Although it is something that we see rarely enough in North America, European manufacturers tend to produce limited edition cars specifically created, marketed and sold for the sole purpose of homologating their cars for this or that racing series. The only one we see commonly around here is the Subaru Impreza WRX, but it’s an oddity. In Europe, those are more common, and Ford in the UK is certainly a champion of it. Produced from 1992 to 1996, the Ford Escort RS Cosworth was produced in very small numbers – only 7,000 – but even today is still worshiped as one of the most potent, brutal road-going cars ever produced, and it has its legion of followers!
Made to compete in the World Rally Championship (where it proved a winner), the road-going version of the Escort RS Cosworth was fitted with a brutally turbocharged but de-tuned 2-liter four-cylinder engine, producing 225 horsepower, but capable of several times that in race trim. Paired to a simple but rugged five-speed manual transmission and a full-time four-wheel drive system, it could reach 60 mph in 6.2 seconds and reach a top speed of 220 km/h.
Of course, the Escort RS Cosworth was about more than numbers, no matter how impressive. It was about owning a car that was visually and mechanically very close to an actual winning race car, and of course, about the handling, which was absolutely spectacular, if brutal.