Cohort Pic(k) of the Day: 1983 Ford Escort 1.3 GL – We Missed Out On The 1.3 By A Hair

Roshake posted this Mk3 European Escort 1.3 GL, which reminded me that in the US, the 1.3 was intended to be the base engine, a decision that was reversed just months before it was to go into production. Why? With all of 65 hp, the 1.6 was decidedly underpowered, with either the awkward 3+OD manual or the unpleasant ATX automatic. Having had the displeasure of driving both of them, it was a very good call to cancel the 1.3. The US Escort got off to a rocky start as it was.

The European 1.3 had 68 hp, more than the US 1.6, and it wasn’t saddled with that overdrive manual, so this would have been a somewhat more pleasant if not exactly an exciting Escort.

I said “somewhat”; this drab gray interior is anything but exciting. But then it was par for the course for a low trim car at the time.

Unfortunately, the CVH four was never an engine that inspired excitement, even in European trim. Well, yes, there were some higher output 1.6s and the turbo, but I’m talking ore about its issues with NHV; the very stiff valve spring required for its semi-hemi head made themselves known, it was prone to dropping valve inserts, and it had a decided tendency towards oil sludging. It will not go down in history as one of Ford’s better engines, unlike the pushrod Kent/Crossflow/Valencia, which well-outlasted the CVH and was built all the way to 2002, in updated form. Pretty impressive, for an engine whose roots were over 50 years old.

The smallest engine in these European Escorts was the Valencia 1.1. I see that the bore and stroke of both the Valancia and CVH 1.1 is the same; presumably the CVH was based on the Kent to some degree or another in terms of its basic block architecture. Makes production a lot easier.


Related reading:
Curbside Classic: 1981 Ford Escort – You Never Get A Second Chance To Make A Good First Impression