Junkyard Find: 1988 Ford Escort GT

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
The first-generation North American Ford Escort looked a lot like its European namesake, but was a very different machine under the skin. For the 1991 model year, the Escort moved to the same platform as the Mazda 323, so the late-’80s models are the last of the all-Ford American Escorts.Here’s one that I spotted in a Northern California yard.
For some reason, 1988 model-year Escort GTs are the ones I find in these self-service yards; so far in this series, we have seen this first-half-of-1988 red one and this post-mid-model-year-refresh white one. Today’s Escort is another “1988.5” version.
The 1.9-liter CVH engine in this car made 110 horsepower. This would be considered intolerable in 2016, but wasn’t bad back then.
Poor bedraggled junkyard mini-disco-ball.
I hadn’t seen one of these Ford-issued EMISSION CONTROL SYSTEM MODIFIED stickers in a California car before. Since the California emissions check involves a ball-bustingly strict, factory-equipment inspection, this probably authorizes a different type of EGR valve or similar minor change.
A much worn, late-1980s-vintage KEEP ABORTION LEGAL sticker is a very San Francisco Bay Area-appropriate accessory.
The list price on this car was $9,093, which was a lot cheaper than the 132 hp, $12,058 Mazda 323 GT Turbo. However, the 1988 Dodge Omni GLH (which was lighter and had the same horsepower as the Escort GT) sold for a mere $8,226.
Weedly-weeee guitars and a trip to Club 911? Take the Escort GT![Images: © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars]
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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  • Jeff S Jeff S on Apr 29, 2016

    I am happy to hear about your good service experience. I had a 85 Mercury Lynx that was the worst car I have ever owned. Four speed manual 2 door charcoal grey with matching interior. The electronic carburetor went which was very expensive, the 4 speed manual transmission seized which I had replaced with a junkyard transmission (the only manual that I ever had that went out). the heads went, and then at the bottom of the firewall the car was rusting out to where it was unsafe (the only place where there was rust). I didn't want to sell the Lynx to anyone so I traded it in on a new 1994 Ford LX wagon with a 5 speed manual which was excellent and a trouble free car. The Mazda based Escorts were a much better car than the earlier Escorts. The Ford Ranger was vastly improved when it became Mazda based.

    • DohctorSmith DohctorSmith on May 04, 2016

      Uh, the Ranger was never Mazda based. 1993 and on, the Mazda B series was Ford based. Engines and all.

  • Cimarron typeR Cimarron typeR on May 05, 2016

    What was the name of the sportback version? I remember the son of the Police chief in my hometown got one new. Looked fast but my MK1 GTI was faster( 0-60 9.5 sec.?)

    • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on May 05, 2016

      Are you thinking of the Ford EXP/Mercury Lynx? Or did you mean the Merkur XR4Ti?

  • Canam23 I believe the Chinese are entirely capable of building good cars, BYD has shown that they are very forward thinking and their battery technology is very good, BUT, I won't buy one because I don't believe in close to slave labor conditions, their animosity to the west, the lack of safety conditions for their workers and also the tremendous amount of pollution their factories produce. It's not an equal playing field and when I buy a car I want it made with as little pollution as possible in decent working conditions and paying a livable wage. I find it curious that people are taking swipes at the UAW in this thread because you can clearly see what horrific labor conditions exist in China, no union to protect them. I also don't own an iphone, I prefer my phones made where there aren't nets around to catch possible suicide jumpers. I am currently living in France, Citroen makes their top model in China, but you see very few. BYD has yet to make an impression here and the French government has recently imposed huge tariffs on Chinese autos. Currently the ones I see the most are the new MG's, mostly electric cars that remind me of early Korean cars, but they are progressing. In fact, the French buy very little Chinese goods, they are very protective of their industries.
  • Jerry Haan I have these same lights, and the light output, color, and coverage is amazing!Be aware, these lights interfere with AM and FM radio reception with the stereoreceiver I have in my garage. When the lights are on, I all the AM stations havelots of static, and there are only a couple of FM stations that are clear. When Iturn the lights off, all the radio stations work fine. I have tried magnetic cores on the power cords of the lights, that did not makeany change. The next thing I am going to try is mounting an antenna in my atticto get them away from the lights. I contacted the company for support, they never responded.
  • Lou_BC Are Hot Wheels cars made in China?
  • DS No for 2 reasons. 1-Every new car pipelines data back to the manufacturer; I don't like it with domestic, Japanese and Euro companies and won't put up with it going to Chinese companies that are part financed by their government. 2-People have already mentioned Vinfast, but there's also the case of Hyundai. Their cars were absolutely miserable for years before they learned enough about the US market
  • Theflyersfan Well, if you're on a Samsung phone, (noticing all of the shipping boxes are half Vietnamese), you're using a Vietnam-built phone. Apple? Most of ours in the warehouse say China, but they are trying to spread out to other countries because putting all eggs in the Chinese basket right now is not wise. I'm asking Apple users here (the point of above) - if you're OK using an expensive iPhone, where is your Made in China line in the sand? Can't stress this enough - not being confrontational. I am curious, that's all. Is it because Apple is California-based that manufacturing location doesn't matter, vs a company in a Beijing skyscraper? We have all weekend to hopefully have a civil discussion about how much is too much when it comes to supporting companies being HQ-ed in adversarial countries. I, for one, can't pull the trigger on a Chinese car. All kinds of reasons - political, human rights, war mongering and land grabbing - my morality is ruling my decisions with them.