Junkyard Find: 1986 Ford Escort GT

junkyard find 1986 ford escort gt
Ford sold Escorts in North America from the 1981 through 2003 model years, with the ’91 and later cars based on Mazda designs. I’ve never been much interested in the 323/Protegé-derived Escorts, instead keeping a junkyard lookout for the increasingly rare Dearborn– designed 1981– 1990 machines and especially the hot– hatch Escort GTs. Here’s a once-mean-looking black ’86 Escort GT in a Colorado Springs self-service yard.
Ford started using the Escort name way back in the middle 1950s, with the name going on a cheap version of the Ford Anglia wagon. The true Escort hit the streets of Europe in 1967, and this small rear-wheel-drive car sold by the millions over there. For 1981, the Escort went to front-wheel-drive, and the idea was that everyone in the world would be able to buy what amounted to the same car. All of Ford’s competitors would just give up, and the Blue Oval would soon rule the globe.
Americans hadn’t much liked the extremely European Capri and early Fiesta, though, despite runaway success for those models on the other side of the Atlantic, and so the European and American Escort designs diverged early and often as changes were made to Detroit-ize the car we got. They look fairly similar at a glance and share powertrains, but the chassis and body differences mean that they’re first cousins at best.
The Escort GT first appeared here in 1982 (after a few minutes being sold as the Escort SS), and it had some suspension improvements plus cool-looking graphics.
By 1986, the Escort GT had an engine with more power than the one in the regular Escort (108 versus 86 horses), though the “HO” 1.9-liter four was available as an option on non-GTs.
The sticker price on this car was $8,112, or about $21,400 in 2022 dollars.
That price compared favorably with that of the less powerful Civic Si hatchback ($8,349 and 91 horsepower) and Volkswagen GTI ($9,190 and 102 horsepower), though the Dodge Omni GLH blew it away on both price ($7,918) and power (146 horses).
The slushboxification of the American road had been underway for decades by the time this car was sold, and so plenty of ’86 Escort GTs rolled off the line with the 390-buck 3-speed automatic option. This one has the five-speed manual (which cost $75 extra on the four-on-the-floor-equipped lower Escort trim levels that year).
The interior has been gutted by junkyard shoppers, so we’ll never know if this car had the $148 AM/FM/cassette audio system.
Colorado Springs swings much more to the right than Denver, what with the Air Force Academy and headquarters for such evangelical organizations as Focus on the Family being headquartered there, so I see a lot more Trump stickers from the 2016 campaign— you know, before it was cool— in this yard than I do in the yards 70 miles to the north. Cannabis-related stickers on junkyard cars are equally prevalent in both areas.
Cars in Colorado Springs junkyards also tend to have more stickers like these on the fuel-filler doors than their Denver counterparts; perhaps it’s a result of the heavy Juggalo influence on the culture there.
I always try to get at least one photo with Pikes Peak when I shoot discarded cars in this yard, so here you go— it’s the snow-covered peak in the clouds.
Car ads of the middle 1980s were heavy on the synths and whooshing noises.[Images by the author]
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  • N8iveVA N8iveVA on Jun 07, 2022

    I bought one new in the Fall of '85. My first new car. Black with the gray interior like the one in the pics. I loved that little car. It felt quick and fun for the time period. Although the article lists 108 hp and an available AT, I thought it was 110 hp and you could not get the AT on the GT. Not totally sure on the hp but I never saw an AT on any of the GT's at that time.

  • Kinsha Kinsha on Jun 10, 2022

    I will make this quick - I was stupid enough to buy one of these new off the lot. I believe mine was a “87” model but looked just like this one - was even black and a manual. What a piece of crap it was. I do not even have it in me to flare up my ptsd buy talking anymore about it - What a turd!

  • DenverMike When was it ever a mystery? The Fairmont maybe, but only the 4-door "Futura" trim, that was distinctively upscale. The Citation and Volare didn't have competing trims, nor was there a base stripper Maxima at the time, if ever, crank windows, vinyl seats, 2-doors, etc. So it wasn't a "massacre", not even in spirit, just different market segments. It could be that the Maxima was intended to compete with those, but everything coming from Japan at the time had to take it up a notch, if not two.Thanks to the Japanese "voluntary" trade restriction, everything had extra options, if not hard loaded. The restriction limited how many vehicles were shipped, not what they retailed at. So Japanese automakers naturally raised the "price" (or stakes) without raising MSRP. What the dealers charged (gouged) was a different story.Realistically, the Maxima was going up against entry luxury sedans (except Cimarron lol), especially Euro/German, same as the Cressida. It definitely worked in Japanese automaker's favor, not to mention inspiring Lexus, Acura and Infiniti.
  • Ronnie Schreiber Hydrocarbon based fuels have become unreliable? More expensive at the moment but I haven't seen any lines gathering around gas stations lately, have you? I'm old enough to remember actual gasoline shortages in 1973 and 1979 (of course, since then there have been many recoverable oil deposits discovered around the world plus the introduction of fracking). Consumers Power is still supplying me with natural gas. I recently went camping and had no problem buying propane.Texas had grid problems last winter because they replaced fossil fueled power plants with wind and solar, which didn't work in the cold weather. That's the definition of unreliable.I'm an "all of the above" guy when it comes to energy: fossil fuels, hydro, wind (where it makes sense), nuclear (including funding for fusion research), and possibly solar.Environmental activists, it seems to me, have no interest in energy diversity. Based on what's happened in Sri Lanka and the push against agriculture in Europe and Canada, I think it's safe to say that some folks want most of us to live like medieval peasants to save the planet for their own private jets.
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  • Car65688392 Thankyou for your valuable information
  • MaintenanceCosts There's no mystery anymore about how the Japanese took over the prestige spot in the US mass market (especially on the west coast) when you realize that this thing was up against the likes of the Fairmont, Citation, and Volaré. A massacre.