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RS 1600i – 1981 to 1984

Feb 02,2006 Julian

The Mk3 Escort heralded a change for Ford and the RS marque in many ways, and although the RS1600i never lived up to the reputation attained by the Mk1 and Mk2 Escorts, it was never meant to, for it was never meant to be their competitive successor. The feeling in the camp was that any credible RS1800 successor would need to be rear wheel drive version of the new Mk3 car and plans were already afoot behind the scenes to homologate a rear wheel drive BDA powered Mk3 Escort. However, the project was beset with problems from the start, not least in having to create a balanced RWD thoroughbred from a FWD shell. The project was ultimately scrapped whilst still at the prototype stage and the RS1700T went down in the history books as the RS that never was, a great shame as even today the aggressively styled car would sit neatly beside any of the current breed of WRC machinery. All was not lost however, as aspects of the RS1700T engine, a turbocharged Cosworth BDT, later materialised in the awesome Group B RS200.

As such, the task of producing a car worthy of the RS badge fell to the German Motorsport Division. The RS1600i was designed as a Group A / Group N track racer and the production model to fulfil homologation requirements was announced (in Germany) in September 1981.

The RS1600i featured a 1600 CVH engine coupled with a Bosch K-Jetronic injection system. The result was 115bhp @ 6000rpm; however, aftermarket tuning saw figures of 160bhp attainable! The engine sported an attractive finned aluminium cam cover and four branch manifold.

Despite the fact that the car was not designed with your typical Rallye Sport enthusiast in mind, it was nonetheless a very popular RS, and indeed production numbers were almost doubled from initial sales forecasts. Whilst many Mk1 and Mk2 parts and accessories had been interchangeable, the RS1600i proved a break from the past, with its stylish seven spoke alloys and snappy interior.   

Production continued until 1984 when the Series 1 Turbo was introduced.

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