Fast Ford - - Ff Tech -

Iden­ti­fy­ing a pukka XR3 might not be as easy as you’d think. Al­though tens of thou­sands left the pro­duc­tion lines (around 10 per cent of Mk3 Es­corts were XR3s and XR3is), they weren’t built to last. Most rot­ted away many years ago, and many sur­viv­ing Mk3 Es­cort shells tend to be one­owner 1.3Ls and the like.

The prob­lem is, the XR3’s shell was a reg­u­lar Es­cort three-door hatch­back. All the fancy bits were sim­ply bolted on.

Con­sult an ex­pert wher­ever pos­si­ble – if it’s a known car to the XROC, for ex­am­ple, you’re in with a good shout.

Check the chas­sis num­ber on the log book matches what you see on the VIN plate (found on the slam panel) and the num­ber stamped into the floor be­side the driver’s seat (pro­vid­ing it’s not rot­ted away).

The num­ber should be­gin with WF0BXXGCAB, fol­lowed by one let­ter de­not­ing the year of man­u­fac­ture (A for 1980, B for 1981, and C for 1982) and an­other rep­re­sent­ing the month, fol­lowed by a unique five-digit se­rial num­ber, which matches the en­gine num­ber (found on the cylin­der block).

Run away if the num­ber in the floor looks like it’s been ground away or welded in from a dif­fer­ent car – XR3s were joyrid­ers’ favourites, don’t for­get. Sim­i­larly, make sure any etch­ings on the glass re­flect the car’s reg­is­tra­tion num­ber.

All XR3s were built at the Saar­louis plant in Ger­many, so the glass should wear Seku­rit stamps; be sus­pi­cious if the win­dows are Triplex.

Most im­por­tantly, en­sure the in­ner wings have two-bolt strut tops and shorter rain gut­ters; if not, it’s a later bodyshell and not a proper XR3.

Sim­i­larly, all XR3s had a black head­lin­ing in­side the car; re­pro­duc­tions are avail­able, al­though not easy to fit.

Fi­nally, check the date stamps on the wheels – an au­then­tic ma­chine should have al­loys that tally with the car’s build date.

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