Junkyard Find: 1988 Ford Escort GT

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Most of the Escort GTs you see these days are the Mazda-based cars that came out starting in the 1991 model year. The first-gen North American Escort, loosely based on its European counterpart, was built from 1981 through 1990, and examples are becoming very rare in wrecking yards. We saw this first-half-of-1988 Escort GT last month, and now I’ve found this “1988.5” model in a Southern California yard.

You could get a 5.0 “HO” V8 in the Mustang and Continental Mark VII, and so Ford just had to label the 1.9 CVH engine as an HO as well. 110 horsepower out of this engine, which was two more than the ’88 Honda Civic Si had.

I am experiencing an 80s flashback, looking at these tape graphics. Makes me want to loot an S&L.

Not much left of the interior. This might have been an interior-parts donor for a nicer GT.

The rear wing, which did a fine job of trapping a couple of decades’ worth of dirt, won’t be going to The Crusher with the rest of the car.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Jdowmiller Jdowmiller on Feb 22, 2015

    Sometime in '92 or '93 - junior year of high school - I picked up a black on gray 1989 GT. I was acutely aware of the superiority of the Civic but by this time the Ford had experienced profound depreciation and the Honda was still out of my price range. I also liked the look of the GT. It was a handsome car at the the time. The interior design was clean and practical. The rear seats folded down and a bike could be fit through the hatch. A short time later, my best friend bought a red on gray '90. We had the only two GTs in the high school parking lot. 115 hp fuck yeah. We drove the absolute crap out of them with our ultimate goal to get the speedo needle to go well beyond that 85 mph mark while careering down deserted Ohio back roads. While my friend's car inexplicably remained free of issues, mine experienced every possible component failure including the motorized shoulder belt getting stuck in the open position. I eventually bought a '94 Ranger 4-cylinder (HA!) and sent the GT on its way to the scrap heap. My friend sold his not long after and bought a Nissan Stanza which was a far superior car. That car experienced some catastrophic failure the origins of which I can no longer remember and my friend bought a '95 Ranger which he still owns and drives to this day.

  • Djfunkmasterg Djfunkmasterg on Mar 03, 2015

    I don't know why people thought these were junkie cars (NON-GT) I always considered them the TIMEX of Cars. I had one as a Winter Rat when I put my Mustang away for the harsh weather and it went on to serve me well for 5+ years just needing brake pads and oil changes. I passed it on to a College age kid for the same amount I paid for it and I kind of miss it.

  • VoGhost Fantastic work by Honda design. When I first saw the pictures, I thought "Is that a second gen Acura NSX?"
  • V16 2025 VW GLI...or 2025 Honda Civic SI? Same target audience, similar price points. Both are rays of sun in the gray world of SUV'S.
  • FreedMike Said this before and I'll say it again: I'm not that exercised about this whole "pay for a subscription" thing, as long as the deal's reasonable. And here's how you make it reasonable: offer it a monthly charge. Let's say that adaptive headlights are a $500 option on this vehicle, and the subscription is $15 a month, or $540 over a three year lease. So you try the feature for a month, and if you like it, you keep it; if you don't, then you discontinue it, like a Netflix subscription. In any case, you didn't get charged $500 up front the feature. That's not a bad deal.In my case, let's say VW offers an over the air chip reflash that gives me another 25 hp. The total price of the upgrade is $1,000 (which is what a reflash would cost you in the aftermarket). If they offered me a one time monthly subscription for $50 to try it out, I'd take it. In other words, maybe the news isn't all bad.
  • 2ACL A good car, but - at least in this configuration -not one that should command a premium. Its qualities just aren't as enduring as those of Honda's contemporary sports cars. For better or worse, this is a formula they remain able to replicate.
  • Jalop1991 I just read that Tesla's profits are WAY down "as the electric vehicle company has faced both more EV competition from established automakers and a slowing of overall EV sales growth." This Cadillac wouldn't help Tesla at all, but the slowing market of EV sales overall means this should be a halo/boutique car. Regardless, yes, they should make it.