Since acquiring the car, D'Amato had speed merchants Rabe Motorsports of Wallingford, Conn., replace the factory Weber-Marelli ECU-which had low-rpm driveability issues-with a highly customizable EMS system out of Australia. In addition to getting better spark from the coil-on-plug setup, the EMS ECU allows D'Amato to custom tune the system, including boost pressure, with his laptop. Although the engine can handle up to 28 psi, D'Amato has been taking it easy for the first few thousand miles, running up to 20, which he estimates makes a bit more than the 340 hp the car was delivered with. At the full 28 psi, 400 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque should be readily obtained.

Although built from a Motorsport shell, D'Amato's Cossie weighs 2,800 pounds with its full production interior, stereo, A/C and all the standard road-going creature comforts you might not find in a racecar, like power windows, power steering and a power hatch release. No, the simple Escort interior won't coddle you like a Benz, but no Benz has the moves of an Escort RS Cosworth, either. But speaking of Mercedes-Benz, the dark gray metallic paint is a modern Mercedes hue known as Black Opal.

Sure it weighs more than the 1,900 pounds some were raced at, but Bob D'Amato's Escort RS Cosworth still has a far more advantageous power-to-weight ratio than even that of a modern rally rocket like the Mitsubishi Evolution. And when the wastegate belts out a pfft-pfft-pfft as it purges excess pressure, it puts a smile on rally fiend D'Amato's face every time.

1996 Ford Escort RS Cosworth
*Layout
Longitudinal front engine, all-wheel drive

*Engine
2.0-liter inline four, dohc, 16-valve, turbocharged.Garrett AiResearch T3/T04 turbo, EMS ECU

*Transmission
Five-speed manual, limited-slip differential with viscous coupling

*Suspension
GAZ adjustable coilovers with anti-roll bars

*Brakes
F: Wilwood four-piston calipers with 11.8-inch Ford Focus SVT rotorsR: Single-piston calipers with 10.7-inch slotted and drilled rotors

*Exterior
Factory body kit including flared fenders, front splitter and twin-plane rear wing

*Dimensions
Length/Width/Height (in.):163.0/68.5/56.1
Wheelbase: 100.4 in.
Curb Weight: 2,811 lb

*Performance
340 hp @ 5650 rpm*
340 lb-ft @ 5200 rpm*
0-60 mph: 5.2 sec. (est.)
Top Speed: 137 mph
*20 psi boost

By Terry Shea
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