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.