From Ford press: Royalty, pop stars and sporting heroes have all been behind the wheel of the Ford Escort, but its real claim to fame is its part in everyday British life. When the original Ford Escort went on sale in 1968, it revolutionised what was expected of a small family car, with a package offering plenty of space for four people and their luggage, cutting edge styling and tremendous value for money.
"The Ford Escort is a legend in its own lifetime. Its styling, practicality and value-for-money have been embraced by British consumers for more than 30 years, and we are tremendously proud of its achievements," says Ian McAllister, Chairman, Ford of Britain.
At the time of its launch, the Escort showed how Ford could redefine the expectations of a whole market segment, a feat repeated in the present day by its successor in the small family car segment, the Ford Focus.
Also present from the start was the 'hot' version, the potent Ford Escort Twin-Cam, which spawned such famous successors as the RS, Mexico and RS Cosworth models, as well as the distinctive Escort XR3i.
The popularity of these high performance models and their more modest counterparts was boosted by the Ford Escort's phenomenal success in motorsport, above all in rallying where it won the World Championship straight-out-of-the-box in its debut year, 1968.
In total, the car has claimed victory on 31 World Championship rallies, plus thousands of other events at every level of motorsport, including the British Saloon Car Championship, seven European Rallycross Championships, and the 16,000 mile London to Mexico 'World Cup' Rally in 1970.
Despite this awesome record, practicality and affordability were the major priorities for most Escort buyers. The round-bodied 1968 Mark I was initially launched only in two-door saloon format, but four-door, estate and van variants soon followed. From 1975, the sharper-edged Mark II Ford Escort introduced new trim levels, from the entry-level Popular to the range-topping Ghia saloon - the most luxurious Escort yet.