I have an unhealthy love for the late model Ford Escort. There, I said it. I like the last-of-the line Focus forerunner. I have had many, and I would have another in a heartbeat. Think of the Escort as my automotive guilty pleasure (which is quite a bold statement coming from a man who just bought a Rover 800 of his own volition). My bit on the side. My car I don’t want to tell people about. And also, as it happens, my nemesis. At least in a certain guise.
I have owned a number of hum-drum Escorts. There was the 1.6LX that will always have a place in my heart after it got my pregnant then wife to the hospital safely and quickly. There was the £250 1.4, again, LX, that got me from Bristol to Kent and back on a weekly basis. They were good cars, boring, but good. Dependable. And of course, cheap. And in the case of those two, they were also five-door models. Neither, though, was my nemesis. For that, history would dictate I need fewer doors.
My three-door Escorts have been somewhat less than enjoyable. First, there was the ‘track’ car. Which never saw a track. Mainly because it kept eating engines. Hateful thing.
Then there was this, my GTi. Yes, Ford made a GTi. No, it was not very good. But *sigh* no, that fact didn’t stop me from buying one. I like to think I was drunk when I blindly bid on it on eBay. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
Via the medium of a MacBook screen it didn’t actually look too bad. It was all one colour, that RS2000-esque bodykit was fully present and correct, the wheels all seemed to be pointing the right way and most impressively for a Pollitt purchase, it had an MOT, too. So I bought it.
I can’t remember what I paid for it. I think it was somewhere in the region of £500, which as anyone with eyeballs will tell you, is about £450 too much. But I didn’t care. In my warped mind it sort of made sense. I was the Editor for Performance Ford magazine at the time, so I would buy it, run it as a project alongside my Mondeo ST TDCi and then modify the pants off it. Yes, that would be my plan.
When I handed over my cash and set off home, that plan went straight out the window. or at least it would have done had the window worked. Instead, the ‘plan’ had to fester and rot within the car, while I drove it home with buttocks clenched so tight they could have crushed coal into a diamond.
I’ve driven and owned a lot of ropy old shit in my life, but nothing like this. The GTi did not feel like it was connected to its own wheels. the best way I can thing to describe it is like driving a paddling pool full of custard. There was bit of resistance to my inputs on the brakes and steering, but that was it. Driving it, I had no feedback, no idea if I was driving over a cat’s eye or a an actual cat. But it wasn’t crashy or rattly, it was soft. Not like any Escort I had owned before, not like any car I had driven before, for that matter. I decided immediately that I would sell it as soon as the V5 landed on my door mat. Something catastrophic had clearly happened to it in the past. Modifying it would be as fruitful as building a six-star hotel in Basingstoke.
Would now be a good time to tell you I bought it in the dark? Yeah, I did that. So it was only in the cold light of day that I made another discovery. The damn thing had more expanding foam in it than something Nick Knowles would try to save.
Hateful. And worrying. That was the expanding foam I could see. How much more was in it? I bet the damn thing was more buoyant than water wings.
I put it back on eBay, listed its faults and got pretty much 2/3 of my money back. Though I almost didn’t. When the poor guy came to collect it, on a wet, cold Saturday, the GTi decided that electricity was overrated. So it hid every volt it had. And by that, I mean it couldn’t be jumped, it couldn’t be bumped, it would not go.
In the end we did manage to bark it into life, but not before I knocked another £50 off out of sheer embarrassment. Hateful thing.
But would I have another? Of course I would.
I am not a smart man.