FORD ESCORT RS COSWORTH REVIEW

Legendary performance and bold styling, the Escort RS Cosworth is Ford’s rally car for the road

First made available to the public in 1992, the Escort RS Cosworth was the hottest Ford to emerge from the blue oval since the RS200 ended production in 1986. Initially only 2500 road cars were produced in order to meet homologation rules for the World Rally Championship in which the car was set to compete. Original cars were all fitted with the distinctive whale-tail spoiler and were on sale for only two years between 1992 and 1994. Following successful homologation for the 1993 World Rally Championship, Ford adapted the car to make it more useable in everyday situations. The large Garret T3/T04B turbocharger was replaced by the Garret T25, which reduced turbo lag considerably.


VITAL STATISTICS

FORD ESCORT RS COSWORTH

Engine                                    1993cc/DOHC/Turbo

Power (bhp@rpm)                  224bhp@6250rpm

Torque (lb ft@rpm)                 224ft lb@3500rpm

Top speed                                137mph

0-60mph                                   6.3sec

Consumption                           25mpg

Gearbox                                    5-speed manual


WHAT TO LOOK FOR

BODYWORK & CHASSIS
 

Despite being nearly 20 years old the bodywork should be in very good condition if the car has been well cared for. Like anything, they will rust if not properly looked after. Rust can creep in where the spoiler meets the boot, and the arches will eventually give in if dirt is allowed to collect. Front valances are quite low, so may have scratches and stone chips from hard driving. Many of these cars will have been modified by now, often badly. Check for rear bumpers being butchered to fit non-standard exhausts, likewise the front bumper for shoddily fitted front-mounted intercoolers. Though it looks for all the world like an Escort Mk V, it isn’t. Over 50 per cent of the panels were new, with the cars being bodied in Germany by Karmann. Replacement panels will be expensive and difficult to locate, so make sure there are no dings and dents. If there is rust on the car, particularly on the wings and bonnet, then it’s a fair indication that crash damage is lurking beneath. Check for fresh paintwork and clean engine bays.

ENGINE

At some point most Cosworths will have passed through the hands of boy racers, so the engine will have probably had a tough life. Engine rebuilds are horribly expensive, so its important you buy wisely. Start the engine from cold and take care to listen to all the noises the engine makes. Tappets may have a bit of a rattle, but if you hear a louder slapping noise walk away straight away. ‘Piston slap’ is a sure-fire sign that the engine is about to expire, so steer clear if there is any doubt in your mind. Bring a friend along to drive behind you on your test drive. Make sure you give it the beans and keep an eye out for any smoke when the engine is under load. Blue smoke will indicate that oil is leaking into the pistons, and white smoke will suggest the turbo is damaged. 

Many Cossies will have fallen foul amateur tuners, so make sure that the car is completely standard. Ideally you want a completely unmodified car that is as it was when it left the factory. If you are happy to buy a modified example, make sure that all the paperwork for the upgrades is present and that it has all been fitted by a reputable garage. If there is no supporting documentation, assume it’s been cooked up in someone’s garage. Be especially wary if the work has been carried out by a previous owner (invariably not an aerospace engineer). 

RUNNING GEAR

Unlike the standard Ford Escort, the Cosworth was always destined for the rally stages. Because of this it was fitted with four-wheel drive, making it more complicated than a standard car. Gearboxes are likely to have seen some hard miles, so listen out for any whining or rattling noises. Take the car on a long test drive through a variety of conditions. Make sure changes are sharp, there is little play, and that it doesn’t jump out of gear. As with most cars of this age CV joints will perish, so make sure you have a good feel underneath. Check that the brakes function well under hard braking, and that it doesn’t pull to either side or judder. 

Suspension should be very good; the RS Cosworth was hailed as one of the best handling cars of its generation. By now though, things may be getting a bit soft. If the car rolls in corners or is sitting low on its haunches then you should probably budget for a refresh. Check that it hasn’t been upgraded or had springs cut. Original Group N suspension is superb, so you want to avoid any aftermarket additions. Give each corner a good push; listen for any knocking noises that may indicate worn out parts.

 

INTERIOR

Cosworths were fitted with Recaro interiors in cloth and leather. Both sets are now rare due to the limited run of cars that was produced. As a result they’re expensive. Don’t bank on being able to replace the interior easily. Make sure that there is as little wear as possible, no rips, cigarette burns, or other signs of abuse. Re-trimming is an option, but this will adversely affect residual value. 

Electrics are generally good, but the Cossie does share a good deal of these components with the base models. While this does mean they’re more likely to go wrong, it also means parts are plentiful and cheap. Scrapyards are brim-full of Mk V Escorts just waiting to be cannibalised for spares. As with any car, make sure that all the electrical componentsand switches are working as advertised. 


OUR VERDICT

The Escort Cosworth is a very capable road car and is now starting to look like an attractive investment. Cars are losing their negative image as they become increasingly rare. Ford really got it right first time round, so avoid any cars that have been bodged on a budget. Any aftermarket additions will hit the value of the car and add little to the experience. Be prepared to pay a premium for originality.

Recently Added

1tSponsored Ad
1975
€21,950
Roadster 1975 overdrive, wire wheels
  • 81,613
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 LHD
  • Refcode: TA1099524
This MGB roadster was delivered in 1975 in beautiful Flame Red paint. The car has new chrome wir...
8
+31 416 751393
View details
1tSponsored Ad
1968
€18,950
MK3 1968, Signal Red, revised engine
  • 27,396
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 LHD
  • Refcode: TA1099522
Since 1967 the Spitfire MK3 was introduced. This beautiful Triumph Spitfire MK3 was delivered in ...
8
+31 416 751393
View details
1tSponsored Ad
1977
€22,950
1303 cabriolet 1977
  • 28,163
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 LHD
  • Refcode: TA1099519
This is a 1977 VW 1303 Beetle convertible. The car has red paint with black interior, black Sonne...
8
+31 416 751393
View details
Sam 6422Sponsored Ad
£6,995
  • 19,571
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1099518
**Vehicle Just Arrived & Awaiting Preparation** 2006/06 reg.. Jaguar.. X Type.. 2.5 V6 SE.. All W...
Sam 6385Sponsored Ad
£2,995
  • 43,000
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1099517
**Vehicle Just Arrived & Awaiting Preparation** 2006/06 reg.. Mercedes.. A Class.. A180 CDi.. Cla...
Sam 6411Sponsored Ad
£3,495
  • 138,500
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1099516
2003/03 reg.. Face lift model.. Lexus.. LS430.. Tiptronic automatic with power & snow mode.. 4 Do...
Sam 6058Sponsored Ad
£4,995
  • 21,075
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1097497
1985/C reg.. Vauxhall.. Senator.. 3.0i CD.. 4 Door saloon.. Automatic.. 2968cc Petrol.. Unbelieva...
379780 1 Sponsored Ad
1991
€28,950
  • 738
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1042851
AC Two Litre Yellow & Bordeaux '48
15
+32 472.40.13.38
View details
440392Sponsored Ad
1962
€35,950
  • 23,881
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 LHD
  • Refcode: TA1099514
Jaguar MK II 3.8 '62
20
+32 472.40.13.38
View details
440136Sponsored Ad
1931
€72,950
  • 4,883
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 LHD
  • Refcode: TA1099513
Buick 8/64 Roadster '31
20
+32 472.40.13.38
View details
See All Classic Cars for Sale