There is a lot of talk about Meghan, Harry and the Palace, but there is one topic that often goes unnoticed: what cars do the kings drive? Besides the Land Rovers, I can think of a car. The little black 1984 Ford Escort RS Turbo that Princess Diana drove! The photos of her behind the wheel with William in the back seat are iconic.
Of course there is more to that ford Escort RS Turbo as the royal family that drove it. This little pocket rocket from Ford with its sporty, compact and stylish appearance would shape the world of hot hatches forever.
9 Europe’s battle for the hatches
Iron Maiden from heavy metal, Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, and Kenny Dalglish from football were household names in Europe in the 1980s. But there was another identity struggle. Car brands vied for the top position. This was no more obvious than in the battle for hatchbacks in the 1980s.
Renault came out with its GT Turbo. Peugeot released its 205 GTI, which advertises a racing pedigree, and its 205 Turbo 16, which won the 1985 World Rally Championship. Of course, let’s not forget the car that started the hot hatch segment, the Volkswagen Golf GTI. Ford was soon in the thick of it.
8th Code name “Erika”
Let’s make a short trip back. The first time Ford made a car in Europe was in 1967. It was the Mark 1 Escort, a joint venture with the company’s German and British divisions. Then, in the 1980s, Ford really messed things up with the RS Turbo.
The 1980s began with a number of RS models, including the Capri Turbo, one of many versions in the Capri’s rich history that resulted in the car the Princess drove, the 1984 Ford Escort RS Turbo. Two years later the RS Turbo was updated. The first generation of the RS Turbo was part of the third generation Escort series with the code name “Erika” after Erick A. Reickert, head of the product planning team. Ford was on a roll!
7th An intelligent, small package
According to a marketing brochure published in January 1985, Ford advertised the RS Turbo as “street flexible and powerful” while promoting it as both a family car and “with all the potential to win races”.
Given the fierce competition in the 1980s auto market, which produced a number of hatchbacks, the RS Turbo had to deliver. The question is, did it deliver?
6th Back to the 80s!
Turn back the clock! It’s the middle of the eighties. The design is sharp and aerodynamic, evoking a story of race companions lighting up the track. Not to forget the seven-spoke alloy wheels.
Now have a look. Recaro seats. A comfortable ride! Stereo cassette recorder. Yes, get ready to listen to some of your favorite 80s hits. Storage compartment. But what about the thing that’s hiding under that hood?
5 Feel the power!
With a turbocharged 1.6 liter 132 horsepower engine, this little pocket rocket could fly around town. Weighing just 977 kg, the RS Turbo was able to go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 7.8 seconds.
With front-wheel drive, the RS Turbo had a limited slip differential to improve traction and reduce wheel spin to a minimum.
4th And the turbocharger …
In the mid-1980s, Ford praised the technology behind its turbochargers and tried to assert itself against a market that advertises its own turbo successes. The Renault 5 GT Turbo with its Garrett T2 turbocharger is one such example.
It was about the performance and tractability of the RS Turbo. Your great sale cards! To reassert its point, Ford reverted to its racing pedigree.
3 Races run in the family!
1970. It was the World Rally Championship! Hannu Mikola, the Finnish rally world champion, was behind the wheel of a Ford Escort RS 1600. Gunnar Palm was his co-driver. After 16,243 miles they were victorious.
It was this performance of the MK1 Escort that Ford used to advertise the MK3 S1 Escort RS Turbo in one of its brochures. They wanted their customers to feel like they were in a rally car while providing a family car experience.
2 How many did you say
With the Series 1 RS Turbo released in 1985, Ford originally only wanted to produce 5,000 units. Fortunately for transmissions across Europe, however, Ford didn’t stick to that plan.
In response to demand, 8,604 units of the Series One Escort RS Turbo were built, and in 1986 the Series Two was released, this time based on the current MK4 model Ford Escort.
1 A painting job worthy of a princess
For the Series One RS Turbo, Ford only offered the small pocket rocket in diamond white color. There was, of course, one notable exception. Remember how we mentioned Princess Diana driving around in a Ford Escort RS Turbo? Ford actually built a car that was painted black, which happened to be the car she was given.
The famous photos of Diana racing with her black escort from paparazzi and driving down the narrow London street, convey the feeling of a family car, but are also a snapshot of the speed of the RS Turbo.
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About the author
(2 articles published)
Joshua Irvine is a writer, researcher, and historian. His interests include the history of the automotive industry, including the history of cars in pop culture and cinema. He has a Bachelor of Social Science and a Bachelor of Arts in History.
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