Retro Rides Revisited: The 1986 Ford Escort XR3i

1986 Ford Escort XR3i

Table of Contents

The 1986 Ford Escort XR3i stands as an iconic symbol in the automotive world, embodying the spirit of the 80s with its distinctive style and performance. This car represented a lifestyle and an attitude that resonated with a generation. In this article, we dive into the heart of what makes the XR3i a cherished classic, exploring its history, design, and the unique driving experience it offers. Whether you’re a classic car enthusiast or a curious newcomer, the story of the Escort XR3i is one of innovation, excitement, and nostalgia.



1986 Ford Escort XR3i

The Ford Escort XR3i, introduced in the mid-80s, quickly became a symbol of youthful energy and automotive passion. This model was part of the Escort’s third generation, known for its front-wheel drive and sporty aesthetics. With its sleek lines and robust performance, the XR3i stood out in the crowded field of compact cars. It wasn’t just about transporting people; it was about enjoying every curve and straightaway in between. This car offered an affordable yet thrilling ride, making it a popular choice among driving enthusiasts and casual drivers alike.



1986 Ford Escort XR3i

The journey of the Ford Escort XR3i began as a response to the growing demand for sporty yet affordable cars in the 1980s. The Escort series, already well-established for its reliability and practicality, was the perfect canvas for Ford to introduce a more performance-oriented model. The XR3i was born out of this vision, featuring improved aerodynamics, a more powerful engine, and sportier suspension compared to its predecessors. It was a car designed not only to perform but also to excite, embodying the vibrant energy of the 80s. The XR3i quickly gained popularity, not just for its performance, but as a status symbol among the youth of that era, marking the beginning of a new chapter in the legacy of the Ford Escort.



1986 Ford Escort XR3i

The 1986 Ford Escort XR3i, a hallmark of versatility, was offered in a few distinct variants, each catering to different preferences while maintaining the model’s core attributes. The primary variant was the three-door hatchback, known for its sporty appeal and practicality. Another noteworthy variant was the Cabriolet, which added a touch of luxury and open-air driving experience to the range. Each variant came with unique features, but they all shared the common thread of performance and style.

  • Three-Door Hatchback:

    • Engine: 1.6-liter CVH fuel-injected
    • Power: 105 bhp
    • Top Speed: Approximately 113 mph
    • 0-60 mph: 9.6 seconds
  • Cabriolet:

    • Engine: Same as the hatchback
    • Added Features: Convertible roof, enhanced interior styling
    • Weight: Slightly heavier due to the convertible mechanism
    • Performance: Similar to the hatchback, with a focus on style



The exterior of the 1986 Ford Escort XR3i was a blend of function and fashion. Its design was a departure from the more conservative style of previous models, featuring a more aerodynamic shape that not only enhanced performance but also gave it a distinctive look. The front of the car was marked by a sleek grille and angular headlights, while the body lines flowed smoothly to the rear, culminating in a spoiler that was both aesthetic and functional. The XR3i was available in a variety of vibrant colors, which was quite trendy during the 80s, adding to its appeal. This car wasn’t just built to perform; it was designed to be noticed.



Inside the 1986 Ford Escort XR3i, the focus was on creating a driver-centric environment that was both comfortable and functional. The interior was relatively simple by today’s standards, but it offered everything a driver needed without unnecessary complications. The seats were designed for support and comfort, especially during spirited driving. Instrumentation was straightforward, with clear dials and an uncluttered dashboard. The XR3i also featured some creature comforts like a decent sound system and optional air conditioning, making it a pleasant place to be, whether on a quick drive around town or a longer journey on the open road.



1986 Ford Escort XR3i Engine

The engine of the 1986 Ford Escort XR3i is a marvel of its era, representing a perfect blend of engineering and innovation that Ford was renowned for. This powertrain was not just about delivering raw power; it was designed with a focus on balance, offering a satisfying combination of performance and efficiency. The heart of the XR3i, its engine, played a crucial role in defining the car’s character and driving dynamics.

Type1.6-liter CVH (Compound Valve angle Hemispherical combustion chamber) engine
InductionFuel Injection
Power Output105 bhp
Top SpeedApproximately 113 mph
Acceleration (0-60 mph)9.6 seconds
Notable FeaturesImproved fuel efficiency and smoother power delivery compared to carbureted versions


Driving Experience

1986 Ford Escort XR3i

Delving deeper into the driving experience of the 1986 Ford Escort XR3i, each aspect of its performance contributed to an engaging and enjoyable drive.

  • General Feel: The car’s lightweight and sturdy chassis provided a nimble and connected driving experience. The XR3i felt alive, responding eagerly to driver inputs with a sense of enthusiasm and zest.
  • Acceleration: The throttle response was sharp, and the car surged forward with a spirited energy. The 105 bhp engine ensured that the acceleration was brisk, making overtaking maneuvers and city driving particularly enjoyable.
  • Steering Response: The steering was one of the highlights, offering precision and excellent feedback. This made the XR3i incredibly fun on twisty roads, as drivers could feel every nuance of the road through the wheel.
  • Braking: The braking system was robust, providing reliable and consistent stopping power. The pedal feel was firm, giving drivers confidence in both emergency situations and spirited driving.
  • Handling: The XR3i’s suspension was a masterful balance of sportiness and comfort. It was firm enough to keep body roll in check during spirited cornering, yet it absorbed bumps and road imperfections effectively, ensuring a comfortable ride in everyday driving conditions.
  • Feedback and Road Connection: The car had a great sense of road connection, with its suspension and steering providing constant and clear feedback to the driver. This made the XR3i not just a car to be driven, but to be experienced and enjoyed.
  • Overall Driving Pleasure: The 1986 Ford Escort XR3i was primarily focused on one thing – the joy of driving. Every trip, whether short or long, became an opportunity to relish the pure, unadulterated pleasure of motoring.


Driver Aids and Safety Features

1986 Ford Escort XR3i

In the context of its era, the 1986 Ford Escort XR3i was equipped with a basic set of driver aids and safety features. While it didn’t boast the advanced technology that would become commonplace in modern vehicles, it included essential elements that contributed to a safe driving experience. These features included disc brakes at the front for improved stopping power, a responsive steering mechanism for better control, and seat belts for all passengers. The car’s sturdy construction also played a role in passenger safety. However, it’s important to note that features like airbags and advanced electronic aids were not common in cars of this period. The XR3i focused more on providing a direct and engaging driving experience, where driver skill and awareness were paramount.


Should You Buy a 1986 Ford Escort XR3i?

1986 Ford Escort XR3i Rear

Deciding whether to purchase a 1986 Ford Escort XR3i today hinges on several factors. It’s a classic, embodying the spirited driving experience of the 80s, which makes it an appealing choice for enthusiasts and collectors. Here are a few considerations:

  • Collector’s Value: As a classic, the XR3i holds a certain nostalgic value, making it a potentially worthwhile investment for car collectors.
  • Driving Pleasure: If you’re seeking a car with a raw, engaging driving experience, the XR3i delivers this in spades.
  • Maintenance and Upkeep: Being an older vehicle, it may require more maintenance and care compared to a modern car. Availability of parts and expertise for repairs are also considerations.
  • Practicality: While it offers a unique driving experience, it may not meet the practicality and comfort standards of modern cars, especially in terms of space and fuel efficiency.



1986 Ford Escort XR3i

The 1986 Ford Escort XR3i stands as a testament to a bygone era of automotive design and engineering. It captures the essence of what made driving exhilarating in the 80s – a straightforward, engaging, and spirited experience. This car holds a revered place in automotive culture from a time when cars were simpler, yet full of character. Whether it’s for the nostalgia, the driving pleasure, or its status as a collector’s item, the XR3i holds a special place in the hearts of car enthusiasts.


Pros of the 1986 Ford Escort XR3i

Cons of the 1986 Ford Escort XR3i


The XR3i is considered a classic due to its iconic design, representation of 80s car culture, and the unique driving experience it offers. Its status as a symbol of its era and its role in automotive history contribute to its classic status.

The driving experience of the XR3i is more raw and engaging compared to many modern cars. It lacks the advanced electronics and driver aids of contemporary vehicles, providing a more direct and connected feel. However, it may not match modern cars in terms of comfort and efficiency.

While it can be used for everyday driving, its age, and classic status might make it less practical for daily use compared to modern cars. It’s more suited as a weekend or collector’s car, offering a unique driving experience for special occasions.

Written by: Motorcardata

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