Ford Escort Mark II (1975–1980)
Ford Escort RS1800 driven at Race Retro 2008
I'm from Uruguay, South America; this car was very popular in the 70's
The squarer-styled Mark II version of the Ford Escort appeared in January 1975. The first
production models had rolled off the production lines on 2 December 1974.
Unlike the first Escort (which was developed by Ford of Britain), the second
generation was developed jointly between the UK and Ford of Germany. Codenamed
"Brenda" during its development, it used the same mechanicals as the Mark I. The
950 cc engine was still offered in Italy where the smaller engine attracted tax
advantages, but in the other larger European markets in Europe it was
unavailable. The estate and van versions used the same panel work as the Mark I,
but with the Mark II front end and interior. The car used a revised under body,
which had in fact been introduced as a running change during the last six months
of the life of the Mark I.
This car made a point, with just four body styles, of competing in many
different market niches where rival manufacturers had either multiple model
ranges or simply none at all.
"L" and "GL" models (2-door, 4-door, estate) were in the mainstream private
sector, the "Sport", "RSMexico", and "RS2000" in the performance market, the "Ghia"
(2-door, 4-door) for an untapped small car luxury market, and "base / Popular"
models for the bottom end. Panel-van versions catered to the commercial sector.
During the second half of the 1970s, the Escort continued to prove hugely
popular with buyers in Britain and other parts of Europe.
A cosmetic update was given in 1978, with L models gaining the square
headlights (previously exclusive to the GL and Ghia variants) and there was an
upgrade in interior and exterior specification for some models. Underneath a
wider front track was given.
In 1979 and 1980 three special edition Escorts were launched the Linnet,
Harrier and Goldcrest.
Production, after an incredibly popular model run, ended in Britain in August
1980, other countries following soon after.
As with its predecessor, the Mark II had a successful rallying career. All
models of the Mark I were carried over to the Mark II, though the Mexico gained
the RS badge and had its engine changed to a 1.6 L OHC Pinto instead of the OHV,
it had a short production span as customers either bought the much cheaper
"sport" or the much more exotic "RS 2000" (although the RSMexico was essentially
an RS2000 without the 'droopsnoot').
A "Sport" model was also produced using the 1.6 L Kent. Also a new and potent
model was released, the RS1800, which had an 1800 cc version of the BDA engine.
It was essentially a special created for rallying, and surviving road versions
are very rare and collectible today. There has been a long standing debate
regarding how the RS1800 was homologated for international motorsport, as Ford
are rumoured to have built only fifty or so road cars out of the four hundred
required for homologation.
The works rally cars were highly specialised machines. Body shells were
heavily strengthened. They were characterised by the wide wheel arch extensions
(pictured right), and often by the fitment of four large spotlights for night
stages. The BDA engine was bored to 2.0 L and gave up to 270 bhp (201 kW;
274 PS) by 1979. It was complemented by a strengthened transmission, five-speed
straight-cut ZF gearbox, five-linked suspension and a host of more minor
modifications. In this form, the Escort was perhaps not the most sophisticated
of the rear-drive saloon cars that dominated rallying in the late 1970s, but it
was reliable and powerful, and good enough to win.
The late 1970s were a very successful period in rallying for Ford.
The Mark II Escort continued its predecessor's unbeaten run on the RAC Rally,
winning every year from 1975–79 and winning a variety of other events around the
world as well.
In the 1979 season of the World Rally Championship, Björn Waldegård took the
drivers' title, Hannu Mikkola was runner-up and Ari Vatanen finished the year in
fifth place, all driving Escort RS1800s.
These drivers' successes throughout the year gave Ford the manufacturers'
title, the only time the company had achieved this until the 2006 season, when
Marcus Grönholm and Mikko Hirvonen won title for Ford in Ford Focus RS WRC 06.
Vatanen won the drivers' title in 1981, again at the wheel of an RS1800. This
victory came despite the arrival on the WRC scene of the venerable four-wheel
drive Audi Quattro. Ford placed in the top three in the manufacturers'
championship for the sixth year in a row.
The 1.6 L (1598 cc/97 CID) engine in the 1975 1.6 Ghia produced 84 hp (63 kW)
with 125 N·m (92 ft·lbf) torque and weighed 955 kg (2105 lb). For rally use,
this can be compared to the 1974 Toyota Corolla which output 75 hp (56 kW) and
weighed 948 kg (2090 lb).
The 2.0 L RS2000 version, with its distinctively slanted polyurethane nose,
and featuring the Pinto engine from the Cortina, was announced in the UK in
March 1975 and
introduced in Germany in August 1975,
being reportedly produced in both countries.
It provided a claimed 110 bhp
and a top speed of 110 mph (177 km/h). For acceleration to 100 km/h (62.5 mph) a
time of just 8.9 seconds
was claimed by the manufacturers. The 2.0 L engine was also easily retro-fitted
into the Mark I, and this became a popular modification, along with the Ford
Sierra's five-speed gearbox, for rallying and other sports, especially given the
Ford Escort Mk2 Rally car with raised wheel arches
The Mk2 Escort was assembled at Ford Australia's Homebush Plant, Sydney from
1975 to 1980 in 2-door and 4-door sedan, and 2-door panel van forms - the estate
versions being unavailable to the Australian market.
The sedan models were available in L, XL (later renamed GL) and Ghia forms,
and a Sport pack option - similar to the 1300 and 1600 Sport models sold
elsewhere. Unlike other markets - likely due to the estate's absence - the van
could also be offered in a higher level of trim - a GL, and a Sport pack van
could be offered. Unusual fitaments for the range not offered elsewhere on the
Australian Escort included 'dog-dish' steel hubcaps, and high-backed front
The initial powerplants utilized in the Australian Escorts were Ford's 1.3 L
and 1.6 L OHV Kent units, offered with either 4-speed manual or 3-speed
automatic transmissions. In 1977, to cope with Australian emission laws, in
particular ADR27A, the 1.3L models were dropped and the Ford Cortina's 2.0L OHC
Pinto engine (in a lower tune to European units) was introduced to the Escort
range, available as an option to nearly all models. Codenamed internally by Ford
Australia as "BC", the Australian Escort range's bodies were modified to fit the
larger engine and a redesigned fuel-tank - which involved the placement of the
fuel filler being behind the rear numberplate.
For 1979 two interesting Australian Escort variants appeared. One was the
Sundowner Van, which was offered as a lifestyle vehicle, complete with dome rear
side windows, body stripes and the Sport pack option in 1.6 and 2.0 forms. The
other was the Australian RS2000, which - complete with its slant-nose - was sold
in both 2-door and – unique to Australia – 4-door forms, as a regular production
model in both manual and automatic. A total of 2,400 RS2000 were made.
While offered in many models on the Australian market, the Escort, like the
Cortina was never popular on the Australian market, due to the competing
Japanese imports, and the preference of Australian drivers for large 6cyl and V8
Production ceased in late 1980, the range being replaced by the 1981 Ford
Laser hatchback and Meteor sedan.
The Mk2 Escort was introduced to New Zealand in early 1975, and was assembled
at Ford's plant in Wiri, South Auckland. Unlike the Australian models, the New
Zealand Escort range followed the specifications of the British models, aside
from the use of metric instrumentation. All bodystyles were assembled, including
the estate - which was previously (in Mk1 guise) a built-up import from the
A large choice of models were available in the NZ Escort range, consisting of
1.1 L (base), 1.3 L (L, GL, 1300 Sport, estate and van variants) and 1.6 L (Ghia,
1600 Sport) variants — the 1.1 being aimed at budget conscious buyers, the 1.3 L
models being the most popular amongst buyers, and the 1.6 L - which appeared in
New Zealand production in 1976 - being reserved for 1600 Sport and Ghia models.
A three-speed Automatic transmission was available as an option for most 1.3 and
1.6 litre models.
Unlike Australia, the Escort and Cortina ranges were always popular, and
often topped the car monthly sales lists. An update was given for the range for
1979, which notably involved the addition of the Ghia model, the adoption of the
GL's square headlights on the lower end models, Ford blue oval badging, and
sport wheels on the L and GL. For 1980, all Ghia models gained standard alloy
The Escort's popularity with Kiwi buyers continued up until the end of
production in late 1980. It was replaced in New Zealand by the Ford Laser in
early 1981, which was a badge engineered Mazda 323, available in sedan and
The Escort returned to New Zealand in 1996, initially as an estate, as the
Laser was only available as a hatchback and saloon. When local assembly of the
Laser ceased in 1997, Ford New Zealand switched to importing the Escort
hatchback and saloon, but then switched back to the Laser in 1999, as importing
the Focus from Europe was then unviable. The Escort estate, however, remained on
sale in New Zealand until 2000.
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Comments, Questions and
HI! I'm from Uruguay, South America; this car was very popular
in the 70's and 80's, very best seller, and today have a lot of enthusiasts for
this great car. I've an Escort Sport mk2 '80 2 door in good condition, racing
look and i love this car. Saluti.!