The Unusual Suspect

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
Instagram: speedhunters_dino

Offset Kings coverage on Speedhunters



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I'm in love with this car.

turbo BEAMS ae86

my is villanous


Nice, definitely one for the list.


Damm,,,,, better impossible,,,,!congrats to the owner!!!


Very nice! I'm confused about the comment on the bbs LM's though? I have BBS LM's in 17x9? And they still make 17x9 BBS LM's lol


Just beautiful! I lust over these cars, something about the simple 90's styling and the functional approach gets me. Plus they just sound amazing! I really like the BBS pairing, looks beautiful with the livery and styling of the car.


That's a truly nice car!


Lovely car but prefer the escos without the top wing. This is how they should look U0001f44d

Marlowe Campos

AndrewBradley Looks better this way imo




Those wheels are gorgeous. Extremely clean example.


The interior design is considerably outdated by today standards but, I always been fond of it. Simple, concise and effective. It's there and not in your face, the low center console is something I really like.

It's almost the opposite to a Pagani interior.


Nick. Are you really comparing an Escort to a car costing 100x more? 
This thing is fantastic. I have a soft spot for 80s and 90s Escorts. I am looking forward to people bringing them into the US with them hitting the right age.


...kind of, not really...
I really like this car inside and out. I like the simple interior, drivetrain configuration, etc.
In fact, I find Pagani's "taste" in the overkill and obnoxious spectrum of things. I'm saying that the Escort is the opposite of that.
I guess my initial statement is misleading, I'm not sure?


Round where I live its easy to get blind a little bit to super cars, and classics for that matter, but when I see an escort cossie (most of the time in THAT blue) I really stop, look and try to take it all in, there's always been "something" about them, regardless their style. such awesome machines and Its superb that one made it all the way to Japan. Bit like the super GT cars that have been spotted at gatebill.


But in a much tamer, more English manner that is.


That sounds like where I live.
"Yay, another supercar -__-....."


Its not like a boredom, it's more
*waits at traffic lights*
*looks to his right*
"Huh. That was a 650s"
*Drives off*
While a lot of them are impressive, unless it's a dream car for you the impact is dulled a bit.
HyperCars, Japanese performance cars and the hot hatches of my youth though... Now that's a different story.

Jeroen Willemsen

A pure classic, love it!


seriously reminds me of Getaway in Stockholm 2.


AndrewBradley That's sacrilegious! It has to have the whale tail IMO :D


Saw the header. So relieved the car wasn't stanced when I opened the article haha. 

Stunning car. I grew up as a Ford boy, and I probably always will be. They deserve to be treated like the classics that they are, but it's a shame it puts them way out of my price bracket for something to stick in the garage and fetch out at weekends :(. 

Is there much of a Ford scene in Japan? There is in almost everywhere else in the world, I'm curious what Ford cars you guys got over there? Surely there was a market for some of the RHD specials: Sierra Cossie, Fiesta XR2i, Fiesta Turbo, Focus RS Mk1, Ford Racing Puma?


I would love to see what they would think of the 1600T and 1800 RS fiestas..... Especially their size and power ratio. I'm sure they would love them.


wow...just wow!  this car is amazing!!!


The UK/EU escorts always look like the type of car that would mug you with a knife and a cigarette hanging out of its mouth imo.


beautiful.  one of cars to drool for back in the 90s when i was just discovering wrc at that time :)


I wasn't even born then xD but still I love the pre 2000 rally cars to bits


Awesome car! Works perfectly in my opinion and that YBT lump is amazing. It's so cool that Cosworth Engineers knocked the 2.0L up to over 1000bhp in testing. For me, the 3dr Sierra RS (and RS500) and Sapphire RS Cosworth always overshadowed the EsCos in my opinion but still and awesome car


AndrewBradley Whilst of course you are entitled to your opinion, I'm sorry to say that you are wrong. Whale tail or bust.


Paddy McGrath AndrewBradley No whale tail = fail.


I was always curious of the Ford following in Japan. At one point, I was few up with both my job and country and was looking around the world at differennt places and wondered how hard it would be to get my Bullitt Mustang to the land of the rising sun. I wonder if Mustangs there are like Skylines here...


I do like the whale tail but personally I think it looks cleaner without it. Confuses a lot of people without it, as many don't know it was an option to remove it from the factory. I'm sure the full gaz gold tarmac rally spec suspension, quaife dog box and motorsports development map with antilag would make up for the lack of wing




Yeah, I know what you mean. I used to get excited about a lot of it. Ironically I saw a 650s on my way to work today. A Veyron that frequents my daily drive is even getting old. Call me jaded.
I get excited when I see a stock R32 or an S13, considering I have one as a project car. It's weird how my taste has changed over the years.


"Tastes change, my ex girlfriends are a testament to that U0001f609"
"Super cars are a lot like the causes of Gout. In that too much of a good thing can be bad for you."
My first realisation that special to me trumps what people think would be cool was I always wanted a Ducatti until I tried to fit onto one/found out about the rot/found out the amount they need servicing/how much fuel and oil they get through at low speeds/asked my mate how much the insurance was.....
I kind of get the feeling that supercar ownership would be a lot like that, plus it's not like super/sports cars are exactly rare on the roads these days where as a restored s13? Or a CRX with its original engine? Or an escort cossie without clear signs off neglect and or dodgy half arsed repair work?
I guess with age we start to learn to appreciate the extraordinary in the every day...
Or we are spoilt little Sh!ts... Take your pick.



To make a long story short, I am the owner of this car and spent 39+ years of my life in SoCal.  Even before I got my drivers license, I wanted a 2.8 German Capri II of which I later owned.  Many a Merkur XR4Ti in later life, 6 in all and trying to import Euro Sierra parts lead me to this project when I moved to Tokyo 5 years ago. As for the micro niche European Ford scene, well, I know of a handful of RS owners and they are present but not visible.  As for the American Ford products, well you see a few Ford of Japan cars as well as private imports and Mustangs..... These owners are more into USA culture than the car themselves is the observation I have made.  Still in search for a 3 door Sierra... or a Second Gen Focus RS???


Little bit if trivia for you, the Escort Cosworth was actually built up from a shortened Sierra chassis with an Escort body stuck on top ;)


Kind of mystical seeing a cossy in japan


Ford decided to use the 4x4 Cosworth chassis because they had already developed it for rally, they knew that ot worked well and it was a simple solution to make the Escort Cosworth homologated for Group A.


This is the wanderer you find after you beat all the rivals in TXR Zero


This is just mad. To be honest here in New Zealand we don't get much of Ford rally vehicles, it's usually the big v8s, but this is the kind of Ford i'd want!


love the attention to detail for those rims!!


love the attention to detail for those rims!!


tkosho24v But you had to re-drill anyway? Was that just how things turned out? They look flippin perfect :)


Thank you for your kind comment!  Yeah, it was needed to keep it the 4 on 108 mm PCD.
Here is the build thread... It may answer more questions.


the car was very good 
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