The Ford Escort RS Turbo, dubbed 'Series 1' was introduced in 1984 and was the very first European turbo charged Ford. It used the 1600 CVH engine, along with Garrett turbo and was only available in diamond white with blue stripes. The wheels were Ford Motorsport 7 spoke 6x15 inch alloy wheels wearing MXV 195/50/15 tyres (these tyres are now like gold dust and only found on very low mileage cars used on the concours scene). The car was in fact very different in appearance from the slighty lesser powered, naturally aspirated Escort RS1600i. As well as a plastic, colour coded bodykit all round including arch extensions, the new 'RS Turbo' also featured a new, colour coded three slat front grille, previously used on the Orion.
There are two versions of the Series 1 RS Turbo, the custom and non custom. This simply means the car was either fitted with the optional custom pack when new, or not! Some call the non custom cars 'motorsport' versions as Ford's motorport division used cars without a sunroof etc but this isn't the case and simply a co-incidence.
What is the custom pack and what did it include'
The optional custom pack cost an additional '500 on top of the list price of the car when new and consisted of electrically operated front windows, tilt and slide sunroof and central locking. Many people say tinted windows were also part of the custom pack but this isn't the case as the non custom Escorts still came with the bronze colour tinted windows.
The car was capable of around 128mph, producing 132bhp at 7 PSI and reached 0-60 in roughly 8.2 seconds. This is common place now, but in the early 80's these were impressive figures!
The car was only manufactured for two years, between 1984 and 1986. This means the cars are all found on either B or C plates with a few D plates in existence as well, but these are late registered cars and very rare.
Although you got a lot for your money, the car wasn't cheap. After tax and VAT, the non custom version cost '9,583 on the road and the cars fitted with the optional custom pack came in at '10,069 (prices taken from a genuine Ford price list from August 1985).
As well as a re-sprayed blue car being used on the 1980's television programme 'Cat's Eyes' there was one, very famous owner of a Series 1 RS Turbo, and that was Princess Diana who owned one of the only known black cars in the mid 1980's. This car was sprayed black from brand new at the Ford factory by special request and was still registered under the Ford Motor company while under Diana's ownership. Period pictures of the car show it was fitted with a matching black, 5 slatted grille and second interior mirror. The car is still in existence today, although now under a different registration plate and wearing the standard three slat front grille and was recently offered for sale for offers around '30,000!
What is a Series 2 Escort RS Turbo'
Announced in 1986 along with the introduction with the Mk4 Escort, the next generation Escort RS Turbo (more commonly known as the Series 2) hit the showrooms later that year.
Some say the car is a more watered down version of the more motorsport orientated Series 1 RS Turbo and call it just an XR3i with a turbo. However this isn't a fair comment as the car was aimed at a more wider customer base and in truth, was a substantially re-developed and improved version of the original car. Where as the Series 1 was available in any colour you desired as long as it was diamond white, the Series 2 came in four colours. These were rosso red, diamond white, black and metallic mercury grey. The Series 2 also featured ABS brakes, bonnet vents, unique 15 inch 'dog leg' alloy wheels and a more subtle body kit.
The engine was still the same 1600 CVH unit, producing 132bhp and 128mph top speed but featured several changes.
When the car was first introduced, pretty much everything was an extra. The custom pack was still the main option carried over from the Series 1 as was the Recaro sports interior. However, these optional extras all became standard equipment on the 90-spec cars (see below). Some very early examples have no central locking, wind up windows and no sunroof but these are very rare and mainly D or E plate cars as most were ordered with the custom pack. A heated front screen, factory fitted fuel computer and graphic equaliser (used to enhance the sound quality of the Ford radio/cassette system) completed the options list.
What is a 90-spec RS Turbo'
Introduced in 1989, the revised Escort RS Turbo, commonly known as the 90-Spec was introduced. The Mk5 Escort was now on its way and the 90-spec cars were pretty much the end of the line, fitted with all the options as standard to increase sales. There are a few obvious visual differences that mark out a 90-spec Escort RS Turbo to the earlier model.
Firstly, although the same four colours were still available, rosso red was replaced with radiant red. Body wise, the front bumper was updated and the rear spoiler was extended, dubbed 'the droopy spoiler'. New style 'Escort RS Turbo' badging on the rear of the car was another new feature but was still a sticker placed on the left hand side of the tailgate, not proper badges as seen on the Cosworth Sierras of the time.
It was the interior however that saw the greatest amount of change. It featured a new, lighter coloured headlining replacing the previous headlining which was dark, a second interior light for the rear passengers was added, extended centre console that came past the handbrake and a totally revised seat pattern completed the transformation. Whereas on the previous Series 2 Escort RS Turbo where the interior was very dark, with small red squares on the seats creating a chequered effect, the 90-spec cars featured light grey seats and door cards which had a light grey, red and blue chequered pattern.
Prices of all these cars seem to be on the up with good examples becoming increasingly harder to find as even the very last of the line Series 2 cars are now nearly 20 years old! Although the earlier, arguably more desirable Series 1 has been and will continue to be worth more, the later version still commands good money to this day.
Previously, cars were valued from anything between '1,000 and '5,000 but low mileage, totally original examples are now going for much more.
Recently, a diamond white 90-spec Series 2 with approximately 15,000 miles from new, totally standard and with a full history was advertised for £10,000. This is quite rare however and between £4000 and £6000 still seems the average for good cars. Once again though, the old rule stays true........ these cars are only worth what someone is willing to pay!
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