Rare Sport Coupe: 1986 Ford Escort EXP

Although Ford never mounted a serious challenge to the sport compact coupes of the late 1980s, they did try to formulate an answer with the short-lived EXP coupe. A true two-seater, the EXP offered buyers plenty of style in a car that certainly looked like it was ready do battle with a Honda CRX. Few are left today, making this example here on eBay one to watch if you’ve been hunting for an EXP; this car is doubly appealing for featuring the preferred trim package known as the  “Sport Coupe”option.

The seller has an opening bid of $5K, which he’s gotten – but a reserve remains in place. I don’t blame him for reaching for the stars on a rare bird like this, but it’s a very select group of oddball aficionados who will be his potential buyers. One repaint has occurred in the past, and it looks like they re-secured all of the likely impossible to find trim and freshened up the red pinstriping. Tinted taillights came that way straight from the factory. The ’80s were great!

The 1986 EXP “Sport Coupe” benefits from lots of added features, including a firmer suspension, bucket seats, fog/driving lamps, and more. The ’87 Sport Coupes stepped it up even further, with power output jumping to 115 b.h.p., a more than respectable number among cheap sport compacts of the day. The trouble was, most shoppers still opted for the CRX if they needed a two door, a choice that makes sense if the EXP was as obscure then as it is now.

The interior certainly presents as being driver-focused, even if the rest of the car didn’t. Deeply-bolstered bucket seats, manual gearbox, no backseat – the ingredients were certainly there for this car to steal some sales away from Honda. Alas, it didn’t, and today finding a decent EXP is no small feat. Though I prefer the earlier model with the heavily flared fenders and smaller headlights, this one looks like a keeper, even at the current bid. Radwood approved, indeed.


  1. chris lawrence

    I had one of these in 89 and I loved it. Couldn’t kill that 1.9 litre engine. yes, it was slow, but so was every single car made in the 80’s that was obtainable for 20 somethings.

    Like 5
    • Adam

      I had a new two door Escort GT in 90. Blue, Same engine. 5 speed. I still miss that car today. It wasn’t sports car quick but handled well and got great mileage, even though at that time I didn’t consider gas mileage. I sold it and bought g 1990 Mustang GT. A little quicker.

      Like 4
      • RM

        same here. i had a 90 GT and an EXP. Cant remember the year. And the GT had some performance work done to it. Very peppy little car. I would love to have another, but they are so hard to find.

    • Brian

      I had a white/black two tone paint 88 with a burgundy interior.Got wrecked out July 4th weekend in 1997..no fun at all.

  2. Dave

    I remember a few guys at work that were geeked out over this when it debuted. They claimed it got better MPG with the A/C on and the windows up than A/C off and windows down.

    Like 4
  3. Rock On

    I haven’t seen one of these since I sold them at a Ford dealership back in the day. The only thing scarcer would be the Mercury counterpart the LN7.

    Like 4
  4. Coventrycat

    I almost bought one of these just so my friends wouldn’t keep using me as their chauffeur on beer drinking nights. Which was every night, back then.

    Like 3
  5. CanuckCarGuy

    I’d love to have this little gem. These along the first gen Escort GT once they dropped in the turbo motor, have always held a huge appeal for me.

    Like 2
    • MarveH

      So you’re the other person on the planet that likes the first gen Escort GT’s. You may be the only other living person who even knew there was a turbo Escort and EXP in the 80’s.
      Well know I know there’s one obscure Ford weirdo in the States and one in the Great White North.

      Like 2
      • Brian

        Yeah.. I saw a turbo EXP way back in the day when I had my EXP..couldn’t turn around fast enough to find the car ,only one I ever saw like that.

        Like 1
      • CanuckCarGuy

        Absolutely MarveH…I’m a blue oval diehard especially the turbo models they were turning out; the first gen Probe GT is another seldom seen gem I’d like to own.

        Like 1
  6. Larry

    Had one in the 80s. They were heavier than the original four door / rear seat versions.

    • Torri Harvey

      I have an 84 ford escort hatchback 4spd with only 58,000 original miles on it love to know what its actually worth

      • MarveH

        The only way you’ll know that is to sell it through a no-reserve auction. There is no evaluation tool that we give you an accurate figure on an old economy car. The only value will come from the person who wants it for nostalgia or to resto-mod it.
        I’d love a Gen one escort and would pay whatever impulse money I had in the kitty at the time.

  7. Brian

    I had a 88 EXP back in the mid 90’s..decent fuel mileage and a little bit different car to own.Kind of sporty with bucket seats and center console.It was an ok ride to get around in.

  8. Gary

    It was also fords first 2 seater since the 55 bird.

    • Jett

      Don’t forget Ford of Britain built the two-seat RS200 in the mid-80’s.

      • GTiDave

        And the Cosworth Escort put together in Germany by Karmann…

  9. ChevyTruckGuy

    Even though I’m a Chevy guy, I love unique, quirky, or obscure cars. 1970’s AMC products certainly pique my curiosity, and the Ford EXP is no exception. I always thought that these were neat looking little rides. I especially liked the early ones. I think some people refer to them as the “frog face look”, because of the early headlamp/front fender design. It’d be cool to find a near mint example, especially since most of them were driven into the ground. Great post!

    Like 2
  10. ralphy

    I owned a similar exp and had the advantage of working at the plant they were produced. The reason Escorts & Lynx and EXP are like the dinosaurs is they were cheap and disposal. FoCoMo built them to comply with govt regulations for fuel economy… (Ford lost 340 per unit when sold at retail) That said my Exp had 3 instrument panels installed and fly wheel from Gene Butuman in Ypsi MI.

    Would I consider the EXP to be a collector item: yes they were a POS and didn’t sell many.. That said how many Escort – Lynx are still around?

    That sa

  11. Joel

    I own a 85 EXP Turbo Coupe. And I thought I was the only one who thought they were cool!! It too is the only one I’ve ever seen.

    Like 1
    • MarveH

      Joel. Allow me to say this tired cliché, If you ever want to sell that EXP, let me know!

      Like 1
  12. Bruce

    Had an 86 for 214,000 miles and sold it still running great. Fun car but learned that the 86 was stupid hard to fix a broken timing belt or water pump. Frame design (on Escorts too) finally got a kick up at the crank pulley in 87. Fun car! Got in trouble during an insurance check when the officer saw that my insurance company showed it as an EXPlorer.

  13. PatrickM

    This appeals to me. Would like to have it. So, anyone up to snuff on the aftermarket parts availability?

    • Jett

      Ha haha that’s funny! If they built more than 5000 of them in all years, I’d be very surprised. As they say, the parts would be made of unobtainium…

      • DKW

        Parts are a plenty as they are essentially Escorts which sold by the millions.

        My first car was a 1982 Ford EXP that I bought when it was a year old. I sold it after having it barely less than a year so I could buy a 1962 Austin Healey 3000. My father thought I was nuts and the Healey was certainly less reliable for a teenager. But you can’t tell a teenager a thing, as I’m learning now. But… I still have that Healey.

        Like 1
  14. Fred

    I had an ’86 EXP Sport Coupe as my college car. Maroon with a tan interior, 5-speed and a sunroof. My EXP held a surprising amount of stuff. For my sophomore and junior years, everything fit inside. My favorite story involves that car. Several of us went to Charleston, S.C. for a honor society convention one March. Several of us went out that Saturday night to experience the town. All was fine until the bars closed and there was a two hour wait for a taxi. Most of the group took a cab to the restaurants, but I drove my EXP. Long story short, we made the trip back to the hotel with nine of us stuffed in the car. I was the only one without someone in my lap. The car bottomed out several times with a resounding WHAM on the less-than-stellar roads. Thankfully we did not attract the attention of the local authorities on the return trip to the hotel. That car also got me through my first couple years as a newspaper reporter chasing stories throughout three rural counties in Kentucky. What a great little car.

  15. Conway

    Is this car still available

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