27 August 2018
More than an old car #78: Ford Escort RS Cosworth
In Singapore, Ford is surprisingly less of a household name to car buyers as it has been losing market ground to the more conventional Japanese brands. However, it wasn't as boring as it looked due to the huge success it experienced in the field of rallying, and this 1994 Ford Escort RS Cosworth is a prime specimen of its success at that time.
The Ford Escort was a small family car that was made way back in 1955 by Ford of Europe, a subsidiary of the Ford that we know [based in the US]. In this case, the cars made by them and the ones made in the US are very different as they catered to different markets--very rarely do you see a cross-exchange of the vehicles across the Atlantic. The fifth-generation Escort, which this was based on, was introduced in 1990 but received a bad reception due to its handling and styling. At the same time, Ford was looking to compete in the World Rally Championship (WRC): the styling was designed in 1989 and was based off its predecessor, the Ford Sierra Cosworth.
Cosworth is an automotive engineering company, founded by Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth in 1958. Both of them had just left Lotus Engineering and brought with them a wealth of engine tuning knowledge. It was supported by Ford after they signed a developmental contract in 1968, although Ford sold Cosworth in 2004. Currently, it has diversified to provide engineering consultancy and high performance electronics.
As part of the cooperation between Ford and Cosworth, its engine was worked on to include a better turbocharger. Its distinctive styling was designed by Karmann in Germany and the huge "whale-tail" spoiler was added by Frank Stephenson, a famed American automobile designer. At first glance, it looks like a regular hatchback that people might use to drive to the market, and this was one issue that caught many people by surprise when it entered the WRC. However, it performed better than expected and people started to take notice.
It was powered by a 1993 cc Cosworth turbocharged i4 engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 225 km/h with an acceleration of 6.1 seconds [0-100 km/h]. It was 4211 mm long and weighed 1275 kg.
Production ended in 1996 with only 7145 made. This is believed to be the last one here as the others have already been deregistered. Previously, it was in silver but was repainted to its current blue. According to the chassis number, this unit was built in Cologne in 1994. Escort Cosworths were never officially sold here--whatever units that were here could have been parallel-imported. I didn't expect to see this unicorn in front of my previous company--apparently the owner had some business to do at that time. It feels really amazing to realise that I have seen the last of its kind on our roads: that is why if you start to observe the cars around you, who knows what you may see?