Posted in Matchbox

Drop top days

Here in England we have been favoured by a rather uncharacteristically warm spell.

The old saying that the British drop top strips off only three days a year has been thrown out of the window for now. I’ve never seen so many convertibles on show! Well, not in this country anyway.

So I thought it would be appropriate to showcase one of the most peculiar fair weather motors I have, and that’s the Ford Escort Cabriolet.

The casting is matchbox, and sports blue metal body and base separated by grey plastic interior and black plastic front/rear bumper detailing and drop top.

As with any Matchbox, the detailing is good. The car sits nicely on working suspension, without having an unsightly gap between the wheels and arches.

Those of you who have an eye for detail will notice the “XR3i” lettering on the door.

The Ford Escort we have is, of course, the Mark III, which was introduced in 1980 and was originally meant to be named the Ford Erika. (Depending on who you ask, that name was dropped either because the British were too sentimental about the Escort badge, or the Germans were worried about memories of the old war-song, ‘Erika’.)

This new Escort was, in fact, completely new. Intended to compete with the Golf, Ford designed it to be sporty, efficient and aerodynamic. The rare cabriolet version we see here was designed by German coach builder Karmann, famous for being until 2009 the country’s largest independent motor manufacturer. While the regular production Escort came in trim levels spanning L, GL, Ghia and XR3, the cabriolet, which appeared in 1983 alongside the 5-door estate, came only in XR3i and Ghia.

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Ford Escort MkIII Facts

  • The Escort MkIII was a popular car – in 1989 1,500,000 were recorded as being registered on British roads.
  • The drop-top Escort was the first convertible made by Ford of Europe since the 1960s Corsair.
  • Power steering was available on US Escorts, but not on European ones. (Maybe the Europeans are stronger?)
  • The Escort had a bad reputation with the press for awkward wheel camber and poor ride.
  • A 1.6 litre diesel engine produced in Dagenham was introduced in August 1983. It was pitifully underpowered at 54bhp (40 KW; 55 PS) but returned an impressive (even by today’s standards) 70mpg.

Featured image:Ā 1985 Ford Escort 1.6i Cabriolet by Kieran White. Original

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Author:

Graphic designer, writer for Classic American auto magazine, journalist.

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