Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Most of what I’ve read on CC about the first gen Escort has been lukewarm at best, to one of the worst cars anyone had ever owned. I thought I’d try to offer a more positive take supplied to me by the owner of this little gem.
I saw this beige take out container on wheels from across the parking lot and went to get a closer look. The shape was like every other 80’s hatchback, so much so that I couldn’t be sure what I was looking at for a moment. Upon approaching it, I was surprised to see an Escort badge stuck to one of the cleanest cars I’ve ever seen outside of a showroom.
Short of a couple dents and scratches on one side, the body was in amazing shape. The wheels could’ve used new trim rings and there was an ugly scar on the rubber cap of the passenger side bumper. Peering in through the dark window, I could see the interior was just as nice as the outside.
Very basic. Just two cloth buckets and a four speed stick, by the looks of it. Suddenly, I was tapped on the shoulder. Turning around, I saw a young woman with keys dangling from one hand and a shopping bag in the other. She wore a black shirt under a denim vest. He jeans were ripped, and her brown eyes squinted at me behind tinted glasses. Thankfully, she wasn’t upset and we struck up a quick conversation.
She had bought the car just before that record breaking snow storm we had last month. Being the only one of her family that knew how to drive in snow meant that she was the volunteer taxi, taking her girlfriend to work at five AM each morning. The little FWD car did amazing and never once failed her. She had gotten so good on snow in that time, she said, she could pass even four wheel drive trucks that were stuck spinning their wheels.
It was indeed a base model, what would be called an Escort “Pony” had it been made a year later. As it stood, it was a very early 85 and a half model with it’s flush headlights and larger 1.9 liter engine. At time of writing it had only 135,000 miles on it and she did her best to keep it as clean as possible. It was no show car, but why not take care of it? This Escort was just as worthy of love as any old Mustang, she expressed.
While it wasn’t always exciting to drive, and she’d rather have a Bronco II, this little car was everything she needed. It started, ran, and would even get her the odd stranger asking questions about it on a random Tuesday.
I watched her climb in, fire it up, and pull away. It must have had some kind of exhaust on it with that tailpipe, because it sounded great. I can still remember the Brrrrraaap, snick, braaaaap! sound of her pulling out of the parking lot.
Worthy of love. That phrase stuck with me as I went back to my car. What some people saw as a cheap plenty box, better left to the scrapheap of memory, she saw as something to be treasured. 36 years old and that little Ford was the nicest first gen Escort I had ever seen, that was still running. If she does get that Bronco one day, I hope she remembers her little car and passes it on to someone who will love it just as she did.