Twelve-months without a worry. Thanks Dad.
When I was younger, we had a new car every year. Every year. It was my dads way of saving money, he thought. He would spend a maximum of precisely £300, buy a car (usually but not exclusively, a Ford) with 12ish months MOT and a bit of tax, and then sell the car after it failed its MOT 12ish months later for £100. No more, no less. Total expenditure for a vehicle year after year, was £200. He was very successful at achieving this year after year, too.
He didn’t actually know anything about cars, oh no, year after year we would all wonder what heap of shite he would purchase next, but he was pretty skilful with numbers, and we always got a new (very) old car year after year, without fail. Exciting.
I remember one year with a 1982 Ford Sierra, somehow it passed its MOT after 12 months. (I say surprisingly as the rear seats were borrowed from a Granada, and although they fitted, they had no 'back of the seat' catches. Every time the brakes were applied, my siblings and I would shoot forward.) It was the first time this had actually happened to us. We wanted that particular Sierra to fail to cure our acute neck pain, obviously. Usually our cars always needed a hole patching along a sill or four new tyres and an exhaust, and would end up parked at the top of a busy road with a poster in the window advertising that it was for sale, and for a mere £120 ONO it could be yours (I helped with the poster every year, my dad always opted for the brightest crayolas). Sadly (yay!), the brown Sierra in question blew its head gasket later that year on the M20 coming back from a family holiday to New Romney. The speedo had given up so it’s hard to know what speeds we were driving at, but it was quite a pace. Maintenance was not an area to be frivolously spending cash on, in fact, if our house had been metered, I would have my doubts as to whether even topping it up with tap water was allowed. Poor thing. RIP.
Naturally, being brought up around so many different cars so often, I developed a taste for a spot of regular car-changing myself. It’s rare that i get to buy a car every year, but I’m always looking. I’ve had about seven cars in the last 10 years, and as cars become more reliable and MOT stations ever-easily bribed, I’d imagine that the list will slow further and further, with no actual reason to chop and change motors, other than my old friend, boredom.
In fact, you’ll be pleased to hear that my dad has even stuck with the same car for the last four years. A Ford Fusion. So far it’s always passed its MOT and proved reliable. His house isn’t metered.
In the spirit of our old family motoring habits, I’ve decided to take a 12 month challenge of much the same. I’ve gone and brought a Ford KA with 12 months MOT for £100. I suspect the last MOT was slightly-fudged – holes in the sills surely wouldn’t have escaped the MOT testers eye, but whatever, it’s going to be a daily driver of only 5 miles, 5 times a week. So lets introduce the car…
It’s a W plate MY2000 Ford KA Collection. It has the 1.3l Endura engine and its sitting at 135k miles. It has no service history, makes a lot of different noises over different types of bumps and the oil filler cap is gunged-up with what I told the lady was an imminent sign of head gasket failure. But I’m a pro with this engine, and the gunge will almost certainly be from the very short trips she was doing with the car in the last year or so. It’s just condensation in the oil. Trust me (really?). So it’s the perfect car really – the engine will give me no troubles and I won’t have to touch it for 12 months (the exception being an oil and water check), insurance and fuel on a run-about doing 5 miles a day will be minuscule and barring the usual KA rust of which there is plenty, it looks reasonably smart. As will I.
This one is for you, Dad.