RS originally stood for Rallye Sport and introduced a new breed of affordable sporting Fords. The first Escort RS1600 was officially flagged off by double World Champion Graham Hill in November 1969 from a purpose-built production line within Ford Advanced Vehicle Operations [FAVO] of South Ockendon, Essex, England.

Based on the formidable international rally and race-winning Escort, with a pioneering Cosworth-crafted 16-valve engine, the RS1600 established a line of more than 20 Ford RS-badged derivatives that would sell over 107,000 examples in the 27 years between 1969 and the last recorded UK sale -September 1996.

Now the World Championship Rally-winning Ford Focus is to inspire a revival of Ford’s most respected high-performance name.

In production trim, the RS1600 offered the deft cornering capabilities of true RS products coupled to a detuned 120 bhp engine in a light and simple layout which allowed a 113 mph maximum speed alongside 0-60 mph acceleration of 8.9 seconds, but the main point was its sports potential.

The Belt Drive A-Series BDA was a Cosworth-conceived road cousin to the gear-drive FVA dedicated racing engine. Uprated street-legal works RS Ford rally cars with aluminium cylinder blocks offered 260 horsepower and could zip from 0-60 mph in 6 seconds. Previously such performance came only from Italian exotica or American muscle cars.

The second production FAVO Escort was the 1.6 litre Mexico 1600GT. Exclusive to Ford RS dealerships, the Mexico was a straightforward performer (0-60 mph in 10.5 seconds and 100 mph top speed), with a simple and low cost layout. The car was named after the 16,000 mile London-Mexico 1970 World