Let’s get straight into this, so it’s done and out of the way. I was sad and angry that I had to let the MGF go . Having become so attached, it was very difficult to let go. Like raising a wild animal from birth, to a point where you thought you had a special bond and then that time comes to set it free back into the wild, I know I had to let it go. I never got to go on that tour of Scotland or Europe and here at this moment, it felt I never will.
Starting off this era of ‘normal cars’ was a 2001 Honda Accord 2.0 vtec. I had this car for around a year and hated it. Looking back, the hate was probably because it replaced my beloved MG, However the Honda being heavy on petrol (and petrol prices rising), I had to change again.
Ford rallying gods
Next was a 2006 Ford Focus ghia 1.6 petrol. Initially this car I was happy to get, as when i was a child growing up, my favourite car that I adored and lusted after was a Ford Sierra RS Cosworth. I remember watching videos (VHS back then) of the car rallying and sometimes the BTCC. I loved the 3 door version with that wing on the back. This Sierra Cosworth was on top of car history such as the Capri, the old escorts and the escort cosworth which followed. Now finally I have my own ford. This image of driving rallying gods started to slowly disappear the more time spent in this car.
As time passed and the mileage racked up. I began to really hate the focus. As a car, it’s only good for a trip to the local supermarket. It doesn’t have any redeeming attributes. I now understand Mr….sorry Dr. Clarksons hatred for cars that are made solely to fill a market gap. It wasn’t that powerful, it wasn’t that economical, comfortable, reliable etc. It excelled at nothing. At the end of hour long journeys my legs and back would be very stiff and painful. Driving in the mountains would be done in first or second gear as the engine had no power at sea level, never mind at altitude. I remember coming home from a trip to Portrush, I decided to stop at Torr Head in Antrim. The road down to this is steep and winding with spectacular views. However in a ‘normal car’, it was ruined and I would call unsafe and dangerous. The engine is too weak to take the car down in any gear. Even in 1st gear the car would immediately bounce on the limiter. With other traffic and pedestrians walking at the side of the road this speed is too fast, so the brake had to be used. Using the brake as little as possible, I parked in the small car park, having reached the end of the decent. It’s at this point I could smell the brakes!
underdog sleeper to take on Porsche or Ferrari
Cheap disc brakes at the front with nasty drum brakes at the rear. A gutless engine, and poor build quality. It’s at this point I realised that the car is purely made for a market. That image of the working man’s car being the rally hero, or being the underdog sleeper to take on Porsche or Ferrari was gone. At this stage, I need to mention a point with the power; I know it’s only a 1.6, but on paper it’s around the same power as the MGF (which some reviewers say, is parts from older cars and the engine was old), but with the focus being a more modern car and engine, I would have thought it would have been better. It was around this time I looked back at the Honda accord with a better likeness. The Honda did have a decent engine, it was very comfortable for long journeys, bumpy roads and it was reliable. This shopping cart with an engine named focus, was to be mine for the next five years. The parts that need to be constantly replaced was a constant nightmare
Imagine waiting for the weekend to come around as you have a night out and a table booked at a fancy restaurant. The weekend arrives, you’ve cleaned yourself up and tried to look your best. Arriving at the restaurant you smell the food and catch glimpses of other peoples dishes on the way to your table. Order taken, you relax with a nice glass of wine or pint and await the splendour to come. Imagine the feeling as 30 minutes pass, then an hour without the food arriving. That build-up of pure rage and anger that slowly grows. Over time, this was the same as driving a focus. I would be easily angered by other drivers. Every day I had to negotiate through town traffic, my blood would boil, my heart rate go up and drive aggressively. Afterwards it could take several hours to calm to normal levels.
Is this really what ‘normal cars’ are like? Having sore back and legs from a bad seating position, road rage, an unresponsive engine and paying for the privilege. Again I’m asking myself why people put themselves through this. One doesn’t have to sell a kidney or more to own a sports car, as there are afordable cars that might end up cheaper to run. Cars like an MX-5 and MG TF. Sports cars are nicer to drive and safer! Probably better for health and anger issues too.
Instead of a focus, picture a mountain hike. An uphill struggle that I paid an entry fee to begin, thinking the view from the top will make it all worthwhile. Being tolled and taxed, paying to replace my boots and clothes, paying for water, just to finally arrive at the top and awe at a sewage works. Being left bewildered, pondering….why did I just do that!