just a little extra oomph when out on the open road.
As the Escort had replaced the Anglia, so the Laser would replace the Escort. Some of the magic was lost, the Escort had always looked and felt like a big car made smaller, by comparison the Laser only ever looked small, and used no styling cues from the larger model Ford’s. Worse still, the Laser was front wheel drive
– and soon there would be no small cars to retain the rear wheel drive set-up.