It may not have quite the same ring to it as Bond, James Bond, but when the Ka arrived on British roads in September 1996 it certainly had as much impact as the most recent 007 flick, which if you're interested was Goldeneye the year before.
The Ka was designed by a clever chap most of us have never heard of called Claude Lobo. His aim was to come up with something small but iconic, Ford's version of the Mini if you like. Many of those who remember spluttering into their tea when it bumbled cheekily onto British roads 25 years ago almost to the day would agree that he achieved that aim. Visually at least you couldn't categorise it or even compare it to anything else as it looked so different. Even today it still looks fresh and engaging, which is surely the mark of a good design in the fast moving, today's news is tomorrow's chip paper world of 21st century motoring.
Under that tautly drawn skin it wasn't quite so modern, mind. Quite the reverse. Pre-2002 Kas were powered, to use the word loosely, by a practically prehistoric engine, the pushrod Endura-E 1.3. This engine was used in the early Fiestas and can trace its lineage right back to the old Kent unit of the 1960s or maybe even earlier to 1950s Anglias. It was a wheezemeister to say the least, but that didn't matter all that much to most folk who just wanted something cheap and cheery to run around in. What torque the Endura-engined Ka had was nice and low down at 3,500rpm, perfect for early gearchanges while urbanly mooching. Easier down there anyway than in the moose-strainingly awful region above 5,000rpm where the max power of 60hp was desperately hoping never to be discovered. The Endura's official red line was at 5,450rpm, with an ominously exact-sounding rev limit of 5,675rpm. Did the pushrods melt at 5,676rpm? We'll never know the answer to that because nobody had the unfeeling abattoir mentality required to find out. Or maybe you did but were too frightened to admit it in public.
Notwithstanding all that, the gen-three Fiesta based Ka handled brilliantly thanks to the genius of people like Richard Parry-Jones and spawned some equally credible offshoots like the SportKa and StreetKa with more useable overhead-cam Duratec engines.
The example you're looking at here is a two-owner Ka2, which means it was the posher one with a rich array of standard features including central locking, manual height adjustment on the driver's seat, stowage nets on the seat backs, rear seat head restraints, electric windows and - Lord preserve us - a front passenger seat release handle. Privately owned by someone who we can see from the pictures also owns an Exige (surely a good sign), it could well be the lowest mileage car we've ever had in this column with just 12,600 clearly carefully done ones so far.
Pictures don't always tell the full or even the true story, but this car seems to be as near to museum quality as you could realistically expect for one of these. There may be the merest hint of corrosion on one sill flange but that could just as easily be a trick of the light. For any 22-year-old mass produced car it looks amazingly clean. For a Ka, one of the most efficient rust generators known to man, its metallic status is not far short of miraculous. Even the filler cap area looks blemish-free, which really is astonishing.
The plastic Ford used for the bumper zones never looked that good even when it was new, so we're not going to quibble about the slight blotchiness on show now. Same goes for the tinware manifold cover. We can forgive that a few dods of brownage.
Looking at the immaculate patio on which the Ka is sitting alongside that Lotus and an equally clean 2 Series, you don't need the deductive powers of Sherlock Holmes to work out that the owner is probably a person of high standards, and surely an ideal sort of person to be buying a car from. His ad copy is concise and to the point. 'Body work in very good condition', he says, with a nice line in understatement. 'New MOT', he says. Again, not a word of a lie. He doesn't bother to tell us that there were no advisories this time round, so we'll do that for him. Despite the freakishly low mileage, the MOT history has shown some advisories over the years, centring mainly and not unexpectedly around deteriorating rubber bushes in the suspension. Rust has never been mentioned. There have only been two outright fails since 2006, one in 2019 for imbalanced rear brakes, and again for the same thing one year later.
Shed has some deteriorating rubber in his wallet. It's an unused condom that he received from the Army doctor when he was demobbed from the Army. He's hoping it will eventually be worth a lot of money. Whether it will ever be worth the £1,400 he needs to buy this Ka is another matter. Shame, really, because it's a piece of history he would love to honour by flogging it for five grand or more to some daft old biddy in the village.
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