Economy Survivor: 1983 Ford Escort

escort1

I often wonder how cars that are so often used as beaters and abused beyond belief occasionally manage to escape such a fate – like when cars such as this 29,000 original mile 1983 Ford Escort show up here on eBay. Desirable? No, but in a way finding a survivor-grade economy car is intriguing if for no other reason than I haven’t seen a clean first-gen Escort in decades. 

escort2

I’m sure low mileage claims like these can be backed up by the fact that it was owned by an elderly driver who didn’t travel very far. Almost all of my grandfather’s last few vehicles had less than 40,000 miles when traded in despite owning most of them for at least 5-7 years. You just make a habit out of not driving too far when it becomes more of a risk than its worth.

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This is the ultimate stripper of an Escort, with no radio and no A/C – but it does have the unfortunate upgrade of an automatic transmission. This car has got to be slow beyond belief! But you don’t own a car like an ’80’s Escort to hustle it; it’s just a solid point A to B machine for in-town driving.

escort3

The seller has this listed with an opening bid of $1,300 which, sadly, is still too much of an ask. Sure, it’s a survivor and there aren’t too many this well preserved. But they’re also far from desirable and I feel the seller will just need to let the market speak with regards to what someone is willing to pay for it. When’s the last time you saw a clean, first-generation Ford Escort?

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Comments

  1. Ben T Spanner

    I was offered a lateral transfer with a new blue 1983 Escort as a company car. I quit.

    • Paul Hudson

      I’ve had several of these and they have all been good cars. We used them for computer service in Wagon form in the 1980’s all exceeded 200K miles and they were great in the snow too. They got 30MPG. My 1983 GT was a neat little car and very nice looking for the time. It was quick, 5 Speed and Sunroof, Red with black spoiler. TRX wheels and tires. Once got 50MPG on a flat road trip to Ocean City MD. The Automatics were not too slow.

  2. Ted Shelton

    We rented a European version of this vintage of Escort when new. Drove it through four countries in a two week blitz through Europe! The car was super quick and fun to drive–I was so inspired that I test drove one at the local Ford dealer when we returned. BIG disappointment! Nowhere near the same car we drove over there!

    • JCW

      Can you say emissions control. Be my first guess for the difference.

  3. Chris in Nashville

    My first car in 1992 was a 1967 MGB… However my second car about 8 months later when the B had to take a winter nap, was a blue 1983 Escort GT that was my winter beater for 5 years. Loved that little car, lost something in it’s back seat…

    Nearly bid on this one until I saw the automatic… Too bad, would have been fun to relive my Highschool days.

    • Wayne S.K.

      Lost something in the back seat Chris? Why was your TV remote in your car? That’s the only thing of mine that constantly gets “lost.” ;)

      • Hoos Member

        That is a tight space to lose anything. Hhmmmm……….

  4. Nessy

    Ah, that boring color, no air, an automatic, not even a radio and to top it off it’s the basic bottom of the line L model? Yuck…. I kind of like it.

    Like 1
  5. juwald knightlly

    I had an ORANGE Escort wagon, all stripped, but an automatic, so slow, yet so
    reliable, used her in Cook County, Illinois, tough beast, only problem I ever had was
    exhaust and muffler rusted right out due to salt on roads in winter, OK ride, OK braking, tough beast, WOW, this is a rare find, pay a thousand, it will run for quite some time! I had to put in a Kraco stereo and play tapes for entertainment will trapped in Chicago traffic, car didn’t rattle, and the wagon had great storage and hauling capacity, seriously better than T1000 or Chevette or Omni

  6. RON

    could be worse ben. could be today , same offer and a kia!!!

  7. AMC STEVE

    Let me be the first to say “junk then junk now”

    Good basic transportation.

    Like 1
    • z1rider

      Have you read the other comments? From people who actually owned or used these? They consistently say they couldn’t kill them.

      Maybe we have different definitions of “junk”.

      Unsophisticated? yes, but apparently very durable.

      Like 2
      • JoeMosexual

        They are full of it. You didn’t have to kill them, they were designed to kill themselves. For some reason, people omit the problems they had and romanticize crappy cars. Spare me. Had one from new till it’s 4 yr old death at 66k. Neighbors who had 83’s, pretty much the same. I’ve heard 81,82,84,85 were better. But can’t say

    • Jeff Jarrett

      I agree. In 1986, I bought a 1982 Escort that was the same model and color as the one pictured. I did not know much about cars other than how to change the oil. Immediately after an oil change the oil on the dipstick was black. The engine must have been trashed at the dealer when I bought it. I wish I would have checked the dipstick at the dealership, but I was young and naïve. About 1 year later the timing belt broke and I gave up on that car. Again, being naïve, I did not know about timing belts vs. timing chains. If anything that piece of junk of a car was a good learning experience for me.

  8. ZeeBass

    Interesting car due to the fact that there are virtually none left – I’d love to see it in person for that reason. The passenger side quarter around the wheel well looks pretty rough and not sure a good shampooing would fix that driver’s seat or not?!

  9. MountainMan

    sure dont see many on the road, especially in this condition

  10. grant

    I’d run it to work for 800.

  11. Dan

    Had a couple of the wagons as company cars. Couldn’t kill em. Automatics with air conditioning…..they would really whine trying to get up a hill on the freeway. The air would shut off the compressor so that every bit of horsepower could be used to climb the hill. On one particularly long hill the interior of the car would begin to get warm. Bought one as a beater for 500.00. It was painted with a roller. Just wouldn’t quit running. This would be a great cheap winter beater.

  12. steve

    I had a white 83 GL back in the early 90’s. I bought it with an 81. The 83 was an auto had a good body but someone had overheated the engine or the timing belt broke not sure which. The 81 was a four speed, ran but was rusted out. The p.o. had swapped engines but coukdnt get it to run, wouldn turn over. I bough Both for $300. Turns out he ha tried to use the longer manual flywheeel bolts in the auto flywheel. They bottomed out on the back of the block. I dug thru the coffee can full of bolts and fould the shorter ones and had it running in short order. I later found a 5 spd transaxle and swapped it into the car, along with the manual steering rack ou of the 81. Between the two it mad a huge difference in performance. Still a slug, bu better.

  13. z1rider

    I have a 1984 with the Mazda diesel. I bought it when I was toying with the idea of making it run on french fry oil.

    Before I took the plunge biodiesel started to become available, which meant that restaurants no longer had to give their waste oil away, they could actually sell it as feedstock for the creation of biofuel. Kind of knocked the wind out of my plans.

    I’d like to sell it, I just don’t know what the best venue might be. Any ideas?

    • jim s

      email BF and ask if you can work a deal to list it here.

  14. Brakeservo

    Boy, you’re scrapin’ the bottom of the barrel with this one . . . one of the worst cars I’ve ever owned – used to catch fire regularly, blew it’s motor up when the timing belt died, but it was the functional plastic in the door latch assemblies that was the final straw . . . come to think of it, its been the last American car I’ve owned in the last 33+ years – it made that strong an impression on me!

  15. Jason Houston

    And THIS is some kind of collector car???????

    • grant

      Jason, they’ve featured Fiestas, Chevettes and I’m not sh!€€ing you a couple Yugo’s on here. Not necessarily collector cars but oddities cause they aren’t seen in preserved condition very often.

  16. Allan

    I also had one for a while, but mine had a diesel engine in it. I don’t remember if it was an automatic or manual shift. Starting it in the middle of a PA winter without a block heater was a bit sketchy, but once running, it would run all day long. I seem to recall having the starter rebuilt more than once, though. There was a battery in the normal location under the hood and another one in the trunk.

    • z1rider

      The diesels were all 5 speed manuals. Someone added the second battery to yours. The stock location for the diesels was in the trunk.

      The added weight of the diesel engine necessitated locating the battery in the rear of the car. Despite that the diesel engine versions were known for developing cracks in the shock towers.

  17. jim s

    if this was a manual i think it would have a bid already. there is another one on ebay with 23400 miles. interesting find.

  18. Mr. TKD

    I used to have a 1993 Mercury Lynx–because I was waaaayyyyy too cool to drive an Escort. It was a decent enough car with a 4-speed manual, but it had been wrecked. The ignition system sometimes worked, but at least it was slow. I drove it for 4 years, which is when the engine went on to glory.

  19. Rob S

    I was a mechanic at ford during these interesting years. Worked on many of these! Domino’s pizza used them. They traded a well used 83 in for a 85. 83 had 278K miles on it! They delivered pizzas in a very rural area. These were some of the most dependable econo boxes you could buy. Great little cars! Anyone ever drive an escort EXP turbo? That is one escort that will get your attention!

  20. HC

    In Europe there were two generations of Escorts before this generation. The first generation (1968–1975) is most wanted. The third (US 1st) generation is getting quite rare…but from design point of view I can’t say I mind.

  21. JohnM

    Not as good as contemporary Hondas and Toyotas but enough Euro-Ford in them to be miles better than a contemporary Chevette or (non-Shelby) Omni. Nice find. It’d be better with three pedals of course, but I love seeing Grandpa survivors like this.

  22. Barry T

    I owned Fords for years until I bought one of these in 1984 and it soured me on the brand.

  23. JCW

    As far as collectable and all the other negatives the same things could be said about the nash metropolitan and the king midget. I have both and love them. Would I drive the king as a everyday car no the met yes. The omni and chevettes my kid had both and loved them and would take one now. That’s why the make so many dif. Cars everybody like something. I like the escorts best car in the world no. Fun can be take one to a show everyone will look at it and forget the 50thou. Street rod had it happen with both my cars.

  24. Tom Stewart

    We had a couple of these as part of the driver’s ed program at my school. nice little cars, easy to drive. No, not a speed demon.

  25. Keith

    Roll up to your next local car show in this and watch the reactions….both good and bad.

  26. Paul Hudson

    I’ve been to Carlisle many times since the 1980’s and the uncool Cars like the pinto, chevette and fair into now all draw a crowd. They bring back memories to those of us now in middle age.

  27. Mark-A

    My Dad had a EU Mk3 Ford Escort 1.6 Ghia with the CVH engine & twin choke Webber carb when I passed my driving test & absolutely loved that Car, it wasn’t anything special but I have a soft spot due to the association so what’s to say someone else won’t feel the same about a Basic Uninteresting car? Each to their own.

  28. Tim

    I just purchased a 83 GT back in June. It has 131000 miles but, has been restored. I will drive it until it dies and then I will revive it!

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