Happy 50th Birthday to the much loved Mark I Ford Escort!
It’s a classic car that’s much loved around the world and this year it celebrates 50 years since it first appeared in front of the public at the Brussels Motor Show in January 1968.
Introduced as a small family car, the Mark I Ford Escort replaced the successful and long-running Anglia which was in production from 1939 until 1967 and featured in one of the Harry Potter films – except this Ford Anglia could fly too!
The second generation Escort appeared in 1975 and was a more square-styled version of its predecessor and remained in production until it was replaced by the third generation Escort in 1980.
And did you know, that the third version of escort was originally going to be named the Ford Erika but in the end it retained its Escort name – thank goodness!
The Mark II Ford Escort and the Mark I became extremely popular as rally cars, with the Ford Escort RS1800 producing a number of winners in the World Rally Championship. In 1975 Timo Mäkinen from Finland took the crown in his Escort rally car, whilst in 1981 it was another Finnish driver who took top spot on the 31st 1000 Lakes Rally in his RS1800 – Ari Vatanen, going on to win the World Rally Championship drivers’ title that year.
To this day, the Mark I and Mark II Ford Escort remain popular choices for turning into a rally car, with many historic rally’s featuring these much loved cars.
The Ford Escort was available as a 3/5-door hatchback, 3/5-door estate, 2-door cabriolet and a 3-door van in the 80s and the Mark III model, which lasted from 1980 to 1986, was the most popular car on UK roads in the December of 1989 – nearly 1,500,000 examples were registered!
It’s look had now changed dramatically compared to the first two generations, with a more obvious square shape appearance now for the Ford Escort.
The XR3i hot hatch was also produced to compete with Volkswagen’s Golf GTI which had become a popular choice for younger male drivers in the mid 80s.
The Ford Escort went through a fourth, fifth and sixth generation of facelifts until it was replaced by the Ford Focus in 1998, up until this point the ‘Escort’ name had been used for 30 years.
Interestingly though, in 2014 the Escort name was revived by Ford for a car based on the second-generation Ford Focus but it’s only sold in China!
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