Ford Escort RS Cosworth
|Body style(s)||3-door hatchback|
|Engine(s)||Cosworth YBT 1993cc turbocharged I4|
Borg Warner MT-75
|Curb weight||1360 kg|
|Related||Ford Sierra RS Cosworth|
The Escort RS Cosworth was a sports derivative of the Ford Escort. It was available from 1992-96 and in very limited numbers. It was instantly recognisable due to its large whale tail rear spoiler. The main selling point was the Cosworth YBT engine, a highly tunable turbocharged 2-litre engine which put out 227bhp in standard trim. Tuned outputs have gone over 1000bhp.
Ford developed the car around the chassis and mechanicals of its predecessor, the Sierra Cosworth. 'Ghia' further modified the Escort bodyshell to accommodate the larger Cosworth engine and transmission. Changes were made to the engine management system and a new turbocharger was fitted. Permanent four wheel drive with a 34/66% front/rear split came courtesy of an uprated five speed gearbox as used in the Sierra Cosworth. Recaro sports seats came as a standard fitment. Later production models were available without the oversize tail spoiler although by far the majority were still ordered with it. Like its Sierra predecessor, they are commonly nicknamed "Cossie" by boy racers.
Two versions were produced. The initial 2500 units were "homologation specials" used to get the FIA accreditation for entry into the World Rally Championship. They were fitted with a Garrett T3/T04B turbocharger. Among these initial units, a handful were badged as Motorsport versions, these lacked certain refinements such as a sunroof and sound deadening. The second generation, starting production from late 1994, were fitted with a Garrett T25 turbocharger, a smaller unit which reduced turbo lag and increased usability in everyday driving situations. With these later models, the 'whale tail' spoiler became an option.
The car was to be Ford's new rally car, and very successful it became with its total victories amounting to 8 in Group A guise. Drivers included famous victor at the 1994 Monte Carlo Rally, the Frenchman Francois Delecour, future quadruple World Drivers' Champion Tommi Makinen (who took his maiden event victory for Ford in Finland that same year before departing for Mitsubishi for 1995), as well as the Belgian, Bruno Thiry and, from 1996, 1990 and 1992 World Drivers' Champion Carlos Sainz of Spain. One-time 1988 and 1989 back-to-back title-winning force for Lancia, Miki Biasion and 1991 Rally Catalunya winner Armin Schwarz were among the other fabled pilots to be seen behind the wheel.
After modifications were made to the car to make it a World Rally Car for the 1997 and 1998 seasons, it went on to score two more victories for the Ford Motor Company Rally Team, now based in Cumbria and being run by Malcolm Wilson's M-Sport. With Thiry, Ari Vatanen (on a one-off podium-scoring basis at the Safari Rally after Thiry suffered an injury) and four-time World Drivers' Champion Juha Kankkunen now behind the wheel of the cars, the Escort name finally bowed out of works rallying altogether after a double-podium at the season-ending 1998 Rally of Great Britain.
The Escort RS Cosworth was produced until early in 1996 when the EU introduced a tough new set of noise regulations for motor vehicles and Ford decided to stop production rather than change the car to meet the new noise regulations. Despite this, the now-modified RS Cosworth was used by Ford as their factory rally car until it was permanently replaced by the Focus WRC for the Monte Carlo Rally of 1999.