I purchased a95 EscortLX Hatchback and am the second owner. First owner purchased at about age 76 and sold at age 91! Car has 15k original and is in clean condition with verified mileage and carfax. It ran excellent for 2k miles; no hesitance, skips or oddities in any way. Now extremely cold in MA. Strong raw gas smell from exhuast at start up and until warmed up. The only effect I see/hear/feel is lowered gas mileage. Performance/running has not changed in any noticeable way. Fluids are all fine; no leak puddles detected. Any thoughts?
My guess is that your ignition system needs work and you have a cylinder not firing when the engine is cold. If you shut the engine off and remove the spark plugs before the engine reaches operating temp you’ll probably find one wet with gas.
Bottom line is that you can either start with a good tuneup (new plugs, rotor, distributor cap, wires, filters) which it probably needs anyway, or determine which cylinder is weak and then do the tuneup.