The Ford Escort RS 1800 MkII won just one drivers’ Championship title at the hands of Ari Vatanen in 1981, but its success quickly enshrined it into rally folklore. Vatanen took three victories that year, at the Acropolis Rally, Rally of Brazil, and the 1000 Lakes Rally, despite fresh competition from the 4WD Audi Quattro (via National Motor Museum). The Escort could only send power to its rear wheels, but it proved to be highly competitive nonetheless, and in fact, was one of the last winning RWD rally cars before 4WD became the new standard.
The car’s racing success, combined with the production version’s immense popularity in markets like the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, has meant that restored examples fetch consistently high prices today (via Silodrome). They’re still a favorite among classic rallying enthusiasts, and they still crop up at rally events all over the globe. The car might not have been able to keep up with the monstrous Group B cars that defined the next generation, but the superior handling and excellent reliability of these iconic classics have meant they’re still very much competitive even 40 years after they originally debuted.
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