I have finally bought myself a new car. It has been several years in the making.
I have always like small cars. I can appreciate large cars but my personal preference is to buy small. My old car was also a small car. I enjoy not paying ridiculous amounts of money for insurance and road registration. I don’t use my car for anything but driving around, and rarely long distances, so large cars aren’t a necessary part of my lifestyle. I’m also relatively average height, so seating/roof height/footwells etc in small cars are rarely too small for me.
The Fiesta XR4 (or Fiesta ST as it is known in the UK) is special because it has a 2.0-litre engine from its big brother, the Ford Focus. Not only that but the engine has been tuned to provide more power (110Kw) and a better torque band (190Nm) which kicks in from around 3300RPM. The car also has sports suspension, a five-speed manual transmission, wide grippy tyres, a subtle bodykit and – if you are so inclined – racing stripes from the factory.
I first saw this car on an ancient episode of Top Gear – around 2005 or so – and was unimpressed to note the car wouldn’t be available in Australia until 2006. I researched it over and over and over until I had memorized every little detail about the car. I even took one for a test drive from a dealer. I was pretty much in love with this car (though not to the point that I actually made love to it). However, at the time I was still a uni student, and although I was working full time it was in a dead-end job. I could’ve technically afforded to buy it with all the on-road costs and a drive-away price around $28,000, but I would’ve had absolutely zero money to spend after that.
I watched the prices of them on the second-hand market over the next few years, all the while willing my current car to die so I would have an excuse to buy one. In the end, my old Nissan never really died. It is disabled but it’s not dead, but now it’s at a point where the cost to fix it would be worth more than the value of the car, so it makes financial sense. Plus Carly needs a car to drive to work in, and I just got a raise. So it was time.
As you can see it has stripes, though they aren’t ridiculous fat slug trails from front to back. It also has some nice white wheels. Aside from that this car had done about 48,000 kilometres and was going for a price I couldn’t refuse: $15,990. The only problem was that it was coming up to Christmas (the weekend before) and the car was in Sydney. I had organised the loan the week before so the cash was sitting in my bank account ready to go. I just had to organise the purchase. It was an experience in quick-thinking logistics to sortthe flight, accomodation, legal papers, etc etc.
I had my aunt and uncle living in Sydney inspect the car for me and they gave me the thumbs-up, so it was ‘all systems go’ on the plan. Carly and I flew down to Sydney on the Saturday afternoon (5PM flight) and were picked up by the seller in the car from the airport. We drove back to his house and did all the paperwork and exchanged the cash (he wanted cash to buy a replacement car the next day), went to his parents place to pick up the stock wheels and tyres, and everything was a done deal by around 8PM that evening. We waited on the road side while I waited on the phone for the insurance to be instated and away we went.
We stopped off at Carly’s sisters place in Mona Vale for a visit, then drove on to Newcastle. We arrived in Newcastle around 2AM and stayed the night, then took the inland route to Brisbane through Glen Ines etc. We arrived home at around 7.30PM that evening and were well-pleased with our accomplishments! The car performed brilliantly for the journey and never skipped a beat. Although the low-profile tyres and sports suspension sometimes proved to be uncomfortable over the old country roads, the journey was otherwise comfortable and stress-free.
I am now thinking about what extra bits and bobs I can buy for it. I am not sure if I want to modify anything; cars are a more huge money hole than any hobby I’ve had before. I am looking though at getting a cat-back exhaust, or perhaps a full system including extractors, as well as a cold air intake. That’ll be about it though for performance mods as I don’t want to put the car too far out of spec. for the purposes of keeping it drivable for the long term. Cosmetic mods I’m considering are replacing the LEDs on the dashboard from green to white, upgrading the stereo, and maybe replacing the exterior plastics with carbon-fibre look-alikes. Not because I like the look of carbon fibre, but because they’re darker in colour and enameled, so they should last longer.
Another cool toy which I am thinking about getting is a Bluetooth ODB plugin. It connects to the diagnostic computer interface of the car and then you can pair it to your phone. With the aid of an app (Android or iOS), you can get real-time readouts of all the critical system parameters. Considering this requires zero modifications and costs around a hundred bucks, although it’s probably useless it’s still pretty freakin’ cool.