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Ford Escort RS 2000 & amp; Opel Kadett GT / E driving report: GTI masterminds from Ford and Opel

Hardy Mutschler
Ford Escort RS 2000 & Opel Kadett GT /E driving report
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The formula is simple. In the mid-seventies, a popular sporty car was defined according to a few criteria. Nobody asked about elaborately designed 16-valve valves with two overhead camshafts or about multilink rear axles. There were simple, striking arguments that could be marketed well in advertising in the performance-hungry seventies: top 180, from zero to one hundred in 10 seconds, power 100 hp, weight 1,000 kilos, price 15,000 marks. Large-scale manufacturers like Ford or Opel found it particularly easy to fill this lucrative market niche. The little muscle car was born.

Simple but effective: war paint, sports steering wheel, lowering

All you need is a handle on the engine shelf - and that Large-volume middle-class engine landed under the hood of the inexpensive small car Escort and Kadett. Add a little bit of war paint, a perforated sports steering wheel and a few less coils of springs - the bestsellers for more driving fun, the power hits for young people who could not yet afford a BMW 323i, were ready.

The rallye Kadett from 1967 with a 1900s record engine was the first young wild boy to knit the mesh of the big engine in the small car. The 1976 VW Golf GTI finally raised the building block game to cult and perfection. Now two brute rear-wheel drive cars meet - Ford Escort RS 2000, the second, harmonized with the plastic nose, and Opel Kadett GT /E. Both with serious racing ambitions, also homologated for Group 1. Escort and Cadet already fought each other in the previous generation. Because the top model of the dog bone was already called the RS 2000, a technically simple knitted small muscle car with 100 hp, rear leaf spring rigid axle and striking two-tone paintwork in white and blue.

The two-liter four-cylinder with overhead camshaft and Cross-flow cylinder head came from the Ford Consul. It was originally designed in the USA for the compact Beetle killer Ford Pinto, only to be hired in this country as 1.3 and 1.6 liter in Knudsen-Taunus. Admittedly, there are more charismatic four-cylinder engines: it is a touch more modern than the tried and tested Opel camshaft-in-head engine, but like this a bit tough, a bit grumpy, on the other hand robust and durable. The sleek cast iron unit with a toothed belt-driven camshaft isactually nothing sporty, except for its distinctive tuning potential, which usually applies to all healthy built farmer's engines. So the grumpy escort with the in-house rally sport accessories based on the model of the Ford Capri RS 2600 was willingly raised to the professional all-purpose competition model, which was especially pleasing to the amateur drivers.

Kadett GT /E: as an attractive yellow-black street sweeper

Said Opel Rallye Kadett Coupé 1900 with 90 hp was still available for a short time as a more sophisticated and tamer alternative to the Escort RS 2000 - it was there Brave 1900s record engine with the camshaft in the cylinder head and solid duplex chain. The performance was hardly worse, but the appearance of the chic fastback coupé turned out to be much more elegant than that of the rather half-strong dog bone. But racing ambitions were alien to the rally cadet, apart from a few successful outings with Hannelore Werner and Bengt Dahlberg.

Even if the models were posing in the brochure with helmets next to the car. Opel took a deep breath and in motorsport relied on the Ascona A, which, thanks to its progressive chassis and modern, functional shape, was better suited to the times than the sixties Kadett. Because his sensual coke bottle hips and the gill C-pillar were no longer considered an ideal of beauty. As the Ascona A successor for homologation, Opel launched the Kadett GT /E at the 1975 IAA, an attractive yellow-black street sweeper with a 1.9-liter injection engine and 105 hp.

From the end of 1977, the popular Rallye 2.0 E with 110 hp then took over the role of the ambitious national sportsman. With the legendary 1000 series, the GT /E finally rose to become the basic professional sports equipment. Pop paintwork in the Opel colors white-yellow, five-speed gearbox, a 50 percent limited-slip differential, forged Fuchs wheels and Recaros as standard. The GT /E even topped the RS 2000, which had previously been ahead as a sports construction kit. Jump in time to the present.

Two arch rivals on the country road

A ride in the Kadett GT /E of the 1000 series on the B 12 between Munich and Passau is a challenge even for experienced drivers. Its winding course and the dense truck traffic on this east-west artery hinders rapid progress. You don't like to drive it, there is a certain unease, also because of the many wooden crosses in the still sparse spring green.

In the far south-east of Bavaria, the white and yellow Opel Kadett GT /E from the Opel Classic collection meets its former arch-rival Ford Escort RS 2000. It is the second series, with the angled 16 cm long nose made of polyurethane Plastic, from which the twin headlights stare cheekily. The top model RS 2000 thus maintains a clear distance from the gray bread versions of the Escort II. Only the 1600 Sport with the deodorant strips and theThe 1.6-liter 84-hp Kent engine stands out in a striking way.

The small, light coupe on the B 12 moves extremely quickly. Overtaking is easy, a casual downshift from fifth to fourth gear is enough to overtake. The many long curves allow a good view of oncoming traffic, at least on the flat. Fourth and fifth are on the same shift level in the ZF sports transmission of the Kadett GT /E. This makes it easier to constantly change gears on the busy main road with its frequently changing speeds.

The pulling power of the two-liter four-cylinder engine is impressive. One decisive step on the gas pedal and the GT /E, which weighs just 920 kilograms, storms away as confidently as a modern, large-volume turbodiesel. The increase in speed in third gear is even more spectacular, for example when accelerating on one of these many long inclines. Even with an engine-friendly gear shift speed of 5000 /min, 6200 tours are allowed, for a short time even 6500 /min, the fast-paced track and field athlete shoots forward vehemently. The truck columns from Eastern Europe lose their horror. Overtaking is suddenly fun, you work your way forward quickly, wide awake, taking advantage of every opportunity.

Kadett seduces you to ambitious driving style

The fast-paced Kadett seduces even the most relaxed cruiser into an ambitious, sporty driving style . It is the exact opposite of an S-Class hammock, where the automatic system and the large-volume V8 engine will do the job - quiet, soft, effortless, just calmly elegant. The barren cadet can't do any of that. It doesn't even have a timer, glove box lid, front passenger sun visor or trip meter, even though all of them together would weigh less than 500 grams. Only primitive floor mats cover bare metal in the interior. It embodies the cheerful opposite of saturated opulence because it is small, loud without any insulation, hard and somehow dramatic. It demands concentration and provides a lot of driving fun, which you have to work on.

The ZF five-speed transmission also plays a vital role in this physical exercise, it shifts stubbornly like an old truck transmission and requires sensitive operation. Slow shifting helps, double clutches and a portion of double-declutching when downshifting make it smoother. At the top, the unspectacularly constructed Opel two-liter four-cylinder with the short push rods sounds quite loud. Then he howls with the rough gear. The intrusive acoustics are accompanied by mechanical rattling, as if the valve clearance was too big. The completely cast-iron injection engine has long been known from the 74 Manta A GT /E and has been drilled out by two millimeters to two liters. It dispenses in its sharpest, albeit only five hp compared to the Rallye 2.0 E.stronger version on the damping hydraulic valve lifters and relies on harder valve springs.

The progressive Bosch L-Jetronic already had the predecessor GT /E with 1.9 liter displacement. A sharper camshaft with optimized control times, a higher compression ratio, 9.6 instead of 9.2: 1, and a larger air flow meter ensure the meager increase in performance and make an effort to show that the engine without a cross-flow head is pretty much exhausted. The well-trained asceticism of the Kadett GT /E is parried by the Venetian red 79 Escort RS 2000 Mk II from Heinrich Haselböck with the feel-good aroma of a Gran Turismo.

Escort without roll bar, but with increased performance

The interior of the escort is comfortably furnished in plain black, not a bulky one Roll bar like in the GT /E claustrophobic the feeling of space. Nothing is missed, the Scheel bucket seats are comfortably upholstered, the non-slip RS leather steering wheel sits comfortably in the hand. This comfort package with the lush door panels, the carpets also in the trunk, the sports seats and the covered glove compartment called Ford prosaically additional equipment in the RS brochure. Like the Kadett, the Escort also has an oil pressure gauge, but not on the center console, but placed in front of the driver's eyes.

Haselböck's RS 2000 is not entirely original. 'I have refined both technology and optics in the same way as I wanted,' explains the 52-year-old mechanic who works in automatic transmission production at ZF and shares the time-consuming escort hobby with his son Stefan. 'This includes the installation of the MT 75 five-speed gearbox from the Sierra, which significantly lowers speed and consumption and can be shifted even creamier than the original four-speed box. The subsequent installation of a limited slip differential was also important to me,' says the ambitious sports driver Bring 132 hp to the road with good grip. '

Standard lowering from the Ford factory

The RS 2000 at least 110 hp with only one Weber register downdraft carburetor. Heinrich installed two Weber gas factories - horizontal ones of the type 44 IDF they were looking for. They inhale the intake air with sound through two sports air filters from K&N. Polished intake ducts and an exhaust manifold help the two-liter engine keep going. At that time, the Ford RS program also officially included a tuning package for 132 hp. The six-inch RS aluminum rims come from the Capri, with the 205 /60-13 tires they completely fill the wheel arches.

The RS 2000 is already 20 millimeters lower than the more mundane ones as standard Versions of the Escort II. The slightly tuned OHC four-cylinder with its optimized filling hangs even more spontaneously on the gas pedal than the outside astonishingly quiet injection engine of the Kadett GT /E. Fully accelerated, the RS gives the roaring stag,Exhaust sound and intake noise merge into the typical four-cylinder sports sound of the seventies, when these cars were still romping around the Nordschleife in private hands at the weekend.

In combination with the smooth and precisely guided five-speed gearbox, which manages with ultra-short shift travel, the Escort RS offers far more sophisticated driving pleasure. The steering is more indirect, but less stiff than that of the Kadett, which requires a lot of gripping at low speeds. In fast corners, the leaf-sprung rear axle of the Escort RS 2000, although kept in an exemplary manner by optional gas-pressure shock absorbers and two additional trailing arms, rather reaches its limits than the helical-sprung rear rigid axle of the Kadett GT /E.

Both cars can be easily caught

The escort understeers more, but is easier to break out of the Provoke Hecks. The Kadett is extremely neutral and makes a wonderfully smooth change to oversteer at the limit, both cars can be easily caught again by counter-steering. Such problem-free drifts expose the load change reactions of otherwise unexcited front-wheel drive cars as downright dangerous.

The simple equation of a small car plus a large engine equals great driving pleasure still works - especially when the rear-wheel drive plays a positive role. The Escort RS 2000 is the more comfortable and harmonious car, its rival, the Kadett GT /E, the more extreme one with a high potential for addiction.


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