By on June 1, 2021

The Rare Rides series has touched on the Ford Escort a couple of times before, via the sporty EXP and extra sporty Mercury Tracer LTS. And we’re back with more Escort today! This one carries no sporting pretense whatsoever, and unlike the prior two actually wears an Escort badge.

It’s an early wagon with the seldom-selected Squire package.

Escort debuted for the 1981 model year and was a new direction for Ford’s compact offering. Eighties box styling and front-drive happily took over for the departed and maligned Pinto. Though the Escort was a new name for North America, Europeans were on their third generation Escort at the time. Seeing cost savings, Ford’s intention was to share parts between the North American and European Escort versions. However, that message got lost in translation between the design teams, and the resulting cars shared no body parts. Though they were similar in profile, the North American version stood on its own: It was larger than the Euro Escort in every dimension and had more trim.

Escort was initially available as a three-door hatch and four-door wagon, with a 65-horsepower 1.6-liter inline-four at launch. The engine was a new design from Ford, called CVH. Said engine was shared with the European Escort, as well as the later Sierra and Fiesta. The 1.6 was available through the 1985 model year and had optional fuel injection by 1983 (88 HP). There was also a turbocharged version for ’84 and ’85, good for 120 horses.

The final body style to arrive was the five-door hatch, available for 1982. In its initial year only, Escort offered an SS trim package that featured tape stripes, black trim, and wider tires. General Motors quickly pointed out that it owned the SS name, thus in 1982, the Escort GT was born in its stead.

Toward the beginning of its run, Ford offered a Squire package on the Escort, keen to offer a trio of wood-clad wagons for traditional wagon-buying consumers. Simultaneously offered were the LTD Country Squire, Fairmont Squire (also called Mercury Zephyr Villager), and the Escort Squire. Atop the GL trim the Squire package added wood trim and a plush interior. The original owner here ticked all the option boxes and wanted the automatic, tilt wheel, cruise control, air conditioning, rear defrost, rally wheels, and a luggage rack.

Halfway through the 1985 model year, the Escort received a facelift which coincided with the debut of the EXP as a separate model. The 1.6 was swapped with a 1.9-liter engine from the CVH family, available with a carb or multi-port fuel injection. Carried over from the original Escort was the 2.0-liter diesel engine which made 52 horsepower. Throughout its first generation, transmissions on offer included a three-speed automatic, and four- and five-speed manuals.

Escort was refreshed again for 1988, at which point its Mercury Lynx sibling was killed off in favor of the Tracer which was a Mazda 323. The first generation Escort carried on through the 1990 model year before its replacement by the Mazda-derived second generation. But by then the Squire option was long gone, its low take rate meant the ’85 model year was its last.

Today’s Rare Ride just sold on eBay with 44,000 miles.  In stunning condition, it fetched $8,777.

[Images: Ford]

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18 Comments on “Rare Rides: A Pristine Ford Escort From 1985 is Your Squire, M’Lady...”

  • avatar

    Ah, yes, never forget the basis for the Wagon Queen Family Truckster…

    “You think you hate it now wait until you drive it”

  • avatar

    So the ***Escort*** wagon nearly fetched $9K?

    Clown World continues…

  • avatar

    That’s kind of surprising to me that Ford was selling a turbochargers in the ’80s even if it was only bolted onto a lawnmower engine.

    Just what you would want in your Country Squirt, a red-hot piece spinning around at 250,000 rpm. I’ll bet reliability was awful.

  • avatar

    “88 HP”
    “52 horsepower”


    The PTSD drivers of the early 80s must suffer from is why I should be more kind when they comment that their 2016 Rogue or Outback is “peppy”.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Exiting the malaise era in 1981 and later, 0-60 in 12 seconds for a small car was considered good. Things improved dramatically from about 1985 and on to today.

      I mean, the quickest car I’ve ever owned does 0-60 in 8.0 seconds (a minivan…), and the quickest car I’ve ever driven could do it in 4.2 seconds (Tesla P85).

      So yes, to me nearly all modern cars feel sufficiently quick.

      • 0 avatar

        As always when this topic comes up, I wish everyone had spent at least a few weeks behind the wheel of a vehicle that had a top speed of 53 mph and took roughly 90 seconds to get there on flat ground. Having that experience just makes complaints about car speed, of any car, seem very first-world.

        (With that said, my first-world test for cars is that they need to be able to accelerate 70-90 decisively while climbing a proper Western mountain pass. That ability usually translates to enough power to do 0-60 in the low sevens or better.)

    • 0 avatar
      Vae Victis

      Once the EPA regulations of the seventies hit, the hp kept going down for a long time, and when it did start to rise, it was a very small increase, as if more than a ten hp increase would be too much for anybody to cope with. Also, don’t forget the 85 mph speedometer. Basically, the cars of this era were crap, and that’s being generous.

  • avatar

    When did this horrible junk become collectible? I’d pay a thousand just to set it on fire and fly it over a cliff and rid the world of it forever.

  • avatar

    Is there supposed to be a link to the sold ebay listing in the article? Because if there is, I can’t spot it.

  • avatar

    The listing says 44k miles, but the odo says 13,740. Being an Escort, I would not be surprised if something was broke. The interior is amazing though. I had a 83 Escort GL 3-door 5-spd and it was terrible and left me stranded so many times.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Had an 85 Mercury Lynx the rebadged version. It definitely was escorted to the repair shop many times.

  • avatar

    Back in the late 90s one of my aunts purchased an 85 Lynx wagon to replace her tired but trusty 81 Tercel. I believe she paid $500 for it back then.

    I thought the Tercel was slow, then the Lynx arrived and would’ve said hold my beer. That 3 spd auto/1.6 carbureted was the epitome of molasses slow.

    Surprisingly the Lynx survived for about 3 or 4 more years with few minor repairs but still my aunt had enough. She replaced that Lynx with a 97 Integra (bummer, 4 spd auto).

  • avatar

    I owned an ’86 wagon and thoroughly enjoyed the car. Understanding it was NOT a sports car it delivered what I expected, carried all the sound gear to jobs I had and was reliable to the end. The end was the timing belt going a few hundred miles from home. Wouldn’t mind another, but not for the price of the one in the listing.

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