Before the Japanese tuning scene took off in the UK there was one car that stood head and shoulders above the rest. That car was the legendary Ford Escort RS Cosworth.
From utterly humble underpinnings came an in-your face beast which proudly bore the legendary RS moniker. The arches were pumped up, the front spoiler was of snowplough proportions and the rear wing was bordering on the ridiculous!
But the best bit lay under the vented bonnet. The 2.0ltr turbocharged YB engine delivered a strong 227bhp straight out of the box, and that was just the start of it. There are few engines that lend themselves to tuning as well as the YB, and as the initial batch of 2,500 were for homologation purposes they came as standard with a big Garrett T3/4 turbo.
Getting more power was a doddle, and tuning development work continues to this day, with a surprisingly large number of 500+bhp examples in the UK, and a fair selection with comfortably over 600bhp! The sheer wealth of available tuning parts is staggering, and the raft of well-respected tuners keeps the thriving scene ticking over very nicely.
Reliability is believed by many to be an issue, but built properly, it’s an engine that can stand massive power and a proper beating.
The Cossie is rapid as standard, but can deliver Ferrari trouncing levels of performance. Well known examples have cracked 200mph, got to 60mph in less than 3 seconds and rocketed down the quarter mile in the 10 seconds range. An epic car with the potential for epic performance.
Style-wise the FoMoCo got it damn near spot on. Its bodywork was pumped on steroids and simply fitting a set of large alloys and a bit of lowering sees you with an incredible looking car. There’s always the WRC route if you want to echo the very successful motorsport variants and with relatively little work and a smattering of carbon fibre, the RS can look achingly cool.
With a little over 7,000 cars ever built, and many of those crashed, or broken, the exclusivity and sheer ability keeps prices alarmingly high. Couple that to a viciously loyal following and that highly tuneable engine, and it’s clear to see the Escort Cosworth will continue to be a big player on the tuning scene for a long while to come. Truly a legend of a car.