CC Capsule: 1996 Ford Escort LX Sedan – A Manually Shifted Clown Car

It’s shocking how short the second-generation Ford Escort was. I suppose that’s true of many subcompact cars of 20 and more years ago, but cars have gotten a lot taller since then and few of these long-ago little cars still roll. The car that supplanted the Escort, the Focus, was among the first to go taller.

The growth hormones Ford fed its subcompact gave it a presence the Escort lacked. That Focus is just four inches taller than this Escort. It is only negligibly wider, and while the sedan is four inches longer the hatchback is two inches shorter. Yet when you look at a second-generation Escort through modern eyes, it looks like a clown car.

I was so taken by this itty bitty automobile that I didn’t bother to photograph the arguably more interesting Mitsubishi 3000 GT parked next to it. I’m not sure I even noticed it, so consumed with this little Ford was I. For I remember driving my dad’s second-gen Escort hatchback while he owned it and never for a minute thinking that it was unusually tiny.

I do recall thinking that the era’s small-car interiors, which the Escort exemplified, were awful. Surfaces were either fuzzy or hard and were all the same color. But hey: this car’s a five speed! Props to the driver! This one’s certainly a 1996, by the way, because that was the only year the sedan was offered with a spoiler and alloy wheels.

Terre Haute, Indiana
April, 2016