It was the most illustrious — and exclusive — Ford Escort of all. Just over 7,000 Escort RS Cosworths were built in five years, and they remain the most desirable of performance Escorts. They replaced the Escort RS Turbo in the prestigious Ford Rallye Sport series.
A powerful Cosworth YBT 2 litre turbocharged engine beat at the heart of this ultra-fast Escort, punching out around 225 bhp in road mode but capable of producing four times that output when highly tuned. This motor had previously featured in the Sierra Cosworth, another legend in its own lifetime that contributed a chassis and mechanicals to the RS Cosworth. There was a five-speed manual gearbox and the car had a permanent four-wheel drive system. The first 2,500 were built to secure homologation for the World Rally Championship and were instantly identifiable by the ‘whale tail’ rear spoiler that rose above the cabin roof. These `Cossies’ occasionally bore a Motorsport badge.
The second generation appeared in 1994 and the prominent spoiler became optional, those most buyers opted on an ‘if you’ve got it, flaunt it’ basis. The Garrett turbocharger was more efficient, reducing turbo lag and making the engine altogether more responsive to hard driving.
As always with Ford performance cars, it was a question of which came first — chicken or egg? To put it another way, did Ford produce stunning rally cars to make a handsome profit by selling road-going versions to adoring petrolheads, or was the grand plan to sell road-going versions of stunning rally cars to adoring petrolheads to achieve homologation and subsidize racing costs? The answer may well be chicken and egg. Either way, the RS Cosworth was a multiple rally winner in the 1990s, acquiring legendary status and shifting every road car made in the process. A true win-win situation!
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1992 (until 1996)
1,993 cc Straight Four Turbo
Top speed of 137 mph (220 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 6.2 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Ford only discontinued sale of the Escort RS Cosworth ahead of new 1996 European Union vehicle noise regulations, on the grounds that compliance would have been too costly — though the RS Cosworth continued to operate as then company’s winning rally car until 1998.