Curbside Classic Outtake: Ford ZX2 Lambo Door Redemption Edition

Paul Niedermeyer
by Paul Niedermeyer

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.

Most 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.

Paul Niedermeyer
Paul Niedermeyer

More by Paul Niedermeyer

Join the conversation
2 of 33 comments
  • Pariah Pariah on Dec 05, 2009
    "And I’m desperately keeping an eye out for one, to feature in a CC." 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.
  • DearS DearS on Dec 05, 2009

    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.

  • Slavuta I don't know how they calc this. My newest cars are 2017 and 2019, 40 and 45K. Both needed tires at 30K+, OEM tires are now don't last too long. This is $1000 in average (may be less). Brakes DYI, filters, oil, wipers. I would say, under $1500 under 45K miles. But with the new tires that will last 60K, new brakes, this sum could be less in the next 40K miles.
  • BeauCharles I had a 2010 Sportback GTS for 10 years. Most reliable car I ever own. Never once needed to use that super long warranty - nothing ever went wrong. Regular maintenance and tires was all I did. It's styling was great too. Even after all those years it looked better than many current models. Biggest gripe I had was the interior. Cheap (but durable) materials and no sound insulation to speak of. If Mitsubishi had addressed those items I'm sure it would have sold better.
  • Marty S I learned to drive on a Crosley. Also, I had a brand new 75 Buick Riviera and the doors were huge. Bent the inside edge of the hood when opening it while the passenger door was open. Pretty poor assembly quality.
  • 3-On-The-Tree Alan, I was an Apache pilot and after my second back surgery I was medically boarded off of flying status due to vibrations, climbing on and off aircraft, so I was given the choice of getting out or re-branching so I switched to Military Intel. Yes your right if you can’t perform your out doesn’t matter if your at 17 years. Dad always said your just a number, he was a retired command master chief 25 years.
  • ToolGuy "Note that those vehicles are in direct competition with models Rivian sells"• I predict that we are about to hear why this statement may not be exactly true