Live Auctions

$550! 1986 Ford EXP

Just when you thought that you had seen it all, here’s a 1986 Ford EXP. This raucous little racer (well..).. is on Craigslist with an asking price of $550.  The EXP was made for the 1982 to 1988 model years and the ’82-’85 models had the famous “Kermit the Frog” headlights. Fun fact: the EXP was the first two-seater from Ford since the 1957 Thunderbird! Lincoln also offered an LN7 in 1982 & 1983. This car is located in Seattle, Washington.

Whether you’re a fan of these types of what are basically cars with badge, wing, and sticker modifications, it’s hard to argue with what looks like a rust-free 31-year old car. There are only two photos but other than faded black cladding it looks like it’s in nice shape. The seller says that it’s ready to be driven away and “your gain my loss”. This car is a manual but no word on if it has a 4-speed or a 5-speed. The engine should be a 1.9L inline-four and I believe that this is a Luxury Coupe because of not having a right-side mirror, which would put the hp at around 90 instead of 106 in the Sport Coupe. Have any of you owned an EXP? What about that price? A show of hands on who has blown $550 or more on sports tickets or a concert? I’ll take the EXP.


  1. American_Badaz

    “I believe that this is a Luxury Coupe”


    The naming sounds a little ambitious doesn’t it?
    Not that Sport Coupe is any better. Keep ’em coming Scotty!! I always enjoy your posts.

    Like 1
    • Ken

      I had an EXP in college. It was 1.9 Litre, EFI HO. Loved it! 2 seater! 5 speed. I would go through tires (135 HR 15) because I didn’t realize I had a busted tire rod!

  2. Fred

    My first car was an ’86 EXP Sport Coupe. Good memories with that car, including stuffing eight people in it at 2 a.m. on a college trip to avoid the hour-long wait for a taxi. Plenty of space in the back for moving to and from college.

    • Walter Joy

      So was my mom’s (I’m 18, she’s 44). She then got a 1989 Escort GT right after.

  3. michael

    Owned a first gen ‘HO’ version with metric tires. Some of the best gas mileage of any car I have ever owned. Comfortable for a tall driver and lots of room in the hatch area too. This car is much like the Fiero – bin parts for everything. You could buy everything over the counter, very inexpensive upkeep. I was crushed when I wrote it off.

  4. Tim

    I had an ’82 LN-7. The official color was ‘Bright Bitersweet’ (orange!). While dating my wife, I would arrive to pick her up in the car, and her grandmother would announce, ‘Someone in a little red car is here’. I was a nice little car. It had all of the bells and whistles available at the time. It had the ‘mooncrader’ wheels, which looked good, but when I had to buy tires for the car, I found out that Ford and Michelin had a deal. Ford made the metric size wheels, and Michelin would be the only tire company to provide the tires. The tires were $150 each! I totaled the car 2 weeks after putting on 4 new tires.

  5. Dairymen

    They were sold in Europe as a Ford Escorts.
    Luxury coupe… I guess we came a long way.

  6. Bingo

    So does the right side mirror add 16 HP?

    Like 1
    • Oingo

      Wiki says this does A multiport fuel-injected high-output (named the EFI HO) version of the 1.9 L CVH engine rated at 106 hp (79 kW) went into the Sport Coupe, but you never know it might have had an electric motor in it.

    • djkenny

      My mom bought the H.O. Sport coupe. It was a cool lookimg car. It performed on par with a Civic DX. Much like the Escort GT (which is more practical with 4 seats and costs less) it wasn’t a GTI killer. Just more fun than a base model orbtye likebthst has the less spirited motor and lesser wheel/tires.

      There was never a 4 speed second Gen EXP, just Manual and a 3 speed auto available on the base Luxury coupe.

      They look bloated and weird without the Sport coupe alloy wheels to me. Weird they even offered this model?

      Like 1
  7. Squad41

    The LN7 was a Mercury, not a Lincoln. Mercury Lynx LN7.

    Like 1
    • Scotty Staff

      Arg! You are correct, Squad41!

    • LN7 NUT

      The LN7 was also never a Lynx (even though rightly it should have been)

  8. Wayne Thomas

    If this were AWD, then definitely a car worth having, but FF = no interest.

  9. Reg Bruce

    @ Bingo:

    Thanks for the laugh of the day (so far).

    Reg B.

    • Bingo

      It was just worded a little funny, right?

      • Scotty Staff

        Ha, you are right-on, Bingo! Without any interior photos it was tough to tell whether it was a “luxury” or “sport” model, the missing mirror was the only tip off that I knew of.

  10. Bob_S

    Weren’t these 2+2’s? The lack of rear head room made it next to impossible to sit in the rear seat.

    Here is an LN7

    • LN7 NUT

      They never came with a rear seat but there were aftermarket companies that made some, and you can make the Escort/Lynx rear seat fit pretty easily as it’s the exact same floor pan.

  11. CJay

    Mine had no rear seat just a cargo area. Good little car. 1.9 motors had ZERO clearance if the timing belt breaks the valves would hit the pistons and damage the head and pistons!

    • Z1rider

      You are referring to engines that are designed as “interference” or “non interference”.

      When introduced in 1981 as a 1.6 these engines were interference as are most overhead cam engines. The cam belt was supposed to be replaced at 60k so as to avoid catastrophic engine damage (piston colliding with a valve) but in some cases the belts would break prior to 60k. Ford initiated program to pay for repairs if that happened. Midway through 1983 the pistons were redesigned, i.e. made non-interference, so that would no longer happen if the belt broke.

      The same kind of catastrophe could happen to many other engines of the era, Honda is one example, so it was not unique to the engines in Escorts. This is one reason few current engine designs use cam belts. Most have gone back to chain driven camshafts.

  12. SSPBill

    I had an ’82 EXP in high school with a 1.6L, 8 valve engine and an ’87 Escort GT through college and afterwards. The Escort is probably closer to this example. They weren’t terrible for what they were, especially the Escort. Both racked up 150k+ with less then regular maintenance. I got close to 30mpg with both driving like an idiot too.

    I have made a life decision to go a lifetime without a car payment, at least on a commuter. For less then $700 for car, tax, registration, etc., if this last 12 months min its money well spent (or saved to be more accurate).


    My buddy bought a new one in 1982. Biggest POS he ever had he said. It was a 5 speed and ate starters constantly.

  14. Danno

    I almost bought one of these. The FLM salesman was such an a-ho that I walked away, went to the Toyota dealership, and bought an MR2. I never did get back, to thank that guy…

  15. Klharper

    To me this is a true lemons race car, and not some of the BMW’s and Miata’s that are currently running.
    I had a roommate in college that had one of these, and during that time period they were about as good as it got for cars coming out of Detroit. I was driving an old BMW ’02 and a Fiat 124 spider at the time and all i can say is that I was not envious of his new Ford.


    • Oddimotive Cason Oddimotive Cason Member

      Agreed on being the perfect LeMons car and in keeping with the original intent.

  16. Squanto

    A bargain at 1/2 the price.

  17. Dan

    Wasn’t the street version of the gt-40 a two seater? Or maybe that was not sold as a Ford but as a Shelby?

    • Z1rider

      Good one Dan, yes it was most certainly a 2 seater, and not sold as a Shelby.

  18. Bob

    I have an ’82 EXP that I started to restore but have since put in storage. It has the TRX suspension, sunroof, and factory leather seats. A flip up rear seat was optional and you could probably squeeze a couple kids in it. They were based off the Escort. The 1.6L engine can hardly be considered high performance or even “sport”.

  19. David H.

    I fully admit to partially insane, but I remember one of these driving by me in 1982 with the most incredible exhaust sound, like an Alfa. Ford did sell them with “sport-tuned exhaust” (I don’t know how I know that). And the TRX tire package included the phone-dial wheels, like a cheap Porsche 928. All that and a 20 second quarter mile time! I was in love.

  20. EmmyJ

    Shame it’s on the other side of the continent from me; I’d adopt it.

  21. Rustytech Member

    Ford Escort sans rear seat. Fairly dependable, but not very inspiring. It might make a nice daily driver if it checks out ok. If it is actually road worthy, $500 is a bargain.

  22. smittydog

    Woo-hoo, $500 is like free transportation to the coffee shop!!

  23. Rob S

    This is a good deal if runs decent and the CV shafts aren’t garbage. These were decent cars in 86. This one likely has the cool bucket seats and other sport festures. Ford did shoe horn a turbo in some of these, making for a real quick little car! As soon as we took the plastic off the seats and snapped on the wheel covers we “test drove” them down to the dodge dealer and called out their turbo omni and chargers, easily dusted them! Then someone brought the GLHS shelby out. …well it was fun while it lasted.

  24. chad

    this a ‘fox’ chassy?
    that a ‘Lima’ engine?
    If yes to both there’s plenty redeemable thru upgrading…

    • Blyndgesser

      Not the Fox chassis–this is an Escort. Not the Lima engine either–this is the CVH.

  25. Car Guy

    I had one a mint 82 Light blue exp, loved that car drove it everywhere. Until the day I went golfing and after a round of 18 i tried to start it, and the timing belt broke ( which they liked to do even before scheduled change over) and presto chango , ( because of the convex pistons) a toasted motor instantly. Crap! Had to find a junkyard fresh motor, and thousands later. it was back on the road, unfortunately the junkyard fresh motor burned oil, and the dealer ship ( Ford) would not make good. So presto chango, up for sale, and i sold it to a Japanese exchange student. I kind of felt bad, but it had to go. Strangely I loved the looks but the build quality and engine design had a lot of issues.

  26. Car Guy

    I am a tvr guy now. LOL

  27. Jeff

    When I came home from the army in ’84, my sister was driving one of these…4spd, with a/c & power steering as I recall. I had left her my ’66 mustang to drive, but smaller aftermarket steering wheel & sans power steering was more than she wanted to deal with…

  28. Ken Carney

    I’d take the Omni GLH myself. At least they didn’t catch fire while you were
    driving them! Here in Florida, I used to see these EXP’s burnt beyond
    recognition on the back of a wrecker. I used to tell my wife that if we had
    teenage kids, I would not let them buy one. Not only were these things
    pure garbage, but they also had real electrical issues such as defective
    ignition switches that shorted out or brain boxes that caught fire while the car was moving. What a piece of crap!

  29. Mercuryman

    Life is funny sometimes. While I never owned an EXP I did like them. I had to settle for an escort wagon. Great car. Used it like a pick up. Biggest thing I hauled in it ( barely) was a 460 with the auto still attached. Just fit, and used all the suspension. Put 330k on that car and then put the engine in a escort hatch when the body died. Put 780k on that car over 6 years. Changed the timing belt and plugs every year, oil every 3 months or 30k whichever came first. Never broke down, not once. Maybe I just got lucky. I would buy that car if only I didn’t have so many other projects. Hope someone gives it a good home

    • LN7 NUT

      Between my dad brother and I we have over 100 Escort’s, Lynx’s and EXP and LN7 and we had your luck too with our drivers, super reliable, never an issue with anything at all other than regular maintenance.

      • Alan Bilght

        LN7 NUT Do you know of any LN 7’s for sale? I had an 82 when new and want to get another one.

      • LN7 NUT

        Alan, I can’t seem to reply to your reply, but I run the Ford EXP and Mercury LN7 owners group on Facebook, the people there are a lot of help in finding these cars.

        I also am thinking of selling my yellow LN7.

  30. Chris

    My roommate in college had a red one. It always smelled of gear oil.

  31. LN7 NUT

    Believe it or not I am a collector of these cars, just love ’em!

    I have a fleet of them right now and will likely have more down the line as they are a lot of fun to drive, not high horsepower but they corner really well and they are comfortable and the cargo are is huge!

    A mistake in the article is there was no Lincoln version, I think you meant Mercury version and it was called the LN7!

    This yellow one is my LN7 I built out of a basket case with my dad over a decade ago.

    • Mercuryman

      Thank you for collecting them! I loved my 83 LX. Factory sunroof, converted the interior and body to a GT. Got koni shocks, poly bushings and sway bars from B.A.T. 14″ tempo alloys with 195/60/14 tires. So much fun. No rust, Drove it everywhere. Loaned it to a “friend” when his car died and he scrapped it when a plug blew out. Couldn’t get it back. Mad to this day about that. Was going to keep it forever. Met a guy in Toronto who provides movie cars. His biggest call is for 70’s and 80’s cars most people won’t collect. He sends cars all over the world. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Enjoy your collection. I am mildly jealous.

      • LN7 NUT

        Thanks for the kind words, sucks about your car…

        I have a lot of weird vehicles and collect stuff nobody collects it seems, it makes me happy though and I have a lot of fun with them!

        Check out my daily driver

    • Scotty Staff

      That yellow LN7 is a beauty, LN7 NUT, and a fantastic photo, too! Thanks for sharing.

  32. Scot Douglas

    My family had two. Dad had an 82 with no options. 1.6L, 4 speed – felt like a sports car. Light, good handling, was actually a good little driver.

    Mom got had an 88 5-speed and it was an overweight, bloated turd that would barely get out of it’s own way.

    Quite amazing the difference in the two cars.

  33. Mercuryman

    Check out Burton power in England. There are lots of cvh performance parts available. Most are for the turbo model. You can also use the 2.0L zetec block under the cvh head. I haven’t done it but it was a popular swap in England. Or you could just swap in the whole engine. Lots more potential than people think.

  34. Mercuryman

    Love the truck! The patina is awesome! Try to put as many Escorts on the road as you can. I haven’t seen one in years. I now collect Capri’s. I have 6 I am restoring ranging from 1971 to 76. When I was trailering them home, one at a time I was stopped by at least one person with a story about one. I know I could sell all of them when they are done. I won’t of course…..

  35. Kenny

    That is the Luxury Coupe, not the higher output Sport Coupe. Yes the deleted Right mirror is an indication. As well as the steel wheels instead of the alloy 15″ shared with the Escort GT.

    The interior would not have the better bolstered Escort GT seats, but instead what you would have found on the Escort LX models.

    The underpinnings would have heavier duty sway bars, springs, and shocks from my recollection.

    As well as the 1.9 H.O. Motor.
    We had a white Sport Coupe. Mom bought it briefly owned from a dealership barely 3 years old for like 7 grand Back in the day.

    It was a good handler, it sounded quick so you thought it was. The shifter was good, throws a little long. But it was about as fast as her boyfriends 86 Cabriolet Best Seller model with 5 speed. (It was black, it had striped interior.. man did I want that car)

    Anyway, it was fine. I’m sure a Civic DX of the same year was about as sporty.

    Honestly, I think they’re cool looking but pretty silly to consider buying back then. An Escort GT was the same performance and you got a back seat, for less $$. I think these were actually Heavier?

  36. Adam Preisinger Jr

    I have a red 1986 5 spd 1.9 never in a wreck, more fun to drive then any car I ever had. When I go out joy ridding people always look and ask about it.
    Most people that ask about it wish they still had theirs.
    I might note that I have owned 57 chevy conv and other 50s and 60s cars

  37. Lee

    I am looking to buy a Ford Escort exp the newer style does anyone have any for sale or know where I can find one one that is in decent shape

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