The 1.3 engine is just starting to use a bit of oil - not exactly unexpected on a 99k mile Ford - and emissions are a bit higher than I think they should be, but are still under the MoT CO and particulate limits. No catalytic converter makes things a bit less complicated here.
I was a bit concerned that the engine sounded a bit 'tappety' when I first got it, but after checking the valve clearances a couple of times concluded this was not the cause. Subsequent conversations with Ford mechanics, suggest that the top end noise of the 1.3 HCS engine is perfectly normal and was present even when new. I have leaned to live with it now.
In spite of being the smallest and oldest engine fitted to the Mk4 Escorts, at 99k plus miles it is still quite nimble and capable of a decent turn of speed. The five speed gearbox, an option I believe, keeps the revs down on the motorway and ensures fuel consumption is around 35 mpg plus. Considering the age and mileage, the gearbox remains slick and smooth, a strong point with most Fords. The clutch is light too.
Although the Encore lacks power steering, the steering feels light enough not to notice, even when parking in tight places.
The thing that concerns me most about the Escort (and Fords in general) is the unbelievably poor level of rust protection. I was amazed to see how poorly the original paint was applied to the car - a blind chimp with Parkinson's Disease could have done a more competent job. Many parts of the underbody, including some structural points, were never finished with a topcoat and not surprisingly corrosion has taken hold there. At best I think the car has a life expectancy of two years now before it becomes uneconomic and unacceptable to patch with welds. Problem areas seem to be in the sills and around the rear wheel arches. A recent visit to a breakers yard suggests that H, J and K plate Escorts (and Fiestas too) can get horribly and dangerously rusty, so I'm pleased that my one is nothing like as bad as it could be. My solution is a liberal application of Waxoyl to the underside to slow down the effects of the tin worm. It just shows what utter bollocks Ford's strap line "Designed for Living. Engineered to Last." really is. Do they really think we're so stupid?
To sum it all up, the 1.3 Encore is a neat little package, cheap to run and with very few vices. The solid little 1.3 engine is a doddle to service if not quite so sophisticated at the later 1.4 versions. With blue metallic paint, a sunroof, a neat looking tailgate spoiler, my 18 year-old daughter, for whom it was bought, is more than happy drive it. With relatively low insurance costs, it is ideal as a first car.
Having cost just £200 to buy and around £300 to get in good shape, you can't really complain can you.