Reader Submissions: This is a More European Flavor of Ford

This is a More European Flavor of Ford

By Petrolicious Productions
July 7, 2014

Year, Make, Model: 1990 Ford Escort Xr3i

Owner: Colin van Elderen

Age: 24

Location: Eindhoven, The Netherlands

Photographer: Joost Velterop and Colin van Elderen

I always had a fair amount of toy cars as a kid. Growing up watching a lot of movies, my favorite car was always a Ford Mustang, so I always had a strong preference for this make. Mustangs are rare in Holland so I started looking for a more European flavor of Ford, with the Escorts, Sierra, RS models, Cosworths and the more modern STs and RS models.

I was in my final year of college and wanted to my own car so, so, so badly. As a student I ended spending a lot of hours online searching for the perfect car within my budget, and I discovered this one in my hometown! The budget has been blown out the window over the last couple of years, but I’m trying not to think of it and driving it as often as I can, tells me it was worth it.

This is one of the last of the mk4 Escorts, the first to have the old CVH engine set up to a EFI system. The bodywork has been restored with the rear arches, floor panels, sills, battery tray and rear chassis leg replaced with new steel and of course a fresh coat of Radiant Red. I’ve updated the suspension and brakes to that of an RS Turbo as well as Koni shocks and springs. The alloys are from a RS1600i, an older model but I found these having the best period look. All parts, expect the shocks and springs and the performance exhaust, are original Escort parts.

I took one lap on the Nurburgring, before the resto.

I love the pedigree, it was common for enthusiasts, like me, to have driven this as a first car. I like the fact they are attainable, easy to work on (if its not a rust issue) and easy to upgrade. The best things for me are that it’s sort of retro, has ’80s coolness and it’s real fun to drive! It might be FWD, it might not be as fast or rare as its RS Turbo and Cosworth family-members but it’s something that can be driven everyday and can be driven hard! Even with the updated suspension the rear end has the potential to get loose but without monster power you can correct it if you’re not too late! For me, it will always be an evolving project but it will always have its period look, I only wish to improve the handling and its power. I’m currently looking into possibilities of updating to a modern sixteen-valve engine thanks to the UK Ford fanbase which is incredible.

I believe a bond with a petrolhead’s first car is special. One will always love his or her first car. To me, I’ll want to say and point: ”That’s my first car!” Meaning, this one’s a keeper. Thanks to this car, I’ve really dug into cars, their history and engineering. It made me into a true petrolhead and being one has inspired me to open up my own business one day. I’m hoping that this ”one day” will come sooner, rather than later, as I’m currently looking into various possibilities to start with a web shop and having it evolve to real auto enthusiast store. I find myself looking for older cars because to me, it feels like modern cars are losing their soul. But whereas everyone might have their own favorites, being a petrolhead is what it’s all about really, no matter what you drive or may or may not like. I like the ’80’s era, the road cars inspired by Group B rallycars but I’ll always have an available spot for a 1966 Ford Mustang Fastback (or Shelby GT-350) right next to my first, the Escort XR3i.

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Randy B
Randy B
7 years ago

I’ve now wasted half a day looking for old Escorts for sale…. Thanks Petrolicious!

Beautiful job with the car!

Antony Ingram
Antony Ingram
7 years ago

Great choice. It’s definitely a car that has become more appealing with age. Like many of that era their reputation was tarnished by the people that drove them when they were new (and more so by those who attached huge bodykits to them in the 90s and early 2000s) but nowadays a good, original one is always a head-turner.

Colin Van Elderen
Colin Van Elderen
7 years ago

Thanks Petrolicious for sharing my car and story! 🙂

Matt Smart
Matt Smart
7 years ago

I was never a fan of the Ford Escort XR3i in the 1980s, but the mods done on this particular car are really well done and has made me look at the XR3i in a new light. Really glad someone is preserving these cars as there are hardly any about anymore, there were so many around on the British roads in the 80s and 90s and was part of the reason I didn’t really like them then. Enjoy your 1st car, look after it, I’m sure it will only go up in value.