Tag Archives: Focus

Monday Long Termer, Vauxhall Corsa 1.3 Life: 07/04/14′

By Nathan Green

(Editor’s note: I love Nathan Green, you love Nathan Green. We all love Nathan Green. Unfortunately, today he sent me a piece that compares women to cars. Now, Nathan is a kind and thoughtful human being who respects women as equals. I also believe him to be comfortable with his sexuality.

Anyway’s for shits and gigs I decided it would be better if the piece (‘piece’, heh, heh) compared men to cars. In line with this I’ve changed any mention of women  to men. Mainly because it would make me laugh. But also, ’cause it makes me laugh. Oh, and *it is* odd comparing living breathing, creative, highly developed and often sidelined ‘groups’ to inanimate objects that you can buy with money.) 

Men, if I may, I would like to draw some comparisons. I promise these will be mostly positive and reflect only my own opinions. I promise not to be derogatory, sexist or misanderistic. Probably.

Why do I feel apprehensive about this? Everyone knows that cars are almost always named after men so there is already an existing link. Furthermore, I shouldn’t really be scared of offending anyone because, let’s be honest, there are plenty of less desirable objects to be compared to than a handsome modern Ferrari, a vintage classic Mercedes or even a filthy dirty Vauxhall Corsa.

I, myself have been compared to a variety of things that are much less complimentary. I won’t give examples, I’m sure you won’t have to try too hard to fill in the blanks.

Anyway, as many of you know, up until about 6 months ago, I was a car sales executive, which is an over embellished way of saying I sold cars. During this time, I was in a committed, long-term relationship. In fact, weirdly, my career in car sales started and ended at the same time as my relationship.

As a car salesman, I drove lots of different cars, each with their own personality and individual aesthetic qualities. However, I only had one lady in my life. Nowadays, I only have one car, my darling ‘Long Termer’ Corsa Life and I am free to date whomever I choose. As long as they reciprocate my interest, of course.

Whilst spending time with my friend Natalie, last week, we looked back through my iCloud Photo Stream at some of the cars I drove during the two years I spent selling them. It made me think about how each one of them made me feel, what strengths and weaknesses they showed during my time with them and, most importantly, the best experiences I had when driving them – experiences I can now recall as cherished memories. Let me introduce you to some of my past conquests:

My first sales position was at a Ford dealership in Redditch where I was given a silver Focus Zetec TDCi as a demonstrator. It was a great car. The car that really sticks in my mind, however, from that time was a brand new, bright orange Focus ST that I was lucky enough to drive before it was available to the general public.

A bright orange essex person.

A bright orange essex person.

The ST is the hottest of the new generation Focus and, I hate to be so cliché in my comparison, but it’s a stereotypical Essex boy – overdone exterior accentuation, tight bodywork, bulging bumpers and a large mouth. It looks like fun and it really is. It also has many impressive features, both inside and out. It certainly got lots of attention when I drove it around town.

I took this particular car out only a couple of times but it made more of an impression on me than my daily driver Focus did during the four months I used it. I suppose one could compare my experience with the ST to a few short moments of passion and excitement. I could easily lose myself behind the wheel, and quite possibly my drivers licence. Ultimately it was unsustainable. I’d love to drive an ST again, I just wouldn’t buy one.

Another brief fling I can boast about was with a Vauxhall Corsa VXR, again the hottest derivative of its model type. It was short, good looking, well-proportioned and makes all the right noises (Ed: oh you shouldn’t have.. wait we’re talking about me, right?). It was also completely bonkers. (Yep, talking about me.)

A short handful...

A short handful…

It was probably no faster than the Focus ST but, due to a significant weight deficit, it definitely felt faster, maybe even lunatic quick.

Driving the Corsa VXR quickly through wet country lanes lined by trees and peppered with potholes was comparable to jumping on the back of an angry masculinist after cracking a joke about woman being people too- you’d better hold on tight because if you lose control, he’ll kick your arse!

I remember I used to put the back seats down just to hear more from the sporty exhaust, the sound waves bellowed and amplified in the boot space filling the cabin with a beautiful high pitch resonance, particularly when the turbo came on song.

While the VXR was thoroughly enjoyable to drive, it was actually rather exhausting because it was hard to drive sensibly and driving it with spirit required total focus and a fair bit of effort.

Unfortunately for me, it was also too expensive to run on a long term basis. I guess it was comparable to a very exciting but very high-maintenance man who would only make sense as a weekend luxury. You simply wouldn’t have enough energy or money to keep him completely happy seven days a week.

Another favourite is my friend Matt’s 2007 Honda Civic Type-R which I drove back from Redditch and delivered to him in Stroud. Matt is fully aware that drove it hard because, well, I told him.

A two-timing red-head. In a car lot.

A two-timing red-head. In a car lot.

 

VTEC engines are built to be thrashed, it would have been rude not to oblige. I had merely a quick fling with his Japanese hunk before passing it on to him for something more long term. I am happy to report they are still very much in love.

And so, this brings me on to my trusty Long Termer, the 2007 Vauxhall Corsa Life. As an object, it is not beautiful – it was not styled to impress the eye or indeed excite any of our sensory receptors. It was not designed nor engineered to make your palms sweat with its cornering abilities or provoke a tingling sensation in your loins when accelerating from a standstill.

Plain Joe

Plain Joe.

It was created to be consistently dependable, uneventfully reliable, boringly efficient and pound stretchily frugal. And it is. It is also filthy dirty most of the time.

Despite the seemingly negative slant on this summary of the Corsa, I am actually content driving it every day. It does exactly what I need it to do and does so to the best of its limited abilities. As a mode of transport it is absolutely fine, however if I had a boyfriend with the same attributes I would not be so content, apart from the filthy dirty bit. Perhaps.

Cars and men – comparable in some ways, but luckily, completely different in almost all others.

Weekly Mileage- 324

Fuel Cost: £30

Repair cost: £0

Repair costs (2014)- £849

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Faux-cus

You know how your Focus, or that nice person’s Focus from down the street doesn’t have a V8 or RWD? But why, you scream with existential angst. Why have they done this to me? I can have noodles in a pot and cold beer and free porn on my computer, smartphone or tablet, we are the apex predator on this planet, why shouldn’t I have a Ford Focus with RWD and a V8?

Well now you can’t. But you can watch a Ford Focus, or more accurately a space frame chassis with Focus panels bolted on doing some racing.

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But will it be profitable? I mean, all’s well and good being all exciting and throwing cars that have no resemblance to anything I can buy, even though it looks like something I can buy, ’round a track. But Can I Turn A Profit?

Well, Sir, yes you can.

“We want to bring the focus back on serious affordable racing,” says (Mark) Woolley. “We can offer a readymade national series with rules, regulations, commercial rights assistance, prize funds, structure and homologated cars with everything but the bodyshell complete – it just requires buy-in from teams and franchise owners who have identified this is a viable way of making money from motorsport. Global Touring Cars does not aim to compete with any existing Touring Car series, but to create a new niche in the market. This is through the combination of the design of the GTC car and our desire to create a network of GTC franchises.”

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You know the actual what? I think this is cool.

But.

Surely the whole deal with doing touring car championships is that they actually resemble an actual model. Race on Sunday sell on Monday? What do you think?

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There Are One Million Focus’ Out There. That Is A Lot

A cherry red Focus, equipped with the petrol, one litre, turbo motor, has unwittingly become the millionth of its kind. Not just the millionth Focus, but the millionth Mk3 Focus. Whichever way you cut it, that is a lot of Focus’/Foci.

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Lets try to imagine that

Using Parkers excellent website, we can find that the MK3 Focus is 4358mm long by 2010mm wide. That gives us a total area of 8759mm or 8.8 square metres. I’ve rounded this figure up a tad, not just for ease, but to allow some sort of parking distance between these million vehicles.

So that times a MILLION is 8.8 Million square metres or 8800 square kilometres. That’s very nearly Norfolk and Suffolk put together. For the international readers, that’s just a bit bigger than ONE MILLION Ford Focus’/Foci parked very closely together.

Here’s a picture of a Focus in the wild:

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Focussed Frustration

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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]

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SHCOTW #1

Now, I had talked about (in this weeks long-termer piece) how the next choice should be something a little more focused. It was and it wasn’t a pun on the fact that:

  1. I fancied a Ford Focus ST170
  2. Puns are shit.
  3. I’m not funny.
  4. Nobodies reading this, (this is, in fact a ‘joke’ I have stolen from a friend’s politically suspicious, but entirely funny blog) so when a joke falls in a blog and nobody is reading, does it make a sound? (That was a ‘joke’ I made up)
  5. There seems to be no footnote function on WordPress, hence the awkwardly placed brackets ALL THE TIME.
  6. This has gone on too long.

Anyway, those fine young ramblers over at PistonHeads sunk that idea by doing a SOTW piece that made me think again. Also my dad’s Focus has just eaten its own heart, legs and some other anatomical analogy for a clutch. Basically, in his own words, ‘it’s fucked’. So I started looking at other hot hatches. You know the score, GTI-6’s, MkII Golf’s, 106’s, etc, etc… blah, blah, blah, and blah…

Sorry, was boring myself a little there. The end result is this. Don’t ask. Just bask in its hairy chested, fat headed, medallion glowyness. Also, the po-po used them for a time. Does that make them cool? Maybe.

P.S. Because of the lack of pictures in this posting, here is a picture I took of a radio-controlled millenium Falcon:

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I believe that’s all of today’s awesome taken care of.

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