Lancia Deltas? Yep. Renault 5 turbos? For sure. Lancer Evos and Impreza STIs? Absolutely. These are all rally specials that you often come across in Japan. But a Ford Escort RS Cosworth? Definitely not!
In fact, the only one I’ve seen over the last couple of years is this particular car, and if you follow my posts from Japan you may remember that I grabbed a shot of it back in 2013 at the New Year meeting at Daikoku PA. So when I spotted it on display at Fuji Speedway for Offset Kings Japan a couple of weekends ago, I thought it was finally the right time to give it the Speedhunters spotlight treatment.
The timing couldn’t have been better either, as the owner has recently fitted a set of rather unique BBS LMs. The story behind these wheels alone warrants the car to be shown in all its glory, as they’ve actually been built from two BBS sets – one from which the centres were used, and the other from where the barrels were sourced. This is because the owner wanted 17×9-inch LMs, but BBS never made them in 17-inch in widths over 7-inch. So he sourced a set of wheels with 9-inch barrels, dumped the centers, polished them back to a mirror finish and then reverse-mounted the LM centers in position.
The result is the perfect offset for a car of this vintage and style, with plenty of lip showing. But it wasn’t quite as straightforward as it sounds… The owner ended up sending the centers back to the US to get them redrilled from their 114.3 PCD to the Escort RS Cosworth’s 108 pattern. Once back in Japan they were then painted white and finished off with blue center caps that are usually only seen on BBS’s magnesium alloy wheels. That my friends is attention to detail! But all the work was worth it, as the Escort took home the Best In Class (Euro) award.
Under the bonnet it’s a stock affair, with the RS’s original 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo Cosworth YBT engine taking pride in place. This is a motor that when properly tuned is able to generate a ton of horsepower.
Sitting alongside, the stock turbo supplies enough boost for a factory-spec 225hp. That might not sound like much by today’s standards, but it was plenty back in the early ’90s.
These cars were all the rage then – especially in the UK where they got anywhere up to 800hp-plus out of them once everyone realised just how easily the 4WD driveline could handle the power.
I love seeing cars of this vintage being so well cared for. The interior is nothing short of spotless, with not a scratch or blemish to be seen. The pair of green tea bottles are a dead giveaway of where these pictures were shot!
Even the cloth-wrapped Recaros look like they have just been taken out of their plastic packaging!
One of the first things the Escort’s owner did when he got hold of the car was to dump the stock suspension and have Öhlins make up a custom set of its DFV ‘Road & Track’ coilovers, thereby improving the Cossie’s handling abilities. The package has also dropped the car rather nicely, and to not cause any rubbing issues within the rear suspension turrets the back coilovers were mounted upside-down.
Like the Sierra RS Cosworth that preceded it, the huge twin-plane, whale tail rear wing is what makes this rally special so instantly recognizable. Along with a rather large splitter up front, the Cossie was one of the first production cars to develop true downforce at both ends.
Although the stickers were a nice addition for the Offset Kings show, the Escort is usually kept nice and clean with the plain white body – and now the color-matched LMs – left to do all the talking. A true classic!
Dino Dalle Carbonare