Tuesday, April 07, 2015

out of focus

Indulge me briefly, if you will, and permit me a misty-eyed eulogy to my trusty old Ford Focus, which I sold earlier this week after owning it for about a week short of seven years.

Actually it's not a particularly misty-eyed tribute, as I am not especially interested in, still less sentimental about, cars. Anyone wanting a genuinely heartfelt farewell to a car is urged to read Doug's tribute to his old Skoda Fabia here. My attitude to cars is more or less the same as my attitude to televisions and computers: I want them to work, I want them to facilitate me doing stuff I would otherwise be unable to do, or at least would find a great deal more difficult and time-consuming, but I'm not really that interested in them per se, certainly not in their internal workings, certainly not to the extent of feeling that I personally need to get involved. As far as cars specifically are concerned, that means I can change a wheel, a headlamp bulb, and a fuse, and I can top up tyre air, coolant, washer fluid and oil as and when required, but that's about it. Anything else warrants getting a man in.

The Focus did have a lot of good points, not least a decent-sized boot which you could get a surprising amount of stuff in, especially with the rear seats down. Here's a Facebook picture of an almost certainly unsafe quantity of smashed-up decking about to be taken down to the municipal tip in July 2012.

The only petrol-headed comment I'll make, beyond that it was perfectly pleasant to drive, is: I liked the gearbox. Nice and notchy and definite, even compared with our newer Mondeo which is a bit vague and rubbery in comparison, and even with the Mini, which has reverse gear in a position where it's just (if you're not really paying attention) possible to get into reverse when aiming for first, which is never good.

For all that, the Focus earned my affection mainly by being low-maintenance and trouble-free. You might not have got that impression from this post back in November 2013, written in the wake of a concentrated burst of trouble and expense, but there was little to report between then and last week apart from a lower-cost reprise of the suspension issues at the 2014 MOT (basically replacing all the bits that hadn't been replaced the previous year), and an alarming-sounding but actually trivial incident a few months back where the car overheated because I'd forgotten to put any coolant in it for, ooh, about a decade. Even the 2015 MOT which I'd been anticipating with a certain amount of trepidation (partly because the car had been sitting on the drive unused for the best part of two months following our acquisition of the UW Mini) resulted in the first clean pass since (I think) 2011.

So anyway, I posted an ad on Gumtree with the expectation of having to wade through some unrewarding interaction with semi-literate trolls. And so it proved - and, just as with the stuff I'd previously sold, the first person who enquired and appeared to be a reasonably close approximation to a normal human being bought the car. The image above is a farewell picture of it being driven away. Notice how I've forgotten to reclaim the Halfords child-protecting sunshade thingy from the rear window - the only other things I know I left in the car were the Haynes manual (though this was intentional) and the Land Rover-branded tax disc holder Andy bought me when I passed my driving test back in March 2008. That would have been kept for sentimental value at best, though, since you don't need a tax disc any more.

Perhaps the text of the Gumtree ad can serve as an epitaph:
Ford Focus 5-door hatchback, pepper red (i.e. sort of burgundy). This is my beloved and trusty old Focus that I've had since April 2008; the previous owner had it since it was new in September 2001. Great car, very reliable, used for daily commutes to Bristol & back every day up until about a month ago. Wife's shiny new company car forces sale. Brand new MOT from THIS WEEK, good until April 2016. 158,000 miles on the clock, 97,000 or so of them put on by me.

All the usual kit: alloy wheels, heated windscreen, electric front windows, Sendai CD/radio with aux input for iPods. I'll even throw in the Haynes manual in the passenger seat pouch. Bodywork generally very good, bit of minor rust on a couple of door edges. Did I mention that it's got a BRAND NEW MOT? And there's half a tank of petrol in it as well. My Newport-Bristol commute generally yields around 35mpg.

Maintenance since I bought it: various tyres, new ignition coil, various suspension parts replaced after an MOT failure two years ago, apart from that it's been very low-maintenance. Only times it's broken down have been when the ignition coil packed up and when a coolant hose split and it overheated. 

Bargain price reflects age, mileage and my desire for a quick sale to free up some drive space. 
I can also tell you that over the period I owned the car I clocked up an average of just over 38 miles per day, which is just under 13900 miles per year, and around 97000 in total. In reality it was somewhere between 15000 and 18000 for the first few years, when it was our main vehicle for long-distance trips away as well as being my day-to-day commuting vehicle, less after we acquired the giant Ford Mondeo estate in late 2012 in the wake of having Nia, and only about 9000 miles in the last year thanks to a couple of months of idleness in February and March. Comparing what I paid for it with what I sold it for reveals that it depreciated at an average of just under £1.30 per day over the period I owned it.


everlands said...

You gave away the land rover tax disk holder! How could you?

electrichalibut said...

well, what can I say, it was an oversight. I expect that's what the guy really wanted; worth the trouble of buying a worthless old rustbucket for the sweet prize of a Land Rover tax disc holder. I hear they fetch anything up to a fraction of 1p on eBay.