I do not, as yet, own any reliable sources on that accepted great architect of Ford’s revival; Richard Parry-Jones. I can say with some accuracy, though, that he was born in Bangor, North Wales and that this gave him a childhood proximity to the spitting, barking RAC Rally(1). Ford Press releases have cited this as his starting inspiration to study engineering.
We have much to thank this man for. It is easy to dismiss praise from the average car bore who’s ever driven a Focus, Mondeo or (most prominently, in my mind) the SportKa as misguided or even flat bunkum. Take some time to sample any of these machines for yourself, though, and what first hits you is how well suspended they are. Take a little further time to drive any of these cars hard and it is immediately apparent that the machine seems to be enjoying it. There lies in these models a ghost of the people who created them.
I have not yet secured the sale of the BMW mentioned a few posts ago, so, for the time being, I have been driving my Father’s second generation Ford Focus 1.6 TDCI. Encumbered as it is by the iron lump in the front, it reintroduced me to how a car should feel. That is to say, it should feel.
Things have not gone well of late for this happy little car, though. Turbo problems and a lack of budget/will to fix the problem have led to a slow and noisy death. demanding anything approaching a full throttle will set the car in limp mode, and with it, an inability to climb gradients or crack 70. You do learn to drive around this, though. You also learn to plan ahead more carefully. I believe my focus as a driver has improved as a result of these problems. This is not to say it isn’t frustrating, though. Somehow, I feel the car deserves more.
It is interesting to note that Parry-Jones’ defining test of a car’s dynamics was not to drive it hard around a track, but simply to creep it along a road for fifty metres. In a roundabout way I am too, like his engineers, creeping around feeling for the ‘subtle nuances'(2) of the car.
1. Wikipedia, (last updated 16/04/13), Richard Parry-Jones, [Online], Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Parry-Jones [Accessed 12/08/13]
2. Krebs, Michelle. Edmunds Auto Observer, (19/10/07) Ford’s Richard Parry-Jones Retires; GM Looses Ballew, [Online], Available from: http://www.edmunds.com/autoobserver-archive/2007/10/fords-parry-jones-retires-gm-loses-ballew.html [Accessed 12/08/13]