What is a ‘woman’s car’? Shed has to tread carefully here, not only because he doesn’t want to fall foul of any more accusations of casual mysogyny, as that would be appalling, but also because he isn’t quite sure what gender Mrs Shed is any more so he can’t ask that, er, person to help.
If you are among those who believe that womens’ cars are indeed a thing, then your list of vehicles will very likely include this week’s shed, a Ford StreetKa. And that’s fine because every male who discounts a StreetKa for that reason is one less male in the market competing for nice examples of one of the best-driving little cars to wear a Ford badge – and that’s saying something because they’ve made plenty of fine driving cars in their time.
This particular one is being offered on our sister site CarGurus by a Brentwood based dealer, which is oddly appropriate because they are just down the road from where Ford UK’s headquarters used to be before they relocated to Dunton a couple of years ago. Just for info, that old Eagle Way building is about to become 330 apartments, or flats as Shed still likes to call them whenever he finds himself in conversation with a hoity-toity estate agent. Judging by the prices old Fords are going for these days, Ford enthusiasts are clearly pretty well off and the more dedicated ones might well be interested in spending some of their dosh on an Eagle Way flat, fancying that they might hear in the corridors the ghostly tread of a dispirited accountant or the pitiful moan of an Escort CVH engine.
Now, it’s well known that the back end of a Ka is about as likely to corrode as the floor of a 2CV that’s been parked up under Brighton Pier for a couple of years. They do say that the StreetKa’s rustproofing and general quality were a lot better than the Ka’s, but maybe Ford concentrated more on improving the back end’s rust resistance because a fair bit of work has just been carried out on the front of our shed to get it through its MOT in February. The offside front strut mounting was damaged and both front anti-roll bars appear to have been hanging on by a thread, but all that has been sorted. All that’s left is some ‘non-excessive’ rust on the front subframe mount, which shouldn't be too dear to put right.
Once that’s done, what have you got? A 59,000-mile, last-year example of a great driving, distinctively styled and nicely specced mini-coupe. The nice spec in the case of this rare Winter edition with the detachable hardtop option includes heated leather seats, heated mirrors, aircon, leather door cards and Ford’s truly excellent heated windscreen.
Shed is fairly certain that the gearknob on these is the same aluminium ball as that used on the Racing Puma, just 500 of which ended up being built between 1999 and 2000. The plan was for 1,000 but nobody was interested at the time. Eeeh, there’s nowt so queer as folk etc. Sadly the StreetKa’s knob didn’t connect to the Racing’s 153hp 1.7 engine, but the 94hp 8v Duratec engine it did have was still enough for goodly amounts of driving fun, albeit using a goodly amount of fuel in the process with a 35mpg average, not that knicker elastic twanging for a top speed of 107mph and a 0-60 time of 11.7sec. It’s not always about the numbers though. Following the tragic and untimely demise of Ford chassis genius Richard Parry-Jones last week, a PH thread sprang up with more than one contributor recalling great times spent behind the wheel of RPJ cars.
Being a final-year car, our shed benefits from the 2005 interior updates. The engine is reliable and the build quality has turned out to be surprisingly good, rust caveats accepted. Heating systems play up and the original heater control valves can fail, resulting in hot air being pumped in even when you’re asking for cold, and the aftermarket replacement valves don’t appear to last very long. The suspension is not heavy duty, so a pothole doesn’t have to be massive to damage it. Clutch release bearings can whine and/or squawk but they all do that sir, it’s nothing to worry about. Most of the rest of the common problems are what might be termed consumables – brake calipers, wheel bearings and the like.
Final fact for today is that the StreetKa was built by Pininfarina, which gave some bright spark at Ford’s ad agency the excuse to produce a dopey Italian ad featuring Kylie Minogue. Don’t get too excited. This was probably the easiest money the Antipodean soap star and songstress ever made.
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