Matt Robinson profile picture Matt Robinson 2 years ago

How The Ford Escort RS Cosworth Almost Got A Triple-Decker Wing

Escort Cosworth co-designer Frank Stephenson talks about the design influence behind the car's wild rear wing, and how it was almost even more bonkers

Remind me later

Even before you get to the exterior design, the Ford Escort RS Cosworth is a weird car. Not really an Escort at all, it was creating by chucking a bunch of Escort-like body panels at the chassis and running gear of a Sierra RS Cosworth.

We say ‘Escort-like’, as no version of the fifth-generation hatchback had bonnet vents, massively swollen arches or a rear wing which to this day still ranks among the most bonkers ever designed. It could have looked even madder, however.

Although Stephen Harper did the bulk of the design, the spoiler was the work of Frank Stephenson, who went on to pen the Ferrari F430 and McLaren P1, among other icons. Inspired by the Fokker DR1 fighter plane of the Red Barron, his idea was to give the Cosworth a three-tier spoiler.

How the Ford Escort RS Cosworth could have looked, had Frank Stephenson got his way
How the Ford Escort RS Cosworth could have looked, had Frank Stephenson got his way

Stephenson pushed for the design to be adopted, and it almost was. Ford ultimately decided, however, that the triple wing was too expensive to produce. Despite all the time that’s passed, Stephenson still seems to rue the company’s choice, likening the production Escort Cosworth to “a child that had been born with nine fingers instead of ten”.

In any case, the ‘whale tail’ that ended up on the production car was plenty distinctive. And for anyone who agrees with Stephenson’s assessment that the Cosworth would be better with a Red Barron-esque wing arrangement, there are aftermarket parts out there based on that original design.

What do you think?