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Thread: Not the 26-year escort I had in mind when someone asked...

  1. #1
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    Default Not the 26-year escort I had in mind when someone asked...

    So, as you already know, I got myself another car. And once again, it is not a sensible one. But, let's start from the beginning.
    As of January 2021, my activities were slowly drifting towards doing a full time moving out from Kraków. We have signed the selling contract for our house in Kraków, that was due to be emptied and handed over to the new owners on the 1st of March, and started the process of buying a new property. Not choosing it, but just buying, in Poland, if you aim for anything that has more than half of a hectare of farm terrain legally bound to it, you need to go through a lengthy and painful procedure of confirming you are not a real estate developer, or property reseller, or property hoarder, or foreign citizen etc. before you can actually buy it. But local law stupidity is not the topic for today. To be as concise as possible, I had to find a car that could allow me to move most of the stuff from our house to the underground garages we have rented. The Colon gave up firing the 8th cylinder (turned out to be nothing serious, but again, another time, another place), Gran Cherokee was waiting for a suspension overhaul, Land Rover is at the electrician's garage, 960 blew the engine off (another story for another day), Passat is at the tinsmith's, and that left me, user of ~10 cars, with no useful vehicle to do the trick. Sure, you can pack this stuff into A2 or 760, but their cargo space is just to small and large cardboard boxes just won't fit. I had to look for a moving-out-and-in car.

    The list of necessities was short: cheap compact class station wagon, LPG or diesel, simple and small, so it will fit nicely in the underground space. Also, up-to-date insurance and MOT. This points towards older 850/V70/V40 Volvo's, small Japanese and eg. French cars etc. BUT NO, I found the single one stupid car in the vicinity - a 1995 Escort wagon, listed for 2000 PLN (around 525 dollars). Got in touch with the seller, got really upset as the shifter got stuck and they could not sell the car as it was not a rideable one, got happy after they managed to override the lock and put it into a garage so all the accumulated ice could melt and make the shifter working once again, arranged a meeting, did a test drive, talked the price down to 1800 PLN (470 USD), drove it from Bytom, Silesia to Kraków. And here it is, the first day I owned it:




    The front bumper is cracked, and has funny cutouts. The car was owned by an American living in Germany (a soldier, I guess), who swapped in Mondeo headlights to comply with the traffic rules. As those are larger, they decided to cut the holes in the bumper - and these were later covered when the car got imported into Poland by a friend of the guy from whom I bought it.

    The engine is a 1.9 CVH, rated as 88 hp. It has a hemispherical head, so this is actually my first HEMI car!


    This is a tank for the lubricating agent used by the LPG installation. A rare and definitely expensive add-on, but also nice to have.


    I got the original owner's book in a fancy plastic cover + some basic papers from the dealership - Wilmette Ford.



    Original stickers are still there.


    A spare set of headlights, spare radiator, a few small things were also a part of the deal.


    Interior shots, mostly from the previous owner. I really like these electrical belts!












    Dealer's stickers, one is for the assembly plant, the other - for the dealer's name.



    Rear fog light. It's indicator light works well, but the light itself is dead. I have to check the bulb, and maybe replace the whole thing with a non-cracked one. The headlights are also on the list - they are so yellowish that I can barely drive the car at night...



    The car had original wheel covers, two different pairs of steel rims, two sensible, 6-yr old all weather tires, and two totally crappy, 16-year old winter tires that were unsuitable for any kind of weather. I got a nice set of wheels I kept for the Passat, with slightly used, 5-year old retreaded winter tires (I might have driven some 10 000km on them, or even less?). They were mounted on Ronal light alloys, and they fit very well with the car. It looks now like a cheap car bought for a son who goes to a college, and he believes that putting this kind of wheels makes him look more attractive. No, that does not work good. Blasting Backstreet Boys from the speakers does not help much, too.



    And guess what? I met a very nice, elegant old lady who drives a saloon Escort at the gas station a few days ago. She imported her '93 Escort herself as a new car, and does not want to sell it, as she really likes it!

    As for my Escort... the initial idea was to drive it for half of a year and then get rid of it. But I really started liking this car: it is really a rare one in Poland, it has a huuuge cargo space, it is quite nimble, and consumes 11-14l of LPG per 100 km. Also, the partsd should be cheap, its Mazda 323, after all. Needs some underbelly work - it was covered with a protective "grease" years ago, but holes begin to emerge in the lower side panels. That should not cost much, and I think I am eager to do it next autumn. Also, a new bumper and headlights (or an extensive repair to those I already have), and I got a nice, cheap commuter to do the everyday stuff. Especially as the 960 engine has its block, not head gasket, broken...


  2. #2
    Wagon Addicted Tiggie's Avatar
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    Gotta admit I like the 'Scort long roof. Looks fairly well cared for. I haven't seen one stateside in several years. Is the LPG setup still intact?

    A lady on the next street over had a Mercury Tracer wagon but it disappeared quietly in the last few years.

    A friend of mine had a 91 GT in high school. He treated it pretty well. The 7000 redline was kind of wild at the time for an entry level car. I don't think he ever took it there since no money and the risk of scattered parts would have spelled the end of his transportation abilities.
    1990 Country Squire - weekend cruiser, next project
    1988 Crown Vic LTD Wagon - waiting in the wings

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  3. #3
    fomoco panthers !
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    I had a 94 Escort 2 dr hatchback 5 speed. Got 258,000 miles on it.Great car ! Lots of fun to drive. I miss it however it was not practical to ship it across the US. I rented a few 95-96 Escorts . Rentals had automatic trans. Sluggish.

  4. #4
    The Brown Blob 87gtVIC's Avatar
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    I went from a 94 Escort 4dr sedan to a 04 E320 Mercedes and miss the Escort daily. It was a terrific car. Way more room than the benz and was fun to drive around.

    Nice wagon.
    ~David~

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    Quote Originally Posted by DerekTheGreat View Post
    But, that's just coming from me, this site's biggest pessimist. Best of luck

  5. #5
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    I missed an opportunity to get an Escort wagon right after I got my MGM. I would have gotten rid of the Ranger and gave the Escort to my Mom. Though; in the long run; the Explorer I eventually got is a much better vehicle..........for now.

  6. #6
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    My mom had a 93 of that one. Worked great for us and died 2 months after we traded it in. Head gasket went and overheated and trashed the engine. We got lucky with that one.

    Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. -- Albert Einstein
    rides: 93 Crown Vic LX (The Red Velvet Cake), 2000 Crown Vic base model (Sandy), 2003 Expedition (the vacation beast)
    Quote Originally Posted by gadget73
    ... and it should all work like magic and unicorns and stuff.
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    Overhead, some poor bastards are flying in airplanes.

  7. #7
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    A friend in high school had a regular '85 Escort that he put a small system into (BLaupunkt head unit; tweeters up front; 6.5s in the doors; 12" Pyramid Super Blues in the hatch); miss that car. SLeeper in the car audio world. Freakin loud, but nobody would look to see if that dingy Escort was the one making all that noise LOL

  8. #8
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    Thank you all for sharing your Escort-related stories. I presume it was as popular in the US as its EU counterpart was in Europe. Most of them have rotten away, though, and only a few remain drivable.
    The LPG system is working well; in fact, it was one of the must-have things when looking for the car. It is well tuned, and one can easily spool the engine quite a bit with no apparent performance drop. The only problem is the size of the tank -- the LPG range is some 130 miles, which is a bit small for a person who lives ~20 miles from the city.

    The mechs did a second round of tests today, adjusted the wheels a bit, located the problem troubling the AC (a hole in the AC radiator), changed one of the v-belts that powered the alternator, replaced the coolant and cleaned the engine water pipes. The third round is to check/change ATF and engine oil and timing system. I should have the car back on Monday - till then, I am driving with the MGM. But driving in on the narrow and serpentine country roads here is a bit frustrating, so I just can't wait to get the 'scort back.

  9. #9
    Beater gonna beat sly's Avatar
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    The sedan and hatch were more popular than the wagon in the states IIRC. And they're pretty much rotted away here for the most part as well.

    Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. -- Albert Einstein
    rides: 93 Crown Vic LX (The Red Velvet Cake), 2000 Crown Vic base model (Sandy), 2003 Expedition (the vacation beast)
    Quote Originally Posted by gadget73
    ... and it should all work like magic and unicorns and stuff.
    Quote Originally Posted by dmccaig
    Overhead, some poor bastards are flying in airplanes.

  10. #10
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    Time for updates!

    Escort runs well, except for the headlights. Not only are they totally sun-worn, but also lack half of the mounting parts, and... something is messed up badly in the installation. The low/high beam selector is inverted. So the decision is to use one of the older, EU-converted sets of headlights. I got one with the car, and bought two more...


    I have already cut them open, and washed the covers in the appliance. Dismantling the plastic, main headlights was a pain in the arse - they were reinforced by 4 screws each. And in the left one, there were 3 different types of screws. All rusted and barely moving...


    I am planning to experiment with other two to build a custom set of 2xsmall CV-size lamp, one for normal use, and the other one equipped with a 100W bulb to be used as a grass scorcher. Not sure if it will work out well. I also got a spare radio unit, but it looks like it is from a CV/MGM.


    Some recent photos. The car has been cleaned thoroughly inside, and shines bright like a diamond... the outside has to wait until the weather gets more stable.


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    You can still buy music tapes on-line.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 79lincolnlover View Post
    You can still buy music tapes on-line.
    I got some used, and some new, but I doubt if I will put a cassette deck in Escort. There's not enough space for the cassettes in the car.

    Moving on with the lights. I got my hands on a lamp polishing paste, a "high number" sandpaper, and started the work. This is what I had before the process:



    I started with the sandpaper, quickly getting the covers totally milky:



    But the result was worth the effort! Here are the polished covers, placed over a short text. It is now clearly visible, and the yellow tint is generally gone.



    This is how the lamp should look after being sealed again:



    I am picking a cartridge of transparent silicone tomorrow, and maybe I'll have some time over the weekend to glue them back together. Then, I am going to have working headlights in my Escort...

  13. #13
    The Brown Blob 87gtVIC's Avatar
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    Had to do the same to the ones on my car. I chose to ground off the alignment tits and it made sanding and polishing everything out much easier.
    ~David~

    My 1987 Crown Victoria Coupe: The Brown Blob
    My 2004 Mercedes Benz E320:The Benz

    Quote Originally Posted by DerekTheGreat View Post
    But, that's just coming from me, this site's biggest pessimist. Best of luck

  14. #14
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    Oh, titties are for alignment? Never knew what they are for! I decided to keep them, as they are quite distinct (EU cars have none), and I would like to keep the escort as USDM as possible. I did the final touch around them with a soft cloth - worked well!
    Got the silicone yesterday, I am planning to seal the headlights this weekend.

  15. #15
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    So, got the lights working!

    The first step was just to check if they are indeed better and cleaner than what was on the car. I guess it is quite apparent...


    The next step was to slowly dismantle the front of the car. Here is another comparison of the two headlight units.



    After that was done, I have jury-rigged the wiring to support the new H4 installation. I am going to do it in a more professional way later this years, as soon as I have an access to a proper soldering gun and other must-have stuff. Here is a picture with one new, one old...


    And here is the final photo. Both headlight units done, both are clear, and I can see something overnight. Also, they can be adjusted (unlike the other ones, which were stuck at one position), so I can point them at the road, not some random place on the sky. The next step is to get a pair of Nightbreaker bulbs to get an even better illuminance.


    Called a friend who can fix the bumper yesterday. He might have some time in May to do it. Then the next step would be to fight the rust damage to the body. And get new springs for the rear shocks, as the car is a bit too low now. And get rid of these:

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