Car Feature>><br/>the Lady In Red

We all have our affiliations. For one reason or another, each one of us has some bias towards a particular manufacturer or model. It may be a slight bias or an overwhelming love, but inside every petrol head on this small planet, lies a deep seated passion for a particular automobile.

On the surface of it all, it seems ludicrous to have a genuine love for a collection of inanimate parts.

Individually they mean nothing, but when they are brought together in a particular way, they can become something very special.

I’ve been reading a lot recently about the soul of a car, but I’m one of the few that believes cars don’t have souls. I think it’s a bit of a misconception, conjured up by some journalist who tried and failed to describe that certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ that some cars do present.

For me, the idea of a car having a soul is a bit of a strange one. When does a car receive its soul? What happens when it dies?

I love cars, in a way that probably isn’t healthy. I like to think that I can appreciate and understand every nuance and characteristic of any given car. Sure, I might not like a certain aspect but I can always find a way of understanding why something is done a certain way.

I think that it is these understandings and appreciations that cause cars to stir our souls. When we connect with a car on this level, it’s very hard to break that connection. When we are presented with a sequence of cars from one manufacturer that continue to make these connections with us, we form a loyalty to the brand.

Growing up in Ireland, I always connected with Ford Motor Company. Watching the Escorts and Sierras on the rally stages as child, stirred my emotions and fuelled the hunger for seeking out more speed. But there was always one name, one badge that fuelled my passion like no other – Cosworth.

Even today, the name Cosworth has connotations of power and performance. It brings images to mind of flame spitting Sierra RSs, disappearing from view on a fast section of road, popping and banging all the way.

From their humble routes as an engine designer and builder in late 1950s London, the small British firm has been responsible for some of the greatest combustion engines ever built – the BDA, DFV and of course the YB to name but a few.

For me, my favourite examples of Cosworth’s work is when they tied their name to a particular model of car. In this case, the Ford Escort RS Cosworth.

What you have here is a combination of two of the most successful titles in Ford’s motorsport history – the Escort and the Cosworth. The Escort for its success on the World Rally stage, and Cosworth for its success with the Sierra RS500 touring car.

And it was from the Sierra Cosworth (the 4×4 version as opposed to the 2WD ‘whale tail’ RS Cosworth) that the Escort Cosworth evolved from.

In essence, the Escort Cosworth was simply an evolved Sierra 4×4 Cosworth with an Escort shell on top. The same YB turbocharged engine,  4WD system, steering, cross members, front and rear suspension along with the brakes and the much loved Mt75 five speed gearbox were all brought across. A simple idea now, but quite a novel approach at the time (late 80s / early 90s).

The only reason the EsCos came about, was to win rallies. To become a sanctioned Group A car, Ford needed to build 2,500 road cars for homologation purposes.

These early pre-homologation cars featured the ‘big’ Garrett T3/T04b turbochargers which are renowned for being quite laggy. These were replaced by a ‘small’ turbo later which proved much more responsive.

As part of the homologation process, the rally car would use a water injection system to reduce in-cylinder temperatures and prevent detonation. Rather than replicate this expensive system in the road cars, Ford put a water bag in the boot of the car, with a water pump which was the same item used for washing the windscreen. In other words, not at all effective but enough for homologation purposes.

It’s these details that for me, make a car. You can nearly imagine the people involved trying to figure out a dastardly plan to get around these things, it’s such a human touch.

When I began to put together the plan for this shoot, I knew there was only one Escort Cosworth it had to be.  This exact car appeared on Speedhunters back in 2010, as part of coverage from a local RSOC meet up.

It only took one text message to arrange the shoot and before I knew it, I was pulling in behind that iconic whale tail in an industrial area on a quiet Saturday afternoon.

David Tennyson, the owner, is the sort of guy you might bump into once every year, but can talk for hours about all things motoring as if you were life long friends. It’s quite easy to see the passion he has for the blue oval, this Escort being only part of an impressive stable of cars.

What drew me to David’s car is the attention to detail and the subtle modifications that enhance its character. David pays huge tribute to his friend who completed a two and half year nut and bolt rebuild on the car – which involved both restoring and improving the car.

Whilst running at a respectable 340BHP, the rebuild focused on the car as a complete package, rather than just throwing horsepower at it.

Gaz coilovers, fully polybushed, rebuilt gearbox and differentials with strengthening plates along with an AP Racing six pot BBK up front featuring 365mm discs and fully floating Reyland alloy bells.

Lightweight Compomotive MO wheels in 18×8 ET15 with Goodyear Eagle F1s summarizes the well considered specification list.

It’s a perfect example of how to take something iconic and leave your mark on it, maybe even improve it but without detrimentally affecting its character. Sometimes, it’s best to keep it simple.

Paddy McGrath

More Car Features

More Ford Stories on Speedhunters

Vehicle Specification

  • 1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth
  • Two and a Half Year Nut & Bolt Rebuild
  • Pre-Homologation Car with Water Injection System
  • 2.0L Cosworth YB
  • Garrett T3/T04B
  • RS500 Intercooler
  • 3 BAR Map Sensor
  • -31 Actuator
  • Baileys Alloy Engine Bay Tanks
  • Carbon Fibre Heat Shield
  • GAZ Coilovers
  • Fully Polybushed
  • AP Racing Six Piston Front Brakes with Reyland Floating Alloy Bells
  • Tarox Rear Discs
  • Rebuilt Front & Rear Differentials with Strengthening Plates
  • Rebuilt Gearbox
  • Goodyear Eagle F1s
  • 18”x 8 Compomotive MO ET15


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Even after all these years, I still get the shivers when the word Cosworth is mentioned related to the Escort RS Cosworth... and every time again the urge rises to surf to auto sales site to go look for one... someday... :-)


Verry......UK car :)
We all have our loved cars, when I was a kid I was in love with big american muscle cars, after that the italian supercars was my dream. Classic sports cars from MB, BMW and Porsche followed and now I'm really deep into JDM/drift/VIP scene.
But no way I would pass a Cosworth without hear in my mind all of his rally glory or all of his trully special engine roaring down the street.
Really special. I trully appreciate that people in Ireland or UK are keeping this young classics alive and kicking.


Sorry Paddy, you have to work on your delivery. The pictures are great, no doubt about it, and even though I know nothing about fords, it peaked my interest, but the way the article is laid out is poorly done. It's great that you made a personal connection with the car, and we got to learn about your history, but this should be a car feature. You have pictures of the car that have no real correlation with the text around it. The car feature really should be about the car and possibly the owner/history, not about how you remember a brand (that should be an article in and of itself, maybe even add a whole new category of accepted tuning shops). And it really shouldn't be about trying to cram pictures into places where they don't really belong. I got about to the 15th picture and felt the need to post a comment, I have no idea what the car is, nor the owner, nor the mods, just an illustrated picture book with no real correlation. I really hope you will take this as constructive criticism and find a way to deliver your great photos with the relativity and impact they deserve.


He needs some heat foil on the inside of the carbon turbo heat shield.. or some better quality carbon panel.. it looks ruined!


This isn't a car feature.


Try reading the rest of the article then


Boyhood dream car, still is, just an awesome motor !


Great photos Paddy - the car looks excellent although im not digging the Sapphire Cosworth Steering wheel but the rest of it is just awesome!


Great pic`s and what a cracking looking cossie, love it.


I think Brian's right though. The recent SH articles have all followed that structure. Random pics without associated text. I can see a place for that in general topics, but not for a car feature.


 @CezeliPatrick  That steering wheel is a Rallye Sport option steering wheel not just a sapphire cosworth steering wheel. Was available for all fiesta,escort & sierra models.


 @RSboye Really? didnt realize - still think its horrible though lol


18 inch rims with brakes that barely fit, you know something evil is underneath.


I kinda get what you mean but I think anyone who has ever seen Escorts, grew up with them, driven them or seen them in rallies would understand and like how the article was written. It's nostalgic to me and brings to light the glorification of something that's quite old but yet so beautiful. At least it's not like Super Street where guys ramble about each other and give stupid side comments before they get to the car. This article gave history and why this history makes us love a particular type of car so much. Just my humble opinion


Love that motor.


nice picture. but feels lack of something..


Too bad you guys won't come take a feature on my dad's much nicer group A ex-Colin McCrae Red Top.....But hey, if you don't like features....


thanks for the gas powered porn industry on Compomotive wheels


thanks for the gas powered porn industry on Compomotive wheels


As much as I love the pictures I think Im going to have to agree with Brian. More info on the car, its specs (inc. power), and the owner would be so much better and what the readers are all after.


@GuilleAlfonsin yo me conformo con algo mas normalito jajaja yo quiero un abarth!!!! xD


You clearly never read any of the articles I wrote for Super Street lol.


I'd wager a guess you never read any of the articles I wrote for Super Street... I agree though, the mid-2000s era articles were scarcely about cars.


I think that's a fair comment Brian, and thanks for taking the time to construct a well thought out reply. My main problem is that I'm not nor have I ever been a writer, so I find it pretty difficult to write some of these features. I don't want to just write captions for the images (as in 'this is a Compomotive 18x8 ET15 wheel with Goodyear Eagle F1 tires' before moving on to the next image.) Any of the stories I write need to be read the whole way through usually to get the full picture, but I'll certainly continue to keep working on my writing. 


i really appreciate this article, it reachs the deepest part of my heart thanks =)
cossie love!


Sweet! cosworth is the dog bollox of cars!


Escort Cosworth is epic if only to have him here in Brazil


 @Monkey_55  * Colin Mc RAE


Being that my first car was a 1990 Escort GT I will always have a place in my heart for them.
Man I had plans for that car!!


 @PaddyMcGrathSH Thanks for taking the criticism well. And I did finish reading  the article. The writing isn't bad at all, the problem in fact is that the pictures interrupt your story. You paint a pretty vivid picture of this nostalgic scene and then we randomly get flashes of this red car, that we don't have any idea where it really comes in. Even a stock picture of a winding road or some child playing with some toy cars or something would have enhanced the writing greatly. Cosworth is indeed a notable brand/name, and I feel it is almost unfair to cram all the nostalgia and glory associated with the brand into a car feature. I honestly think taking a look at some of the more official tuning depots, their history and achievement would be grand (origin of AMG, Costworth, Abarth, even MUGEN, TRD, etc, etc). 


 @PaddyMcGrathSH I'll let you off now then Brian ;)


Great write up.  The bit about soul and cars was very thought provoking, and the Escort is a beauty


 @JonathanSchendel What happened to it?


I first got on here just to look at nice cars and admire them.  But the real amazing thing about this website is the thought put into every photo and everything they say in the posting.  It is very inspiring to hear cars being spoken of which such passion. Thank You


Awsome my dream car a red escos!!!!!!