RE: PH Competes: Buying the EnduroKA

RE: PH Competes: Buying the EnduroKA

Wednesday 13th March

PH Competes: Buying the EnduroKA

Made in the final year, with very low mileage and a full service history - what better KA to turn into a racer?



It turns out that buying an old Ford KA isn't quite as easy as you'd think. "What's the rush?", we thought in January. There's hundreds of them out there. Little did we know, a handful of teams had already bought their car and finished the build. Plus had another three for spares. So just what did we need to buy?

According to the series regulations, you need a Ford KA Mk1 1300cc, produced between 2002 and 2008. The dinky Duratec came in 60ps and 70ps variants, so obviously we'd be hunting for the latter. Rumour has it that buying a car with air-conditioning and removing it may release a teeny bit more power over a car without it, so that was on the checklist too. Logic would lead you to shop for a car that was made towards the end of the Mk1s life, as it's more likely any manufacturing and reliability issues would have been sorted by then. Plus it will have had less time to rust. And boy, do they like to rust.


So we find ourselves commencing our search early in February. We were after something low mileage, preferably under 40k, in the hope that it may be a bit fresher and might just see us through the series. Several cars matched our requirements but upon contacting the sellers were either sold or, on inspection of the MOT history, a victim of the dreaded tin worm. A couple of weeks passed of occasional browsing, more sold cars and more rust buckets, before the panic started to settle in. It was mid-February that I set up every single saved search going in the hope that we could pounce immediately. Thing is, with 39 other teams taking part in EnduroKA, there were quite a few others doing the same.

Who'd have thought we would suddenly have a UK-wide shortage of Ford's revolutionary shopping trolley? Finally, luck struck. Despite the advert being sparsely worded with just a couple of photos, I instantly knew it was the car for us. It was the only car we viewed in the flesh, but what a belter it is. First to view will buy and all that. One former lady owner from new, never raced or rallied. RF08 XWX must be one of the last few off the production line, with the all-important 70ps engine and air-conditioning that we'll be stripping out. It has been lavished with full Ford main dealer service history, covered just 23,000 miles and stored in a garage its entire life.


Generally, KAs seem to be pretty bulletproof other than an early departure through the clouds to the rusty gates above. The worst place for corrosion on a Mk1 KA is around the rear suspension mounts, which are kind of integral for what we'll be putting our little car through. It also appears around the fuel cap, the bottom of the doors and a seam in the boot, but these can be rectified easily enough. We came across cars with just 30,000-40,000 miles that were completely rotten already and heading for the scrapheap. Luckily, our garage queen has none of this. Our previous owner was retiring from driving, so what better way to give her pride and joy a fitting send off by thrashing it around MSV's finest alongside some of its siblings?

We paid the princely sum of £1,200 for our pristine model. Potentially the most anyone has spent that's competing - the lowest I've heard so far is £165. It may be 11 years old, but with such low mileage it genuinely feels like it's fresh out of the factory. The steering and brakes are woefully vague - as you'd expect - but with a mint interior and tight gear shift, we've might have just hit the jackpot.


So what are the vital stats? We want to get it on a dyno at some point to see how many of our 70 horses have fled the herd but we need to get our priorities in order first. 0-60 takes a steady 14.1 seconds, but with a tail wind and heading down Paddock Hill, we might be able to shave a second off that. We might even break into three figures on the speedo down Starkey's Straight at Donington with a slipstream. Kerb weight is just 905kg, and it feels it too.

Our first race is now in three weeks. Luckily we have started our build, but barely. The next couple of weeks are going to be pretty stressful, but we're quietly confident that we'll get there in time and potentially even be able to squeeze a couple of track days in beforehand too. That's if our roll cage ever makes it here from Calais.







 

 

Author
Discussion

WCZ

Original Poster:

6,283 posts

133 months

Wednesday 13th March
quotequote all
I've been lucky enough to own and drive some very exotic cars and the Ford Ka is still one of the best handling cars I've ever been in - it's just so much fun! the tyres were awful though and had no grip

varsas

3,804 posts

141 months

Wednesday 13th March
quotequote all
The steering and brakes are woefully vague? No, that isn't: "as you'd expect as you'd expect" at all, I've only driven a couple of KA's but the steering felt pin-sharp (to the point of nervousness in one case) and don't remember the brakes so they must have been fine. Didn't this basic architecture underpin the Puma?

sc0tt

16,091 posts

140 months

Wednesday 13th March
quotequote all
varsas said:
The steering and brakes are woefully vague? No, that isn't: "as you'd expect as you'd expect" at all, I've only driven a couple of KA's but the steering felt pin-sharp (to the point of nervousness in one case) and don't remember the brakes so they must have been fine. Didn't this basic architecture underpin the Puma?
I'd have to agree. Whilst it isn't an Elise, it is a very good steer.

I believe the mk4 fiesta was the architecture for the puma

The Moose

17,310 posts

148 months

Wednesday 13th March
quotequote all
Don’t we have a dedicated forum for this?

Surely EnduroKA or at least Car Buying?

Turbobanana

1,253 posts

140 months

Wednesday 13th March
quotequote all
varsas said:
The steering and brakes are woefully vague? No, that isn't: "as you'd expect as you'd expect" at all, I've only driven a couple of KA's but the steering felt pin-sharp (to the point of nervousness in one case) and don't remember the brakes so they must have been fine. Didn't this basic architecture underpin the Puma?
Quite. Daft journalism.

Also, we need to know more about the Mini Marcos lurking in the background...

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Zygot

47 posts

11 months

Wednesday 13th March
quotequote all
Had 2. The 1st would reach 99 on the speedo, but felt like it would stay there forever.
The second failed the MoT on so many things, pretty much all rust related, so was scrapped.
Both felt like roller skates though.

rallycross

9,685 posts

176 months

Wednesday 13th March
quotequote all
strange thing to spend all that money on a mint low mileage example, possibly the nicest Ka lest on the road, all you needed was a rust free late model duratec with a sweet engine. £1200 for a showroom ready Ka to build into the race car is crazy.

Pat H

7,139 posts

195 months

Wednesday 13th March
quotequote all
I bought one of these brand new, whilst on some misguided economy drive. Just like the featured car. Last year of production.

Steering, handling, braking, gearbox were superb.

Engine breathless, didn't like to rev and not at all economical. Used to manage about 34mpg.

It was a fantastic little thing, but rather let down by that crap engine.

Should have had the 1250 Zetec motor in it, which was a super, zingy little mill.

Good fun motoring.

Turbobanana

1,253 posts

140 months

Wednesday 13th March
quotequote all
rallycross said:
strange thing to spend all that money on a mint low mileage example, possibly the nicest Ka lest on the road, all you needed was a rust free late model duratec with a sweet engine. £1200 for a showroom ready Ka to build into the race car is crazy.
Yes but poor planning / the need for a sensational story* meant that they had to panic buy.

*Delete as appropriate

varsas

3,804 posts

141 months

Wednesday 13th March
quotequote all
Pat H said:
I bought one of these brand new, whilst on some misguided economy drive. Just like the featured car. Last year of production.

Steering, handling, braking, gearbox were superb.

Engine breathless, didn't like to rev and not at all economical. Used to manage about 34mpg.

It was a fantastic little thing, but rather let down by that crap engine.

Should have had the 1250 Zetec motor in it, which was a super, zingy little mill.

Good fun motoring.
My understanding is that the KA was designed for a new 2-stroke engine. Of course that didn't happen (emissions, the coasting problem) but the car had, by then, been designed with a small engine bay. Overhead cam engines wouldn't fit, which is why it had to keep the older 1.3, which I think had it's origins as the Kent engine, as seen in the Anglia?

rallycross

9,685 posts

176 months

Wednesday 13th March
quotequote all
varsas said:
. Overhead cam engines wouldn't fit, which is why it had to keep the older 1.3, which I think had it's origins as the Kent engine, as seen in the Anglia?
correct, brilliant handling little things with a strangled horrible non revvy engine, I've sold dozens of them and always felt it would have been great with the 1250 zetec Fiesta mk5 motor in it. The Sport Ka 1600 was also a let down that 1600 engine was a nasty breathless heavy old thing that was slow and terrible on fuel. Should have used the Yamahah 1700 from the Puma,..

PATTERNPART

624 posts

140 months

Wednesday 13th March
quotequote all
Buying such a nice one is a bit of a shame but they will save time and money by not having to repair rust. Probably pays for itself in that respect. Dunno if there's a market for mint interior pieces. Possibly. Can't see a sunroof either which is also good.

Pat H

7,139 posts

195 months

Wednesday 13th March
quotequote all
varsas said:
Pat H said:
I bought one of these brand new, whilst on some misguided economy drive. Just like the featured car. Last year of production.

Steering, handling, braking, gearbox were superb.

Engine breathless, didn't like to rev and not at all economical. Used to manage about 34mpg.

It was a fantastic little thing, but rather let down by that crap engine.

Should have had the 1250 Zetec motor in it, which was a super, zingy little mill.

Good fun motoring.
My understanding is that the KA was designed for a new 2-stroke engine. Of course that didn't happen (emissions, the coasting problem) but the car had, by then, been designed with a small engine bay. Overhead cam engines wouldn't fit, which is why it had to keep the older 1.3, which I think had it's origins as the Kent engine, as seen in the Anglia?
I stand to be corrected, but for the first few years, the KA was cursed with the old OHV Crossflow.

In later years, the Mk1 Ka was fitted with a SOHC Duratec engine, which is what mine had. The Duratec was a load of crap.

Back in the day, the Crossflow was rather a good motor. Regrettably, that day was back in 1972.

smile

Turbobanana

1,253 posts

140 months

Wednesday 13th March
quotequote all
Pat H said:
Back in the day, the Crossflow was rather a good motor. Regrettably, that day was back in 19721962.
Fixed that for you.



BenLowden

1,445 posts

116 months

PH Marketing Bloke

Wednesday 13th March
quotequote all
sc0tt said:
I'd have to agree. Whilst it isn't an Elise, it is a very good steer.

I believe the mk4 fiesta was the architecture for the puma
Perhaps I was a bit unfair, it's not a performance car after all but those of us that have driven one recently are in agreement that the steering feedback is pretty vague, so we'll be fitting a smaller steering wheel in an attempt to get some more feeling from it on track. A set of polybushes should help on that front too.

I'm pretty sure the Mk4 Fiesta was the architecture for the Puma and the Ka too, but I stand to be corrected!

rallycross said:
£1200 for a showroom ready Ka to build into the race car is crazy.
Kind of what we thought too... but time was against us and we just had to get a car bought. Being completely rust free is one less thing to have to sort in our very short timeframe to get it built.

TrivsTom

116 posts

106 months

Wednesday 13th March
quotequote all
My ex had a Ka which I used to borrow when my Clio 172 was being French. Woeful machine. Awful driving position, hard seats, wobbly everything. Think it was only on 43k or something. Hateful.

Pat H

7,139 posts

195 months

Wednesday 13th March
quotequote all
TrivsTom said:
My ex had a Ka which I used to borrow when my Clio 172 was being French. Woeful machine. Awful driving position, hard seats, wobbly everything. Think it was only on 43k or something. Hateful.
Yep.

Those Clios were crap....

silly

edwheels

123 posts

85 months

Wednesday 13th March
quotequote all
varsas said:
The steering and brakes are woefully vague? No, that isn't: "as you'd expect as you'd expect" at all, I've only driven a couple of KA's but the steering felt pin-sharp (to the point of nervousness in one case) and don't remember the brakes so they must have been fine. Didn't this basic architecture underpin the Puma?
+ 1.

My wife had a KA almost identical to the one in the article - apart from the slightly wheezy engine it was superb and always a lot of fun - ESPECIALLY in the steering and handling department... brakes, were also fine in my my memory - it wasn't like they had to stop much car. It didn't underpin the Puma, but having owned one of those too (1.7 run out model) , it did seem to have a lot of the same DNA - both very fine steering and handling cars. Still miss them both and miss having a small, fun and understated car in my life....

For £1200 I think that Ka in the article looks like new and would be tempted not to race it, but to use it as my daily car and get another for the track. The last KAs looked great IMHO on those standard minilite wheels.


Deadlysub

207 posts

97 months

Wednesday 13th March
quotequote all
I’ve only ever driven one once. It was a courtesy car and the heater control was stuck to heat and wouldn’t move.

I tried to adjust the steering wheel and pulled what I thought was the column release but turned out to be the bonnet release.

I’m really enjoying this series of articles, keep them coming.

As a side note the editorial quality of the content on the site seems to have improved recently too. Keep up the good work PH

tedman

185 posts

43 months

Wednesday 13th March
quotequote all
I was given one as a hire car for work. Lovely... lilac colour.

At the time my daily was a Mk4 Golf TDI and using the KA for the weekend was so much fun. Felt like a Go Kart in comparison to the Golf and being a hire car, it felt like it had some extra BHP. The engine got some abuse, but it was an amusing drive for what it was.

Edited by tedman on Wednesday 13th March 13:45