Introduced in June 1973, the Ford EscortRS2000 was very similar to the rest of the Escort range, and was billed to be a half-way house between the extreme RS1600 and the reliable Mexico.
It used the same bodyshell as the RS1600 and Mexico, but had a different engine. It was a Ford 2.0 litre Pinto unit and developed 100bhp, 2 more bhp than it did in the Cortina. The engine was not designed to fit into the Escort, so to make it suitable Ford had to remove the engine driver cooling fan and replace it with a thermostatically controlled one.
The car wasn’t launched in Britain until October 1973 as the first 2000 built were reserved for the European market.
Escorts have a great rallying tradition and 5000 RS2000s were built in order for Ford to achieve homologation rules for Group 1 rallying. The amount of Escort RS2000s built is up for dispute however, as Ford only made 3500 RS2000s in Britain. Ford has said they built the remaining cars required for homologation in Germany but there is very little evidence for this.
One RS2000 estate was built after a Mexico estate was converted. The Mk1 RS2000 stopped being built in 1974, the same time the rest of the MK1 Escorts were discontinued.
The RS2000 came back in 1976 and was based on the new Mk2 Escort. It used a new 2 litre engine powering the rear wheels, via a gearbox situated near the back for better weight distribution. The second generation RS2000 became infamous for its ‘droop snoot’ nose. This Mk RS2000 stopped production in 1978.
The RS2000 Ford Escort was not seen again until 1991 and was radically different from any other RS2000 that had been before. This new RS2000 was based on the Mk5 escort, and was front wheel drive.
Hardcore fans may have not been convinced at first, but with a 130mph top speed the new RS2000 certainly had the right credentials. The 2 litre engine lifted out of the Sierra produced 150bhp thanks to electronic fuel injection and a Ford engine management system. It was visibly different from more mundane Escort models of the time thanks to bonnet bumps and Tecno alloy wheels.
A 4×4 system was offered in 1994, splitting the 150 bhp between all four wheels. 40% went to the front and 60% went to the rear. Although this may seem like a good idea, real world figures took a hit as the 0-60 mph time went from 8.3 to 9.1 seconds and fuel consumption increased. The added weight of the four wheel drive system was blamed for the decrease in performance and economy.
December 1996 saw the RS2000 discontinued, as Ford pressed on with development for the Escort’s replacement, the Focus.