The Ford Escort RS Cosworth was a rally homologation special built to qualify for the Group A World Rally Championship. From 1992-1996, it was available as a road car and featured a Cosworth tuned engine with coach building by Karmann. It was powered by a 2.0 litre 16 valve 4 cylinder turbocharged engine. Early examples were fitted with the YBT engine that featured the larger Garrett T3/T04B turbocharger and produced 169kW of power.To accommodate the engine and transmission the car was developed around the chassis and mechanicals of the Sierra RS Cosworth. The Escort RS Cosworth was fitted with a permanent four wheel drive system and a MT 75 5-speed manual gearbox. Other features of the car included Ford RS five spoke alloy wheels with Pirelli P Zero tyres and an ABS anti-lock brake system with ventilated front and rear disc brakes.
Only 7,145 examples were produced with the first 2,500 having the larger turbo fitted. Performance of the RS was exceptional for the day and the 1275kg pocket rocket did the 0-100km/h sprint in 5.9 seconds and achieved a top speed of 225km/h. The car was successfully homologated for the 1993 WRC and Ford made it useable in everyday situations. As a result, the turbo was replaced by a smaller Garrett T25 unit and this resulted in a marginal loss in power and torque but reduced turbo lag considerably.
The Escort RS Cosworth didn’t achieve the success that was hoped in the World Rally Championship, with the Group A period being largely dominated by Lancia and Toyota. The Ford team scored seven wins throughout 1993 and 1994, mostly in the hands of French driver François Delecour. The works outfit closed ahead of the 1995 season and was re-established again in 1996, with Carlos Sainz winning the Rally of Indonesia. The car was adapted for the new World Rally Car rules for 1997 but Sainz only achieved two wins for the year before the car was replaced by the new Focus WRC. Rally versions of the RS had roughly 220kW of power however they could achieve as much as 370kW, and the works rally cars had 7-speed gearboxes. The car would’ve achieved better results if it wasn’t for lack of budget and Delecour’s car accident in 1994, which kept him away from competition for over a year.
In Season 14 Episode 1 of the brilliant show ‘Wheeler Dealers’, a blue 1995 Ford Escort RS Cosworth is featured. Frank Stephenson, the man responsible for designing the rear ‘whale tail’ wing for the car was invited to be a special guest on the show. Stephenson has been a McLaren designer since 2008 and has previously designed the BMW Mini, BMW X5, Ferrari F430, Ferrari 612 Scaglietti and Maserati MC12. His original concept was to add a third rear wing to the car (in the middle of the existing two) and believed that it would’ve completed the design. The inspiration for this was the three wing design on the Fokker Dr.1 fighter aircraft. Unfortunately, the extra wing was deemed to be too expensive to manufacture and therefore wasn’t put into production. On this episode, after meeting up with Stephenson, mechanic Ant Anstead decided to construct a third wing for the car out of fibreglass. After installing the wing, wind tunnel testing was carried out with the third wing providing 43kg of downforce at 160km/h compared to the stock downforce of 31kg at 160km/h. It was a great achievement and proves that the extra wing designed by Stephenson would’ve completed the design of the Escort and also improved downforce. Unfortunately, we’ll never know if the third wing would’ve helped the car to achieve more wins in the World Rally Championship throughout the 1990’s.