The Ford Escort name is tied hard to rally racing, thanks to Europeans who learned that the little Ford that was cranked out of the European arm made for a wicked little screamer when properly tuned up right. Even today you can find many a Mark I and Mark II Escort ripping up and down dirt roads, drifting at angles that would impress twenty-year-olds in clapped-out S13 Nissans. In the United States, though, it’s a radically different story. The Escort we got was meant to be cheap, frugal transportation with an extra dose of “cheap”. Underpowered, tinny little boxes that were successful in their own right, the North American Escort and it’s Mercury twin, the Lynx, were a front-drive version of the Mark III Escort, known internally as the “Erika” project. Front drive and a four-cylinder that might crank out eighty horsepower do not make for a wicked race car of any kind.
But Ford did crank out one example of the car that we’d happily steal the keys to. What you are looking at here is the factory-commissioned 1983 Mercury Lynx that was built for the SCCA Pro Rally races. Built by Gartrac in Britain, the Lynx is a rear-drive conversion that is sporting a Cosworth 2.0L four-banger and a five-speed ZF transmission. Outside of the strange wheelwell flare setup, we’d be all over ourselves for a crack at it. Why wouldn’t we? Cosworth-Ford powertrain, rally pedigree, and a 1980s body that suddenly is 1000% cooler than the original car it was based on sounds like a riot of a time to us.
If you want to learn more about the Lynx, check out Trevor Yale Ryan’s article on it over at Speedhunters.com