One month earlier than the royal couple married in the summertime of 1981, Prince Charles gave Woman Diana Spencer a silver engagement current. No, not jewellery; it was a Ford Escort Ghia sedan, with the 1.6-liter engine. The automobile had 4 doorways and 79 horsepower and was in all respects fairly peculiar and even deeply boring. In an period of austerity for a lot of British commoners, Charles’s reward broadcast a message of respectability: the latest addition to the royal family would upset no teacups. However as we now know, a coming tempest was brewing, and simply 4 years later, Princess Di was approaching enhance.
Particularly, Her Royal Highness was spooling up the enhance on this little rocket, her 1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo, which coming up for sale at auction this month. It was by no means bought on this facet of the pond, however any fan of performance-oriented Fords could have clocked the RS designation and appropriately deduced that the princess’s tastes prolonged to a fairly severe sizzling hatch. Even perhaps to some royal hoonery?
Diana’s Escorts have been third -eneration automobiles, and he or she had three of them. After the rear-wheel-drive Mark I and Mark II Escorts—each nonetheless well-liked with collectors and classic rally racers—Ford’s European small household automobile now got here with front-wheel drive. It was a contemporary selection for a contemporary British household. It took the Escort simply two years to be topped the bestselling automobile in Britain.
Looking for to fire up a bit of pleasure to fend off the likes of the Volkswagen GTI, Ford developed a tuned model of the two-door Escort hatchback referred to as the XR3 (later XR3i, as gasoline injection arrived). The XR3 was scrappy sufficient for its day, however the comparatively new know-how of turbocharging promised efficiency dividends.
The Escort RS Turbo was the quickest the third-generation Escort acquired. Because of an aluminum head, an uprated camshaft, and manufacturing unit turbocharging, output was 132 horsepower at 6000 rpm, with a boot of 133 pound-feet of torque at 3000 rpm. Not enormous figures by right this moment’s requirements, however pitted in opposition to a curb weight that was barely over 2000 kilos, the RS Turbo was loads fast.
Initially, Diana changed her meekly humdrum Ghia with a bright-red convertible Escort, however the transfer upset her safety element. The droptop was just too high-profile. Messages handed backwards and forwards between the Royalty Safety Command and Ford’s PR division, and a compromise was reached. Diana would get the Escort RS Turbo she needed, painted black on the manufacturing line, the higher to fly beneath the radar.
Whereas nearly all different Escort RS Turbos have been white, the three black automobiles have been constructed for Diana and her safety element. She drove hers typically between 1985 and 1988 and was typically noticed driving round London, normally with the younger princes William and Harry within the again seat. A plainclothes detective rode shotgun.
One of many three, the automobile Diana herself drove, crosses the block at Silverstone Auctions on August 27. The automobile is obtainable at no reserve and is predicted to fetch a minimum of six figures, owing to its connection to a nonetheless beloved public determine.
In a time when fractures have been showing in her fairy-tale marriage, this unlikely sizzling hatch represented yet another side of Princess Diana’s independence. The expectation was that she could be trendy however dutiful, a four-doored Folks’s Princess. What emerged was a freer spirit, one decided to maintain her personal arms firmly on the wheel.
In her sizzling little turbocharged Escort, out working round city, Diana did simply that. Revs climbing, turbo spooling torque, bodyguard nervously reaching for the grab-handle on the roof as the following sharp nook approaches. She lived her life like a cambelt within the wind.
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