Fast Ford - - Ff Tech -

Don’t buy a Mk3 Es­cort with­out check­ing every­where – and we mean ab­so­lutely every­where – for rust. Even the ti­di­est-look­ing XR3s may be hid­ing se­ri­ous rot, which could re­duce the shell to very ex­pen­sive scrap.

Start with the ob­vi­ous: doors, A-pil­lars, wings, sills, whee­larches, fuel filler, bon­net and tail­gate. If fit­ted, look at the sun­roof, be­tween the glass and its frame, which is prone to rot­ting out. They can be re­fur­bished, but good sun­roofs are hard to find.

Sun­roofs tend to leak and the drains get blocked, so feel the car­pets in the footwells for damp­ness; mois­ture be­comes trapped in the in­su­la­tion, re­sult­ing in ma­jor tin­worm. Take off the plas­tic in­ner sill cov­ers, lift the car­pets and in­spect the floors – most likely you’ll find rust or re­pairs. Non-sun­roof cars aren’t as prone to hav­ing holes in their floors.

Re­move the back seat to look at the in­ner rear quar­ter pan­els, and un­screw the glove­box to check the bat­tery tray and bulk­head. Look again from un­der the bon­net – the in­ner wings and fuse­box area can com­pletely crum­ble.

Un­der­neath, shine a torch into ev­ery crevice, pay­ing par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to the front floors, chas­sis rails, front cross­mem­ber, be­hind the head­lamps, rear valance and boot floor.

Most pan­els are rea­son­ably-priced as re­pro­duc­tions, but gen­uine Ford NOS wings are get­ting pricey, while rear quar­ters and doors are un­avail­able. Re­mem­ber that, al­though al­most any­thing is re­pairable, XR3s share most bits with RS Tur­bos and RS1600is, so you’ll be pay­ing RS tax to re­store an XR too.

The XR3 bodykit was iden­ti­cal to the later XR3i, so there are plenty of de­cent spats and spoil­ers on eBay; rear spoil­ers may be droopy when the me­tal struc­ture bends, but re­place­ments are cheap enough. Bear in mind early Mk3 Es­corts had unique ex­ter­nally-hinged door mir­rors, which can be tricky to source.

If you’re set on a par­tic­u­lar-colour XR3, it’s worth not­ing that Sun­burst Red is most com­mon, while Mid­night Blue is rarest – al­though it doesn’t carry a premium. Ex­pect to pay more for a pukka Prairie Yel­low XR3, but watch out for cars re­painted from other shades – or even con­verted from XR3is…

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