September 26, 2022

Quick Ford icons don’t come way more inexpensive – and attainable – than the Escort RS Turbo S2, the big-boosting Eighties’ street racer that’s now changing into a traditional. Purchase one now earlier than costs rocket…

Information from Quick Ford journal. Phrases: Dan Williamson. Photographs: Quick Ford archives.

Ford Escort RS Turbo S2 historical past

February 1986 Escort Mk4 vary launched, together with XR3i with fuel-injected 104bhp 1.6-litre CVH powerplant plus uprated suspension, 6x14in metal wheels, spoilers and sports activities seats with Daytona fabric. Non-obligatory dogleg 6x14in alloy wheels. Colors out there: Diamond White, Rosso Purple, Black or Nimbus Gray.
15 July 1986 Escort RS Turbo Collection Two turns into out there, that includes revised model of Collection One’s 1.6-litre CVH (130bhp) and gearbox. Intently based mostly on the XR3i, the RS Turbo provides 6x15in alloy wheels, driving lamps, bonnet vents, wheelarch extensions, aspect skirts, colour-coded rear spoiler and window surrounds. Non-obligatory Customized Pack consists of electrical entrance home windows, central locking and tilting/sliding glass sunroof.
January 1987 Recaro entrance seats in Daytona fabric turn into a part of Customized Pack.
April 1987 Knock sensor added to engine.
July 1987 Customized Pack turns into commonplace on all RS Turbos. Radiant Purple replaces Rosso and Mercury Gray replaces Nimbus.
September 1988 Heated windscreen, revised decals, Zolda upholstery and gray headlining are added to the specification.
September 1989 Facelifted RS Turbo (now known as ’90-spec) arrives with deeper entrance bumper, wrapped-over rear spoiler, prolonged centre console, rear-seat courtesy mild and variable-speed intermittent wipers.
October 1990 Escort Mk4 discontinued, after UK RS Turbo gross sales of twenty-two,108. Escort Mk5 launched with no RS Turbo alternative.

Why you desire a Ford Escort RS Turbo S2

  • RS Turbos are a cornerstone of the quick Ford scene – as iconic at this time as of their Eighties’ heyday. It’s a badge that garners nice respect from correct petrolheads all through the land.
  • Sinking your money into any RS is a wise funding, however within the Collection Two’s case, its time to hit document costs is but to come back.
  • Tuning an RS Turbo can deliver large energy and large grins. It gained’t assist the worth, however combating for grip and laughing at lag is an unmissable expertise.

Why you don’t need one

  • Underneath that RS badge, it’s only a humble Mk4 Escort, and it’s removed from subtle. There’s no energy steering, the inside likes to rattle, and 130bhp gained’t set the tarmac alight.
  • Rust will flip an RS Turbo to mud. Restore panels can be found, however a Mk4 can and can rot anyplace, and it’s important to examine for corrosion earlier than shopping for.
  • Watch out for so-called commonplace/unique RS Turbos having a historical past of being wildly modified a few years in the past – or, worse nonetheless, being nicked, crashed and badly repaired. The RS was a joyrider’s dream.

Ford Escort RS Turbo S2 key factors

Id – Fakes, ringers and reshells are frequent. Test the VIN matches the log ebook and each plates on the slam panel. Examine the shell for manufacturing facility ECU bracket drillings, guarantee there’s ABS and a rear ARB.
Originality – Sympathetic mods are acceptable however originality is value extra. Manufacturing facility panels, paint and no indicators of welding (or rust) make an RS extra beneficial. However you’ll have much less enjoyable.
Inside – Test for tatty fabric, sagging door playing cards and moist carpets. Keep in mind the so-called ’90-spec had a bigger centre console, however Zolda fabric and gray headlining arrived in autumn 1988.
Physique – Something that’s steel will rot, and corrosion can kill any Mk4. Test for rust within the flooring, rear chassis rails, bulkhead, sills, sunroof, wheelarches and inside wings.
Engine – Rattly and coarse, after all, however watch out for a CVH making nasty knocking noises or emitting blue smoke. Commonplace gasoline injection is problematic, so be cautious of misfires or poor efficiency.

What to search for when shopping for a Ford Escort RS Turbo S2


Solely a real Ford Escort RS Turbo S2 is value large cash. Ringers have to be averted, whereas replicas, reshells and outright fakes should be low-cost to justify shopping for. We’ve seen dodgy RS Turbos bought even not too long ago via respected sources, so do your homework and double-check every thing.

Start with the chassis quantity on the VIN plate (riveted to the slam panel), which should correspond with the small print on the logbook, the digits stamped into the motive force’s-side inside sill (beneath a flap within the carpet) and the construct plate (riveted to the slam panel however painted body-colour). An RS Turbo’s VIN ought to learn WF0BXXGCAB, adopted by numbers that match the engine code (additionally discovered on the cylinder block).


Crucially, make sure you’re a correct RS Turbo bodyshell. All RS Turbos constructed from July 1987 had a factory-fitted sliding/titling glass sunroof (search for a date sticker on the sunroof slider, which ought to tally with the automotive’s alleged age), electrical entrance home windows and central locking. From March 1988 all had electrical door mirrors, and from September 1988 added a heated windscreen and pale gray headlining.

Real RS Turbo bodyshells had factory-made drillings for the ECU bracket to bolt to the bulkhead, triple-skinned metal within the engine bay (examine the place the metering unit attaches to the inside wing), and ABS (guarantee all of the elements are there, together with pump, dashboard warning lamp and compensators on the rear suspension). The RS Turbo was the one Escort Mk4 to have a factory-fitted rear anti-roll bar (from an Orion), so guarantee it has the drop hyperlink mountings on the rear wishbones.

Faking an RS Turbo from an XR3i was quite common a few years in the past (much less so now, when values are fairly comparable), however bear in mind XR3is had rubbing strips alongside all sides, plus black paint across the home windows.

Should you’re a ’90-spec machine, the package included completely different entrance bumper and rear spoiler, variable-speed intermittent wipers, and rear courtesy mild. Its inside wings additionally had revised coolant/washer/brake fluid reservoirs, and when retrofitted to an earlier shell, the later header tank sits awkwardly within the engine bay.

Engine on Ford Escort RS Turbo S2

Engine & Transmission

Ford Escort RS Turbos S2 are able to kicking out large bhp, however provided that they’re wholesome. And plenty of are removed from wholesome or producing the claimed energy.

Poor servicing performs havoc. The cambelt wants changing each 36,000 miles (20k for a hard-used machine), and oil adjustments at 3000-to-6000 miles. It sounds extreme however mucky oil clogs up the hydraulic tappets and causes camshaft put on. Rattling from the highest finish is regular, however clattering is an issue, particularly if accompanied by oil spitting out of the filler cap – probably a blocked breather however perhaps oil blowing previous the piston rings; a rebuild will probably be required.

Heavy knocking from the underside finish is equally catastrophic, ensuing from collapsed crankshaft bearings. Search for blue smoke from the exhaust below load, pointing to knackered pistons/rings or blown turbo; examine for play by eradicating the inlet hose and wiggling the shaft. A whiff of blue smoke at start-up/on the overrun is frequent for a CVH attributable to worn valve stem oil seals (low-cost and simple to restore).

White smoke from the exhaust suggests head gasket failure or a cracked cylinder head, so examine for water within the oil (or vice-versa) or the engine operating scorching. Look out for contemporary antifreeze – signal of excellent upkeep or overlaying up for head gasket faults.

Tough operating is typical of a uncared for RS Turbo. The unique KE-Jetronic mechanical gasoline injection (MFi) offers grief, primarily as a result of metering unit, which may be difficult to repair and costly to exchange. Sometimes it causes misfires, sluggish efficiency and poor beginning, though chopping out when heat is prone to be a unclean crank sensor, whereas the gasoline pump relay (initially pink however aftermarket variations are black) usually stops the automotive from beginning.

Unhealthy wiring is a standard drawback, due to chafing, corrosion or chopping-up to suit alarms and stereo programs. Poor operating, inoperable cooling followers, underfuelling and even hearth are actual dangers. Alternative looms aren’t low-cost however could clear up innumerable points.

Air leaks usually result in poor efficiency, whereas collapsed hoses, a drained turbo and/or actuator are likely to trigger under-boosting; the automotive will really feel significantly gradual.

Oil leaks aren’t uncommon, particularly mild splatters across the inside wings – usually from the cam cowl gasket.

Modified automobiles have gotten much less beneficial than commonplace, however a greater proposition if you wish to benefit from the automotive, so don’t discard smart upgrades akin to EFi (digital gasoline injection) and a stainless exhaust. Keep in mind an OE system is ultra-rare.

Modified Escort RS Turbo S2 engine

220bhp modified Collection Two Escort RS Turbo characteristic

Collection Two RS Turbos have been tamed by Ford SVE (Particular Automobile Engineering) for higher street manners than the Collection One, so the viscous-coupling limited-slip differential (LSD) was smoother, and the inventory 3.82:1 remaining drive ratio was much less frantic than the unique’s 4.29:1.

However don’t be stunned to discover a automotive with non-standard internals – it was frequent to exchange a knackered RS Turbo gearbox with a non-LSD model from an everyday Escort or XR3i.

Watch out for rumbling from the transmission, particularly in fifth gear, which factors to put on on the enter shaft. Whining suggests bearing/output shaft failure, whereas rising will most likely be attributable to worn driveshafts; left to their very own gadgets, they’ll destroy the gearbox. Don’t fear about clicking on full steering lock, which comes from drained CV joints – low-cost and simple to repair.


The usual BC five-speed ‘field at all times had a rubbery gearchange, however extreme sloppiness suggests a worn linkage. A damaged clutch adjusting ratchet could make it difficult to pick gears (particularly when accompanied by a clicking from the pedal), however crunching between gears (particularly on second and third) factors to synchromesh failure and the necessity for a rebuild.

Equally problematic is leaping out of drugs (symptom of a damaged selector) or a speedometer that’s working erratically (attributable to knackered diff bearings or inner gear failure). Once more, it should want a rebuild.

The Collection Two’s clutch and flywheel have been larger than its predecessor’s, but they weren’t vastly higher. Clutch slip is inevitable with any energy enhance, so examine for slip below load – boot the throttle in fourth gear and guarantee street velocity will increase because the revs rise. A worn clutch may even have an excessively low biting level or make it tough to vary gear.

Wheels on Ford Escort RS Turbo S2

Suspension & Brakes

RS Turbos don’t deal with like trendy STs, so put together to be underwhelmed – particularly when you’re testing a drained instance. Unique tools included XR3i suspension plus an Orion rear anti-roll bar; there will probably be no PAS however a great deal of torque-steer plus loads of understeer. It’s frantic enjoyable.

Soggy dealing with is usually the results of worn suspension bushes: on the entrance within the monitor management arms, or on the again within the wishbones and tie bars; in the event that they’re the manufacturing facility rubber bushes they’ll most likely be perished. Polyurethane replacements are the reply.

Wallowing can also come from drained springs and/or dampers, or – worse nonetheless – a severely rotten bodyshell across the suspension mounting factors. Many RS Turbos have been fitted with decreasing springs, which usually enhance the dealing with however give an excessively harsh experience until accompanied by good-quality shock absorbers. Coilovers are sometimes too arduous for street use.

Damaged or unfastened suspension elements or worn bushes can also trigger knocking and vibrations, however a failed steering column bush may be guilty, particularly if the entrance finish feels imprecise. Rumbling noises are almost certainly attributable to worn wheel bearings and even poor tyres.

Juddering may be coming from the entrance brakes – sometimes from worn/contaminated discs or pads however generally seized callipers. Alternative discs are straightforward to supply, being 260mm elements from the Sierra XR4i.

Drums have been fitted to the rear, and are susceptible to leaking from the wheel cylinders or seizing on the handbrake mechanism; they’re straightforward to examine by jacking up the again of the automotive and spinning the wheels.

The usual-fit ABS system isn’t really easy to cope with. It’s a primitive belt-driven setup, which tends to interrupt attributable to snapped belts or pump failure. Respectable servos and grasp cylinders are tough to search out. Make sure that the ABS dashboard mild comes on with the ignition and goes off once more after just a few seconds; if it stays on, there’s an issue; if it doesn’t come on in any respect, somebody’s eliminated the bulb.

Some house owners delete the ABS system on a budget by bunging up holes and eradicating belts. This disables the dual-circuit diagonal break up, which is illegitimate and unsafe; the one strategy to do it correctly is to exchange the complete setup with elements from a non-ABS Escort Mk3/4.


Ford Escort RS Turbo S2 trim was nothing particular. Early Collection Twos (earlier than 1987) had an similar cabin to the up to date XR3i, with Daytona fabric and a black headlining. Recaros have been initially an non-compulsory additional, nevertheless it’s unlikely you’ll discover any RS Turbo with out them nowadays.

Recaros have a tendency to wear down on the motive force’s aspect bolster, and it’s frequent to discover a passenger seat fitted as a substitute. The fabric sags, the bases collapse, and recliner mechanisms turn into unfastened – all indicators of excessive mileage. Test the material for tears, burns, and unfastened stitching.

RS Turbos constructed from September 1988 have been fitted with Zolda/Shadow upholstery and pale gray headlining, which is usually described as ’90-spec. In truth, ’90-spec automobiles (from September 1989) stored the Zolda fabric but additionally included an prolonged centre console, variable-speed intermittent wipers and rear courtesy mild.

Except you’re shopping for a low-mileage minter, count on the cabin to be crude and rattly. Many elements are shared with lesser Mk4 Escorts, so that they’re not difficult to supply, however watch out for crinkly door automobiles and scuffed seize handles, as a result of concours examples are extraordinarily uncommon. Alternative parcel cabinets are equally wanted, so be certain that it’s not sagging or minimize for audio system.


Test the carpets aren’t worn out – an indication of excessive mileage – or moist, which suggests water leaking in via the sunroof, battery tray or heater matrix.

Guarantee all of the switches and devices work accurately: electrical window and central locking motors get sticky, whereas the indicator stalks may be fragile. Stick your head below the dashboard on the driver’s aspect and examine the fuse field for burnt-out relays and chopped-up wiring from a earlier proprietor‘s stereos, gauges or neons.

Rear shot of Ford Escort RS Turbo S2


Corrosion is the long-term enemy of the  Ford Escort, and the RS Turbo S2 isn’t any exception. Even now, a rotten RS Turbo physique may be too far gone to restore – thus the variety of reshelled automobiles on the roads.

Test all over the place for corrosion. On prime, the sunroof mechanism may very well be rusty, surrounded by a effervescent roof pores and skin. Sunroof drains exit into the entrance sills, and decay them out when blocked. Search for rot behind the aspect skirts and wheelarches, adopted by the entrance wings, bumper mounts/radiator assist panel, bonnet, scuttle panel (particularly on the corners of the windscreen encompass), A-pillars, doorways, tailgate, rear valance and across the gasoline filler.

Examine the engine bay, noting the entrance crossmember, inside wings, bulkhead, battery tray and fuse field space. Should you’re paying for a mint, unrestored automotive, be certain that the seam sealer alongside the entrance wings and rear quarter has a factory-applied end.

Contained in the automotive, elevate the carpets to examine the footwells, look below the again seat, examine contained in the rear quarters (when you’re allowed to take away the trim panels) and boot ground; watch out for cracks and corrosion across the rear suspension turrets and again bumper mounts.

Beneath, take note of the complete floorpan and, specifically, the rear chassis rails, which may rot away utterly. Watch out for creases that point out accident injury – a great deal of RS Turbos have been crashed when new.

Replica physique panels can be found, as are door/window seals. NOS elements are nonetheless on the market, however pay closely for the privilege.

Test the headlamps are correct Carello and never corroded, and make sure the genuine Carello 640 driving lamps are in place – replacements are very dear, and even the brackets value a packet.

Don’t be stunned to see brake lights flashing with indicators – Mk4s have been at all times susceptible to unhealthy earths and dodgy connections, however watch out for a wiring loom that’s been closely hacked round.

Front shot of Ford Escort RS Turbo S2

Ford Escort RS Turbo S2 costs

Undertaking: £2000 to £5000 – Solely naked shells with logbooks are £1000, however twice that a lot buys a pile of rust with all the suitable elements. It’s doable to discover a runner inside price range, however don’t financial institution on it being a pukka RS.

Good: £5000 to £15,000 – Snap up the best-condition automotive you may afford, as a result of this worth bracket is often reflective of good, usable RS Turbos that may want a bit of money spending to make completely mint.

Concours: £15,000 to £30,000-plus – Two issues to search for: low mileage and manufacturing facility paintwork. Most RS Turbos at this degree are show-standard and inventory. We’d count on to see a real sub-10,000-mile RS attain £50k-plus.

Tech Spec: Ford Escort RS Turbo S2


1596cc in-line four-cylinder, eight-valve, SOHC CVH with cast-iron block and alloy head, 8.2:1 compression ratio, Bosch KE-Jetronic gasoline injection, Bosch-Motorola engine administration, Garrett T3 turbocharger, intercooler


Entrance-wheel drive with B5 five-speed handbook gearbox, 3.82:1 remaining drive ratio, viscous-coupling limited-slip differential, 218mm single-plate clutch


Entrance: MacPherson struts, Fichtel & Sachs gas-filled dampers, revised coil springs, 24mm anti-roll bar; rear: transverse trailing arms, Fichtel & Sachs gas-filled telescopic dampers, revised coil springs and 16mm anti-roll bar


Entrance: 260mm ventilated discs; rear: 229mm drums; Lucas-Girling mechanical anti-lock braking system

Wheels & Tyres:

6x15in six-spoke alloys and Dunlop or Goodyear 195/50VR15 tyres


Escort three-door hatchback physique with colour-coded Ford RS bodykit comprising deep entrance bumper, bonnet vents, wheelarch extensions, aspect skirts, rear bumper and XR3i tailgate spoiler, pink bumper inserts (black on pink automobiles), colour-coded door mirrors, entrance driving lamps, tinted glass. Customized Pack (non-compulsory till July 1987; commonplace thereafter) added tilting/sliding glass sunroof, electrical entrance home windows and central locking. Choices included electrical/heated door mirrors (commonplace from March 1988), heated windscreen (commonplace from September 1988). Colors: Diamond White, Rosso Purple, Black, Nimbus Gray, Mercury Gray, Radiant Purple


XR3i-type or non-compulsory Recaro entrance seats (commonplace from 1987) in gray Daytona trim (Zolda/Shadow from September 1988) with matching rear bench and door playing cards, soft-feel two-spoke steering wheel, black headlining (pale gray from September 1988). Choices included journey pc and stereo upgrades