1980 Ford Escort L 1.3


A recommended choice..


When purchased, the car's 1.3 Kent motor sounded like a truck, and rattled uncontrollably. Let me just say a rather comprehensive engine tuneup more than fixed the problem, and did absolute wonders to the car's overall running and reliability.

Resultantly, I would be one of the few young people who has actually quietened their car, rather than make it noisier.

Additionally, the engine was renowned for running hot. A discovery was made one weekend that the radiator was near empty (it had been filled a week previously). Immediately it was filled, only then for my sister to find out on the following day that the car was bleeding 'green blood', or coolant.

$100NZD later - one rather well patched up radiator, needing replacement in total in the next 50,000km.

Wheels were also a long way out of alignment. This fault was fixed immediately.

Upon looking closely at the tires, I noticed a mix of three 175's and 1 155. As the spare was found to be 175, a quick switch with the offending 155 was made.

Later on all wheels were properly balanced at Goodyear. It did absolute wonders to the car's handling...

Tail-light electrics were somewhat dodgy, and were immediately attended to. All is now good on the (Lucas) electric front.

New brake-pads and shoes will be fitted soon. Paint will also need to be touched up.

When tires are changed, the eventual plan is to upgrade to 185 13in all round (including the spare!).

General Comments:

1980 Ford Escort Mk2 1.3 L 4 door (tan yellow)

This is my first car, bought June 2002 from an elderly lady who only used it occasionally. Its condition is excellent, and that is how it is kept (garaged).

Getting used to the car was an interesting (and claustrophobic - I normally drove larger car, such as Holden Commodores) experience. Until I got used to it, changing into reverse (being on a dogleg away from the driver) was an absolute pig. When first changing into reverse, I almost leap-frogged straight into the previous owner's garage door!

After getting used to the gearing, my mind on it is changed completely. In my opinion, Ford Escort 4 speed manual boxes are amongst the slickest ever! The change between gears is fluid, and the clutch.

Reliability is excellent, especially for a car of its age. Although only a 1.3, it keeps up pretty well with the other traffic, and on the open highway, it is excellent for overtaking. Hills with steep gradients are an embarrassment - although it is a flaw that I can live with.

The interior itself is an interesting mixture of old and new.

Basic features like intermittent wipers, glovebox, centre console and seat headrests are what you would expect in a modern car, however all-brown vinyl seats and trim are not!

All interior electrics work, down to the heater fans, and all rear window demister bars!

As for the ride, the car is extremely comfortable and an excellent handler (once I fixed all wheel and alignment issues), especially considering the fact that the rear suspension is leaf sprung. Body roll (as seen from the outside) is similar to that of a ship, although it is not really noticed if you are continually driving the car.

Generally, the car is 'fun' to drive. Wheel spinning and sideways handling is just too easy. It's cool though.

As well, the car has given me a few personal advantages. It can quickly become the talking point of many conversations, no matter how many people. It is also a 'magnet', as all girls that I've talked to have seen it reckon its cool - often I have people asking me if they can ride in it!

It has certainly given me hours of constant enjoyment. I cannot ever imagine getting bored of it.

I do wonder now why people go to the trouble of creating Lotus 7 replica kit cars out of these machines. After all, at the end of the day, this car basically does what a Lotus 7 replica seems to do, although with a practical enclosed steel body shell.

Overall, the Ford Escort Mk2 is an excellent car to own. I recommend it to anyone (who loves cars, and likes to have fun).

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 11th November, 2002

1980 Ford Escort GL Mk2 2.0


A fun car, but ready for the workshop or the wrecking yard


The clutch had started slipping soon after I bought it. It was replaced and I haven't had a problem with it since.

The welsh plugs were rusted out on purchase. This is a cheap fix as the engine does not have to be removed from the bay as with some other vehicles.

The exhaust headers had rusted through completely.

Water leak behind dashboard.

The drivers side internal door handle is not functioning. The connecting rod to the latch had snapped, something to be wary of as parts are near impossible to find.

The drivers side window winder seal disconnected from the window. This is an easy and cheap fix.

The radiator needed to be re-cored.

General Comments:

I really loved driving this car, it is fun and the handling is very responsive. The four speed gearbox is a real pleasure, I have driven many different manual vehicles, but the shift on the Escort is perfect. No to slushy and not to clunky.

The engine is very poky and has quality power for a 2.0 four cylinder. Unfortunately it loves to burn oil and although this hasn't caused me any problems, leaving the car trailing in a cloud of smoke is a little embarassing. Be sure to regularly check the oil.

You will be hard pressed to find an Escort devoid of rust, the areas you should check are in between the roof and front quarter panels, under the carpet of the driver and passenger side (you may find the floor is badly deteriorated here, also check that the carpet is not wet) and around the boot.

When I originally bought the car it was extremely prone to overheating, but after the radiator had been re-cored it was never a problem. The radiators are quite small so it is important that they are working well.

The interior is in very poor condition, the seats and dashboard are cracked, the carpets do not sit right and the heating does not function at all. The guages all work fine and funnily enough the cigarette lighter is in perfect working order.

All in all I have been quite happy with the Escort and while I will soon be putting it out to pasture, I will be sorry to see it go. If however I was in the market for an Escort I would be looking for a car to restore not as something to drive on a regular basis.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 17th August, 2002