Ford Escort RS1800 Rally Car

Key facts

  • Year: 1981
  • Country: Great Britain
  • Capacity: 1,993cc
  • Cylinders: 4
  • Output: 255bhp at 9,500rpm
  • Performance: 120mph
  • Price new: Not marketed
  • Owner: National Motor Museum Trust
  • Manufacturer: Ford Motor Co. Ltd
Ari Vatanen's 1981 Ford Escort RS1800 Rally Car sponsored by Rothmans. On Display

Despite the introduction of the new MkIII Ford Escort in 1980, this MkII Escort was actually built by David Sutton Motorsport for Ari Vatanen to drive in the 1981 RAC Rally. Vatanen’s second place in that event, combined with wins in the Acropolis Rally, Rally of Brazil and the 1000 Lakes Rally, was enough to secure him that year’s Drivers’ Championship. The RAC Rally was won by Hannu Mikkola in a turbocharged, four-wheel drive Audi Quattro, one of the new generation of supercars that would dominate the sport in the 1980s.

The rear-wheel drive Ford Escort was one of the most successful rally cars ever. MkI Escorts with Lotus twin-cam engines started winning World Championship events in 1968 and, despite the arrival of sophisticated four-wheel drive cars, its successor was still competitive in 1981.

When I compete in a rally I give it my all. No half measures.

Ari Vatanen





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