The Ford Escort XR3I (1983 -1986) finally arrived as Ford’s produced their first performance Escort in its revised form known as the Ford Escort XR3I. This new style Ford Escort was a complete revision to both mark II and mark I versions. The Ford Escort XR3I was more practical than its predecessors with the hatchback becoming the new functional car of the eighties. And a front wheel drive Escort was unheard of until now.
The 1597cc engine with Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection gave the new hot hatch back a competitive edge. In this new market the trusted Ford name would stand up to the test, challenging the all mighty VW Golf GTI for dominance in the early part of the decade. The overall appearance was very appealing, with black trim and cloverleaf alloys looking the part for eighties crowds.
The Escort XR3I was a great seller for Ford with every boy racer wanting to get their hands on these sporty looking machines. Fords hot hatch back had clearly arrived.
The Ford Escort XR3I was Fords initial saviour in the eighties with so much anticipation for the new Fast Ford it had to be successful, and it was. The only downside of the XR3i was it never proved itself in competition like previous Escorts. Despite this the Ford Escort XR3i sold well with plenty of examples to choose from these days.
The first thing to consider is body work. Like all Ford Escorts of the era rust will definitely be an issue, although due to the plastic surrounds on the XR3i it will be hidden. Sills and front and rear wheel arches are a typical place to look for rust. Battery tray and the bulk head can rot and inner wings will disintegrate as well as bonnet panels.
Looking under the bonnet the Escort XR3i had a brand new engine. Check to make sure it’s had a cam-belt change. These should be done every 36,000 miles so make sure the history is there. Oil needs to be changed frequently as the engine is prone to sludge.
Drive shafts, brakes and wheel bearings are all durable although five speed gear boxes can have some issues with synchromesh. Any apparent “speedo” faults could mean gearbox and differential problems.
Interiors were plush back in the day. Look out for dashboard deterioration and try all the electrics to make sure they work. Seat bolsters can wear but a refurbishment is possible.
Did you know that the third generation Ford Escort was originally to be named the Ford Erika. Some say the Escort name was retained due to British reluctance to let it go.
Mark Wilkinson, Managing Director Says:
“The Ford Escort XR3i is now a name from the past. Lots of people owned one and most will want to talk about it. So be prepared to become part of a classic movement with style and practicality. The Escort’s uncomplicated charm shines through and helps it secure a place in hot hatch history.”