November 24, 1980 was a big day for Ford, as it was the day the XR3 was handed over to the UK motoring media and press to test drive and report back in their publications how good it was !
At the time, parts of the M4 motorway had been built but still not opened yet to the public, and Ford pulled off a coup to ‘borrow’ a length of it near Bridgend in South Wales near the Ford factory as it was, for the journo’s to try the car. They lined up rows of brand new red XR3’s for them to test which the photos show just how many they were !
Ford were nervous, as all previous Escorts, the Mark 1’s & Mark 2’s had been rear wheel drive, and the XR3 was first Escort to have front wheel drive. Remember that at launch, the XR3 wasn’t fuel injected, it was only on Jan 1st 1983, that the later fuel injected XR3i was available to buy.
Ford had also been under pressure to come up with a rival to the Volkswagen Golf GTI, which had been launched in 1976 as a sporty hatchback with front wheel drive, although the original Mk1 Golf was actually launched in 1974. The GTI had taken off so now Ford had been working on a rival. Plus of course in the early 1980’s, image was the thing with Yuppies, power dressing and even TV characters such as Harry Enfield’s ‘Loads o’ Money’ cash rich plasterer waving his wad of money around. The Hot Hatch era had arrived !
And the XR3 was a huge success for Ford, accounting for a third of all Escort sales in the early 1980’s, and became the car to have for the ‘Essex Boys’ !
Anyone who wanted one in the 1980’s, grew up with one or just wanted one for pure 1980’s nostalgia, prices are on the up. Just look at the silly prices people are paying for Mk2 Escort RS2000’s, and even 1600 Ghia versions of the Mk2 are going up. The next generation Escort is the XR3 & XR3i and their prices are going up too, along with the smaller but equally sporty Fiesta XR2.
So get your wad out and splash the cash !!!!
Photos copyright of Ford and we thank them for their help.