Junkyard Gem: 1981 Ford Escort GL Wagon

Detroit made some momentous introductions of American-built front-wheel-drive small automobiles in the course of the late Nineteen Seventies and early Eighties, starting with the Dodge Omni/Plymouth Horizon in the 1978 mannequin 12 months. That automotive was designed with the assistance of Chrysler’s European operations, and Ford opted for the same plan with its brand-new subcompact made to interchange the ageing Pinto within the North American market. This was the Escort, which made its debut right here as a 1981 mannequin. After a lot junkyard looking out, I’ve discovered a type of first-year Escorts, lastly retired after 42 years.

Ford of Britain started utilizing the Escort title early on, with an affordable model of the Ford Squire property getting Escort badges beginning in 1955.

The 1955-1961 Escort wasn’t an enormous vendor, however the subsequent European Ford to bear Escort badges proved to be a spectacularly profitable moneymaker: the Mark I Escort. This automotive debuted as a 1968 mannequin and rapidly grew to become one of the vital beloved automobiles within the UK. It was a easy rear-wheel-drive machine, stored related with the Mark II replace for 1975. A front-wheel-drive successor can be wanted for the Eighties, and so Ford of Europe started designing such a automotive. In the meantime, on the opposite aspect of the Atlantic, Dearborn wanted a substitute for the late-Nineteen Sixties-design Pinto, so American engineers dove into the Escort Mark III’s design course of. The final mannequin 12 months for the Pinto and the rear-wheel-drive Escort ended up being 1980.

The « World Automobile » Escort made its debut as a 1981 mannequin, and the European and North American variations appeared fairly related at a look. They shared a basic chassis design and have been powered by members of the identical engine household, however there was sufficient evolutionary divergence between the 2 that they need to be thought-about cousins moderately than siblings. The early North American Escort rode on the identical size wheelbase because the European Escort, however was wider and heavier.

The cam-in-head CVH four-cylinder engine was developed particularly for the front-wheel-drive Escort, and it was the one engine obtainable in North American Escorts till a Mazda diesel choice appeared for 1984.

In 1981, the one engine obtainable within the North American Escort was this 1.6-liter rated at 65 horsepower and 85 pound-feet. The Escort wagon scaled in at about 2,100 kilos that 12 months, in order that engine energy was ok for commuting. The next 12 months, an 80-horse « HO » model grew to become obtainable.

This automotive may be very, very tough, having spent a few years sitting open air with lacking glass. 1981 Escorts are so uncommon in junkyards now that I did not need to wait years for a nicer one to indicate up.

Any automobile sitting in a area in rural Colorado for lengthy sufficient is sure to choose up just a few bullet holes.

Due to the five-digit odometer, we will not know what number of complete miles have been on this automotive when it stopped driving.

Ford’s official title for the 1981 Escort wagon was « Escort 4-Door Liftgate. » There have been 5 trim ranges: base, L, GL, GLX and SS. This automotive is a mid-grade GL, which had a listing value of $6,318 (about $21,847 in 2023 {dollars}).

The transmission is the bottom four-speed handbook. For an additional $366 ($1,266 at the moment), a three-speed computerized was obtainable. A five-speed handbook arrived for the 1983 mannequin 12 months.

Usually, while you see the bottom transmission in an reasonably priced automotive, you anticipate to see few pricey choices. That is not the case with at the moment’s Junkyard Gem; this automotive’s authentic purchaser shelled out 530 bucks for air con ($1,833 after inflation).

Only a few American subcompact buyers have been keen to pay for cruise management in 1981, however this automotive has it. The price: $132 ($456 now).

Normal Motors started promoting its all-new front-wheel-drive compact, the Chevrolet Cavalier and its J-Physique siblings, beginning with the 1982 mannequin 12 months. The Cavalier was fairly a bit larger and costlier than the Escort, although, so GM needed to make do with the obsolescent rear-wheel-drive Chevette as an Escort competitor till the Suzuki-built Dash and Toyota-designed Nova confirmed up for the 1985 mannequin 12 months.

The Escort was the best-selling automotive in the USA for a lot of the Eighties, with annual gross sales within the 300,000s and 400,000s for annually of that decade. With the F-Collection the best-selling truck on the similar time, Ford was flying excessive.

For mannequin 12 months 1991, the Escort switched to a Mazda platform, making it cousin to the 323 and Protegé. Manufacturing of Mazdafied Escorts for the American market continued by way of 2003.

Touting the Escort Liftgate’s gasoline financial system versus the larger and plusher Toyota Corona wagon is dishonest a bit. Maybe Ford’s entrepreneurs have been banking on viewers mixing up the Corona with the Corolla and/or Corolla Tercel.

Look out, world!

The SS trim stage included some pretty rad graphics.

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