Oh Ford the Love.

When I was 17, I got my first set of wheels. I was heading off to work in Sooke for the summer and I needed a car to get back and forth on my weekends off, so Dad took me down to Honda City and there we found it, parked in a side lot, glistening in the sun. It was a white 1986 Ford Mustang hatchback and just $4K and a few days later, it was all mine.

The Mustang was everything that a first car should be and I loved it. I saved up and installed a stereo in it, so it became home to a pretty substantial CD collection, stuffed under the seats and above the visors. Until, that is, the car was broken into and all of those CDs were stolen (except Ace of Base: The Sign, which the thief was kind enough to throw back over the fence into the backyard...Dad found it the next day when he was mowing the lawn). The glove box housed my make-up and an impressive collection of parking tickets which I collected over four years, never paying even one. Funny enough, my good name remains clear, thanks to a timely trading in of my license plates. We went on road trips together, to the Okanagan and to Hornby. We spent a lot of time driving along Dallas Road, singing bad music and enjoying the...scenic scenery. Our time together was, in a word, golden. Selling that car (back to my Dad, when I moved to Ottawa) was the end of an era. Tears were shed, not only by myself but by a number of other frequent passengers of the 'Stang, all of whom (I think) would remember it fondly.

However, as much fun as we'd had together, it was not without its faults. For one, it was rear-wheel drive and therefore completely useless in very heavy rain (good thing it never rains in Victoria) or at the slightest hint of frost or snow. It was terrible on gas and, since I insisted on driving it everywhere, the vast majority of my income (babysitting) was spent on keeping it on the road. And, as I was warned many times by Ford haters everywhere, it spent a lot of time in the shop.

Now, not all of this was the 'Stang's fault. It did not choose to drive into the back end of a fish-and-chip delivery vehicle. It did not choose to back into our neighbor's Saab (and then drive away...only to feel guilty and then come back to find the neighbor standing next to their very dented car....awkward). I admit that those mistakes were mine. However, it did choose to fire up a variety of other mechanical "situations" that led to a close and personal relationship between me and the ancient mechanic who worked at the top of our street. I should be fair and point out that Dad ended up footing the bill for some if not all of these unfortunate occurances, but it did spend more time in that shop than most other cars of similar vintage. Enough to convince me that the next time around, Ford won't be on my list.

When we moved here and started looking for a car, we had a multitude of new and interesting types of cars to choose from. Even though many of the manufacturers are the same as we were used to at home, there are a lot of models that aren't available in North America which are available here. We certainly had a lot of neat choices...funky little European cars are the norm here. So, what did we end up with?

A 1998 Ford Escort Wagon. For a multitude of reasons that neither of us can recall now.

I think that after a whirlwind of the unfamiliar - moving here, getting set up, figuring things out - getting behind the wheel of a Ford provided a certain amount of familiarity that we jumped on. It test drove OK, and it was certainly more than large enough for us to fit furniture into it (it is gigantic), as we were still in the middle of furnishing our apartment. The price was right, so we took it. Oh, that fateful day.

We've now owned it for about 4 months. In that time, the following has gone wrong: one of the power windows does not go down; the other power window only goes down if you take the switch out and hold it a certain way while pressing the button; more often than not it is driving itself; it overheats; the thermostat has gone whack; the CD player and radio have both stopped working; and it makes very strange noises. We are not in love with it. In fact, we make insulting references towards it under our breath when we WALK by it on the way to the Vespa, which has outshone it in every possible way.

A few weeks ago, we decided that enough was enough. We were going to do what we could to make it remotely appealing (to another couple of suckers like us) and get it out of our lives for good. To be fair, it has done what we wanted it to do and we really only drive it once a week. We put in a couple of afternoons "working" on it, meaning that Kurt did the work as I watched, thought we'd fixed it, and then took it out for a drive, only to find that it was still driving itself, making noise, and generally acting unpleasant. As a last resort, Kurt bought a bottle of carb cleaner (?), sprayed it on something (?), found that it was still acting up, gave up, and left it. We ignored it for over a week. The insults became a little more insulting.

A week later, the weather was crap so out of necessity, we got into the car and let it take us grocery shopping. However, to our surprise, it let Kurt drive this time. We were cautiously impressed, but thought it had to be a one-off. Still, we toned down our insults and gave it another chance on Saturday, when it impressed us again. Weird noises? Gone. Driving itself? Not anymore. Windows? Still whack, but what are you going to do.

So...in light of the fact that a taxi to our place will cost at least $80, while you can park at the airport for $5/day, we are going to keep it until our trips are over with. Once that's done, we can (and have to) help it to move on, before it breaks again. I have to admit, I feel more warmth towards it than before, but I'm sure it's just sitting out there plotting its next move, and I'm really not that interested in sticking around to see what it is.

Fords = not so much.


Anonymous said...

"Mustang" and "hatchback" - two words that should never appear in the same sentence together. Thankfully, Ford smartened up and turned the Mustang back into a muscle car.... just in time for $1.50 a liter gasoline.


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