40 years of Ford Escort: In the beginning there was the “dog bone”

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In the beginning there was "Dog bones"

40 years of Ford Escort: In the beginning there was the "dog bone"-Great Britain

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In 1968 the first generation of the escort celebrated its European premiere at the salon in Brussels. In Germany, the first car left the assembly line in Saarlouis on January 16, 1970. Because of sof a characteristic radiator grille that surrounds the two headlights, the first generation is also known as "Dog bone escort" known.

Source: autodrom archive / SP-X

40 years of Ford Escort: In the beginning there was the "dog bone"-Great Britain

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The rally successes of the escort are used for advertising very early on. Here is an advertisement from 1969.

Source: autodrom archive / SP-X

40 years of Ford Escort: In the beginning there was the "dog bone"-Ford

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Wide fenders, mud flaps, neat additional lights and massive front protection – so equipped…

Source: autodrom archive / SP-X

40 years of Ford Escort: In the beginning there was the "dog bone"-Opel Kadett

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…the rally escorts raised a lot of dust at the 1970 rally London-Mexico.

Source: autodrom archive / SP-X

40 years of Ford Escort: In the beginning there was the "dog bone"-GTI Group

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That wants to be advertised: in 1971 the escort sport celebrated its premiere with GT chassis. A 1.3-liter four-cylinder now with 72 hp is used under the hood.

Source: autodrom archive / SP-X

40 years of Ford Escort: In the beginning there was the "dog bone"-rallye

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Goodbye dog bones! In 1975 the much more edgy escort ll started his career. The model was developed by Ford Germany.

Source: autodrom archive / SP-X

40 years of Ford Escort: In the beginning there was the "dog bone"-rallye

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The RS2000 stood out from the more civilized versions thanks to the plastic front with double headlights. This 1975 model is powered by the 2.0 liter 110 hp engine.

Source: autodrom archive / SP-X

40 years of Ford Escort: In the beginning there was the "dog bone"-Opel Kadett

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A rally again and again: An Escort ll in Sweden in 1978 dancing the winter over ice and snow.

Source: autodrom archive / SP-X

40 years of Ford Escort: In the beginning there was the "dog bone"-Ford Escort

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After the third generation of the Escort was presented in 1980, the Orion notchback variant followed in 1983. It corresponded to the five-door escort up to the B-pillar.

Source: autodrom archive / SP-X

40 years of Ford Escort: In the beginning there was the "dog bone"-Ford Escort

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Ford’s counterpart to the Golf GTI: an Escort XR 3i from 1984.

Source: autodrom archive / SP-X

40 years of Ford Escort: In the beginning there was the "dog bone"-Ford Escort

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On November 24, 1986, the four millionth Ford car from the Saarlouis plant rolled off the assembly line – an Orion.

Source: autodrom archive / SP-X

40 years of Ford Escort: In the beginning there was the "dog bone"-Opel Kadett

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The Escort convertibles have also been very popular since their first edition (1983). A model from 1987 can be seen here.

Source: autodrom archive / SP-X

40 years of Ford Escort: In the beginning there was the "dog bone"-Saarlouis

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A Ford Escort XR3i convertible as a special model "All white" from 1988.

Source: autodrom archive / SP-X

40 years of Ford Escort: In the beginning there was the "dog bone"-rallye

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In October 1990 the fourth generation of the escort is introduced. Production is in full swing: the plant in Saarlouis works extra shifts and produces up to zu 1360 escort.

Source: autodrom archive / SP-X

40 years of Ford Escort: In the beginning there was the "dog bone"-Ford Escort

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Top model: Ford Escort RS Cosworth with 220 hp from 1993.

Source: autodrom archive / SP-X

40 years of Ford Escort: In the beginning there was the "dog bone"-Saarlouis

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A competition Escort RS on a rally in 1993.

Source: autodrom archive / SP-X

40 years of Ford Escort: In the beginning there was the "dog bone"-rallye

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In 1995 the fourth generation got a facelift. Here you can see a 16V Flair convertible.

Source: autodrom archive / SP-X

40 years of Ford Escort: In the beginning there was the "dog bone"-Great Britain

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Rallye, of course: an Escort RS Cosworth from 1997 in action.

Source: autodrom archive / SP-X

40 years of Ford Escort: In the beginning there was the "dog bone"-rallye

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After the production of 83,983 convertible units, production ends on September 30, 1997.

Source: autodrom archive / SP-X

40 years of Ford Escort: In the beginning there was the "dog bone"-GTI Group

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At the end of 1998 the special escort model "Classic" comes onto the market. Even after the introduction of the Focus (end of 1998), the Escort will continue to be sold as a "Classic". In July 2000 the PrProduction of the Escort, the Focus is now the sole successor.

Source: autodrom archive / SP-X

The first German Ford Escort rolled off the production line 40 years ago. Especially early "Dog bone models" have cult status.

A.he Ford Escort, which expired ten years ago, has largely disappeared from the everyday street scene. In contrast, the compact class series, which went into production 40 years ago in Saarlouis, has long enjoyed cult status among enthusiasts. The globally successful European Ford quickly caused a stir – on the one hand as an underpowered 40 HP Biedermann with a radiator grille in a curious dog-bone design, on the other hand as an arsonist on rally slopes and with a forerunner of the GTI faction with up to 100 HP, the legendary RS 2000.

Originally, the Escort developed in Great Britain was only supposed to be the successor to the Anglia, a technically simple, curiously shaped small car that is now mainly known to fans of the young magician “Harry Potter”. He started this mission in England in December 1967.

At the same time, the Escort should also become the first standard Ford for the European market, not only according to the will of the American corporate headquarters, but above all for market-strategic considerations. In Great Britain Ford was on the way to the undisputed number one, in Germany the Ford models became 12M and 15M from the million-seller Opel Kadett "B", but also brought new French and Italian rivals into distress. With the Escort, the Cologne-based company was offered a fully developed basic series that only had to be adapted for the German market.

All Escort featured the so-called “Coke-Bottle-Design” with a dynamic hip swing over the rear wheels, but also a rough chassis. Even in its first generation, the entry-level model developed into the most-produced Ford of all time, at least as far as the Old World was concerned. The compact shopping and family escort was also able to conquer the New World, but only from 1981. In the USA, the third-generation escort replaced the local Pinto small car and the Fiesta imported from Europe. With a modern layout – the Escort was the first Ford to be produced in America to offer a combination of tailgate and front-wheel drive – the small car made it to first place in the group’s ranking of the best-selling car series.

But also with the body, drive and chassis equipment, Ford followed the different customer requirements depending on the continent and country. In North America, for example, there was the Escort as a sports coupe EXP, in Brazil, on the other hand, the world car was marketed as a two-door notchback model under the name Ford Verona and even as the VW Apollo. South Africa presented an even more exotic brand cocktail: Here the escort pickup Bantam was sold by MMI Mitsubishi and Mazda in parallel, each with their own logo as MMI Mitsubishi Rustler or Mazda Rustler. The impressive proof of the success of this world car strategy were eleven million escorts who were sold by 1990.

In Germany, the start of the smallest Ford model in 1968 was bumpy, which was less due to the lack of driving comfort of the Escort than to delivery problems. When the new plant in Saarland finally eliminated the capacity bottleneck in 1970, almost 60,000 pre-orders had already been canceled. In addition, there was loud criticism from customers and the press of the sometimes sloppy-poor workmanship and the long list of extra costs for the basic escort. Everything cost extra, regardless of whether it was a front vent window or radial tires in the 155 SR 12 stroller format.

The cheap Ford polished up its discounter image in its first year through motorsport successes in the World Rally Championship. The 115 hp twin-cam engine transformed the 800 kilogram tin can into a real fire chair, the street version of which ennobled English country roads with rubber tracks that were otherwise only erased by barely affordable V8 supercars. With a delay and in a weakened form, it was also the motorsport successes in Germany that finally brought the Escort to respectable numbers in the registration statistics. Wild riders, including Hubert Hahne and Rolf Stommelen, drove good family fathers to buy carefully refined Escort GTs or sports with bourgeois 72 hp.

It didn’t really get to the point until spring 1973. On the eve of the oil crisis and the GTI era, the 100 hp RS 2000 appeared in white and blue war paint. 5200 copies of this trendsetter had been sold by the end of 1974 – an almost unprecedented number at the time. Hardly less impressive: a total of 2.14 million units of the first Escort generation were sold, of which only 234,000 units were in Germany.

Perhaps this was the reason why Ford Cologne had taken on the decisive role in the development of the Escort MK II presented in January 1975. The model series developed under the code name "Brenda" largely adopted the technology and engines of the predecessor, but packed them in more pleasing, smooth shapes. A package that was enough to sell 1.6 million units in five years. Then, however, the time of the rigid axle, rear-wheel drive and notchback was finally over.

Opel Kadett and Ford Escort now followed in the footsteps of the new class leader VW Golf: Transverse motors, front-wheel drive and tailgate were indispensable prerequisites for success from 1980 onwards. The third generation of escorts developed under the code name "Erika" also made a career in the world market. The XR3i now acted as the service provider, from 1983 a convertible with roll bar produced by Karmann as a pleasure donor and, for the first time, five-door station wagons ("tournament") and the Transporter Express 35/55 as a load donkey. A program that has remained fresh for over a decade thanks to constant new special models, the Orion notchback version, countless sporting successes and a top performer with up to 132 hp.

The Escort MK IV, launched in October 1990, also remained in production for ten years. With inconspicuous but timelessly elegant shapes, the final Escort edition even managed to stay in the program for several years parallel to its successor, Focus.

From the good family carriage to the wild rally rider, from the staid everyday car to the successful world car, the Escort wrote history like no other Ford. For the new Focus generation that is in the starting blocks, however, perhaps an obligation and incentive to successfully attribute the idea of ​​the compact world car animate.

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