A million years ago, it was the summer of 1982. The Reagan economy sucked, and people still remembered OPEC I and II enough to be wary of buying cars they might not be able to find (or afford) fuel for.
Don Seelye Ford needed to unload some slow moving inventory before the 83s rolled in. The base, stripper, loss-leader 1982 Ford Escort "L" 5-door was one such car. I cruised the car lots like I did with my dad, and met some perky young pup named Tony, who REALLY wanted to sell me a car. He had one in mind that i just had to try out: that Escort. It had a heater, an AM radio, and windows that went both up AND down. Power nothing - not steering, not windows, not locks. Not engine. But, it was "only" $5500 and some change.
That little bit of end of drive humiliation saved me from a 4-year marriage [yes, Ed., I went there] to a bank note and that horrible job to pay for it, for a frill-free shitbox that would scream "I peaked in high school" to all my future
girlfriends dates drunken frat brothers and their dates. Better luck next time, Tony.
The story though is in how far things have come while also being kinda the same. I just picked up a 2016 Ford Focus SE. Compared to the crap ton of swag that my now-departed Fiat 500L came with, SE stands for "Seems Empty." Almost. It IS the base 5-door. It did "only" come with that delicious paint (118 BK Lounge hours worth) and an $800 Diet Coke and Mentos engine as extras. But so much is already there standard. And it's strudy and constantly functional.
More important are the differences - the numbers don't lie (except for the Escort's EPA numbers) -
My car is Steve Austin: bigger, stronger, faster. Also prettier. Also AC, Sirius, rims. Also note that top speed number. That was from Car and Driver. My '06 Mustang was limited to 113. Allegedly
|1982 Escort||2016 Focus|
|Turning circle btw. curbs:||35.4||36|
|Drag coefficient claimed:||0.40||0.30|
|Calculated EPA passenger volume:||86.4||93.1|
|Curb weight (without a river):||2008||2800|
|at RPM||/ 4600||/ 6350|
|at RPM||/ 3000||/ 5000|
|EPA city/highway (combined):||31||29|
|0-60 mph (s):||13.7||9.4|
|0- 1/4mile (s):||19.3||17.2|
|speed at 1/4mile:||71||81|
|weight to power ratio net:||28.7 lbs/hp||22.8 lbs/hp|
For the theoretical date people, all you need to care about is that my shifts are smooth like butter and I learned to double clutch.