by Susana Costa Real
In comparison, the 80’s were like a desert crossing, especially for the performance car market. A very different economy strongly affected by the ever-rising oil prices, forced the automotive industry to adapt quickly. The chrome work gave way to vinyl. Long bonnets gave way to large boots.
The survival of the industry was then relying on mass production models and those had to be as rational and practical as possible. The 80’s didn’t promise much excitement in terms of performance cars, yet the spirited drivers were around, waiting for products that raced their pulse.
After the previous success of some sporty utilitarian cars such as the Mini Cooper S or the Alfasud Ti, the answer found by the car manufacturers was not a surprise. Surprising, however, was the level of efficiency and fun to be had from this sort of “econobox” derived cars.
Hatchbacks became the shape of the performance car, hence creating the term “hot hatch”, a class of which the VW Golf GTI immediately became an icon. Ford soon came up with an answer based on the MK3 Escort.
The XR3 had two tough missions: to beat the Golf and to try to fill the gap left by the legendary RWD Escort generations. It accomplished none of them, but when you look at it 30 years on, it has the sort of 80’s retro coolness that makes you smile. Big decals, teledial wheels, big fog lights, all the 80’s clichés were there.
To celebrate this handsome underdog, we brought you this beautiful artwork featuring the Escort XR3 and its main rival, the Golf GTI.