BF EXCLUSIVE: 1984 Ford Escort Wagon

Believe it or not, the Ford Escort was Ford’s first American-made front-wheel drive car. This 1984 Ford Escort diesel wagon has been stored for 20 years so it’ll need to be pulled out and checked over before the next owner can drive it. John G. has listed this interesting wagon as a Barn Finds Exclusive and he’s asking what sounds like a reasonable $1,500 or best offer for it.

I had just graduated from high school at the ripe old age of 17 a couple of months before the Escort was introduced to the market in the fall of 1980. The first-generation cars were made for the 1981 to 1990 model years and in 1980 the last thing I was thinking of was getting 50 mpg. This car is still with the original owner after all this time. The paint, interior, and body are all good according to the seller.

Speaking of 50 mpg, that’s the modern equivalent EPA figure, give or take a few mpg, for this 1984 diesel Escort wagon. I was driving my dad’s 1970 Olds 98 with a 455 V8 and 375-tire-burning-wheel-cover-losing hp. Don’t ask me how many wheel covers I lost on that car, it isn’t a low number. This Escort most likely never has and never will squeal a tire but that’s not what all cars are meant for. This Escort wagon would have been a much better vehicle for me to haul band equipment in back in those days. This example has been in storage for at least 20 years so it’ll need the full gamut of tests and new parts. You can see that the exterior will need a good cut-and-buff or at the very least a couple of hours with polishing compound.

The interior also needs a lot of time with a big bucket of hot, soapy water with a cap full of bleach in it or whatever your personal favorite method is for removing mold. You can barely see the 5-speed stick shift poking out of the bottom of the only interior photo and there are no engine photos. This one has Mazda’s RF-Series 2.0L inline-four diesel which would have had a mere 52 hp. This sort of car checks a lot of boxes for me being a good condition wagon with both a manual transmission and a diesel.

Location: Wildwood, Missouri
Asking Price: $1,500 OBO
Mileage: 179,000
Title Status: Clean

Thanks to John for listing his 1984 Ford Escort diesel wagon as a Barn Finds Exclusive. If you have a barn find that needs to go, please consider listing it here on Barn Finds!

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  1. Miguel Member

    Why does this car have the 1985 1/2 front end on it? Are you sure it is an ’84?

    • Dennis D

      Si, should of had glass headlights… Front end damage or they did a mid year change to them garbage plastic headlights.

      • Miguel Member

        Dennis, nobody is going to spend money on a diesel wagon to make it look cooler.

        If this didn’0t have front end damage, then the listed year is wrong.

        It could be a 1985 1/2 up to a 1990 model.

      • Dennis D

        Miguel, I never said anything about spending money to make an economy wagon look cooler. Yes the guy who wrote it might of got the year wrong. Or what I’m saying- it was in a wreck and a junkyard doghouse (body/fender talk) was put on the front. More than likely in great odds is the year is not an 84.

      • Miguel Member

        I didn’t say you did say that. My point was that nobody would switch those parts just to switch those parts on this car.

        That is why it should be looked at for front end damage.

  2. Trent

    The Cord L-29 actually holds the title of First American Front Wheel Drive Car beating the Escort by 55 years. It was released in 1929 .

    • Miguel Member

      Trent, Scott said this was Ford’s first front wheel drive car, not the first ever.

      I am not sure if he knows about the Fiestas sold under the Ford name before this car though.

      • Scott Staff

        As stated, first American made fwd Ford

  3. Dennis D

    I Have an 84 Exp/escort. Parts are really hard to get. This thing has a rare diesel motor. I’d be very very unsure of what is left on the parts shelf for this.

    You might describe this car as clean. Black mold on the inside door panel isn’t what I call clean.

    • Scott

      EXP Diesel….never heard of it. Cool

      • Dennis D

        I’m not 100%. I don’t think they made that choice in the day for a diesel. Mine is the 1.6. I have dual 40mm Weber carbs on mine. When the 1.9 came out in ’87 ( I think). It made the same power as the 1.6 turbo.

    • CanuckCarGuy

      Always liked the EXP and it’s Mercury cousin the LN7; wasn’t aware a diesel could be had in them, that’s very cool…and no doubt super rare.

      • Jett

        Ford experimented with several engines in the EXP/LN7, both turbo and non turbo, but I don’t believe it was ever offered with a diesel.

  4. Dave brennan

    Modern day front drive cars first appeared on the 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado, and then subsequent Buick Rivieras and Cadillac Eldorados. These were well before the Plymouth Horizon and Dodge Omni of 1978, (quick Google search) ford not even mentioned. Cord not mentioned becuz not mass produced.

    • Miguel Member

      Again, Scott was saying this was Ford’s first front wheel drive car, not the first in the world.

  5. Miguel Member

    Being a diesel, I doubt it was running when it was parked 20 years ago.

    • grant

      Right? Who parks a car and leaves it running? Shut it off!!!

      • Miguel Member

        You know what I mean.

      • grant

        Of course, Miguel. Have a smile, brother.

  6. Beatnik Bedouin

    Gee, a car even less exciting than the exotic taste of bologna on white bread with mayo! I’m sure with a gasoline engine, the US-made Escort could at least be able to offer reasonable performance.

    Had the Ford Cardinal programme gone ahead, stateside, the company would have had a FWD car back in 1965. Unfortunately, the car’s manufacturing cost and complexity made it unprofitable, hence why Ford continued with selling captive imports from the UK in selected dealers.

    Ford’s German Division got saddled with a car it didn’t want, as the Brits, who were in a much better financial position, developed its own, which was codenamed ‘Archbishop’. We know it as the Ford Cortina…

    • CanuckCarGuy

      @Beatnik, that’s one of my favourite sandwiches…. peanut butter and Cheese Whiz being a close second!!

      • GP Member

        On toast for me. ( peanut butter & cheese whiz)

    • grant

      I can say with experience that a gas engine Escort delivers “performance” in the “abysmal” range.

    • Daymo

      The Cortina, aka Taunus on Euro mainland, was rear drive, not front. The Fiesta and our Mk3 Escort were Ford Europe’s first fwd cars

    • Beatlepat

      Baloney, mayo, and a squirt of sriracha. Oh, yeah!

  7. Kenneth Carney

    Had an ’86 that was a real lemon. Spent
    more time in the shop than it did my
    driveway. I danced in the street when I
    traded it for an ’82 AMC Concord wagon
    that was a much better car. As for the
    Escort, what a piece of crap! Wouldn’t
    take one if you gave it gave it to me!
    Should’ve banned ’em here in the ‘states.

  8. XMA08912

    Interesting to see where The Big Three we’re in ‘84 – a time when I too didn’t care about Ford or mileage. Now try to find a manual diesel wagon – can’t be had in America. It is all about cute ‘utes or electric now… If it wasn’t one of those two, I’d be interested in the modern-day equlivent.

  9. MH

    This car is junk. Knowone will buy it, let alone spend the time and money to make it a driver. The interior looks moldy. Send it to the junkyard and be thankful its gone.

  10. Howard A Member

    I saw this coming up on “early access” and thought, BF’s has sunk to a new low,,,however, it does qualify as a classic, and it is rare, and probably the only “Escort” I could afford these days. NOBODY saved an Escort. They were used, and many delivered a lot of miles,( as evidenced here) but were thrown away. Built during the “diesel heyday”, when diesel was cheaper than gas, some thought this was the answer, until they actually spent time ( a lot of time) in these underpowered, hard starting( when cold) units. I’m sure there’s a couple old cans of ether under the seat. Probably why it sat for so long.

    • Tony Geloso

      A block heater cures cold starting readily, granted it cost a little bit more, but it in the cold weather but it works wonders.

      I’ve got one on my Jetta TDI and 01.

  11. Shannon

    I don’t think this is a 1984 model because the 1981-85 did not have the euro flushed headlamps. This Escort wagon would probably be a 1986-89 model.

  12. Keith

    Why is this car a “Barn Find”??

  13. Ryan

    My mom had an 85 wagon with the sealed beam lights. This is an 85 1/2 -87 front clip and steering wheel. Brings back a lot of memories for some people, that’s one thing I come to barn finds for. Thanks for this posting.

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