The Ford Escort Cosworth was a good weapon both on the rally course and on the road.
When the Ford Escort Cosworth came out in the early 90s, it was the ultimate blue collar hero and very quickly became a cult classic.
It also has a reputation for having a bit more power than it is, and most of its owners were able to handle it. As a result, the limited edition Ford unfortunately became rarer than it should be, and many cars made their way to the scrap heap as owners regularly ran out of talent.
Original examples are now creeping into the six-figure range, making them more of an exotic collector’s car than the hero the Cossie once named.
10 Homologation special
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After the madness of the Group B rally ended in the late 1980s and the dust began to settle in the new class, Ford needed a competitive car.
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Once again they reached out to Cosworth, who was responsible for the absolutely incredible RS200 that was now banned. This time around, they actually had to base the race car on an actual production car, so Ford naturally turned to the escort platform.
9 Early Examples Inherited Huge Turbos
The Garett T35 turbos used on the RS200 mentioned above were recycled and attached to the YB unit.
That was great for the theater of the car, not so much for the handling. It’s a massive turbo that also gave the car an equally massive turbo lag, often pulling out less experienced drivers.
8th Small upgrades produce huge increases in performance
With the huge turbo, which was pretty much designed for racing, and little else, the car could be quickly and easily tuned to 300 hp.
Any car that gives you an extra 100 horsepower with more fuel and air is clearly in very mild condition, and more adventurous tuners willing to spend more could easily hit over 500 horsepower.
7th Can outperform a supercar
Although by modern standards the 0-60 time when 6 seconds isn’t exactly blistering, Ferraris struggled to post those times in 1992.
The 328 GTB, which was in production until 1989, recorded the same 0-60 time for comparison. Remember this is in stock 224hp.
6th Hidden turbo cooler
Ford has built a turbo cooling water injection system into all production cars quite cleverly so that they can use it in racing without any problems, expensive but effective!
On the road car, this injection system is usable, but it doesn’t see any performance benefits until you start taking your other engine modifications seriously.
5 Designed by Frank Stephenson
Frank Stephenson is better known for his work on the Maserati MC12 and, more recently, the McLaren P1.
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His boy-racer design theme for this car drew a generation of enthusiasts, and pretty much anyone with a hatchback wanted to add unnecessary bodywork to their small, low-powered cars.
4th Distinctive whale tail
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It was such a bold statement to actually help the rally cars and their aero was the ultimate motivation, but the road car was all about looks.
In its original form, it was designed to look like the Red Baron’s three-decker, with three wings stacked on top of each other (like this modified version) and supposedly more downforce. It also cost more to produce, so Ford decided two would be enough.
3 Hooligan reputation
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As a relatively affordable performance car when it came out, it quickly built a reputation as a hooligan car, making it nearly impossible to insure.
It didn’t help that so many of these cars, especially the early cars that featured the Garrett T35, were written off by young, inexperienced drivers caught in the incredulous turbo lag. The latter cars were much more drivable with the smaller, less lag-prone T25 turbo.
2 Still can keep up with modern hot hatches
Though these cars were driven on ’90s tires and equally outdated suspension, all-wheel drive keeps them on the hunt for their modern front-wheel drive opponent.
We’ll admit that comparing it to the latest all-wheel drive Focus RS is a mismatch, but this is a very special rally performance car in and of itself.
1 Everything about the engine
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You have to admit that there isn’t really much to see other than the whale tail “look at me”, the styling, fit and finish are oh so 90s.
Then you look under the hood and the whole world turns upside down. The YB is one of the most amazing, underrated modern wonders of technology. With a seemingly bomb-proof block and an extensive aftermarket, these engines can deliver up to 1000 hp. A more sensible, affordable tune produces 500 reliable horsepower, which isn’t bad on a 90s Econobox.
Next: 10 classic Fords that nobody cared about, but now they’re worth a fortune
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About the author
(102 articles published)
Luke Zietsman is an avid automotive fan based in the Philippines. If it has two or four wheels, then he has either owned it, researched it, or dreamed of it.
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