Thursday, 29 March 2012

The Escort RS2000...

We're going for a car with the coveted RS badge, and we're not afraid to admit it. Sadly though, this is Not £2 Grand, so throw away any thoughts of a rear-wheel-drive Mk1 or Mk2 Escort with a hot crossflow or some-such. There'll be none of that here, mainly because we have no desire to sell a kidney.

BAD! NO! NOT ALLOWED! Well, not for £2000

No, what we're focusing on is the often underrated, but huge fun to drive, final generation escort RS2000...

To the local MacDonald's, we've got some burnouts to do!

Let's get something out of the way first. We like Escorts here at Not £2 Grand. Pollitt has had four while Bevis has had, erm, some. We know they're a bit of an automotive taboo - it's not really 'cool' to like them unless they have a Cosworth YB engine and big wing on the back - but we don't care. We're not cool, so such stigma doesn't bother us. We did once have a taste of cool when we were younger - mum bought us a pair of Kickers for school. Oh, those were the days. Anyway, we digress. Yes, the late Escorts, we like them. Here's Pollitt's old 'track' Escort as proof...

We reserve the right to ignore the fact this picture was taken right after a con-rod had exited via the engine block

So, the final Escort RS2000. Admittedly it's not the finest car to ever carry the RS badge, but in 1996 it looked like it could be the last. The Focus was still a sketch on a designer's drawing board and any thoughts of an RS version were the stuff of pipe dreams. The buying public recognised this, and building on the success of the Mk V RS2000 and for that matter, the RS brand as a whole, they came flooding into Ford dealerships to buy what could possibly be a slice of history.

Sadly, Ford ruined all that. It stopped production of the RS2000 in 1996, allowing the Ford die-hards to snap it up, only to release the Escort GTi a year or so after. A car which, while missing out on the 2.0 engine and RS provenance, still managed to look exactly the same as an RS2000. From then on it was a slow decline in popularity for the RS2000. After all, why would you pay twice as much for an RS2000 when a GTi looked the same. Especially if you put some RS2000 badges on it, which many people did.

Oh, bought a GTi have you? *runs away crying*

The GTi, however, would be the RS2000's saving grace in the end. People bought those instead, then they covered them in glue and drove them through Halfords - a fate the RS2000 escaped. Instead, as the prices of the RS2000 dropped, they fell into the hands of caring owners. They ignored the slightly woolly handling and the fact that it might not have been the best RS ever. Ironically, they saved them and cherished them simply because they were an RS. Plus, the Mk VI did have its good points. It was a marvellous place to be thanks to awesomely comfy seats. The 150bhp engine was a stormer and the gearbox wasn't too bad either. They looked utterly fantastic, too. And, provided you didn't drive them to within an inch of their mechanical tolerances, they were a giggle to pilot on the twisty stuff. The last RS2000 was, and still is, an honest and enjoyable car in its own right, even if it's a bit 'off' the normal RS standard.

So then, let's recap. It wasn't the best RS ever, it was a bit (and we have this from good authority) 'woolly' to drive, they loved to rust (find us a Ford that doesn't) and they were ignored in favour of the cheaper GTi. So, on that basis, why should you buy one?

Well, for a start they're cheap. Your £2000 will get you a semi-decent one with ease. Plus, it is - no matter what anyone says - an important car. Hell, the Mk IV XR3i was rubbish, too, but they're now starting to fetch serious money. We reckon the last RS2000 is going to go the same way. It's got provenance, it's got rallying history - Gwyndaf Evans was great at rallying/crashing them - and most importantly of all, it's the last of the RS Escorts. Buy one now, show it some tlc and then stick it in the garage for a few years. We promise when you come to sell it, it'll be worth a lot more than £2000.