Sedans & Coupes

Bring a Trailer Bargain of the Week: 1994 Ford Escort RS Cosworth

Besides Freakshow Friday, we here at MotorBiscuit believe in providing useful consumer information, including advice on used cars. Many websites, such as Craigslist, cater to used car shoppers. But for classic and/or enthusiast cars, Bring a Trailer has quickly become a popular go-to. And while some cars, like the 300SL Gullwing, will be pricey even on BaT, sometimes bargains do pop up. For example, the 1994 Ford Escort RS Cosworth we’re featuring this week.  

What is the Ford Escort RS Cosworth?

A white-and-black 1982 Ford EXP in a shady forest area
1982 Ford EXP | Ford

If the Escort name sounds familiar, that’s because Ford did sell it in the US, Automobile reports. However, although we got the somewhat-sporty EXP, we didn’t get the small sedan’s sportiest trims.

In the late 80s and early 90s, practically every manufacturer was competing in the World Rally Championship. All-wheel drive had supplanted rear-wheel drive thanks to the Audi Ur-Quattro. And along with the change from Group B to Group A rules, the rally courses themselves were getting narrower. All this meant Ford’s original AWD RS200 was no longer viable. And while the Sierra—sold here as the Merkur XR4Ti—was a proven touring car champion, Hagerty reports, the AWD RS Cosworth model was a bit too big.

The solution was the Ford Escort RS Cosworth. It’s essentially the Sierra RS Cosworth’s powertrain and shortened chassis under a modified Escort body, Evo and Classic Driver explain. Under the hood is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder rated at 227 hp and 225 lb-ft, Hemmings reports. That’s sent to all 4 wheels via a 5-speed manual and standard AWD.

White with red-and-blue stripes 1992 Lancia Delta Integrale Evoluzione I Martini 5 Edition hot hatch on a wet road in front of a grassy hill
1992 Lancia Delta Integrale Evoluzione I Martini 5 Edition | Euro Classix Cars

In competition guise, though, the Ford Escort RS Cosworth made roughly 3 times as much horsepower, Road & Track reports. And the AWD meant it could hang with the likes of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo and Lancia Delta Integrale. It couldn’t quite beat the Toyota Celica GT4, but it finished 2nd overall in its debut 1993 season.

The 1994 Ford Escort RS Cosworth on Bring a Trailer

A black 1994 Ford Escort RS Cosworth
1994 Ford Escort RS Cosworth | Bring a Trailer

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A few Ford Escort RS Cosworths were legally imported by Sun International, Car and Driver reports. The 1994 model currently listed on Bring a Trailer, though, was imported under the 25-year rule from Belgium.

The rear 3/4 view of a black 1994 Ford Escort Cosworth on a snowy forest road
1994 Ford Escort RS Cosworth rear 3/4 | Bring a Trailer

Given its performance heritage, this Ford Escort RS Cosworth is remarkably stock. The only modifications appear to be an aftermarket Clarion audio system, a Remus cat-back performance exhaust, and some new brake rotors. The A/C compressor, though, is missing.

The 1994 Ford Escort RS Cosworth's interior, with gray Recaro sport seats
1994 Ford Escort RS Cosworth interior | Bring a Trailer

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Ford produced roughly 7000 Escort RS Cosworths as part of the homologation process for Group A. This 1994 example is a later Luxe model. Unlike the more stripped-down Club model, it features Recaro sport seats, power windows, and an electric sunroof, Silverstone Auctions reports. It even has headlight washers. Plus, that crazy spoiler is genuinely function, R&T reports.

Admittedly, this Ford Escort RS Cosworth isn’t in perfect cosmetic shape. It has some dents and dings, along with some delaminating clear coat and curb rash, Bring a Trailer reports. However, it does have a ceramic coating, and the timing belt, front axle, and fuel filter were recently replaced.

What makes it a bargain buy?

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As of this writing, with 3 days of bidding left, this 1994 Ford Escort RS Cosworth is listed on Bring a Trailer for $23,000. That’s a fairly low price for one of these AWD coupes. Past examples have sold on Bring a Trailer for closer to $40,000 or $50,000. In the UK, even high-mileage examples typically go for the equivalent of $45,000 at least, Autocar reports.

And at that price, you’re getting a genuine rally homologation special. The Escort RS Cosworth was basically the Focus RS of its day, Jalopnik reports. True, the 1992-1994 models suffered from more turbo lag than the later ones. As a result, you need to keep the revs up to get meaningful speed, Petrolicious reports.

But once you do, you’ll find it’s still a delight to drive. It doesn’t just grip the road well, but it also communicates that grip to its driver well, Petrolicious reports. The steering is sharp, Automobile reports, and the clutch is remarkably easy to live with.

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And if you do want to tune it, it’s game. The ‘Cosworth’ part of its name comes from the famed engine tuner, which also worked on the Mercedes 190E and Chevrolet Vega. The only real weakness is the head gasket, ClassicsWorld reports.

And if you’re still in doubt over the Escort RS Cosworth’s racing credentials, know that drifter and racer Ken Block owns one. And he’s modified it for active racing duty.

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