N2G Projects

The £50 Focus – 2000 Miles in, Still Going Strong!

The £50 Focus lives – but not with us. Humph.

As you may remember, we bought a Ford Focus for £50 last year. However, we simply didn’t have the time to do anything with it, as such, we did the work it needed, got an MOT on it and sold it to our main man, Matthew Tyson. He’s been driving the Focus – still resplendent in N2G livery – ever since. And it seems we let a good car slip through our fingers, as apart from some minor maintenance issues, it’s been a reliable trooper. Typical! Though if we’d have kept it, the engine would have fallen out, no doubt. 

Anyway, here’s Matt with a 2,000 mile update! Proof that you shouldn’t dismiss a £50 Ford! 

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How far does £50 take you?

Currently just over 2000 miles!

The Ford Focus Collection was pressed in to action at the back end of the year, as I’d arranged to visit a friend in Lincolnshire and then travel on to the Milton Keynes and Oxfordshire area for a couple of days. I’d given the car a once over to make sure I thought it was up to the trip and aside from the unidentified knocking noises, it looked pretty good. I’d committed to the trip, had time from work and didn’t want to let my friend down, so we were going even if the weather was forecast to be stormy.

The old car performed well and didn’t miss a beat or let us down once. 650 miles through terrible stormy British weather that saw us tackle motorway cruising, motorway hold ups, Milton Keynes roundabouts and even called in at Bicester Heritage for a Bonhams Auction. The Focus managed to return around 37mpg average on the whole trip, which I was happy with.

Let’s just go back to those unidentified knocking noises for a moment; The car had been up on a lift and prodded, poked and peered at. Nothing was loose, no noticeable rattles when provoked and everything seemed solid. The knocks could not be replicated unless the car was being driven, and even then nothing seemed to be obvious. We had an occasional knocking from the front end, somewhere under the bulkhead, but everything there was as it should be. There was also a knocking that seemed to come from the near side front strut or knuckle, but that had been stripped down and put back together (including replacing a shock absorber for new as there was a slight weep) and nothing was found untoward. No loose bolts, nuts, rods,arms etc, just solid and tight.

I took the gamble and decided to use the car. If it broke down on route then I’d deal with it, there’s not too much to go wrong once I’d got the all clear on most of the components.

So the fact that it returned me back home without further blemish was a great result. Until the next morning……

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Going out to the car the next day after another night of rain, I was met with heavy condensation on the windows and an interior that had a particular odour. Oh dear.

It had all gone so well, through biblical storms and over many miles, only to be broken when parked outside the house and a bit more rain.

The passenger foot-wells, both front and rear, were wet and my 4am commute was going to involve a lot of demisting action.

A quick Google and a little look on owners forums highlights that water ingress on Ford’s Mk1 Focus is common with age, seemingly to do with the scuttle trim and the sealing of the pollen filter housing. On inspection, the scuttle trim at the base of the windscreen on the passenger side had lifted and was not forming a decent seal. Meaning that water was running from the screen, under the scuttle trim and bypassing the integrated water channel designed to direct the wet stuff away from the pollen filter housing. This saturated the pollen filter and water then transferred down into the front passenger foot-well.

So I have a wet carpet and soundproofing, and some sealing/fixing to do. No big issue, more time consuming and annoying.

Since then it has been used almost daily on my commute and a few regular trips to shops etc. It has behaved well, but the constant noise from the very worn driveshafts still needed to be addressed, and once I started pricing up new parts I was looking at the housekeeping budget to see where economies could be made.

Don’t get me wrong, the parts aren’t silly expensive, but remember this is a very much shoestring budget car and I’m not made of money! Second-hand parts were considered but they are all of an age and undetermined condition so could well be false economy, don’t really want to be buying twice to sort the job. Motor Factors were quoting around £175 for a pair of driveshafts which is quite good, but my funds were low (as ever!) and I needed to keep looking for an alternative. Did I just do one side this month, and maybe the other side another month when funds allowed? But that would see the car off the road twice, and I’d be draining and refilling the gearbox each time, adding to money and time taken.

It was then that I found a place in Birmingham, that would supply a pair of brand new driveshafts, with a 3 year warranty, delivered the next day for £69.98p.

Too good to be true? We’ll find out, because they were ordered, delivered the next day and have been fitted to the Focus!

Coppers under 70 quid? Had to be done, with the warranty supplied, a few more years motoring for that money was a no-brainer to me. Even came complete with the bearing on the nearside shaft, saving a little more work.

Whilst fitting them, the old oil was drained from the gearbox and replaced with fresh, which was black & manky! So that’s another job ticked off the list while we were there.

2000 miles cleared in the car bought for less than we spend on the weekly shop. The total now spent is around £320 all in for the car and parts, and even with a few niggles and issues I’m still very pleased with it.

Next milestone? 5000 miles perhaps?

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