This identification guide / buyers guide has been written for those interested in the Ford Escort MK1 RS1600 (For the MK1 RS2000, click here). The MK1 RS1600, along with the RS2000, have become very desirable collector cars due to their success in motorsport, most notably in rallying. Like many collector cars, the RS1600 was built on the standard MK1 escort coupe body shell (with some difficult to spot modifications), and therefore, potential for "replicas" of this model to be produced is substantial. This guide attempts to outline essential information about the RS1600, so people can confirm whether the cars they are looking at purchasing or restoring are in fact genuine cars.

This guide provides identification criteria for external features, interior features, vehicle options and of course the relevant engine and chassis number details which were unique to the MK1 RS1600.

Some statistics:

Number produced: Estimated between 950 - 1,137 produced (depending on the source)

Period of Manufacture: 1970 - 1974

Please note that this page has been drafted as a guide only, and should not be relied upon without seeking professional advice. We hope you find this guide interesting and useful, and really appreciate it if you would share Classic Register and like our Facebook page!



1. Exterior Features - Ford Escort MK1 RS1600

The MK1 RS1600 had the following external features, which make a good starting point for identification of a genuine car:

  • MK1 coupe body shell (Type 49), being a strengthened version of the standard Escort shell. These shells were standard on all escort coupes in export markets such as Australia, but were unique to the RS cars in the UK, who used a non strengthened shell for base model escort coupes. To confirm the shell is correct, check for reinforced suspension legs under the front mudguards and additional strengthening plates on the inner front mudguards, around the strut tops.
  • Flared wheel arches (although optional wider arches were also available).
  • 5.5” X 13” safety ledge rim wheels with chrome hubcaps, originally with radial ply tubeless tyres. A common aftermarket option were the four-spoke RS alloy wheels (fitted to most RS1600’s now, as seen in the images).
  • Safety glass all round, with laminated windscreen.
  • Anti-burst door locks.
  • Air extraction vents behind / below rear window.
  • Aluminium grille with black painted centre. (Notem, RS MK1 cars always had circular headlights in the UK, but square / rectangular lights in Australia and perhaps some other export markets).
  • Chrome rear bumper and front corner bumpers.
  • RS1600 badges on front quarter panels and bootlid. Note that there are different badge styles that were applied on the bootlid, including the circular "RS" badge. Sometimes, there is no "RS1600" badge on the boot (see difference in images). We believe the type of badges will depend on the year of the car and where it was manufactured, but please contact us if you have further details on the badging and whether there is any link.
  • Optional Webasto sunroof common on many cars of the era (often aftermarket installed / dealer installed).

The RS1600 is very similar to the RS2000 in appearance, however, the RS1600 were not given side stripes / bonnet stripes in the factory. Many people have applied these aftermarket, but they were not an original item, and along with the badging, sets them apart from the RS2000 aesthetically.

2. Interior Features - Ford Escort MK1 RS1600

The RS1600 had the following interior features. Note, many of these features were also standard in other Escort MK1 models, and are not necessarily unique to the RS1600:


  • Instrument cluster known as the "two-plus-four", containing large RPM and speedometer, with small guages for temperature, battery, fuel and oil.

Steering wheel:

  • The RS1600 had two steering wheel designs available. Firstly, the flat three spoke RS wheel which is the same as fitted to the RS2000. Secondly, there is a deeper dish three spoke RS wheel (known by some as the "Springalex" wheel), with drilled spokes, containing either a "Ford", "RS", or "Springalex" centre boss badge. Both are immitation leather wrapped, and shown in the images.

Materials / Fabrics:

  • Washable black headlining, fitted interior carpets, padded vinyl dash top, luggage compartment mat, aluminium door scuff plates, padded sun visors. The RS1600 came with a choice of dark grey cloth bucket seats or immitation black leather (vinyl) bucket seats. See images for the different materials / styles.

Other features:

  • Heated rear window
  • Fully reclining individual front bucket seats with anti-tip device.
  • Remote floor mounted gearshift.
  • Safety styled door handles and window winders.
  • Dipping rear view mirror.
  • Ashtray in fascia and rear ashtrays in side panels and front Cigar lighter.
  • Heater and demister.
  • Face level air vents, combined with demister nozzles.
  • Rear grab handles with coat hangers and one front without hanger.
3. Original Paint and Interior Colours / Codes - Ford Escort MK1 RS1600

The Ford Escort RS1600 was originally available in the following paint colours listed below, and demonstrated in the images. Early RS1600's were reportedly available only in Diamond White, so this colour will be more prevelant on 1970/71 model cars. The paint code is listed on the cars chassis plate under "Colour", where the Ford code will be listed. It is also listed on the Vehicle AVO plate, located on the front slam panel (Note - AVO plate and Chassis plate pictured are not necessarily from an RS1600). Below, we have also given the Ford, Ditzlet and DuPont codes for each colour where possible.

  • Diamond White (Ford paint code: B / Du Pont: 42590LH)
  • Sebring Red (Ford paint code: DN or N / Ditzler: 72076, Du Pont:42588LM)
  • Sunset Red (TBC - Contact us is you know this code)
  • Maize Yellow (Ford paint code: 6N or 14229 / Ditzler 80274
  • Daytona Yellow (Ford paint code: T / Ditzler: 81944)
  • Monza Blue/Electric Blue (Ford paint code: U)

Note, if a car was a special order colour, the code "Y" would appear on the chassis plate, and an individual colour applied, which would hopefully be described in the vehicles order records. These codes above are thanks to At you can check these and colour chips yourself by searching their database.

There may be additional colours that were available, and we would really appreciate you contacting us if you have further knowledge in this area, so we can update this section. Alternatively, login and comment below so everyone is informed!

4. Chassis Number - Ford Escort MK1 RS1600

Location: The chassis number is located in two positions on an Escort MK1 RS1600. Firstly, it is stamped into the aluminium Ford chassis plate (under the heading "Vehicle No."), which is pop riveted to the front bonnet slam panel. Secondly, the number is stamped into the body panel on the top of the right hand side suspension tower. The numbers in both locations should of course match, and in a fully original car, will also be stamped on the engine block or head. Given that the years of manufacture overlap between the RS1600 and RS2000, chassis numbers may often appear to be very similar.

Format: A Ford Escort RS1600 should have a chassis number in the following format, subject to the decoding guide below:

MK1 RS1600 (example only) Chassis Number: BFATKP54456


1st digit: (Vehicle Source):

  • B = Ford Britain / C = Ford Britain affiliate company / G =Ford Germany


2nd digit (Assembly Plant): 

  • B = Halewood / F = Aveley / C = Saarlouis / K = Sydney


3rd digit (Model):

  • A = Escort.


4th digit (Body Type):

  • = 2 door saloon


5th digit (Year of Manufacture):

  • 1970 = K / 1971 = L / 1972 = M / 1973 = N / 1974 = P


6th digit (Month of Manufacture):

  • 1970: (Jan = L, Feb = Y, Mar = S,  Apr = T, May = J,  Jun = U Jul = M Aug = P, Sep = B, Oct = R, Nov = A, Dec = G)
  • 1971: (Jan = C,  Feb = K, Mar = D,  Apr = E, May = L,  Jun = Y Jul = S Aug = T, Sep = J, Oct = U, Nov = M, Dec = P)
  • 1972: (Jan = B,  Feb = R, Mar = A,  Apr = G, May = C,  Jun = K Jul = D Aug = E, Sep = L, Oct = Y, Nov = S, Dec = T)
  • 1973: (Jan = J,  Feb = U, Mar = M,  Apr = P, May = B,  Jun = R Jul = A,Aug = G, Sep = C, Oct = K, Nov = D, Dec = E)
  • 1974: (Jan = L, Feb = Y, Mar = S, Apr = T, May = I, Jun = U, Jul = M, Aug= P, Sep = B, Oct = R, Nov = A, Dec = G)


7th – 11th digit (Serial Number):

  • Individual vehicle serial number for that particular month (between 00001 – 99999)
5. Engine Number - Ford Escort MK1 RS1600

Engine Number Prefix:

RS1600's have completely different stampings to the RS2000's, as the RS1600  used a Cosworth based alloy block design with a twin OHC head. Information regarding engine number castings and their locations have been hard to come by, and very inconsistent, but here is what we have been able to find so far from our research:

The engine block will be a "BDA" type block, (belt driven early series engine). Either the head or engine block should have a number cast into it sarting with "WE" or "HE" , followed by a build number (being the vehicles chassis number). RS1600's may also have an engine number ending in "BA". The information is a bit inconsistent between sources, as we understand the engines were not all built at the same location / time, so stampings / castings differed.

Many people replace engines in Escorts with more common "20", "205" or "202" Ford Pinto blocks, so look out for those blocks which have a completely different look (long thin rocker tappet/cover as opposed to the wide ford badged twin OHC cover on the RS1600.)

If anyone is able to provide more clarity on the engine block / head castings for the RS1600, please contact us or login and comment below so we can update this section.

6. Chassis plate and AVO plate details - Escort MK1 RS1600

Chassis Plate additional information:

The following information should display under the other titles of the Vehicle ID / chassis plate for a Ford RS1600 MK1, as shown on the attached chassis plate image (note the attached image is just an example and not from an RS1600):

  • Type =

- Digit 1 (B = Britain,  C = Ford Britain affiliate company / G =Ford Germany)

- Digit 2 (A = Escort)

- Digit 3 (T = 2 door)

- Digit 4 (Each represents a model year per the chassis number decoding above. E.g. N = 1973)

- Digit 5 & 6 = Engine code (Should be "NE")

  • Drive Code = (R or 1 for RHD, 2 or L for LHD)
  • Engine Code = L5 (being a 1598cc RS 1600 engine)
  • Version Code = (being RS1600's version code)
  • Transmission Code = (Should be either "1" or "5", being codes for manual transmission)
  • Axle Code = W ( being the 3.77:1 differential  used in the RS1600)
  • Colour Code = (see various Ford Codes in paint section. E.g., "E" for Olympic Blue)
  • Trim Code = A1 (being black cloth, which was standard on the RS1600)


Body / AVO plate:

The body plate or AVO (Advanced Vehicle Operations) plate as it is usually called, can also assist in the identification of a genuine MK1 RS1600. The AVO plate is located to the right of centre slam panel (if you are facing the engine), and will have the letters AVO and the original colour code printed on the plate a few lines below that. The location is described again in the images, with an example of a plate attached.

7. Factory Optional Features - Ford Escort MK1 RS1600

The Ford Escort RS1600 MK1 had the following factory optional features, available from new at additional cost:

  • Fire proof rear bulkhead
  • Map reading light
  • Full roll cage
  • Sump guard
  • Bilstein front struts and rear shocks
  • Oil cooler
  • Battery isolator switch
  • Wheel arch extensions
  • Console and clock wood trim
  • Twin Oscar 6” driving lamps
  • Vinyl roof (only available with pinstripe, not larger side decals)
  • Rallye Sport Wheels (5.5” x 13")
  • Limited slip differential
7. Mechanical Features - Ford Escort MK1 RS1600

4 cylinder in line 1601cc (97.68cu in) with belt driven twin overhead camshafts.

Fuel System:
Mechanical pumpwith Twin 40 DHLA DELLORTO carbies.

Transmission / diff:
Four speed synchromesh gearbox, with a final drive 3.77:1.

Steel integral construction (additional reinforcing), safety glass all round with laminated windscreen. Anti-burst door locks. Air extraction vents below rear window. Flared front wheel arches to accommodate extra wide wheels.

Front: Independent coil springs, MacPherson struts with integral dampers and stabilizer bar. Rear: Live Axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs. Telescopic shock absorbers all round.

Front disc brakes = (diameter 9.625in (24.44cm)) + Vacuum servo-assistance. Rear = Drum brakes, (diameter 9.00in (22.86cm)) + Vacuum servo-assistance.

Rack and pinion steering.