Righto, get your online pencils sharpened up, it's Escort time again. Actually, 'again' is a bit harsh as we've only ever had two other Escorts in the last ten years of this column. One was an XR3i convertible. The other was a gen-six five-door, like today's shed, but powered (if you'll excuse the word) by the depressingly feeble 59hp SOHC Endura 8-valve engine, a muleish thing that could trace its ancestry back to the late 1940s and that was well suited to the term 'lump'.
Last year's Escort melted one of PH's smaller servers as posters battled to vent their spleens in spittle-spluttering displays of righteous anger. The exciting 16v badge on the backside of today's effort tells us that this is a different kettle of fish altogether. OK, maybe not so different to look at, but when it was new the late-model 1.6 LX was chucking out a mighty 89hp from its twin-cam Zetec engine. Practically supersonic by comparison.
The Cardiff-based dealer selling this one advises us that there are a few rust patches and that the bodywork needs attention, which sounds a bit worrying - but the last MOT in November only has a couple of advisories in that area, namely 'nearside rear outer wheel arch slightly corroded' and 'subframe mounting repair covered in underseal all in underneath'. Shed isn't exactly sure what that last part means but he likes the sound of it.
Talking of sticky black goo, the numberplates are weird. They look like they've been cleaned with a treacle sponge or an oily rag at best. You also get the distinct impression that neither of the two owners bothered to prise open the bonnet at any point as it's fairly grimy under there. You could never level the same accusation at the interior however. It's not far short of showroom fresh. There's hardly any of the sagginess that's the usual hallmark of old part-velour upholstery. How did they manage that? Just 37,000 miles under its cambelt would have helped.
Of course, the gen-six will never attract the sort of prices now being paid for earlier Escorts because by the time it reached that iteration it had been moulded into an aspirational carriage with zero motorsports heritage. The nearest it got to pedigree was when an owner was filling its boot with dog food from Macro. However, the 1997 registration of this car makes it a final-year Escort, which is surely worth something if you're interested in that sort of thing and you want something to boast about at an upcoming Festival of the Unexceptional.
As we speak, many of you will doubtless be reaching for your cursing dictionaries and revising the price by moving the decimal point to the left by two or even three places, just as you did a year ago with that Endura Escort, but Shed is thick-skinned enough to handle all the spittle. He knows that by the end of its life the Escort wasn't anywhere near as bad as is popularly put about. Or at least, it was as good as it was going to get. Plenty of buyers liked it anyway.
It is hard to believe though that at the same time as this car was being lovingly smashed together on a production line in some exotic location such as Istanbul, Argentina or Halewood, Ford was putting the finishing touches to the Focus, a car that in dynamic terms was about as close to the Escort as Usain Bolt was to Fred Dibnah.
Point being though that many folk like Fred Dibnah. Not in the same way as they might like Usain Bolt, but the question you have to ask yourself is this: which of those two would you rather have dismantling your factory chimney?
As a final or possibly only bit of fun look closely at the pics of our Escort and see if you can find in there a sneak preview of one of the Focus's New Edge design elements. (Clue: it's in the cabin). There is no prize other than a faint sensation of personal satisfaction. Plus it might make you forget about the anger that brought you here in the first place.
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