1997 Ford Scorpio Ultima 2.3 petrol from UK and Ireland


If only it was better looking


Mostly electronic niggles were the main pain, temperature and fuel gauge were inaccurate, had to get an auto-electrician to sort it out. Electric mirrors were slow to move, and the windows later in life.

Mechanically, brakes, suspension, exhaust and all the usual stuff was replaced at MOT's over the time I had the car on the road.

Bodywork there was cosmetic rust around the arches, but I kept on top of it preventing it from getting worse.

Servicing was carried out to the letter, the car was looked after as much as possible. Engine and transmission were pretty solid and rarely gave any trouble, there was a slight coolant leak though, replaced pipe and that was sorted.

General Comments:

Well, I was one of those people that slated this cars looks when it came out in the mid 1990's. It is pretty ugly, and oddly enough a lot of people call it stylish as well, but they must be being sarcastic. Mind you, a lot of cars are ugly now, so it does not look too out of place.

My very late R registered 1997 model is the face lifted version, which is an improvement. They moved the Ford badge into the middle grille and darkened the bug eye headlights. Still ugly, but improved enough to make me buy it. The car from the side and back however is OK looking, typical of most executive cars from this era. Best suited in darker colours. Alloy wheels are nice.

Inside is absolutely gorgeous and where this car shines. Ultima is top spec, electric everything and the black leather seats are among the most comfortable I ever sat on, even better than my previous Vauxhall Omega, which had leather also. The Ford is as good in all areas, with acres of space.

The 2.3 petrol is no racing car, but will get you were you want to go. Auto box acceleration is lethargic, and only manages 30 MPG if you drive very slow. 27 MPG is more likely with traffic. Awful by today's standard, but typical of bigger petrol cars back in the day. Would have loved the bigger 2.9i 6 cylinder models, they do roughly the same economy with better performance. Handling is OK for the car's size.

It is essentially kept as a second car now for me, when I got it years ago for a very nice price I was already planning on garaging it for summer use only, but have put considerable mileage on it. It has been relatively inexpensive to repair, if you know an ex Ford mechanic to help you out and source parts. I believe the biggest problem with this car was its looks and the depreciation back in the day, and general higher running costs killed it off. But had this car been better looking, and a bit more reliable it may have been a genuine contender to the German brands in the executive market. Its main rival really was the Vauxhall Omega though, which as my previous car I can tell you there is little in it between them, just depends what you prefer.

Not many left on the road; advice to anyone buying one is obviously find a looked after one, and you'll have a nice comfortable car for cruising in. Go for the bigger engines and better specifications. Mine is sitting in my garage now off the road, can't wait for next summer, will easily pass its MOT and be back on the road!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 4th November, 2020

1997 Ford Scorpio GLX 2.3i Cosworth from Norway


Gorgeous and practical car at a great price



Front brake discs.

Rear brake discs.

Rear brake calipers.

Handbrake cable.

A couple of undercarriage bushings.


Booth lock seized. A typical weak spot.

General Comments:

The car had received several sets of front brake discs before I bought it. I decided to just live with the slight pulsing because it never go any worse and it often went away for months at the time. Most likely, they wore unevenly and weren't warped. The main problem is the design; they should be glued to the axle because they are only held in place by the wheel and wheel nuts. If not glued, they will come partly unstuck during wheel changes, allowing dirt to enter between the flange and disc, warping it.

Rear brake calipers are sensitive - if you do not pull the handbrake every time you park the car, you can expect the calipers to get stuck within a couple of years. Repair is not cheap. I had to replace a set on mine because they hadn't been used. This also ruined the brake discs and pads because the handbrake didn't release fully. In addition, the handbrake cable were stuck from lack of use.

A few bushings were replaced over the years in the undercarriage, but nothing worth complaining about.

The instruments had been replaced before I got the car, apparently a weak item.

The suspension was fine on the motorway, but horrible over speed bumps. The worst was going over really broken roads at a walking pace, when the car would bounce/move sideways instead of back-forth, making for a very uncomfortable ride as passengers where shaken sideways into the doors. Still, it was far better in absorbing big bumps and speed bumps than my former 1995 2.9 litre Scorpio (you can read about that in the (1995 section if you fancy).

Ground clearance was not great, but significantly better than on my 1995 model. Compared to my current 2004 Mondeo, however, the Scorpio's ride very low indeed.

I love the looks of these Scorpios and have done so since I first saw one. Particularly the rear end is appealing. The car lost some of its elegance for the 1998 facelift, however, what with a new grill and taillights, but not enough to ruin the car.

The interior held up very well and the interior looked virtually brand new after 143,000 km (about 90,000 miles).

The seats are comfy, but my lower spec car lacked the ability to adjust the angle of the seat, something I missed a little as I like to have the seat high up front and low in the back. Also, a bit more lumbar support for the lower back would have been nice on longer drives. Still, the seats are huge and well padded and excellent for most people. Rear seats are likewise very good, but only for two adults. The person forced to sit in the middle of the back seat won't be all that comfortable, and there is no headrest or proper seatbelt for this "emergency" seat.

The engine had the same top end as my 2.9 (147 hp for the 2.3 vs 150 claimed for the 2.9) but lacked the low-and midrange torque of the larger engine. And even the big donk only came fully alive at 4200 rpm, about the same point that the 2.3 started to go really well. While the rev limiter cut the fun at 5700 rpm on the big six, the smaller four kept going until 6400 rpm. And using all the revs paid off, especially in the lower two gears, in order to get a good drive in the next taller gear.

The manual gearbox and overall gearing was a better match for the power on the 2.3 than in the 2.9, which was over-geared. Only the very low first gear and subsequent big drop in revs when shifting into 2nd gear was less than ideal.

The clutch on mine was warped when I got it, but replacing it didn't do wonders. It would always drag a little and you could hear a clunk in the final drive every time you put it in gear from standstill. Also, getting underway was problematic as well as ultra-smooth shifts because engagement wasn't smooth - sitting with the car idling and gently letting out the clutch, the revs would jump up and down several 100 rpm as the clutch grabbed and released constantly. Annoying.

Fuel consumption varied from the best of 7.2 litres / 100 km to a worst of 11.5 litres / 100 km. Typical consumption in mixed driving (mostly town and suburban) was around 9.3 litres / 100 km.

Being of a DOCH design, there are still no cambelts to replace since the cams are chain driven. The chain is silent in operation. Also, hydraulic adjustment means you can ignore the valves.

Many doesn't know that the 2.3 was developed by Cosworth. It's 4-valve heads helped power and tractability - it would pull (slowly) from as low as 600 rpm in 5th gear and continue to pull all the way to a 210 kph (128 mph) top speed. And it was smooth running, too, thanks to twin balancers.

The lock button in the boot lid was completely stuck in this car, requiring a key to open. On my 1995 model, the button often became stuck or difficult to move, and lubing it is a real pain in a certain spot because you need to remove the lock to get everything clean and smooth working.

The overall build quality on my car was good, but not nearly as good as that of the 1995. It didn't seem equally well built; more interior noise, "singing" noise from the rear axle, noise from the electric windows when moving up or down and the odd rattle from the interior.

I want another late model, low-mileage Scorpio. Every time I sit in one, I feel at home. Everything fits just right. Although my 2004 Mondeo Ghia has a nice interior on its own, it doesn't come close to matching that of the Scorpios, which are almost cosier than a typical living room.

Then you have the exterior, which both my wife and I consider as one of the prettiest to ever grace a family saloon.

And we don't care what the rest of the world thinks ;)

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

Review Date: 17th May, 2010