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Escort is perfect topless model; Ford Escort Cabrio 1.8 Si USED CARS.

THE British weather being what it is, a soft-top car doesn't always seem the best idea in the world.

But perhaps it is because we spend so much time being rained on that, when there is a nice sunny week called summer at the end of June, it's such a pleasure to be able to drop the hood and enjoy some fresh air.

Soft tops - cabrios, convertibles and targas - are also a lifestyle statement, an expression of individuality and a fashion accessory.

Nothing wrong with that. I'm all in favour of a fashion accessory that you can drive to work!

So if you're thinking of going topless this summer, where do you start?

A VW Golf Cabriolet or a Ford Escort Cabrio are the most common and the Escort presents the cheaper buy of the two. You could find a decent XR3i Cabrio on a G or H plate for around pounds 2,750, but I'd advise going for a Mk IV or V model.

The Mk IV was launched in 1990 and ran until 1995, although soft-top versions were available only from 1992. The Mk V was launched in 1995 and a cabrio was available immediately. This is definitely the best to go for but, if funds are tight, I rate the Mk IV Escort as much better than it's credited. You could look at a 1.8 Si Cabrio (130bhp) for around pounds 6,000 on a K plate.

The Si replaced the XR3i Cabrio because Ford was unhappy with the Essex-girl associations that had become linked with the name. Shows you just how image-sensitive this market is.

I tested the Si in a cold January and found the hood draught-proof and well insulated. It is darker than a normal model when the hood is up, but that's only really a problem for rear-seat passengers. The Escort has a glass rear screen with heating element, so you get full de-mist/de-ice facilities.

The heater/de-mist systems worked fine - just as you'd expect in a tin-top Escort.

And it's very easy to get the hood down. Just unclip two fasteners at the top of the windscreen and press a button. It folds back electronically, with the glass screen dropping neatly into place, and a vinyl cover keeps it all neat. Putting the hood up is simply a case of reversing the process and a safety device prevents the hood mechanism from working while the engine is running. You don't want some idiot putting the hood down while you're doing 70mph on the motorway!

The Escort Si Cabrio is powered by a 1.8-litre 16-valve engine which develops 130PS. Top speed is 130mph and 0-60mph is achieved in 10 seconds. Specification includes power steering, uprated suspension, alloy wheels, electric windows, central locking with alarm and immobiliser, sports seats and adjustable steering column.

What to pay for an Escort Cabriolet

XR3 XR3 (1.8) 1.8 Si 1.8 Ghia

1990 GH 2,750 - - -

1992 J - 4,500 - -

1992 K - 5,250 - -

1993 K - - 6,000 -

1993 L - - 6,500 -

1994 L - - 7,000 -

1994 M - - 7,500 -

1995 M - - 8,250 -

1995 N - - 8,750 -

1996 N - - - 9,750

1996 P - - - 10,750

1997 P - - - 11,500

1997 R - - - 12,500

1998 R - - - 13,500

Prices are for cars in top condition in dealer showrooms. Look for full history, check condition of roof and be extra careful about clocked cars (more common in cabrios).

FACTS AT A GLANCE

Model: Ford Escort Si Cabriolet, pay from pounds 6,000.

Engine: four-cylinder, 16-valve petrol engine of 1796cc, producing 130PS at 6,250rpm.

Transmission: front-wheel drive through five-speed gearbox.

Brakes: discs front and rear.

Performance: maximum speed 130mph; 0-60mph 10.0 seconds.

Economy: 26.2mpg on the urban cycle; 45.6mpg at a constant 56mph; 35.3mpg at a constant 75mph. Test average: 32.9mpg. Fuel capacity 55 litres (12.1 gallons).

Model history

Pre 1990: 1.6 XR3i Cabrio available. Mk III was phased out in September 1990, but some may have been registered later.

1990 Sep: Mk IV launched.

1992 Feb: XR3i Cabrio relaunched with 1.8 fuel-injected engines, 105bhp or 130bhp available.

1992 Sep: extensive bodywork changes to range, including new bonnet and grille.

1993 Apr: 1.8 Si Cabrio launched with stronger body than XR3i.

1995 Jan: Mk V Escort range launched.

1996 Apr: 1.6 Ghia Cabrio Auto and 1.8 Ghia Cabrio launched to replace Si.

Ford offered a number of lower-priced special-edition cabrios with 1.6 engines, including the Silhouette and Mistral.
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Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Edwards, Max
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Aug 8, 1999
Words:756
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