The Mk1 RS2000 was brought out to exploit a gap between the existing Escort Mexico and Escort RS1600. Ford felt there was a market for a car with more power and refinement than the Mexico, but without the higher production and ownership costs associated with the more complex RS1600. Ford believed that such a model would appeal to a wider customer audience than the existing ‘sporting’ Escorts, and would offer RS motoring at an affordable price. So, unlike the RS1600, the decision to produce the MK1 RS2000 was very much a commercial one rather than to satisfy any motorsport ambitions that the Ford Motor Company had.
According to Jeremy Walton’s excellent book, RS: The Faster Fords, this idea was confirmed by the reaction of a visiting party of RS factory personnel and dealers from Ford of Germany. Stuart Turner (Ford’s Competition Manager at the time) had arranged for them to see and try the prototype RS2000 at Brands Hatch and the result was an order worth some £2 million for left-hand-drive cars.
The LHD version was announced on July 4th 1973 but it wasn’t until October 11th 1973 that the first RHD version was available for sale in the UK.
The list price when launched in the UK was £1,441, approximately £200 more than the Mexico but £200 less than the RS1600. The new car featured a 1993cc OHC ‘pinto’ engine with aluminium sump, a close-ratio gearbox with aluminium bellhousing, a higher final drive ratio and a plusher interior cabin.
The RS2000 was instantly recognisable by its wide decals along both sides and across the bonnet and boot lid, although there was a ‘no cost option’ to delete these and replace them with a more subtle coachline. The car sat on 5.5 inch steel rims with 165 / 13 tyres but the four-spoke RS alloys soon became a popular option.
The only real modification to the MK1 RS2000 came about in November 1973 when, like the mainstream Escort models, the vertical rear damper mounting was introduced.
Back in the early 1970’s, the RS2000 offered everything you could want in a sports saloon. Great handling, performance, practicality, easy maintenance and affordability. It fitted naturally into the RS line-up and poached sales from both the Mexico and RS1600. On sale between 1973 and 1975, the car was extremely popular and it is estimated that 5,334 examples were built, with 3,759 being for the UK market. It remained much in demand, even after production ceased, until the MK11 versions arrived in the summer of 1975.