■ Bodywork: Panels are generally solid, but look for corrosion at the base of the rear windscreen, around the fuel filler cap, below the battery, at the front of the floor pans and behind the side skirts.
■ Interior: Headlinings wear over time and can fall down, while leather seats will start to look tired, depending on mileage. The electroluminescent gauge cluster starts to look mouldy as panels fail but is easily replaceable. Enthusiasts bemoan ‘RS Tax’, which has driven the price of hard-to-find clips and trim pieces into the hundreds of pounds.
■ Brakes: Modified cars with more than 300bhp need beefier brakes, so ensure these are present and correct. Otherwise, the system is reliable. Check around the brake pump for heat damage caused by the lack of a turbo shield.
■ Gearbox: The five-speed MT75 gearbox is hardy but noisy by modern standards. Heat from the turbo can fray the clutch cable, so check the pedal for heaviness.
■ Electrics: Ageing wiring for the fusebox, fan and fuel pump are prone to failure. Check behind the dash for any remnants of a badly installed aftermarket alarm.
Also worth knowing
The rally-inspired Monte Carlo edition of 1994 is the rarest and most coveted Escort RS Cosworth. Just 70 of 200 were for the UK, sitting atop bespoke OZ Racing wheels and painted Ash Black, Mallard Green or Jewel Violet.
How much to spend
£30,000 -£34,999: Modified late cars with MOTs but bodywork issues and limited history.
£35,000-£44,999: Low-mileage, original-spec Garrett turbo cars – including a rare Radiant Red one with a stainless steel exhaust.
£45,000 -£59,999: Collector cars fresh from restorations and heated garages, along with some professionally prepared rally cars.
£60,000 -£90,000: Museum pieces with little more than delivery miles on the clock; £92,500 buys a concours-ready 1996 car with 2900 miles and a “like-new” interior.