Junkyard Find: 1986 Ford Escort L

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1986 ford escort l

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.

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2 of 67 comments
  • Akear The Prius outsells all GM EVs combined, which is really not saying much.
  • Akear The sad truth is the only vehicle FCA sold that broke the 200,000 sales barrier was the 200. I rented one and found it impressive. It is certainly better than the Renegade. At this point I would buy a used 200 over a Renegade. Who in their right mind would buy a Renegade?
  • Akear I just realized 80% of these EV vehicles producers are going to be liquidated within the next five years. It is not possible to survive by selling only 3000 vehicles a year. This reminds me of the dot.com bust of the late 90s and early 2000s. Those who don't learn from history repeat it.
  • 3SpeedAutomatic I drove a rental Renegade a few years back. Felt the engine (TIgerShark) was ready was ready to pop out from under the hood. Very crude!! Sole purpose was CAFE offsets. Also drove a V6 Cherokee which was very nice and currently out of production. Should be able to scoop up one at a fair deal.🚗🚗🚗
  • Inside Looking Out This is actually the answer to the question I asked not that long ago.