By on February 8, 2016

00 - 1984 Ford Escort wagon in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

The first North American Ford Escort went on sale for the 1981 model year; it was related to its Mark III Escort European counterpart but was more of a cousin than a sibling. It wasn’t a great car, but was such an improvement over its miserable Pinto predecessor that it flew off the showroom floors in great quantities. These cars were cheap and disposable, so nearly all of them disappeared during the 1990s.

I see quite a few of the Mazda 323/Kia Sephia-related second-gen Escorts in junkyards these days, but a genuine, early Escort wagon is nearly as rare as a numbers-matching Geo Prizm GSi today. Here’s a solid-looking ’84 wagon that I shot in Denver earlier this winter.
02 - 1984 Ford Escort wagon in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

It has a manual transmission (I can’t tell from the photos whether it’s the base 4-speed or the optional 5-speed) instead of the allegedly more luxurious automatic, but the original purchaser of this car wasn’t going to cheap out on the sound system. That’s AM/FM with genuine stereo sound, son!

13 - 1984 Ford Escort wagon in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

These sky-blue Escort wagons were very popular government-agency cars, being driven by an entire generation of mosquito-abatement inspectors and Weights and Measures accountants around the country. The presence of a manual transmission and $200 radio option rules out this car as a government machine, though.

05 - 1984 Ford Escort wagon in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

How many Fords got this blue cloth upholstery during the 1980s? Millions? Billions? More than the number of atoms in the universe?

Number One nameplate in the world! Telly Savalas is impressed.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

81 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1984 Ford Escort Station Wagon...”


  • avatar
    Joss

    $200 stereo? Bah humbug! My 83 Chevette had a Delco stereo. It had a little green light to indicste stereo reception. It konked and I couldn’t be sure if it wss just the light or stereo reception – it was soo tinny.

    This Escort looks eons ahead of a Chevette.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    My best friend’s older brother (who dated my sister) had a maroon (with maroon interior, of course) one of these with a 5 speed that he puttered around in. The only reason I remember it is because one day he parked in front of my house, which was on the steepest hill in our city, and I looked out a few minutes after he got there and noticed it was inching its way down the street backward. So I mentioned it and he went running out and jumped inside to pull the ebrake.

    I remember riding it in a few times, it was unremarkable, which for the price, is really all you can ask for.

  • avatar
    redapple

    Speaking of Chevettes. Mine was was 1 year old and the station tuning knob became INOP. 2 years later, a break pad fell off. Fell off ! What a POS. I lusted after an Accord.

  • avatar
    2drsedanman

    Love those commercials. “Ford offering 11.9% interest”. Wow.

  • avatar
    John

    In ’84, 11.9% was a good deal – I was there.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I REALLY like this car. This could quite easily substitute (most of the time) for my old 4Runner as the weekend Brown County gravel road explorer/dog and canoe hauler. With its fat sidewall tires and decent ground clearance and lack of low hanging trim, it could handle all of the washouts I typically cross, except immediately after a heavy storm (when innocent looking dry creek beds turn into fast flowing 2 foot deep muddy streams). Been there done that, the ‘Yota has some battle scars on its skid plates to prove it.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      “Remember when common everyday cars had fat sidewalls and suspension travel?”

      “Pepperidge Farm Remembers.”

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Thankfully Subaru still exists, but I wish there were a cheaper FWD competitor. These days, if it isn’t a butched up and pricey AWD cross-overized version of something, it seems like tidy front bumpers that don’t hang awfully low and a reasonable 6-6.5 inches of ground clearance are simply CAFE’d out of existence. In fact this Escort actually has less vulnerable front bumper overhang than a new Outback by the look of it.

        A 93-97 Corolla wagon is a car I lust after. We did unspeakable things with a rental JDM courier-spec ’94 (vinyl interior, leaf sprung beam axle in the rear, 4spd manual and 1.6L 4AFE) in the Siberian steppe near the Mongolian border. We’re talking water coming over the hood water crossings and poorly graded dirt roads for miles. The ignition cylinder shook itself to death so an impromptu hot wiring was necessary. This car was already beaten half to death when we got it so we were just subjecting it to more of the same.

  • avatar
    Garak

    At least the Euro version was a pretty good car. Extremely spartan and low tech with base models having 1950s pushrod engines, they were reliable and easy to repair. You still see one occasionally, but the later gens have pretty much disappeared.

  • avatar
    e30gator

    These were mostly old people cars down here in SW Florida, at least it seemed that way. I still see nice ones pop up on CL from time to time with low miles. There was one not long ago (I think it was an ’84) for around $900 that I was tempted to look at for an interesting work beater.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Murilee I am not sure how you can see these were ‘not great cars’. I respectfully submit for the time, they were. As long as you changed the T-belt every 60k these were good to go for miles and miles.

    You could get this platform in family hauler version (wagon) or the sport Coupe (EXP & later Escort GT) with many variants in between. One size literally did fit all.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      Agree! See my post below. I worked part time for a towing company in the late 80’s and every Escort I towed had the same problem. Failed timing belt. Other than that they were pretty darn reliable for the time.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Even my 1997 Escort wagon had timing belt failure (first – and only – vehicle I’ve ever owned with a timing belt) at a low 30,000ish miles – but 5 years old. Luckily the only thing that got destroyed in the process was the crank position sensor.

      • 0 avatar
        TR4

        My daughter’s Escort died a couple of miles from home. I met the tow truck driver at the car, and he guessed the timing belt was broken just from the way the engine sounded while cranking. He was right. Non-interference engine though, no big deal.

        • 0 avatar
          Carlson Fan

          Usually after I pulled up to one sitting on side of the road I’d tell them to try and start it and then let then know they lost a timing belt after I heard it crank. I’d also tell them pretty common failure & the repair won’t put them in the poor house. Plus I didn’t mind towing them. Nothing easier than a FWD compact car with wheel lift equipment. Hooked up and gone in 3-4 minutes.

          • 0 avatar
            dolorean

            Never had a timing belt problem in mine, though I did replace it at 100k. What I did have in my Lynx was two computer module failures (what a joke those were!), a distributor replacement and a power brake booster.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      The Escort (and family of Escort vehicles) were the only Big 3 C-segment cars remotely worth their price tag in the 80s.

      The offerings from Chrysler and GM were utter crap in comparison.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I don’t know. The Omni and Horizon were well enough sorted by 1984 that they were preferable in many ways to the Escort. They were certainly on the road longer everywhere I’ve lived over the past thirty years. The ‘America’ trim ones were cheap and bullet-proof. However good people say these are here, sealed-beam headlight Escorts were as rare as Lamborghinis by the time Bill Clinton took office.

        On paper, the Escort was an impressive combination of fully independent suspension and a hemi engine, but the execution was pretty poor. When I started high school, I thought the kids with Escorts were doing great. Though most were two or three years old, they were so much newer looking than the Pintos, Valiants, Mavericks, Beetles, station wagons, and Thunderbirds that were driven by most students that had hand-me-downs or had to pay for their own cars. I was shocked when they were often as lousy to ride in as a worn out Monza or ten year old Trans Am. Driving them made my Mom’s ’79 Horizon seem like a BMW, at least until I landed a jump too hard and blew out its rear shocks.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I was going to ask this – the overall “Which is better?” question between the K versions and the Escort.

          I would tend to think K had a slight advantage because, as you mention, it was aged a bit by then and had bugs worked out.

          As well, it seemed like the K gave more options on body style and trim (sadly, really) since you could have an Aries, or a Town & Country or New Yorker.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            The Omni and Horizon were not K-cars. They were L-bodies, and had a bizarre gestation where they were originally developed with Chrysler’s French subsidiary. The US version went into production first, but it did so with a direct clone of the Rabbit’s front suspension and engine layout. Early ones like my Mom’s even had VW-Audi stamped on their engine blocks. Like the Rabbit, they also had MacPherson struts and coil springs, while the Simca/Talbot Horizon version in Europe had torsion bars and a front suspension derived from earlier FWD Simcas.

            The K-cars came out about three years later, and they used similar front and rear suspension designs, but scaled up. They also had the first Chrysler 4 cylinder engine in about fifty years, the 2.2 liter Trans-4, which was also made available in the Omni/Horizon/Turismo/Charger. Until then, the various L-body cars had used VW-Audi and then Peugeot engines.

            I don’t know if K-cars were better than Escorts. All the ones I was around took a lot more repair work to keep on the road than L-bodies did. L-bodies weren’t exactly anvils until at least 1982 too.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Didn’t know that! Though in fact I heard it yesterday (the L Body thing) on a Motorweek video from 86 on the Chrysler and Ford lineup for the year. Of course by 86 the new Escort was out, and Ford was killing Chrysler on the entire lineup save for the vans.

          • 0 avatar
            dolorean

            I bought a MY85 five door Omni 5 spd for $100 from a Sergeant on his way to Korea in ’93. It was a beautiful POS slathered in what was I assume Copper flake metallic, but was now 8 years later, decidedly and unapologetically, flat matte Poop-brown. It had phone numbers and what was easily a size 7 high heel mark dug into the head liner and a stereo that might work if you hit with the back of your hand (make that the heating unit too, which on occasion would like to pool antifreeze charmingly into the cabin).

            The thing I loved the most was it’s Peugeot engine that some delightful Redneck had removed the old throttle body and emplaced a Holley 2 barrel carb and underneath, a racing suspension and Borla exhaust. Hilariously quick off the line, easily motoring past V8 Camaros, ‘Stangs, and the occasional 944 and could do bury the needle past the 85 mph speedo until the spring snapped and would waggle like a drunken sailor.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Are you sure you had the Simca/Peugeot engine? It was only 1.6 liters, and it made all of 62 hp. Even tuned up, it would have been difficult to raise its performance to the level of the Mopar 2.2 liter that most of the cars had in 1985.

          • 0 avatar
            dolorean

            @CJ, hate to say that at the time I bought it, I knew so little about cars that I took for gospel what the guy at the PX told was under the hood when I had an oil change done there. but had to have been the 2.2L; it was good size and made a lot of power.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            I was riding with a friend when he hit a tree while flying through the air in his Integra about four days before he was due to leave for graduate school. There was a cherry Omni or Horizon America 5-speed for sale that I used to pass on my way to work. I told him about it, and he bought it for $900. It was just about perfect when he bought it. A couple days later, he drove into a parking garage in Atlanta with his considerably-more-than-$900 racing bicycles on a rack and put some divots in its roof. It was reasonably quick even for 1995 standards, and he drove it for a couple years. Vanity caused him to buy an Alfa Romeo Milano during the time, but the Omnirizon was soon back in daily driver use. I think he had a heater core issue with it, which is what you described, and it may have needed an alternator and battery, but it was a good $900 car.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Great body on this little sweetheart, even the strut towers don’t show surface rust. Imagine this as a sleeper project car with one of the late Fusion turbo 4 bangers..240 hp stock…maybe 300 with some cheap improvements (mostly boost LOL)….2200 pounds curb weight…

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Exactly what I was thinking. Not a spec of rot (typically the bodies go out on these things before the mechanicals as long as you replace the seat belts and settle in to the fact you’ll be looking for remanfactured heads by 150K miles) and the 4-speed manual.

      I’m guessing timing belt failure and someone deciding not worth the effort (or not realizing it was pretty darn easy/inexpensive to fix)

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Amazing. First generation Escorts and Lynxs were as common as Camrys and Accords in the ’80s I experienced. Friend had them. Parents of friends had them. An employer had them. I’ve never been around one that made it to 150,000 miles. I knew quite a few people that bought them brand new with TRX wheels/tires, stripes and the nicest interiors available. They still couldn’t wait to get something else before the cars and wagons were paid off. Two or three year old Escorts were popular used cars for teenagers because so many people dumped them after only two or three years. Leasing wasn’t as popular then, and most cars traded that soon had luxury pretensions.

        The engines were pretty well sorted by the time they started putting them in the Mazda-based 2nd gen cars, and those often lasted in use as long as anything Ford has made.

        *edit for accuracy – my experience was practically all with pre-’86 sealed beam cars. By the time they fitted flush lights, Reagan had pulled my world out of the Escort’s.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          For a couple of years the Escort was the best selling car in the US.

        • 0 avatar
          dolorean

          I bought a used MY84 Lynx 5 spd 1.6L carbed that was a real honey in Charcoal metallic with dealer pin striping for $1,200 in 1988. Had the last Snarling Cat moniker on the waterfall grill and on the back hatch. It’s only option was the four speaker stereo and rear defrost. Great car, loved the rear seats that folded to a true flat cargo space, drove it to 150k or abouts and sold it for $750.

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    How come so many Escorts of this era developed negative camber on the rear wheels and positive camber on the fronts? That had to make for some interesting driving dynamics.

    The commercial (with Casey Kasem doing the voiceover!) is perfect. It couldn’t be more early-80s if it tried. Falling two notches to Number 27 this week is Corey Hart, with “Sunglasses at Night.” A high school student from Elyria, Ohio writes, “Dear Casey…” Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.

    • 0 avatar
      zamoti

      First of all Elyria? Bleah, what a disgusting place.
      Second, I came from a three-escort family. I had one as did both of my brothers all at the same time. I had the 86 powder blue Escort L two door, my oldest brother had the 89 with the 1.9 CFI and auto seat belts (perpetually broken) and my older brother had the kickass LN7 with the rare 5-speed (most were 4 speed).
      I will say they were actually pretty reliable, the LN7 being the most so–however aside from the transmission, it had zero options. The later 89 was crappy, broke a lot, my powder blue was reasonably good, but I used to drive around in it thinking “That car is nicer than mine, that car is nicer than mine, so is that one.” In 1996 it was in that loser car space. Not old enough to be cool, not new enough to even be seen as good daily transportation. Sold it and got a Pontiac Sunbird GT (turbo yo) as a replacement. The Ford may have been boring, but it was the pinnacle of reliability compared to that Sunturd.
      I was ferried around in a wagon identical to the one in the picture by my babysitter who hated that car with all his might. He used to jump railroad tracks with me in the back howling the entire way. Good times.
      I was later ferried around by my brother’s buddy in a Lynx wagon once my brother wrecked his car and we had to mooch rides to school. I recall four of us in that thing trying to go 80 MPH and it seemed thrilling! That poor wagon just had no guts but the stereo and heater worked well so can’t complain too much.
      Wow, I’ve been in more of these things than I suppose I had realized. How uninteresting.

      • 0 avatar
        kmars2009

        Ummmm…as a graduate of Elyria High School…class of 1984. I can say Elyria has changed. Especially since Ford has pulled so many jobs out of neighboring Lorain. So yes, it is sad now. I left Ohio in 1990 from Columbus, after graduating from OSU, and visit Ohio rarely. My family moved to Avon.
        Anyway, most of my friends parents worked for Ford, and purchased them all on the A plan. One of my good friends had a new Thunderbird Heritage, then purchased a Escort wagon as his winter car. You see people at Ford spoil their kids, as they make WAY too much money. So the Escort was driven a few years, and began rusting. The result. He unloaded the car and moved to Florida…proving, yes it is,and was a disposable car.

        • 0 avatar
          tinman93

          Wow. 3 Elyria references on one page. Talk about stumbling across the obscure. We moved out in ’84 and I rarely get back there. If you go, seriously consider bringing a gun. It went from a nice middle class town to inner city Baghdad after most of the auto jobs left.

          Anyway, we had this exact car in this color, except it was an automatic. My step-dad worked for Ford and won it from some kind of a contest for employees to submit cost savings ideas. It was dead on reliable and as slow as an arthritic donkey. Probably why my mom was OK with me driving it when I got my license. Little chance of getting into any real trouble. It ended up being the first of a number of Escorts to work their way through our family (at least 6 that I can recall). Nothing flashy, but served us well. It culminated in a ’96 GT 5 spd that I bought for my wife shortly after we graduated from college. Not a bad little sporty car for the money (If I recall, it had been on the lot for a while and the dealer knocked serious money off to move it). Sold it when she got pregnant with our 2nd child. I already had to stand on my head to install the first car seat. No way two were going back there.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Loss of camber was a big problem with these. I had an ’85 EXP and it couldn’t stay in alignment on New England roads to save it’s life.

      Once the camber started going out you’d need to get a shim kit to solve.

    • 0 avatar
      baconator

      They didn’t “develop” that – they factory shipped them that way. There’s a reason why the Japanese took over the US market. The only “interesting” part of the driving dynamics was just how much understeer they had. These things were all over when I was in high school and we gleefully abused them. They would handle no worse after you jumped them over a set of railroad tracks every morning for a whole school year.

      My best friend’s dad was a Ford employee and eventually got a Tempo (same platform but stretched) with the 3.0L V-6 and the sport suspension. It was lovably horrible and definitely had the torquey feel of a car that had inherited the engine of a larger car.

      In 1990 you could either buy a face lifted version of the ’82 Ford Escort, still with knock-kneed suspension and resonating interior plastics, or you could buy a 4th-gen Honda Civic with control arm suspension and 4 valves per cylinder. It was a hard tradeoff to make just to “buy American.”

      • 0 avatar
        kmars2009

        In 1990 the vehicle competing with the Accord was not the Escort, but the Ford Taurus. I believe Civic was the entry model, and yes it was superior, and more costly. Ford offered cash on the hood of slowing down sellers, like the Escort. The new Escort came out in 91. I’m sure a 90 Escort could be had for much less than a Civic.

    • 0 avatar
      Bokonon

      Interesting that you bring up the camber. The 1981 and 1982 model year Escorts had a problem with their negative rear wheel camber that led to unstable handling. Ford quietly sorted the rear suspension out better for MY 1983 inward … without ever admitting that there was an issue.

      But the early Escorts could be really treacherous in extreme handling conditions. I know that from personal experience. My 1982 Escort tried to kill me at least once on icy roads during New England winters.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    My dad bought a new 1981 Escort Wagon for my mom to drive. She couldn’t drive a stick so it had the automatic transmission and “fancy” two tone paint. For the 10+ years we owned it it was dead nuts reliable. I’m not sure he ever did anything to it other than a timing belt and brakes. He sold it to some friends for their kids to drive and I know it ran well for them as well for a number of years. With a good set of all season tires you couldn’t stop it in a Minneapolis winter.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Probably the dark-over-light gray “Tu-Tone” with red interior, right? I seem to recall my brother’s soccer coach of many years drove a wagon so-colored, and it was the first time I’d ever seen a gated shifter. (Had never seen the interior of an S-Klasse either, so didn’t know at age 12 that those types of gear selectors existed.) I presume this was in response to the problems Ford had with “rollaway” transmissions. (Didn’t Ford go back to a normal pattern in 1996, or whenever they went to the composite headlights?)

      Noticed that this example has a rectangular inside mirror just as the preceding years did, instead of the smaller “smiley” mirrors of the composite-headlight years. I wonder when that part was changed, as the Tempo/Topaz got those as well after they lost the aero look.

  • avatar
    50merc

    To honor its heritage, FoMoCo should always offer a simple, durable vehicle that lives up to old Henry’s vision of the universal car. Escort did.

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    Wasn’t there a 5 cylinder available?

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    Childhood memories! Mom had a darker blue 84 wagon with this same interior and an automatic for a few years until her go to mechanic (a cool old guy named Mr. Hammer who had a 50s GMC school bus for some reason) declared the floorboard rust to be too dangerous.

    I think she replaced the Escort with the 87 Town Car, but I’m honestly not sure…

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    The girl in the passenger seat of the white 3-door looks exactly like my mother at that time.

  • avatar
    bills79jeep

    My Mom bought an ’85 that looked identical to this one, except she had the auto. Stayed in the family until it was replaced with a ’93 Cavalier wagon in a darker shade. What a thrilling youth I had.

    It was a fine appliance car. Only time I remember it ever having issues was that the rear liftgate rusted out. My mom had stuck to the rustproofing schedule, so they replaced it for free. My dad still claims she’s the only person to ever get a warranty replacement claim on rustproofing. Apparently, you had to take it in for something or other every ~15 months in order to keep the warranty. He claims the >12 mo period was a deliberate attempt to make it impossible to remember, you couldn’t put it on the calendar for next year after you did it.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Ahhh man, I’d love to see pics of the ’88 or ’89 Tempo coupe in the background.

    Ya, the 4-doors are still road roaching around (there is a shocking number of early 90’s examples still soldiering on around here) but the coupes – you don’t see them anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      Man, I love a Tempo! Grew up in Mom’s 1989 LX(pinstriped/piped velour with woodtone trim!) and did everything I could to end up with a white/blue GLS coupe on my 16th!

      Alas. It was Mom’s old Taurus I had to drive until fall, when they gifted me a new neon sport coupe.

      The GLS sedan is one of my favorite vehicles of the late 80s! The 1991 models just weren’t as nice. I never liked the fat upper grill they put on them– and the interiors never seemed as nice as the ’89 LX we had.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      I thought that was a Tempo. My mom had one, I really liked the looks of the late 80’s redesign, and the interior was well done for an 80’s econobox, speaking of blue Ford interiors. So tired of gray and beige.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    K-car > CE14?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_CE14_platform

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I don’t know. Hopefully, it isn’t a choice I’ll ever have to make again. K-cars were better to drive, but neither was something you want to rely on or spend too much time in.

  • avatar

    Owned a few of these, bought them because I couldn’t afford a Civic or 323, an 81 auto (for my then girlfriend), an 82 4 speed replaced by an 86 4 speed.
    The 81 was gutless but reliable, the 82 threw a timing belt (of course), the 86 had the 1.9 litre, a better engine but the car fell apart after 160000 km.
    There’s a granny special at my local pick your part; 1985 4 door hatch, loaded, two tone paint, 89000 original km, great condition, a true time capsule…..and it sits awaiting the crusher, not worthy of sale.
    Truly a disposable car.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    Oh man…

    My college roommates had one of these. It was a total hunk-o-junk that always felt it was one pot hole from falling apart.

    One time I let him my borrow my MY84 Nissan truck, and he remarked how much more he liked his Escort. I thought he was insane – considering how well that truck was screwed together and the hp/tq bump the 2.4L engine put out compared to what was in his escort.

    btw, his previous car, which was also an Escort, started on fire while sitting in front of his parent’s house. Electrical issue? And he went and bought another one.

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      My mother in law way back in the ’90s had an ’84 Nissan 4×2 that was honest to goodness, one of the nicest pickups I had ever driven. That 2.4L engine though; went to get the spark plugs to do a tune up and was floored when the clerk told me I needed to buy eight for a four cylinder motor. “Yeah”, he professorized to me, “Four to make the pistons go up and another four to make ’em go down. Perfect sense, my friend”.

  • avatar
    RHD

    The rear hatch looks like a Fairmont wagon rear door, at about 8/10 scale. They saved a few thousand dollars on design with that move.

  • avatar
    hawox

    here in europe that ford escort sold well thanks to aggressive pricing. was the cheapest station wagon on the market, also to maintain.
    many pple bought it as a family car and attached a caravan to it. it was the worst nightmare of every motorist to be stuck on a mountain road behind one of those things.
    can you imagine? the most powerfull engine had some 70 bhp….

  • avatar
    Dave W

    Friends had one when 50% of the cars on the road in VT that weren’t Subarus or SAABs were Escorts. After 8 years and 115,000 miles they were at a local park when she said “Shes looking a bit rusty, maybe we should start shopping for a new car”. They finished lunch. Tried to start it and after it started, died with a clunk, then failed to start again called a tow. The driver got it up on the flatbed pulled forward and all cringed as the car rolled of the back of the truck. A week later they showed us the Escort shaped rust deposit at the park. They wound up donating the car to the garage that had kept it alive the previous couple of years, who’s name was “Just Escorts”.

  • avatar

    Looks like it’s got a “runs and drives” sticker on the windshield from the auction, so I’m guessing probably a donation.

    It’s always a little sad to see a running, decently rust-free car go to the crusher. I guess we’re that rich.

  • avatar
    GretschGuy

    My brother bought a coupe or maybe a hatch new, maybe an 81? Had a/c and a/t, was the loudest car I ever drove! It’d eat an a/c compressor every several years but was otherwise reliable. But the engine noise!

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Back in 1983 my sister right out high school needed a vehicle so she bought a 81 Escort 3 door 4 speed in black with a brown (Ginger) vinyl interior. It was the L trim which I think was above the base model. The economy leader Pony was offered in the later years. After a year of normal use and around 75k the head gasket blew which apparently was an issue with these 1st year versions. Me and my dad replaced the gasket and timing belt. For some reason they recommended replacing the head bolts, which we though was unusual considering we had done gasket replacements on Slant 6’s and stove bolt 54 and 62 235-6 Chevrolets using the same bolts. We checked the original bolts and they seemed fine so we used them and she drove it to around 120k with no engine issues.

    For its day these were decent vehicles, the bodies were well made, it’s rare you see a very rotted one, just some tailgate or hood corrosion. IMHO they were a cut above the Omni-Horizon and better designed than the at the time, long in the tooth Chevette.

  • avatar
    sideshowtom98

    What a timely article. As I sat down in January of 1984 to watch the Super Bowl, between the Raiders and the Redskins, I picked up to browse the local Penny Saver ads. There it was, a full page ad for the exact same car, only in silver, with a black interior. Station wagon, 5 speed, A/C. I forgot what the price was, but it as a great deal, an obvious loss leader, at the local small town Ford dealer.

    Right at kick off I called to see if was sold, and were they open. No, and yes. My wife and I talked it over, and since the Raiders had it well in hand at half time, road over and bought it on the spot. Made it home in time to see Marcus Allen win the MVP award! Never had a bit of problem with the car at all.

    Fast forward, 4 years, the car is paid off. My newly 16 year old daughter is agitating me for a car. So we give her the Escort wagon. No dents, 50K or so miles, free and clear. Whoa, was that NOT appreciated! It seems, she claimed, that it would be the biggest “rag” car on her HS campus! Problem was, I road with her to school the next day to prove her wrong, and got handed my ass. So we traded it in on a new Ranger, on which she agreed, and did make the payments.

  • avatar
    Johnster

    Gee, this takes me back in time. I had an assistant who bought a new ’81 Escort Hatchback Coupe. The car was a total lemon and had series of electrical glitches. She turned around and traded it for a used ’80 Honda Civic Hatchback (which was 2 years old at the time), which was kind of pathetic since she had to pay for an older car with more miles on it, but it was a lot better car and much more reliable than the Escort. I don’t think she ever bought another American car.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    I must have drove hundreds of these ’84-ish Escorts, doing my time at new and used car dealers, mid to late ’80s and didn’t have a problem with them, but the K-cars and Omni-Horizons all would fall on their face when you stabbed the gas. All of them unless they were new. You could baby the throttle without a problem, but I checked every one I drove, and always the same thing. Must have been air leaks around the intake manifold and carb base. They’d just go “mmoohhhhhhff” loudly before picking up.

    • 0 avatar
      Grant404

      I worked for a big metro area Ford dealer in my early 20s (mid 1980s) and also drove tons of new and used Escorts, as well as the competition. Yeah, Escorts were cheap little econoboxes, but in my opinion they weren’t bad for those days, and were better than the competition. They sure sold like crazy. Out of all the Ford models at that time, probably close to half the vehicles sold at that dealership during my year and a half there were Escorts. I remember during one low interest rate promotion from Ford during MY86 on Escorts we sold dozens of them a day. There were people waiting their turn in the showroom for the next available sales rep to write them up. I think it was a 7.9% APR 48 month deal, which sounds like a horrible rate now but in those days it had them running to the dealer.

      Later when I met my wife-to-be, she was right out of college and still driving her completely base ’86 Pony Escort poor college student car. To celebrate getting hired for her first real job after college, she upgraded to a brand new ’93 Mustang LX 5.0 5 speed. I helped her pick it out. :) Sweet car, and it’s still in the family.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        That is a sweet car and since most everyone went for the fastback LX, just a couple hundred dollars more than the notch 5.0, and about another couple hundred for the GT on top of that, notch 5.0s in bone-stock originality are are scarce and hard to find, if not ‘treasured’. Most notch 5.0s got highly modified and all cut up for the track and showing off. The 5-speed is big bonus too.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    The Ford VP of Purchasing told me in the mid1980’s that the EU and NAAO Escorts were intended to be a common design but in the end had only about 10 parts in common.

    My take is this was due to differing market needs and the lack of modern design and communication tools.

  • avatar
    GretschGuy

    My brother bought his Escort for his wife as he already had an 80 Chevette for himself. What taste he had in cars! He sold the Chevette with well over 100k and an old stop sign replacing the rear floor. His friends drove that poor thing for over 300k miles.

  • avatar
    Powerlurker

    The first new car my parents ever bought was a 1983 Escort wagon. At one point someone stole the rear passenger-side door off of it (and nothing else).

  • avatar
    davew833

    As a 20-year-old in 1988 I was forced to ride across the back roads of eastern Missouri in the very back of one of these. We had 6 adults total in the car and I drew the short straw. As it was night, I curled up on the floor and tried to sleep– and failed.

  • avatar
    dolorean

    “It has a manual transmission (I can’t tell from the photos whether it’s the base 4-speed or the optional 5-speed) instead of the allegedly more luxurious automatic…”

    Ford was still putting a “5 spd!” badge on the back of it’s cars that had this option. My MY84 3 dr Lynx had it on the right, rear just below the hatch seal. If it isn’t there (you should at least see the ghost of it’s impression if it had fallen off), then it was the four speed.

    This one was an “L” version which was most likely a 4 spd as it’s the base model though it does seem to have added from the dealer the passenger side mirror. These were also the last to have the horn in the turn signal. If you look in your picture of the interior, you can just barely see the horn symbol and a little arrow pointing inward. Not sure why they had this option, most likely a hold-over from the European parts division.

  • avatar
    GoFaster58

    I had a 84 Escort wagon and loved it. It was a great car. I’ve also had 3 Pinto’s and loved every one of them. I’m looking for a Pinto right now to fix up. They were good cars.

  • avatar
    iamcanjim

    My 2nd car in 1994 was a 1984 Mercury Lynx Wagon, Maroon with whorehouse red interior and weird maroon/black/white striped seats. Got is for $400 CDN after I hit a deer with my mustang.

    It’s funny, at the time most of the Japanese cars of the same age were rusted away to nothing. Mine had a 5sp and the fancy stereo. Solid and got good fuel mileage. Could take 8 college students to the hockey game.

    Mine had an odd quirk that it would blow sparkplugs out of the head on climbs. Happened on 4 different occasions and got 4 healy coils. Other than that…bulletproof.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I had a 85 Mercury Lynx with a 4 speed manual that went out. My brother gave me this car which I had for 2 years. The heads were going and the bottom of the fire wall was rusted badly. The body of the car itself still looked good and the interior was in good shape. My wife had a 77 Accord at the same time which was light years ahead of the Lynx.

  • avatar
    kmars2009

    Funny how the front drive boom went. Frist was GM X cars in 80, then Chrysler K, and Ford Escort/Lynx in 81, then GM J and A cars. They thought it was the most efficient packaging of the time, and it was, at the loss of certain driving aspects some people still wanted. However, it was a trend those some people did not want.
    Now it’s seen as “economy” packaging not apropriate for certain brands.
    Personally, if you live where there is snow, it’s great. Otherwise give me rear, or all wheel drive.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Kamil Kaluski, United States
  • Seth Parks, United States
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Kyree Williams, United States