Fast Ford - - Buyer’s Guide Escort Xr3 -

XR3 sus­pen­sion was widely praised when new, be­ing com­pared favourably to the Golf GTI thanks to Bil­stein gas dampers, stiff pro­gres­sive-rate coil springs and awk­ward ge­om­e­try – an orig­i­nal car should sit nose-up, with pos­i­tive cam­ber on the front wheels and neg­a­tive at the back.

It’s not an at­trac­tive stance, so many own­ers over the years have fit­ted up­rated af­ter­mar­ket springs or XR3i ver­sions, which make an Es­cort sit evenly and look loads bet­ter for be­ing about an inch lower. XR3i coils also im­prove on the XR3’s stiff ride and im­prove han­dling, so un­less you’re seek­ing a con­cours con­tender, don’t be dis­suaded by the lack of orig­i­nal­ity.

Prob­lems tend not to be XR3-spe­cific – sim­ply what you should check on any used car.

Rum­bling may be from tired wheel bear­ings, vi­bra­tions sug­gest some­thing loose or bro­ken (check the steer­ing col­umn for play), and the coil springs could be snapped (you may hear noises when turn­ing the steer­ing wheel or go­ing over bumps) or worn out, re­sult­ing in er­ratic han­dling.

Vague­ness on the road may also re­sult from tired dampers or soggy bushes – the rear wish­bones and tie bars are most likely to suf­fer, es­pe­cially if they’re the orig­i­nals. Polyurethane re­place­ments are the so­lu­tion.

If the han­dling is poor, don’t dis­count the ob­vi­ous (such as old or cheap tyres) or the se­ri­ous – a badly-cor­roded XR3 will flex around its sus­pen­sion mount­ing points. And don’t for­get the steer­ing will feel heavy – XR3s were never equipped with PAS, mak­ing the tiny two-spoke steer­ing wheel tricky to turn at park­ing speeds.

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