Junkyard Find: 1986 Ford Escort L

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

I try to mix up these Junkyard Finds so that you won’t see five 1990s Oldsmobiles in five consecutive weeks. This week, after a 1990s Volvo and a 1990s Honda and a 1970s Plymouth, it seemed time for a really old car or maybe something from 2000s Detroit.

Then I remembered that Sajeev has been complaining about insufficient recognition from other writers of his weird love for Ford products of the 1960s-1990s, so I opted to open the floodgates for his bitter tears with the nicest fleet-grade mid-1980s Escort I’ve ever seen in a junkyard.

Since Sajeev is the only TTAC writer who has been writing for the site longer than I have (he started in 2006, I started in 2010), I should show him some respect for his love of so-called classic Dearborn iron. Instead, I torment him with text messages from junkyards (written entirely in the dialect known as Randomly Punctuated Craigslistese), including photographs of interesting Fords, Lincolns, Mercuries, and Merkurs.

I would say that this car is a true stripper, a check-no-boxes zero-option miserybox, but it does have the optional automatic transmission instead of the cheaper four-speed manual transmission. My guess is that the government agency, utility, or rental-car company that bought it new had a slushbox requirement for its vehicles.

Do you prefer to drive with a passenger-side mirror? Too bad! That costs extra.

Air conditioning? What are you, made of ice cream? Open the windows!

Although most cheapskate-grade subcompacts get beaten to death and crushed before about age ten, this Escort stayed amazingly well-preserved for better than three decades. Look at the perfect seat fabric, the uncracked dash.

With a five-digit odometer, we’ll never know the actual mileage total. I’m willing to say that 65,010 miles is correct, because nobody could keep a car looking this clean for 165,010 or 265,010 miles.

The very cheapest Escort for the 1986 model year was the Pony 3-door hatchback, and I just shot a horrifyingly hantaviral example of the breed (complete with liquid rat poop flowing over the speedometer face) in Colorado. The L 3-door hatchback was the second-cheapest Escort that year, starting at $6,327 versus the Pony’s $6,052 price tag (that’s $14,856 against $14,210 in 2019 dollars). Both cars have a 1.9-liter four rated at 86 horsepower, though a 52-horse diesel could be had (the Escort GT got a 108 hp version of the 1.9).

It goes to The Crusher with an anti-breast-cancer pink-ribbon ornament on the antenna. Why there’s an antenna on a car that didn’t come with a radio, I can’t say. If you want a car with music, sing while you drive!

The world’s best-selling car in 1986 (though the European version wasn’t very similar).

If you like these Junkyard Finds, you can reach links to 1,800+ more at the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand.

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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  • 3-On-The-Tree Lou_BCsame here I grew up on 2-stroke dirt bikes had a 1985 Yamaha IT200 2-strokes then a 1977 Suzuki GT750 2-stroke 750 streetike fast forward to 2002 as a young flight school Lieutenant I bought a 2002 suzuki Hayabusa 1300 up in Huntsville Alabama. Still have that bike.
  • Milton Rented one for about a month. Very solid EV. Not as fun as my Polestar, but for a go to family car, solid. Practical EV ownership is only made possible with a home charger.
  • J Love mine, but the steering wheel blocks dashboard a bit, can't see turn signals nor headlights icons. They could use the upper corners of the screen for the turn signals. Mileage is much lower than shown too, disappointing
  • Aja8888 NO!
  • OrpheusSail I once did. My first four cars were American made, and through an odd set of circumstances surrounding a divorce, I wound up with a '95 Nissan Maxima which was fourteen years old and had about 150,000 miles on it.It was drove better, had an amazing engine, and was more reliable than any of my American cars. This included a new '95 GMC pickup that went through five alternators in under two years while the dealership insisted that there was no underlying electrical problem while they tried to run the clock on the warranty.That was the end of 'buy American'. I've bought from Honda and VW since, and I'll consider just about anything except American now.