There's actually a touch of nobility about this estate model in its late form, and a certain regret from the driver who took it away that Ford was finally confining the Escort to history. That's an interesting insight; an experienced driver familiar with a wide variety of vehicles and styles liked the Escort - a lot.
That is the vehicle's enduring strength. People like it because it gets on with the job. And the continuing strength of sales in the UK market is a solid endorsement of the Escort as a business tool, with the estate having a considerable share of those sales. It's the financial and engineering efficiency of the car which allowed Ford to recently do the massive deal with Royal Mail for 6,300 Escort vans.
There's more than a little difference between the van and the Ghia specification, and the car provided a decent level of comfort (though I don't think I was ever able to line up the driver's seat properly - it was always a little high so that my knees tended to brush the steering wheel in unguarded moments).
I examined the seats for signs of wear, and there weren't any, even the well-used driver's. Paintwork wasn't perceptibly flayed under the lash of the car wash, and apart from the random 38p spent on an ultimately useless attempt to replace a fuse, no further financial requirements were made. I would have preferred to put the car through the 10,000-mile service test, but my local Ford dealer said: 'No chance. Our workshop is booked up for the next two weeks.'
That delay would cost that dealer the work, and I would probably have established another relationship with a different service garage - possibly in the Ford franchise network, possibly not. There is an inherent risk in establishing large market areas for the dealer without the in-fill local aftermarket support. Had I managed to procure the service I would have requested a check on the clutch, which seemed to have a lot travel before engaging the gears, and made sure the exhaust system support system was tightened up.
I took the car on to the motorway to check my concern that fuel consumption was rather high, but the journey wasn't entirely ideal for this assessment, M1, M25 and M4 traffic jams, with long periods of stationary queues. To my surprise, however, the car returned more than 50mpg, a figure which would have been even higher given a decent following wind in terms of lighter traffic.
In conclusion, the Escort has proved durable, with no significant problems to report, and a considerable level of comfort. I had thought there was no long wave on the radio/cassette, which denied me access to Test Match Special and the classic pair of Trinidad Test matches last month. But, just as the car was about to go back I discovered that the radio did, in fact, have this facility. Something about Sod's Law comes to mind.