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).
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I knew a surprising number of people in high school and college who had these Escorts, in every trim from Pony to LX. They were slow, uncomfortable penalty boxes even at the time, but they seemed quite duralbe and took punishment well.
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