By on December 4, 2009

a victim of prejudice?

Cars are often seen as vices. But they also offer the possibility of moral redemption. Take this Lambo-door ZX2, for example. When I saw it on the side of Hwy. 99, my instant reaction was one of utter derision. Obviously, the door geometry played a part in that. But is it fair to judge a car by a twisted hinge alone? But it was more than that; I realized the car itself was a big part of my prejudice. Where was that coming from? Time for some serious soul searching.

CC 54 067 800Most prejudice arises from ignorance, and I have to plead guilty when it comes to the ZX2.  It’s just not a car I ever thought much about, except for the negative association I have always made to its dorky predecessor, the EXP. Now that’s a little stinker I can be disdainful about with a clear conscience. And I’m desperately keeping an eye out for one, to feature in a CC. So the Escort ZX2 is the innocent victim of my EXP-hate transference, because I’ve never stopped to really think about it. Time for some enlightenment.

I always assumed the ZX2 used the Escort’s modest CVH engine, and was just a “sporty variant” in name, like the EXP. Turns out the ZX2 was a fair bit more ambitious than that, and came only with the 130hp Zetec DOHC four. And due to different cam timing, it was a higher revving unit than the one that came in the Focus, which eventually put the ZX2 out of business. But given that the ZX2 weighed a couple of hundred pounds less than the Focus, and the readily available go-fast parts for the Zetec, this car still has a fairly loyal and enthusiastic following. Who knew? Not me, obviously.

There was even a track-ready ZX2 S/R to compete with the Neon ACR and Civic Si. It came with all the aftermarket goodies bolted on: Eibach springs, Tokico struts, Energy Suspension polyurethane suspension bushings, more power through a Ford Racing PCM, more efficient intake (Roush and Iceman), rear disc brakes, a stronger clutch (Centerforce), a short-throw B&M manual-transmission shifter, an S/R-unique shift knob and boot, upgraded seats, a unique blue valve cover, a different speed cluster that goes up to 150 mph (240 km/h) and a unique tire/wheel package. Engine power was increased 10 percent over the base Zetec engine used in the ZX2 to 143 bhp (107 kW; 145 PS), courtesy of a recommended premium fuel re-calibration, new air inlet system, the performance PCM, improved Borla muffler and pipe.Wow.

I have completed my ZX2 diversity training program, and I am a better person for it. Now I just need to deal with my rage about those #@$*^ Lambo doors.

CC 54 065 800

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33 Comments on “Curbside Classic Outtake: Ford ZX2 Lambo Door Redemption Edition...”

  • avatar

    test-drove an EXP years ago as a youngster (age 17) and even at that tender age, I came away thinking that car was a horrid little piece of engineering.  As for the ZX2, I’ve actually read some good things about it, which always seemed somewhat of a contradiction to me when put in context of “Escort,” “fun,” and “enthusiast driving.”

  • avatar

    Best part of the ZX2 visavis the EXP is it has a back seat instead of a flat bed with a chrome rail in its place (this being done to avoid the raft of lawsuits to come had it made it to market with said RR seat (this being discovered late in the development phase when a too tall Ford engineer sat in the RR seat, and somebody made him 1″ shorter by slamming the RR hatch on his noggin…)  BTW, when it launched, the story was that a RR seat would be offered as an option … I don’t think this ever came to pass though.)

  • avatar

    At least its easy to wipe the bottom of the doors off when you wash it.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    The owner must be a contortionist….that would be one tough SOB to climb into and out of on a daily basis….

  • avatar

    Grandmother had an EXP when she got tired of the repair costs associated with her early production Chevrolet Celebrity coupe (shit you not the Celebrity had a licence plate that said FOXYGRANDMA (custom not state issued).  She was pissed when she found out the EXP was going to require sports car insurance because of not having a back seat. 

    I always thought  the ZX2 was pretty decent, and I’m so twisted I’d love to get my hands on a last generation manual transmission Escort Station Wagon and see how much ZX2 go fast goodies I could bolt into and onto and under it.  I love sleepers! 

    (BTW those doors are UGLY on anything, but at least it’s not lambo doors on a sedan, or gullwing style doors that would somehow be worse.)

  • avatar

    My first car was a 1999 ZX2 “hot” with the sport package.  It’s still in the family.  My brother got it after me, and now my parents drive it (By the way, my father bought a new Z06 Corvette last year and drives the ZX2 because he’s afraid of getting the Corvette dirty).
    The car is still running strong with almost 100,000 miles on it.  It just needed the alternator replaced though.  It was a good car for the 5 years I drove it.  The biggest problem I had with the car was engine noise.  Anything above the 3,500 RPM was obnoxiously loud.  My ZX2 had the 5-speed and was quite peppy.  A friend of mine who had a ZX2 with the automatic and it took away a lot of the pep.

  • avatar

    This car is my current daily driver. It’s a very basic car. 5 speed, roll up windows, manual locks. And that’s just the way I llike it. There is very little to break. It also has power mirrors, ice cold air, updgraded sound system (AM/FM, CD, HD, MP3), and the DOHC engine (which is non-interference, by the way). I also love that it gets 34-35 mpg in 80% highway driving and it handles very well. Currently is has 128,000 miles on the clock.

  • avatar

    I begged my dad to buy me a ZX2 when I was in high-school, It was a slick little two-door that almost always came equipped with a manual. I’m sure it looked sportier than it was, (which would have been a good thing for a 16-year-old) but even at that age I could tell it was less of a poseur than the other domestic offerings at the time (the ghastly Sunfire GT for example). I ended up getting a used GTP instead, replete with acres of plastic ground effects, good times.

  • avatar

    i’ve always liked these little cars, without the scissor doors of course.  They always reminded me of looking like a miniature Lincoln Mark8

  • avatar

    Probably in the top 10 list of ‘Most Unappreciated Cars”.
    Then some moron comes along and adds the Lambo door kit….

  • avatar

    Shame such a bitchin’ ricer is spoiled by the mudflaps.
    Did Ford mean for this thing to somehow invoke the original Escort Mk I rally car? Damning with faint praise comparing it to the original EXP with its Neanderthal eyebrows? You have to admit the later EXP was a bit sharper. Weren’t these made to compete with Neons, Cavaliers, and Tiburons?

  • avatar

    Leave it to TTAC and the B&B to make me want a car that I had once deemed a “bitch car”. This site is awesome.

  • avatar

    Not my bag, but I think some of us are being rather harsh on this one.

    No big stupid wing, tastefully dropped, chrome but not ridiculous wheels, no visible surplusage of stickers, no visible stoooopid LED crap.

    Love the Lambo-doors or not, looks like this was tastefully done.

  • avatar

    Looking at it from a purely practical standpoint, I can see how hinging upward would help you get out of your car (or more likely into it) if you find yourself parked in a tight space…between five SUVs, which is what always happens to me in my Prius.

    Seriously, I could park in the farthest space away from a store, mall, or restaurant, and when I come out, I’m virtually blocked in by all these SUVs.  WTF’s up with that?

    But upward swinging doors would be practical for those tight spots.  …as long as they also opened outward for normal use.  Probably too mechanically complex, though.

  • avatar

    My wife had one of these when I met her, and it really wasn’t a bad car.  For a few months I drove it 70+ miles back and forth to work, and she took my Saab on her six-mile round trip.  We had it until a tech at a national brake service chain drove it down a flooded street and drowned it.  I was sorry to see it go; it was a perfectly competent, fun to drive little machine.

  • avatar

    I really want to put Lambo doors on a CTS V Coupe to invent a poor man’s Reventon…but the simple fact is, the one useful thing about these doors is that if you have a scissor/swing out door kit, you can easily get in and out of the car even in tight spaces such as crowded parking areas.

  • avatar

    This picture sums up my opinion of Lambo doors
    <a href=””>Lambo Doors</a>

    • 0 avatar

      apparently html doesn’t work with the new system
      here is the address cleanly

    • 0 avatar

      This is a false argument. The Gallardo doesnt have Lambo doors because  its TOO SMALL.

      Have you ever been in a Gallardo?  The Gallardo is so small its roof doesn’t come up to my thigh. And yes, they do have a kit that you can add on to it -from Lamborghini – to have Lambo doors on the Gallardo but only if your small enough to get into the narrow space that it creates.

      If Lamborghni doesn’t use them anymore PLEASE EXPLAIN THE REVENTON

    • 0 avatar
      Brian Tiemann

      People seem to forget the whole reason the Countach introduced scissor doors in the first place: it was because the car was too damn wide to fit into standard parking spaces otherwise.
      Just like how the gullwing doors on the 300SL weren’t invented for looks, but because the car had high sills that were necessary for stiffening.
      Scissor doors don’t make ingress/egress inherently any easier. In some cases (e.g. this one) it actually makes it harder. It’s purely a practical measure for very wide cars. Which is why it’s so maddening to see it on 300Cs and PT Cruisers and the like: it’s being done by Cargo Cultists who have no idea why the feature was invented, just that it “looks exotic”.
      You’ll see variants on exotics like the McLaren F1 and the Koenigsegg, but they all have one thing in common: they’re wide enough to make it necessary. The Gallardo isn’t, so it uses standard doors, which are better in every practical sense as long as they fit into a parking space.
      Now if only we could get carmakers to knock it off with the push-buton starters, which were done away with in the 40s by those ingenious integrated ignition keys…

  • avatar

    From some angles, and in that Toreador Red color, it looks a heck of a lot like my old Contour SVT…not bad.  But the lambo doors are not my bag.  Not at all.

  • avatar

    I’m happy to see that this bad boy is rolling around in my state.

  • avatar
    H Man

    Wow, I’ve seen this car at a (I think) RV/trailer dealer on 99 but I thought it was an Integra.   From the front, it still makes me think of one.

  • avatar

    As was implied in another post, the ZX2’s natural competition was the Neon 2-door. In that regard, the ZX2 was okay. The styling wasn’t offensive (I wasn’t overly fond of the tail-lights) and it drove and was reliable enough. Frankly, I like it a whole lot better than the new Focus 2-door abomination. It’s a bit more difficult to picture one of those with Lambo-doors.

    My biggest complaint with the ZX2 was that, unlike the Neon, there was no center armrest.

  • avatar

    <i>”And I’m desperately keeping an eye out for one, to feature in a CC.”</i>

    If you’re willing to take a little road trip to northern Maine, I know where there’s one that’s been sitting for sale for at least six months.

  • avatar

    I really love when things are made for a purpose. Like the original Lambo/SLS doors. Its a beautiful thing. Can’t say style has no purpose either, but style with purpose is on a whole nother level. The ultimate level perhaps. At least this car as creditable heritage, the Lambo doors can be seen as marketing. A suggestion/reminder that like the Lambo, the car/owner has racing aspirations inspired to be innovative (through trial and error) like past kindred spirits. I love the way I think. That is why I think this way. Ironically perhaps the smaller escort with doors design for space for better human usage, has more interior space and scientific advancements than the lambo. Life is complicated. We have a lot of lessons ahead. Perfection is not being perfect.

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