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Rear View Mirror: This ESCORT was born to be WILD; ESCORT RS COSWORTH.

Byline: Brian Twomey

THE Ford Escort made a career out of covering as many possible permutations and different ends of the market as it could.

It was a van, a family car, a rep-mobile, a police car, an estate and at weekends it won rallies. The Mk5 Escort spawned the last, and many argue the greatest, rallying Escort, the RS Cosworth.

The first Ford Escort RS Cosworth was built on February 19, 1992.

Based on the Escort bodyshell it utilised some of the Sierras floorpan to allow it to have all-wheel-drive and used a version of the classic, YBG Cosworth Ford four cylinder unit producing 224bhp.

Basically addressing the Sierra Cosworths shortcomings, notably weight and size, Ford intended the Escort to win rallies as the Sierra had something of a disastrous career in group A.

The Escort Cosworths chassis was 50% stiffer than in the standard car. 0-60mph took 6 seconds and top speed was 137mph.

The Escort enjoyed a decent career as a front line rally car but made its real impact on the road. Using a monstrous rear wing (bigger then a Ferrari F40) the 'Cossie' used downforce as well as four wheel drive to help it become one of the hardest cornering cars in the world.

The interior was a curious mix of Escort parts mixed with performance bits (boost gauge, oil temperature etc) and leather-lined luxury in the form of Recaro seats. After 2,500 were built to satisfy FIA rules the Escort RS was civilised.

The colossal turbo lag was addressed with a smaller, more efficient turbo which didn't alter the power but made the Cosworth slightly faster (5.7 to 60mph) and more refined. A strengthened bodyshell featured side impact protection and the Cosworth now boasted an airbag. The huge rear wing became an optional extra.

Visual drama matched by spectacular dynamics and huge performance won it legions of fans but the Cosworth was a perennial magnet for theft and vandalism.

It became impossible to insure and it was never going to pass EU noise regulations so Ford killed it off.

On January 12, 1996, the last Escort Cosworth rolled off the line ending 29 years of fast Escort production. Of the 7,145 built, many have been rallied, modified and driven to distinction but today a clean, unmodified, low mileage Cosworth will make more then it did when it was new.

An appreciating classic - not even a decade old.

CAPTION(S):

WHALE OF A TIME: Escort's Cosworth's rear spoiler was bigger than a Ferrari F40; HIGH SPEED PURSUIT: There would be no getting away from this Police Escort Cosworth
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 1, 2004
Words:436
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