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    Thread: late 80s Ford Escort GT (or EXP?)

    1. Member Volkscience's Avatar
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      08-16-2004 10:16 PM #1
      I think I've concluded my search for a fun winter beater / possible Ice racer.
      Thing is, these cars can be found for dirt money with reasonable mileage for their age. Years ago a friend of mine had two GTs... at the time I remember the handling being pretty lively, not too disimilar from the GTIs of the same vintage.
      Anyhow, bottom line... I've seen several with mileage between 90K and 100K miles all priced around 500-600 bucks. Ok body... little to no rust. Next step obviously is to go drive some but seriously... I basically want to rip out the interior.. install my old konig seat and a gnarly set of winter shoes.

      I don't know much about these cars and for 500-600$ reliability isn't a total issue, I would figure on 1000$ total cost with replacing stuff... I know there were a couple trims and the model I'm looking for is the hatch. I've seen the GTs and the EXPs and I'm not sure when they were offered and what the packages contain. So a little help if you will.

      A brave man's weapon is his heart.

    2. Member matoo's Avatar
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      08-16-2004 10:19 PM #2
      They can be fun cars year round, very capable autocrossers.
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    3. 08-16-2004 10:32 PM #3
      I had a 87 EXP with the 1.9L HO. Bought it at an auction for 500$CDN. Handles pretty good, and surprisingly good body, no rust at all on that car.

    4. 08-16-2004 10:56 PM #4
      There's an EXP in our autotrader now for an insane amount of money - I'll see if I can dig up the ad...

      MODERN CLASSIC 1983 FORD EXP
      Comment: Modern classic. This 4 cyl. 5 spd. has had the body & int. completely restored, new tires, batt., brakes, stainless exhaust. Engine runs but still needs some fine tuning. 51,713 km. $6,500. Call for more info or to view this beauty (519)443-6300. (CLVFWG)

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    5. Member smd3's Avatar
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      08-16-2004 11:11 PM #5
      I had one, don't overheat it. The heads crack/warp easily. I went through two of them before I got rid of the car. just make sure the cooling system is good.

      Oh, I didn't think the EXP had the HO motor. At least my buddies didn't.

      Mine was an '87 escort GT. I really liked that car.

      EDIT: I'm not familiar with a 1.9HO. I don't think they had one. Wasn't it 1.8HO or 1.9 non HO? Both were 8valve motors. i remember reading about someone who put a turbo kit on their escort GT using EXP turbo parts (from '84 or so)

      Damn, that head was expensive to replace. about $600 for a rebuilt one, this was oh, say '96 or '97.


      Modified by smd3 at 9:13 PM 8-16-2004


    6. Member GTI2pointSLOW's Avatar
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      08-16-2004 11:45 PM #6
      I had an 89 GT. Black on gray. It was by far one of my favorite cars I have ever owned. It would not die. Sure, I had a coat hanger for an exhaust tie, and the A/C NEVER EVER worked in it, even when it was new (my step-dad bought it brand new).

      For a while, when I was about 19, I barely made enough money to put gas in it, and my battery died.. If the car sat overnight, it would have to be jumped, otherwise there MIGHT be enough charge left to push start it if it had just sat for a short time. I drove it like that for 3 months, till my mother asked why I never pulled all the way into her driveway anymore, and I told her it was so I could pop start it when I left, and she bought me a new battery.

      I miss that car. I'll have to see if I can dig up some pictures of it.


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      08-16-2004 11:46 PM #7
      The 1.9 was available in HO and non HO. Basicallly only about 20 hp difference. And yes, you really don't want to overheat them. Iron block, aluminum head.

      Here we go. The Escort GT was introduced in 1984 as a minor chassis stiffening package. It got semi-serious in 1987. The one you pictured is the 19891/2 model with the restyled rear end. Mechanically and interior wise, they are all the same. The HO had, I think, around 110 hp. There are hop up parts for it too, and they had fantastic seats for the era. Interior was clasuterphobic, but handling was decent and it WAS quite peppy since they didn't weigh anything. Relatively cavernous too, parts are easy to come buy, and they seem relatively impervious to rust. It was also available from 1987 and 1988 in a Mercury Lynx XR3 variant. Basically identical, slightly sportier looking, and hyper rare.

      The car was redesigned in 1991 and based on the Protege platform with the 1.8 DOHC. This car is FAR more capable, and not much more expensive. As much as I like the old styles, the 1991 will be a better car. These, however, LOVE to rust.

      The EXP was a 2 seat variant of the first Escort. At first it was a standalone model (with the ugly bucket headlights) but in 1987 it got the Escort GT front clip. There were two variants, the Luxury package and the Sport package. In 87 and 88 they differed in that the SPort one got the GT package and running gear. Good luck finding one that someone knows enough to differentiate between them though. Your biggest tip off will be the Sport package one has the spoke alloys of the red GT above. Honestly, there isn't that much difference between the two. Of the pre 1991 Escorts, I would just go with a GT hatch.

      Remember, these were the cars that gave Escorts a bad name. Find a good one.

      THat said, I love em.


    8. 08-17-2004 12:03 PM #8
      fun cars, the 1.9l (86+) is way more reliable than the 1.6l. I had a 1987 non-HO escort 5-M 2dr. modded with GT suspension + wheels as my first car. sold it with 150k on the clock, saw it a couple of years later with ~200k miles on it, still got 35 MPG according to the owner.

      from 88k to 150k miles, I put in a new water pump ($27), starter ($50), and head gasket/bolts ($37), had the distributor/ignition module rebuilt($250). The engine is non-interference type so if it blows a timing belt there is no damage. I also had the transmission rebuilt (new syncros + bearings) ($850) probably should have just had a junkyard tranny installed ($200-$300) This was over 10 years ago.

      otherwise very reliable and easy to find parts as there are tons of them in the junkyards.

      Non-HO 1.9l = 90 hp, throttle body injection from '87+, speed density EFI.

      HO 1.9l = 110 HP, port injection + cam + header + few other tweaks (higher rate valve springs, etc.)

      There are lots of books on the Ford EEC management for tweaking.

      Also had a 1992 which is the mazda-based engine with 1.8l 127 hp, also a fun car.


      Modified by scotty_passat at 8:10 AM 8-17-2004


    9. 08-17-2004 12:33 PM #9
      I had an '87 (G2 Pro-Rally car)

      and it was tons of fun!!


    10. Member Volkscience's Avatar
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      08-17-2004 04:42 PM #10
      Looks to me like a no brainer. I'm relieved because I spend so much time already looking for something that would do what I wanted to do with minimal budget. I really like that Rally spec one, so cool. I was thinking of just completely gutting the interior and ripping everything out, carpet and all. I've got an old Konig race seat that's outlived most the cars I've put it in so this is one more for the record books.

      Would anyone happen to know the bolt pattern of the later 80s GT? I've got a handful of studded winter tires mounted to wheels already. Would be a nice time saver if they matched.

      A brave man's weapon is his heart.

    11. Member GTI2pointSLOW's Avatar
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      08-17-2004 05:04 PM #11
      4x100, if I am not mistaken.

    12. 08-17-2004 06:38 PM #12
      84-85 EXP's were designed by Ford SVO. 1.6L turbo 4-banger. Very fun little car! I'll look for some pics.

      Edit...found pics





      Modified by tdipd04 at 2:44 PM 8-17-2004


    13. 08-17-2004 07:03 PM #13
      Quote, originally posted by GTI2pointSLOW »
      4x100, if I am not mistaken.

      No, actually it's 4x108. WEIRD bolt pattern common to several European cars, but rarely seen here. Yes, I know that the Escort wasn't a European car, but at the start of the Escort program, it was intended to be a world car. Early in development, the Escort diverged into two cars, an American version and a European version, and they shared few parts aside from the CVH motor. The American car did, however, retain the 4x108 bolt pattern (the US Escort-derived Tempo and Topaz have it too). The Ford Contour, being derived from the European Mondeo, also had the 4x108 pattern, and the current Focus has it too.


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      08-17-2004 07:24 PM #14
      Actually Ed, the first Escort shared a lot more than the engine.

      Check out the doors, rear window, and roofline on this MkIII Escort (this would be the first generation of OUR Escort as of 1981)


    15. 08-19-2004 06:28 PM #15
      Quote, originally posted by tdipd04 »
      84-85 EXP's were designed by Ford SVO.

      um, no.


    16. 08-19-2004 06:30 PM #16
      Quote, originally posted by sar4497 »
      um, no.

      Please explain, I had one.


    17. 08-19-2004 10:22 PM #17
      Quote, originally posted by tdipd04 »
      Please explain, I had one.

      There is nothing to explain. SVO was created for the sole purpose of creating the Mustang SVO. Even if they wanted to do the EXP, there wasn't enough time to do both.


    18. 08-19-2004 11:33 PM #18
      Quote, originally posted by sar4497 »
      There is nothing to explain. SVO was created for the sole purpose of creating the Mustang SVO. Even if they wanted to do the EXP, there wasn't enough time to do both.

      I'm not trying to start an argument here, but I bought a used one when I was a kid. It was my first car and I did a lot of research on it at the time. The '84 EXP TURBO WAS designed by Ford SVO.

      I read it in Motor Trend or C&D way back when. If you would like, I'll go down to the library and scan some 20 year old magazine articles for you!


    19. Member PlatinumGLS's Avatar
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      08-20-2004 01:06 AM #19
      My highschool buddy had a 89 GT and it was a very fun car. At the same time I had a 91 Escort GT and we did a "side by side" comparison of the two one night.

      The conclusion: the 91 is worth the extra money

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    20. Member LordBass's Avatar
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      08-20-2004 01:16 AM #20
      EXP Turbo? Wow, now that's a rare car! Great EXP pics all around, I always thought that was a neat style. For super rarity, find pics of the Mercury LN7 (good luck). IIRC the LN7 was in production only in 1982 & 83. It had the neat bubble-rear-hatch a-la the Capri of its day. Not a great car but entertaining to look at and remember.

      One of my friends had an '87 EXP 'luxury' coupe with a manual shift. Was funny to see the familiar Escort interior but have the seats mounted so low that it was hard to see over the high cowl.

      My brother had an '87 Escort GT for his first car. It was beaten to a pulp - he really shouldn't have bought it. But it made for some fun stories. I once did a 'double' autocross with him where we drove each other's cars. I beat him in his own car. .. Better was the time he lost to a late-80s Chevy Sprint Metro.

      Between 1981 and 1999 my family had five Escorts, including a brand new 1981 GLX three door. Ah the memories!!


      Modified by LordBass at 12:17 AM 8-20-2004

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    21. Swallow Doretti
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      08-20-2004 01:34 AM #21
      Quote, originally posted by mtrainTurbo »
      Actually Ed, the first Escort shared a lot more than the engine.

      Check out the doors, rear window, and roofline on this MkIII Escort (this would be the first generation of OUR Escort as of 1981)

      Matt, while these two cars look very similar, I believe the only common part between them is the gas cap. That's how insanely wasteful the Escort's development program was--essentially, you ended up with two completely different cars that were, in terms of spec, remarkably identical.


    22. Swallow Doretti
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      08-20-2004 01:38 AM #22
      Quote, originally posted by LordBass »
      EXP Turbo? Wow, now that's a rare car! Great EXP pics all around, I always thought that was a neat style. For super rarity, find pics of the Mercury LN7 (good luck). IIRC the LN7 was in production only in 1982 & 83. It had the neat bubble-rear-hatch a-la the Capri of its day.

      Sorry...I just noticed your challenge. It's rare that it takes 20 minutes for someone to find a picture of ANYTHING in the Lounge.




      Modified by bgluckman at 12:41 AM 8/20/2004


    23. Member G0to60's Avatar
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      08-20-2004 03:07 AM #23
      i had an 89' GT as my very first car out of high school. i hated it but always had dreams of making it into a rally or autox car. it never happened because it died. ok car i guess.

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      08-20-2004 03:09 AM #24
      I had an 87 GT. Pretty fun car to drive when I was 16; plenty of go with one person in the car and the handling wasn't too bad. As others have stated, the heads are pretty common to go bad. The only thing to rust on the car was the stock muffler.

      If the 1.8 ever dies, a 2.5 KL03 V6 would be a nice swap.


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      08-20-2004 03:51 AM #25
      We should start a poll to see how many of us learned to drive/owned a Ford Escort. I bet the number is sobering.

    26. Member GTI2pointSLOW's Avatar
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      08-20-2004 04:06 AM #26
      Quote, originally posted by mtrainTurbo »
      We should start a poll to see how many of us learned to drive/owned a Ford Escort. I bet the number is sobering.

      LOL I'm sure it is.


    27. 08-20-2004 02:41 PM #27
      Quote, originally posted by tdipd04 »
      I'm not trying to start an argument here, but I bought a used one when I was a kid. It was my first car and I did a lot of research on it at the time. The '84 EXP TURBO WAS designed by Ford SVO.

      I read it in Motor Trend or C&D way back when. If you would like, I'll go down to the library and scan some 20 year old magazine articles for you!

      Knock yourself out. The fact is that Ford SVO did not create the car. It doesn't make it any less of a car, but it's not SVO. If there is any magazine reference to it, it is either referring to Motorsports SVO parts, which has nothing to do with the SVO group (just using SVO as a marketing term), or it is entirely incorrect. SVO was 28 men, and I know most of their names and how they spent their time from 1981-1984!

      *edited for spelling


      Modified by sar4497 at 10:49 PM 8-20-2004


    28. 08-21-2004 12:56 AM #28
      I did not read that in an SVO car parts guide, it was in a 1984 car review; please remember that some of us where more than 3 years old in 1984.

      Anyways, you don't find it funny that Ford's first 4 cylinder, fuel injected, turbo-charged cars were both released the same year. I'm done; enjoy your ignorance.


    29. 08-21-2004 01:16 AM #29
      Quote, originally posted by tdipd04 »
      I did not read that in an SVO car parts guide, it was in a 1984 car review; please remember that some of us where more than 3 years old in 1984.

      Anyways, you don't find it funny that Ford's first 4 cylinder, fuel injected, turbo-charged cars were both released the same year. I'm done; enjoy your ignorance.

      I can point you to several magazine articles and books that print incorrect information about SVO. The fact is that even if you're right about the article existing, then that means the article is wrong. Period.

      Also, Ford had a fuel injected turbo 4 in 1983. In more than one model. These cars also had nothing to do with SVO. I'll let you figure out which cars I'm thinking of.

      And any time you have a question about a Ford car from the 80s, I'm probably a good person to ask.


    30. 08-21-2004 01:36 AM #30
      Out of curiosity what model? I don't recall any domestic Ford's pre-84 with a FI, turbo charged 4 cylinder.

      Oh yeah, the EXP turbo was an SVO and the material that covers the sun visors in the Saab 9-2x sucks! That makes me more righter than you!


    31. Member audiphile's Avatar
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      08-21-2004 01:41 AM #31
      Quote, originally posted by mtrainTurbo »
      We should start a poll to see how many of us learned to drive/owned a Ford Escort. I bet the number is sobering.

      1989 wagon here. It's the family beater

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    32. Member PzwoTDI's Avatar
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      08-21-2004 02:27 AM #32
      My brother owned 3 Escort GT's(2 '88 1/2's and a 89) and he has owned 3 '87 Escort EXP's(2 luxury & 1 Sport),so that's 6 total.

      His first one was running mid 16's on the dragstrip,and ran over 275k miles. I miss that car soo much.Soo much fun,and soo much tinkering & tricks went into that car.It would whoop on any 6 cyl Mustangs,Camaros,and even ate some 305 Monte Carlos.This is no lie! He was planning on the turbo conversion,but lost interest and ended up selling the car.
      5 Escorts later......
      He currently drives a '87 EXP as a daily.He plans to convert that over to a 1.9 HO and a 5 speed when he gets time away from his '82 Mustang GT.

      Escorts are a damn good car for the dollar, can be had cheaply( my bro never paid over $800 for his),parts are cheap,and for the most part are pretty reliable.There is a bit of aftermarket for them,and my brother used alot of OEM parts from other Ford models to mod his one GT.
      Damn this brings back some memories.

      Couple Shots of my brother's First Escort GT.

      While the engine bay was'nt pretty(this was right after a accident)beneath the dirt and grime of over 200k miles was a runner. Head was worked,slight little mods,and some tuning tricks.




      Modified by PzwoTDI at 1:34 AM 8-21-2004


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      08-21-2004 04:14 AM #33
      Honestly never thought i would see this much love for an Escort. Makes me want one.

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      08-21-2004 04:27 AM #34
      I had a white 89 GT for a few months. Exceptionally maintained, but just had a very tired feeling that I grew sick of quickly. Torquey car, extremely handsome, good seats, but mechanically I think mine was just worn out.

      My later 92 Protege convinced me that if I go back it MUST be a 91+ Escort GT.

      That said, we need to find pics of the updated EXP. THOSE were sharp looking.


    35. 08-21-2004 10:45 PM #35
      Quote, originally posted by tdipd04 »
      Oh yeah, the EXP turbo was an SVO and the material that covers the sun visors in the Saab 9-2x sucks! That makes me more righter than you!

      Ok, I may be wrong about the SVO thing, but the material that covers the sun visor in the Saab 9-2x does suck.

      How many years in a row was the Escort the word's best selling car? It was a quite a few from what I remember!


      Modified by tdipd04 at 6:46 PM 8-21-2004


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