Ford Escort Tuning
"We'll Escort you off the premises?"
The Escort is one of Fords most successful and certainly the longest running Ford model around. The Mark 1 Escort included a super powerful rally derived Mexico model.
We shall look at the options for tuning the entire Escort range right up to when they ceased production. With modern performance parts you can really create a special car indeed.
The mark 1s around today usually have had the later sierra 2.0 engines installed which works really well through the rear drive transmission.
Although some owners have managed to wire and plumb in a Cosworth unit.
The XR3 one of the first hot hatches and this evolved into the XR3i with the addition of fuel injection. The RS turbo came along with a turbo charged version of the original engine.
Later incarnations of the escort include the RS2000 based on the smoother 2.0 engine putting down 150bhp. A Cosworth unit powered the pinnacle of Escorts with way out in your face styling and four wheel drive. This was sadly the last of the performance escorts, as the range has been superseded by the Focus.
Although the Escort was replaced by the Focus, you will still find some die hard Escort fans around. There are still plenty of Escort tuning mods around for pretty much any engine size.
Engine tuning modifications.
Peak power is all well and good but if you want a truly driveable car it will need a wide power band and lots of low down torque. One of the most significant with the best cost to power gain, engine mods you can do is to fit a fast road cam.
Adding a turbo is hard but gives large power gains. Source a turbo engine and do a transplant if you want an easy cost effective track day car. It is harder to map a turbo as the boost comes on exponentially with engine speed. The nice steady boost to rpm characteristics of the supercharger make them easier to map. Adding forced induction will usually require a lower compression ratio or water injection.
If your car is making 40-50% more power than standard then it will need more air and fuel so fuelling upgrades are important mods if you are serious about power.Look to aftermarket parts suppliers for uprated injectors and fuel pumps and in some cases you'll find that your manufacturer offers uprated options as fitted to later performance models.
The following modifications are usually performed by our members, decide how far you want to go before you begin.
Getting the right mods for your planned usage of the car is vital. Stage 3 (competition) mods just don't work well on the road.
Stage 1 mods: Exhaust, Panel air filter, Remap, lighter flywheel
Stage 2 mods: Ported and polished head, Fast road cam, fuel injector & fuel pump upgrades,power clutch
Stage 3 mods: Engine balancing, adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), competition cam, sports gearbox.
Performance air intake and exhaust.
Before you start doing engine mods you have to get the breathing right and remove any restrictions in the system that could inhibit air flow.Derestricting the airflow into the engine is the primary part of tuning so get a better flowing air filter. Induction kits sound great with the induction roar they create but due to the warm air in the engine bay they will not add noticable power and actually rob you of power. A good high performance sports exhaust is an essential to balance your engines need for free flowing air, just adding an induction kit on it's own will do little to increase your power. See our article on performance exhausts for details of the issue around large bore exhausts and how to choose the right size for your engine.
Getting the head ported and polished will further help more air into each cylinder. This is definitely a job for a professional with a flow bench. As you increase power in your Escort you may find that the clutch will start to slip and this needs to be uprated - read our article on clutches for more information.
Stick to the later fuel injected 1.6 and greater engines for the best base to work from. Most owners add a sports exhaust and induction kit.
Bigger power gains come from engine swaps with the RS2000 and Cosworth engines providing the ultimate conversion donors.
FSE fuel boost valves will improve the throttle response. Fast road cams will also unleash some power from even the most docile of Escort engines.
Handling is often criticised, especially on the earlier models. Get some adjustable suspension and you will have a really fun track day car on your hands.
Read through our tuning articles for tips and pointers of the best modifications. We also highlight the downsides and pitfalls of many popular modifications.
Join us in the forum to discuss all aspects of Escort car ownership and modification. We have quite a few tuners who cut their tuning teeth on the Escort engines.
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Please use our forums if you wish to ask a tuning question, and please note we do not sell parts or services, we are just an online magazine.