A few months back we published a short history of an underrated factory tuner car, the Ford Escort ZX2 S/R. It was an aftermarket parts bin masterpiece: B&M short shifter, Eibach springs, a cold-air intake, the works. Enthusiasts loved it so much that the aftermarket stayed healthy for a while. And in 2007, ZX2 fans made a rap song about the car and it’s kind of not bad? We found more interesting S/R facts to share too, so hop in, we’re going on another nostalgia trip.
I mentioned the ZX2 S/R remained popular for a bit – in fact, there are still folks throughout America who proudly rip them around town, between the cones, and on track. It was because of this article we shared on The Drive that I heard all kinds of cool stories and bits of info about the S/R, more than one could find by scouring Google searches. Most interestingly, I found info on a beastly ZX2 build that legendary American tuning and racing powerhouse Roush did (apparently there’s still one in its collection). And, yes, we found the song.
The ZX2 Community Was So Tight That It Had an Anthem
It’s hard to imagine stronger evidence of a fervent fanbase than a grassroots theme song.
Jimmy Thomas, the founder of the now-defunct TeamZX2.com, reached out to me on Instagram with a lot of cool bits of information and this piece of music was among it. Honestly, maybe it’s just me, but the rhyming isn’t that bad! Icy Hot Stuntaz this ain’t… though the energy is admittedly kind of similar (no disrespect intended). Thomas (who in addition to founding TeamZX2.com was forum user Xeno) and forum user Claborn put this video together and did a slideshow of all the TeamZX2.com members’ cars back in the day.
That’s good ol’ fashion forum camaraderie in my book. God bless YouTube channel imtheteapot for having the where-with-all to upload this around thirteen years ago, back with YouTube was a small-time, humble video site.
It’s not uncommon for the people working behind the scenes on cool performance division cars to get high off their own supply and the ZX2 S/R was no exception.
According to Thomas, a former Ford engineer known as John P. actually helped inspire Ford to create the S/R. He built a fast, supercharged pre-S/R ZX2 on his own while working for the brand, which helped convince the Blue Oval to debut its own mass-market hot sport compact. The S/R wasn’t supercharged, but it was still a little quicker on its feet than the base ZX2.
Also, check out this period-correct accompanying documentation that Ford sent to owners of the ZX2 S/R. That wording, that Comic Sans font, the Hotmail email address! The exhaust decibel disclaimer is fun, too. And it’s helpful, you know, in case Johnny Law has questions.
This image comes courtesy of Chris Casper, owner of the still-operating ZX2 forum ZX2 Motorsports. It’s not the most active forum, but it’s great to see that a forum is running and properly documenting the history and mod potential of these cool old cars. Did I just call them old? Man, I’m getting old.
Roush Gave Two ZX2s Its Monster Treatment
Roush is renowned for tuning all kinds of cars, but especially Fords. Naturally, it had to give the ZX2 its own special treatment, too. The Roush Escorts weren’t actually S/Rs, but were still very much in the same spirit.
Again, Jimmy Thomas informed me of this masterpiece, and put me in touch with the Roush Collection’s Archivist/Curatorial Associate, Tyler Wolfe (what a cool job by the way!). Roush ZX2s were quite coveted by enthusiasts back in the day, as the tuner supercharged two standard ZX2s far beyond the S/R’s specs. First, supercharging netted 230 horsepower (nearly 100 more than stock), then the aesthetic treatment (wing, better wheels, body kit, graphics) made it hard to miss. Finally, as was the fashion at the time, the interior got updated with some sporty pieces. One of Roush’s cars was yellow and the other was black, and unfortunately, the yellow one was crushed so only the black car survives today.
I bet you didn’t expect one, let alone two, historical dives on the Ford ZX2’s high-performance variants and culture, huh? Well, we aim to please… especially those of you who are into nerdy car history from the recent past. When’s the last time you even saw a ZX2 on the road?