DO you have a preferred brand of car? Mine was Ford (you’ll see why I say was and not is as you read through this post). My first Ford was a red 4-door Escort 1.3 (registration OLM 266W). My dad bought it in 1987 and used it for his short journey to work at the Heinz factory in Harlesden. He passed it down to me in 1991 when he took early retirement.
Things got off to a bit of a bumpy start with the Escort – I’d passed my driving test in 1989 and didn’t own a car until my dad gave me his two years later. Inexperienced young driver lacking in confidence who could barely see over the steering wheel, let loose on the streets of London…
Bumpy start #1: reversing out of Kwik-Fit Euro on Harlesden high street and scraping a very cool sporty car (should have been turning the steering wheel anti-clockwise instead of clockwise).
Bumpy start #2: reversing into a parked car in Asda, Park Royal (should have looked in my wing mirrors).
Bumpy start #3: misjudging a turn and mounting a very high curb under the bridge near Harlesden train station – amazingly there was no damage!
Bumpy start #4: reversing into a parked car on Hazeldean Road in the early hours of the morning (I was picking up a colleague and was trying to be cool by reversing at speed).
After these four mishaps, there were then two minor mishaps: the first was my dad overfilling the engine with oil resulting in huge clouds of smoke when driving off at traffic lights (the policemen who’d pulled me over near the Texaco garage in Stonebridge did find the incident amusing), and the second was forgetting to push the choke back in leading a flooded engine resulting in the car stalling at Wembley Triangle (the motorists behind looked a teeny-weeny bit annoyed as they manoeuvred around me my static red Escort).
It was plain sailing after these unfortunate events. I enjoyed the next few years of accident-free motoring. I became an expert in listening to the engine and knowing when to push the choke back in. I eventually learned that the petrol gauge would only show the tank as being half full even though I’d just filled up with four-star leaded at the local Esso. I became more a more confident driver and got to grips with keeping the car running smoothly – I then enjoyed many good journeys in my reliable Escort.
In 1994 I upgraded to a newer Escort (registration C640 EUG). At this time there were quite a lot of Escorts XR3s turning heads on the street – I really wanted a XR3 but there was no way I could afford one, plus, I don’t think I would have trusted myself in a more powerful car. My new Escort was cool though. It was dark blue and had a push button key fob that made the car beep when when I locked it. It was in this car that I did my first major drive – from London to Birmingham.
I sold the Escort in 1996 (I could get away with not driving in London with the job at had at the time) and then bought a Fiesta Popular Plus in 1998 (registration H176 NCY). I paid a a whopping £2000 – this was the most I’d paid for a car to date (my first car was a freebie and the second cost £1500). The Fiesta was sky blue and had a sunroof. It was a quick purchase as I needed a car urgently for a new job. It wasn’t long before my quick purchase backfired: the engine started losing power and the reality was that I needed a new engine. The guys at Park Royal Garage fitted a reconditioned engine for £500. I enjoyed trouble-free journeys to Brighton, many journeys to Manchester (visiting family), Lake District, Wiltshire (dating) as well as the daily journey to work.
The upgrade came in 2003 – a Fiesta 1.4 Zetec (registration V479 KBF). I paid £4200 for it. It was a cracking car – never let me down on the 80-mile journey to and from work (Leighton Buzzard to Daventry). In 2005, whilst leaving Tiddenfoot Leisure Centre, I spotted a silver Focus with a for sale sign on it. I texted the mobile number to see how much it was going for – I was being nosy and had no intention of buying. A text came back with the price, £5400. I replied with a Thanks. I wasn’t expecting a reply but I got one – Willing to sell for £5000. Two days later, I wrote a cheque for £5000.
I was the owner of a very grown-up and slightly sporty silver Ford Focus Elle (registration KG52 LFD). It had heated leather seats and two cup holders just in front on the gear stick. The heated front windscreen was a godsend during the winter months. This was a car that I never hesitated taking on any journey, no matter how long.
In 2012, I upgraded to the Focus TDCI (I remember the registration but I won’t share this as I know this car is still in action). The cost: £7500. It was the first diesel car I owned and was a very reliable runner for many years. Sadly it started having problems in 2018. By 2019 the diagnosis was that I was doing very few miles that led to filter blockage which then led to other issues (I found out that diesel engines prefer long distance runs). In August 2019 I deserted the Ford brand and joined team Mazda. The end of Ford ownership had come after six cars and almost three decades.
I think back to my older brother’s trail of car ownership: Cortina, Capri (registration MGP 119P – mentioned in The Ford Capri – A short tale of a regretful taxi driver in my fun retro book, Section N Underpass), Granada, Orion and finally onto the Sierra – a trail of Ford motor cars stretching four decades!
Even though I no longer drive a Ford car, the brand was a favourite in our family. Will I ever rekindle my relationship by owning another Ford car again? Maybe…
Whether I do or don’t rekindle the relationship, I’ll always have fond memories of reversing badly, having a few bumps and scrapes and fun journeys in nice to drive reliable cars – cheers to you, Ford motor cars 🍻
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Main photo taken by Retrohen. The source is a metal wall sign by Sweet & Nostalgic