The Ford Escort has never been widely recognized as a performance car in the United States. While the second-generation Escort GT from the early 1990s impressed with its Mazda-influenced components and improved driving dynamics, the rest of the Escort lineup was known for its practicality and lackluster appeal. However, in Europe, the Escort nameplate was celebrated for its rich history of rally victories and the availability of enticing special editions.
Now, a thrilling manifestation of spirited driving has emerged on Bring a Trailer, a platform affiliated with Hearst Autos. The Escort RS Turbo S1 is a compact, front-wheel-drive hatchback that revels in turbocharged vigor, showcasing a proclivity for handbrake turns and other exuberant driving maneuvers.
The RS designation carries a prestigious legacy within Ford’s European endeavors. Originating in the 1970s, it exclusively adorns the fastest models, from the formidable Sierra Cosworth to the rally-focused Escort RS Cosworth. While the Escort RS Turbo may not match the power of its illustrious counterparts, with a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine generating a modest 132 horsepower, its lightweight construction at just over 2000 pounds ensures a lively performance.
Most Escort RS Turbos were distributed in the U.K. with right-hand drive, but this 1986 specimen originates from Spain and has a mere 58,000 miles on the odometer. Recent interior refurbishments include the installation of snug Recaro seats, complemented by minor mechanical updates such as a stainless-steel exhaust.
Equipped with a five-speed manual transmission and a limited-slip differential, this Euro hatch in Diamond White becomes a coveted gem. It is worth noting that the late Diana, Princess of Wales, owned an Escort RS Turbo, making this model part of an exclusive club. Her specific vehicle, a rare black-finished unit, commanded a staggering $857,712 at auction last year. Without the royal connection, this particular Escort RS Turbo presents a considerably more affordable opportunity, with the auction concluding on January 5.