1985 Diesel w/ Manual - Worth It? | Ford Escort Owners Association (FEOA)

1985 Diesel w/ Manual - Worth It?

Discussion in '1st Gen 1981-1990 CVH' started by Coatchawa, Nov 13, 2019.

  1. Coatchawa

    Coatchawa FEOA Member

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    Hey guys.

    I found a 1985 running and driving diesel for sale locally. They claim it's a 5 speed, but I'm not sure anything other than a 4 speed was offered, the best I remember.

    I've been keeping my out for a car with a manual transmission, because I want to do a manual swap on my 90. Doing 4000 RPM at highway speed isn't enjoyable in my 3 speed auto. I've been hoping to find a crashed car for the swap, because I would hate to scrap one of these cats. I know the diesel transmissions will work fine, and they have a medium gearing when compared to the other gearboxes offered. Not bad ratios, even for a gasoline engine.

    They want $750 for it, but I'm thinking I can talk down to $400 or $500.

    This has me thinking. I've done all the research I can stand to do, but I can't seem to find what it takes to swap the engine from the 1.9 TBI to the 2.0 Mazda diesel. As far as motor mounts, does anyone know how different they are? Is the frame structure completely different? Transmission is a direct bolt-in for gasoline motors, so I don't imagine it would be terribly difficult, even if I had to break out the welder and make the mounts myself.

    I ask, because I love my diesels, especially in smaller cars. I loved driving my first gen diesel Rabbit and TDI Passat.

    I'm going to be doing more research now. If I find more info that relates to the stuff I've answered above, I'll make another post.

    P.S. --- Unexplodedcow used to post frequently, and his advice on old posts has helped me several times. Is he still active? Thanks all.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
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  2. marclar

    marclar Moderator Staff Member

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    looks a little rough, but as far as being worth it.. the diesels have reported 45+mpg in the past under certain conditions.
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  3. Coatchawa

    Coatchawa FEOA Member

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    The shell and interior are too far beyond repairable in my opinion, especially with scarcity of parts. If I can shift through all 5 gears and the syncros are still good, it's worth the price for the transmission and swap parts in my opinion, which is what I was after. I like the transmission because it has the lowest gear offered, as well as the tallest fifth gear offered. I like widely spaced gears!! A good running diesel is just a bonus.

    For anybody interested in diesels - The Yahoo Groups that contains years and years of discussion and information will be permanently deleted, and wiped from their servers sometime around December 4th. I am working on extracting all the years of information on that forum. As far as I know, nobody else is trying to do this. If they are, please feel free to stop me.
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  4. Coatchawa

    Coatchawa FEOA Member

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    I figured it was worth it. I drove down about 268 miles. Didn't bring a trailer, just a friend.

    Knowing very little about the car, and learning that it had driven about 60 miles in the last 2.5 years, I thought a little, and said, well, why the hell not? And proceeded to drive it from South Carolina, through Ashville, NC, the mountains, and back into Tennessee, into Knoxville. The drive seems to have used about 1/3 of a tank.

    The first half of the drive, my knuckles were white. After figuring out a little how the car handles, my grip on the steering wheel began to relax. By the last 100 miles of the journey, I was staying betweeen 70-80mph, and slapping through the gears. The car did unexpectedly well, and I made it in one piece - and I even decided to drive it t work, willingly, the next day.

    This car will be an EXCELLENT donor.
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  5. Joey_Twowagons

    Joey_Twowagons FEOA Member

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    It needs a paint job and the dash is obviously wrecked, but from what I see in the pictures, it does look restorable.

    It just wants to live!
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  6. UnexplodedCow

    UnexplodedCow FEOA Member

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    If that's a 5 speed, it'll be the older style with reverse left and up of 1st/2nd. The old "devil horn" layout as I've heard it called.

    There is a lot of patina on that car. First things I'd check for are the rear strut towers, and rear footwells being intact, followed closely by checking the rain troughs on the roof, and the hatch mounts, as all of those will be common leak spots.

    Also, you're going to have greater trouble finding parts, since that is an early '85, and not the '85+ with aero headlights, meaning it does not use Tempo parts, which are still more easily found. Some things can swap over still, like brake parts, but most of the items are going to be a bit different. Looks like it also has the 13" wheels. Good luck finding tires to fit those; most tire shops stopped carrying small ones years ago (at least in the midwest). 15" alloys for a GT will still fit, and that size of tire is still popular. I miss how light those things are compared to modern cars. 18" wheels may look neat, but they're dang heavy.

    As for the interior; wow. I would honestly gut it to start, check for fatigue/cracks/rust, mouse nests, and possibly look into all new carpet and seats. Mustang seats will fit, just swap the tracks. That dash is done, and there's no real way of fixing it other than a carpet cover.

    The other issue is that diesels are extremely hard to find parts for, which is why I didn't pursue it even ten years ago. A 1.9L CFI swap would require a donor car, basically, and a whole lot of time to run the wire. If you have the time, that'd be a fun project, and you'd know the car quite intimately.

    Yes, the handling of 1st gens is often considered scary, in your case partly due to the narrow tires, but the odd camber/toe of the 1st gen is what makes it handle well, but also unpredictably if one is unprepared. They *can* go into oversteer in a corner when lifting the throttle, and that's the main reason I loved driving mine so hard years ago. I still miss it. A modern Focus can do similar things, but it's all tamped down underneath electronic nannies. Blah.

    Congrats on trying to back up the Yahoo group page. What method are you using? If you go for making a cache style, that might work; I'm not really good with web-based stuff, but have done that in the past with good success. Forums seem to be making way for Facebook groups.

    Sorry if this post wasn't super helpful, but yes, I'm still here, still working on cars (not many Escorts these days), and doing what I do, I suppose.
  7. zzyzzx

    zzyzzx FEOA Member

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    Looks like it also has the 13" wheels. Good luck finding tires to fit those; most tire shops stopped carrying small ones years ago.

    That's what mail ordered tires are for. At least they didn't have those TRX tires that are really hard to get now.
  8. UnexplodedCow

    UnexplodedCow FEOA Member

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    And they're *really* unsafe. A literal "may pop."

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