The 'Ford Escort' was a small family car that was manufactured by Ford of Britain and Ford Germany from 1968 to 2002. The Ford Escort name was also applied to several different small cars produced in North America by Ford between 1981 and 2002–03. Ford will relaunch the Ford Escort on the Chinese car market in 2014.

First generation (1968–1974) Edit

280px-Ford Escort RS2000 MkI

The Mark I Ford Escort was introduced in the United Kingdom at the end of 1967, making it's show debut at Brussels Motor Show in January 1968. It replaced the successful long running Anglia. The car was presented in continental Europe as a product of Ford's European operation. Escort production commenced at Halewood in England during the closing months of 1967, and for left hand drive markets during September 1968 at the Ford plant in Genk.[4] Initially the continental Escorts differed slightly from the UK built ones under the skin. The front suspension and steering gear were differently configured and the brakes were fitted with dual hydraulic circuits; also the wheels fitted on the Genk-built Escorts had wider rims. At the beginning of 1970, continental European production transferred to a new plant on the edge of Saarlouis, West Germany.

220px-Ford Escort MkI Station Wagon, rear cropped
The Escort had conventional rear-wheel drive and a four-speed manual gearbox, or 3-speed automatic transmission. The suspension consisted of MacPherson strut front suspension and a simple live axle mounted on leaf springs. The Escort was the first small Ford to use rack-and-pinion steering. The Mark I featured contemporary styling cues in tune with its time: a subtle Detroit-inspired "Coke bottle" waistline and the "dogbone" shaped front grille – arguably the car's main stylistic feature. Similar Coke bottle styling featured in the larger Cortina Mark III (also built in West Germany as the Taunus) launched in 1970.
220px-Ford Escort Mk I 4 door ca 1970

Less than two years after launch, Ford offered a four door version of the Escort.

Initially, the Escort was sold as a 2-door saloon (with circular front headlights and rubber flooring on the "De Luxe" model). The "Super" model featured rectangular headlamps, carpets, a cigar lighter and a water temperature gauge. A 2 door estate was introduced at the end of March 1968 which, with the back seat folded down, provided an impressive 40% increase in maximum load space over the old Anglia 105E estate, according to the manufacturer.[9] The estate featured the same engine options as the saloon, but it also included a larger, 7 1⁄2-inch-diameter (190 mm) clutch, stiffer rear springs and in most configurations slightly larger brake drums or discs than the saloon.[9] A panel van appeared in April 1968 and the 4-door saloon (a bodystyle the Anglia was never available in for UK market) in 1969.

Second generation (1974–1980) Edit

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 mechanical components as the Mark I. The 940 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 panelwork as the Mark I, but with the Mark II front end and interior. The car used a revised underbody, which had been introduced as a running change during the last six months production of the Mark I. Rear suspension still sat on leaf springs though some contemporaries such as the Hillman Avenger had moved on to coil springs.

Third generation (1980–1986) Edit

220px-Ford Escort 3 with 5 doors
Codenamed "Erika", the third generation Escort was launched in September 1980. The code name alluded to the leader of the product planning team, Erick A. Reickert. The car, Ford Europe's second front-wheel drive, was originally meant to be called the "Ford Erika", but ended up retaining the Escort name. Some say this was due to British consumers reluctance to let go of the "Escort" badge, and some say that the Germans were concerned with the song Erika, which was a famous battlemarch of the German armed forces during World War II.The North American Escort introduced at this time was a derivative. Sales in the United Kingdom increased, and by 1982 it had overtaken the ageing Cortina as the nation's best-selling car.

Fourth generation (1986–1990) Edit

280px-Ford Escort MK4 front 20081215
The Escort Mark IV came in early 1986, with only a small number of changes. Codenamed within Ford as "Erika–86", it was instantly recognisable as an updated version of the previous model, with a smooth style nose and the "straked" rear lamp clusters smoothed over, internally the car had a revised dashboard and other smaller changes. Optional new features included a mechanical anti‐lock braking system (standard on RS Turbo models), a fuel computer on fuel-injected models, and a heated windshield. However, the check-light system for low fuel, low oil, low coolant, low screenwash, and worn out brake pads was no longer fitted to any model. Air conditioning was not available on cars sold in Europe although it was an option on cars sold in Argentina and Brazil. In 1987, an LX trim designation was introduced, situated between the L and GL models.

Fifth generation (1990–1995) Edit

280px-Ford Escort front 20080205
The Escort MkV platform (and Mark III Orion saloon) arrived in September 1990 with an all-new bodyshell and a simplified torsion beam rear suspension (instead of the Mark III's fully independent layout). Initially the 1.3 L HCS, 1.4 L and 1.6 L CVH petrol and 1.8 L diesel units were carried over from the old model.

Sixth generation (1995-2000) Edit

The Ford Escort was revised in January 1995, although it was still based on the previous model. This version had new front lights, bonnet, front wings, front and rear bumpers, wing mirrors, door handles and 4 different front radiator grilles (slats, honeycomb, circles and chrome). The interior of the car was hugely revised too, featuring an all new dashboard arrangement of competitive quality. However, the underlying car was now five years old and most of its rivals were either new or to be imminently replaced.

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