Junkyard Gem: 1986 Ford Escort L Station Wagon

A rare example of the first-generation North American Escort.

  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
The first-generation North American Ford Escort shared some components with its European cousin but was, at heart, a Dearborn creation. These cars were once everywhere on American roads, but cheap Detroit compacts tend to depreciate fast and get subjected to abuse and neglect. Few of these cars remain, but here's a well-preserved ' 86 wagon that I spotted in a Denver self-service wrecking yard.

The subsequent generation of Escort was a Mazda, sibling to the Protegé and 323, but this car was all Ford. The engine in this car is the 1.9-liter SOHC hemi-head straight-four, which made 86 horsepower in 1986.

Manual transmissions were cheaper than automatics during the middle 1980s, but the optional equipment in this car (e.g., air conditioning, AM radio) indicates that its original purchaser probably preferred driving a three-pedal car and wasn't just a cheapskate.

Bought new in Boulder, will be crushed 30 miles away and 31 years later in Denver.

The idea of a small station wagon with two-digit horsepower and a manual transmission seems absurd in 2017, but this car had plenty of competition when new.

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