Escort Mexico

With racy looks, a lightly tweaked engine and a family-friendly saloon body, the Escort Mexico served up a winning blend of performance and practicality.

In the days before the hot hatch, keen drivers on a budget lusted after one model – the Escort Mexico.

With racy looks, a lightly tweaked engine and a family-friendly saloon body, it served up a winning blend of performance and practicality.

Built to celebrate Ford’s win in the gruelling 16,000- mile London to Mexico rally of 1970, it was an instant sales hit. Buyers loved its wide-wheeled stance, bold optional graphics and eager performance. Although the 1.6-litre ‘Kent’ engine produced only 86bhp and could trace its roots back to 1959, it was reliable and responsive. The Mexico got the stronger bodyshell from the more expensive RS models, which aided its sporty, rear-wheel-drive character. Another factor in the two-door’s success was the ease with which it could be modified, even by owners themselves. Anything from styling tweaks to tuned mechanicals were available.

Even in a standard-spec car there’s a real sense of occasion once you get behind the wheel, while a sharp throttle response and raspy engine note add to the drama. Only a long-throw gearshift and slightly vague steering let this example down – although it is nearly 35 years old! However, it’s easy to see why all those fans fell for the Mexico in the first place.

* Performance: 2/5 * Heritage: 5/5 * Style: 4/5 * Driver appeal: 4/5

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Details

Model tested: Escort MexicoChart position: 7

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