For quite a long time now, rust-free first-generation Ford Kas have been about as common as honest politicians. Given that Ford stopped making these gen-one Kas twelve years ago, the chances of you now finding a solid one outside of a museum are extremely low. Typically they crumble on the sills, door bottoms and around the petrol filler cap, and as these were one of the first truly disposable cars to hit the market, that will generally be the end of that in terms of whether you decide to keep it going or not.
Which means that this week's Shed is quite a find, assuming it is what the vendor says it is. It's done just 22,000 miles, 4,000 of them in the last year. The mileage claim is backed not only by a documented service history and the MOT record but also by the evidence of your own eyes. This is a car that has surely spent most of its life in a garage, wondering why it hasn't been mercilessly abused like every other cheap Ford ever made.
The Ka caused a hell of a stir when it was launched in 1996 as Ford's new range-bottomer. As with so many important cars, it was the work of somebody you'll almost certainly never have heard of but perhaps should have done. In this case it was a man called Claude Lobo, who as we all know (not) played a leading design role in the first Capri and the first Focus.
In terms of its position in the marketplace Ford intended the Ka to be a response to the Renault Twingo, another huge mould-breaker, but Lobo knew he couldn't just go down that same 'mini-minivan' route. Instead he took his inspiration from the original Mini and deliberately set out to design something that would be un-faceliftable.
He certainly managed that. Nobody had ever seen anything quite like it. The big plastic mouldings that defined the Ka and made it cheap to repair after a bump eventually became commonplace, but they were real gamechangers in 1996. Suspension and steering by the acknowledged chassis genius Richard Parry-Jones gave it roller-skate handling.
If only the Ecoboost engines had been around back then. Instead the first Kas were lumbered with the strangulated 1.3 overhead-valver that, despite its modern-sounding Endura-E name, could trace its antecedents back to 1950s Anglias. The max power of 60hp was produced at a bowel-straining 5,000rpm, only 500rpm or so short of the motor's Edwardian rev limit. The top whack didn't quite make it into three figures and the 0-60 amble was accomplished in a treacly 15 seconds. Still, most buyers in that market weren't really interested in that side of things. They were happy to buy lots of Kas on the strength of Claude's styling.
This is a 2002 car, which is the year that Ford binned the Ka's Endura-E and replaced it with a 69hp single overhead cam Duratec motor, so there's cause for excitement there. Sadly, or happily if you're a student of old Ford engines, this turns out to be one of the last Endura cars. On the positive side, there can't be many cleaner examples of that engine around, plus who wouldn't enjoy the sound of pushrods furiously clacking about like possessed knitting needles in an effort to stir the eight valves into action? Better yet there are no cambelts to snap or tensioners to break. How many cars can you say that about?
This is old-school motoring in a teenager's outfit. There's a full, clean MOT, and bearing in mind that it's just had a new spring and heater control valve fitted, if it really is as solid as it's made out to be then you might well think that the £795 price is very fair. Just turn up, pay up, hop in, and drive off, then pop yourself into Shed's place for a spot of servicing. Once he gets his oily mitts on your trunnions a misty smile will spread across the old coot's face.
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