Escort RS1600

To the casual observer it might appear to be a humble entry-level model, but the plain looks hide thoroughbred racing mechanicals.

This is where it all started for the legendary RS brand. Unveiled in 1970, the Escort RS1600 was intended to be Ford’s latest rally weapon. To the casual observer it might appear to be a humble entry-level model, but the plain looks hide thoroughbred racing mechanicals. Under the bonnet is the first example of the famous BDA engine. Designed by Cosworth, it featured in the firm’s rally cars for nearly 16 years. In its final 2.0-litre, fuel-injected guise, this legendary motor was pushing out more than 240bhp.

Turn the ignition key, and it is clear that this example is a competition machine through and through. The 1.6-litre motor is unhappy at low revs, coughing and spluttering with each prod of the throttle. Move away from a standstill, and you’ll notice the heavy controls and a stiff ride that causes the car to crash over even small bumps. But stretch its legs and the RS1600 comes alive.

The steering is direct and the slick gearshift is a delight. Push a bit harder and you’ll revel in the rear-wheel-drive chassis balance. Yet it’s the hard-edged wail from the exhaust that dominates the experience.

The RS1600 started the blue oval’s long domination of rallying, which lead to the all-conquering Escort MkII of the mid to late Seventies. As a result, this model’s place in history is assured.

* Performance: 3/5 * Heritage: 5/5 * Style: 4/5 * Driver appeal: 4/5

Vote for your favourite fast Ford here, in our exclusive reader survey

Details

Model tested: Escort RS1600Chart position: 6

In this review

Most Popular

Friends reunited: buying back a Porsche 911
Porsche 911
Porsche 911 Coupe

Friends reunited: buying back a Porsche 911

How perfect timing led a Porsche 911 fanatic to buy back his old car
14 Oct 2021
Cupra Born vs Mercedes EQA vs Volvo C40 Recharge: 2021 group test review
Cupra Born vs Mercedes EQA vs Volvo C40 Recharge
Car group tests

Cupra Born vs Mercedes EQA vs Volvo C40 Recharge: 2021 group test review

The all-electric Volvo C40 Recharge meets another premium wannabe in the Cupra Born. But can they beat the super-posh new Mercedes EQA?
19 Oct 2021
New 2022 Honda e:NP1 and e:NS1 electric SUVs revealed with 311-mile ranges
Honda e:NP1 - front
Honda

New 2022 Honda e:NP1 and e:NS1 electric SUVs revealed with 311-mile ranges

Duo of new Honda electric SUVs revealed for China, but European spec car could follow
15 Oct 2021