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Having been the owner of a 1.3 M reg Ford Escort, I can tell you lots about the car. If you own one, you may be interested to read on, if you are looking at one, defiantly read on!
A BRIEF HISTORY - Escorts have progressed nicely over the years and if you want to see proof of this, look out for the mark 1’s, which still drag at the old race tracks. The popular 80’s shape summed it all up, from the sporty XR3i to the 1.6 GLE all in model for the exec on the road (my first car) With my exposure to the Ford Escort, I have discovered one thing. They are cheap to buy and run but can cost a small fortune to sort out. Because I have spend this small fortune and made the mistakes, I can tell you what to look out for.
HOW IT DRIVES - The M reg was a big car for me. I am not a small person but hey, I felt important behind the wheel.
Steering - No power steering on mine and yes, it took a bit of turning but the car handles the road well, loading the weight where needed and not making three point turns seem like pushing a boulder up a mountain.
Comfort and Interior - I put this in the medium class of interior design. The seat material is course but hard wearing enough. Dashboard design on the bulky side but practical. Long distance driving can induce a lose of feeling in your legs, which is not clever when wanting to brake at 70mph on the motorway. Lots of room though for a family car and boot space a plenty which was a welcome change for me.
Extras - Obviously depends on model but the standard 1.3 leaves you saying `please sir, can I have some more?`. No electric gadgets and no extra trim, which leaves you playing the cigarette lighter when stuck in a traffic jam. In defence, this car doesn’t really need much, as it is solid and swift.
Drive - Turn the key and it fires up (hopefully) quite quickly. The later issue 1.3 models come with Fuel Injection, although quite basic and temperamental. When the power is there, you can really open this one up and will have you smiling as you overtake a tractor and horsebox. It won’t really amuse you when it comes to tackling another car, as acceleration is sluggish and you will find yourself running through the gears to avoid a head-on. As it is not a boy-racers car, you can feel confident it will be reliable and that is very true of this car. Like sure, it won’t let you down if you look after it. Handling is good and ride is smooth but won’t glide like the smaller, newer Fords.
WATCH OUT FOR -
When buying, Fords can be the most looked at cars but all this is totally pointless if you don’t know what you are looking for. Out of the two Escorts I had, the same problems popped up and cheap if you can get them before they get you. I have listed some things to look out for but don’t walk away from the sale on this basis, I am just trying to pass over some knowledge. 1. Oil leaks and problems. Ford are famous for it. Look around the sump (right underneath) and gearbox (also underneath) for fairly cheap problems to sort out. Lift up the breather cap and check for sludge. A high amount of yellow or thick dark black paste can indicate serious engine wear. Any oil on the drive shaft (side of engine) or around the seals means `engine out` and that will cost you. A seller may try to clean it off but check for major colour differences of the metal work on the engine. 2. Rust - You may be looking at 10 year old car but it could be rusting like mad underneath. On 1993-1996 Escorts, look at the rear wheel arch. I had to sell for this reason alone. The load-bearing point starts to rust (yellow acid liquid begins to seep out) and all the adjoining panels need replacing (about £1000 upwards) Check for bubbling and cracks on the whole vehicle. 3. Fuel Injection - Single point fuel injection. One jet, one problem. If you car gets the jitters it could be the throttle kicker and whole unit. It is made up of many little electronic parts and costs a fortune to test and replace each one in succession. Symptoms can be erratic idling and splutters on start-up. 4. Clutch - To any one who’s replaced a ratchet, they will winch at the thought. Mechanics would turn me away on this one. Check pedal play and make sure biting point is fairly low to the floor. A new clutch may not be the end of the world but the constant cracking sound of the worn ratchet by the pedal will have you screaming and cost £’s in labour.
SUM IT UP BABY - Check the above and if it drives well, go for it. Your Ford will reward you with years of service and great fuel economy (350miles per tank)