This 1988 Ford Escort RS Turbo is America’s Forbidden Rally Fruit, and Now You Can Buy It

When Americans think of the Ford Escort, they typically imagine a throwaway econobox with nearly zero redeeming qualities to enthusiasts. Things in Europe were and are quite different, though.

Ford was hot on the heels of Volkswagen when the Golf GTi caused a sensation back in the ’70s, starting the hot hatch trend. Ford followed suit with a long line of fast Escorts, all of which were based on models far superior to the ones that wore the Escort nameplate in the US. Some were even sold as rally homologation specials.

This 1988 Ford Escort RS Turbo is a fourth-generation car imported to the USA from Italy. Now, it’s for sale in Florida on trusty Bring a Trailer.

Powered by a high-strung, turbocharged 1.6-liter and backed up by a close-ratio, five-speed manual transmission, this Escort is a far cry from even the sportiest US-market Escort available in 1988, the GT. Truth be told, it’d even give a contemporary Mustang GT a run for its money with its low weight and eagerness to fly down wooded B-roads.

Inside, you’ll find a 220 kilometer-per-hour speedometer and grey cloth Recaro bucket seats. Outside, the Escort RS certainly looks the part, with 15″ aluminum wheels (plenty big on a car this size), aggressive spoilers, red badging, and PIAA fog lights.

Covering just 34,000 kilometers in its life (about 21,000 miles), it’s clear that this Escort has lived a pampered existence. With photographic proof of its squeaky-clean undercarriage and recent services, we’d say that this Escort RS makes for a good buy for the hot hatch enthusiast looking for something different.