Well, once again I find myself at the end of the month trying to figure out how I can add this car to my collection!
I have a garage, infact I've got a couple of garages, but the problem with this is that they all have cars in them! I think that I would like like explore this little car a bit further, to be honest I'd quite like to explore it for the whole Summer. But that would mean the end of the whole project. I have even offered it to several of my family members, and friends for free, on the understanding that this time next year I get it back in about the same condition, and with the same sort of length of MOT on it. But again, no takers. This of course means that only one thing can happen next, and so...
Away goes car #5 DAMMIT!! But before I get into telling you about my month with the little Street Ka, I just need to get this out of the way first, please bear with me. When I found this car in the first place it was because I saw it being photographed in a car park, while I was photographing the Jaguar to sell it. Wondering if the girl who was photographing it was doing so in order to sell it I asked her if that was her plan. Yes she said. So I enquired as to how much she would like for it, and how much MOT was on it, It was MOTd yesterday she said, and she was looking for just £650! Well, I thought that was a pretty good deal. So, after some procrastinating I bought it, and I'm glad I did, because although it's taken me five months, but finally I've made a profit!! Now, I realise that buying a car for £650 and selling it for £670 isn't the biggest profit in the world, and I know that I'm over looking the fact the ebay charged me £10 to list the thing as an auction style listing, and then £20 final value fees, which actually means that I infact made a loss of £10, but FUNK ME, that was close, that is the closest I've come to making my money back in this little project all year!! Besides just £10 for all the fun I've had blasting about in this little beauty with the roof down all month, that's a bargain. After the Jag I was starting to get quite concerned even to the point that I had to sell my motorbike so I could continue playing, so I'm counting this as a win, infact I'm even gonna celebrate with a nice cup of tea and a Tunnocks Caramel!
Actually I decided to really push the boat out and have two, because when I took the first one out, the second one looked all lonely left in the pack on it's own... It was for the best, believe me, leaving that Tunnocks Caramel alone in the cupboard all night would've kept me awake!
Now then, what can I tell you about my month of Street Ka ownership, well, first of all it's the first car I've bought this year that isn't an estate car, therefore finally bringing the year of the wagon to an end, before it actually became that! Apart from that, for the most part it was fantastico!! But of course there were a few nagative points of owning a Street Ka. Firstly, for me, I prefer the face of the original Ka. I like the big bumper of the StreetKa, but I think I prefer the bigger looking headlights of the original Ka, but I've been looking, and it would appear that there is no bumper with spoiler and big headlights in the Ka line up anywhere, so I guess I'd just have to live with this little niggle.
I'm presuming that all Street Ka's had the facelifted, um, face? I just think the original one looks a bit cuter!! Strewth, I'm such a girl, my month of Street Ka ownership has made me into a right Pansy! I realise that the original face is still under that big bumper, and it wouldn't be too much trouble to change it, but then would it work with the back bumper? I dunno, perhaps the best thing to do would be locate a rust free one of each, one for driving while the sun shines, and one for driving when it's raining. I mean they're quite small, I could probably get both into a parking space if I tried really hard! While I'm talking about the looks of the thing I must say that no matter which face is prettier, I think the First generation Ka's (1996–2008) are still alot better looking in my opinion than the Ka's that have come along since. The current crop seem to have lost their quirkyness, their identity, and their fun car vibe, a bit like the original Twingo is a lot more interesting than the disappointing and boring looking models that have followed it.
Secondly, only two seats, so not very practical for anyone who has a Wife and two little Monsters to ferry about, although, having other cars to blast about in sure does help, but there have been a couple of times when both of my two little Monsters have insisted I pick them up in the Ka, which meant picking one of them up and dropping them off home, then going back for the other one, before going home again, turning the three mile round trip into a six mile round trip. I wonder if perhaps I could get away with fitting a bench seat in the StreetKa? That might work. Actually, thinking about it, the extra little trip is really nothing to complain about, it just meant that I got more seat time to blast about in it!
Lastly, I thought that this, being a little bit impractical might suppress my desires for another car that sits in the back of my mind as it would also be an impractical two seater convertible. But it hasn't, if anything it's kinda made matters worse, because now instead of thinking, that would be ridiculous, it's not practical at all, I think, yeah, why don't I have one, I made it work with the little Street Ka, why wouldn't it work with that?
Well, why wouldn't it work with that? After the Street Ka I can't think of a reason that I couldn't make it work with a Eleventh generation (2002–2005) Thunderbird as well... Niether for that matter can Mrs Clint, who, when asked what she thought of the idea replied with, "I dunno what's stopping you?" Hmm... Me neither!
I will admit that it not having the bumper I like, and being a bit impractical is not the biggest list of 'cons' in the world is it? But thats all I could think of, and I had to really try hard to think of them. I've really enjoyed this little beauty!
So then, moving on to the 'pros' list, well it's a pretty short list because literally EVERYTHING else about owning it was awesome!!
In my far too short ownership of this little gem I took the odometer from 118,508 to 119,172 miles which means I covered about 809 fun filled miles! In these fun filled miles the Ka managed to drink 20.55 UK Gallons of go-go juice which means I was getting approximately 39.36 (S)miles per gallon from Ford's open top little funster! I must admit I was surprised at this as I thought I would've got a bit more, but, when you drive it, it does seem to egg you on, and I found that quite often I was pushing the loud pedal a little harder than I might usually do... This, as a rule is no good for high MPG figures! But it's freakin' excellent for putting a huge silly grin on your face!!
The 1600cc engine buzzes the little lightweight Ka along very nicely, and with about 94bhp (of course some of them horseys will have bolted as don't forget, it is 17 years old now!) I never found it wanting for power. I think that it was fast enough to get you in trouble if you pushed it really hard, but with a low-slung driving position and a low centre of gravity, and having a wheel placed exactly on each corner with no over hanging bodywork meant that it handles really, really well as its looks suggest it should. Cornering is flat, the steering is sharp and the brakes are responsive. It's a fun car to drive, it's very 'point and squirt' a bit like driving an original Mini, just not so cramped inside. This fantastic handling doesn't come at the expense of the ride either, which is supple and copes well with most road surfaces, although as mentioned earlier the front ball joints knock and clunk away over every lump and bump in the road! But because of how well the suspension is set up, and the fact that it is not a stupidly fast car I think that you'd have to be a spazzer of biblical proportions to get yourself in trouble in one of these, either that or you would have to be some sort of kamikaze pilot!!
Sadly, if you were such a person, and did push it past it's cababilities I don't think you would fare well in it, I'm not sure those roll over hoops would help you much as they feel, and sound (when you tap them with something) like they are very light duty steel tubing, almost like they were made from exhaust pipe tubing. I have a feeling that they are more there for show than for safety, and I think that should you be unlucky enough to roll one over, it would not end well. Hopefully I am wrong about this, I mean why would Ford bother putting them there if they did nothing? Of course I didn't pull all the interior trim out to have a look at where the roll over hoops joined the body, or what exactly they were made from, I just hoped, probably like everyone does, that Ford had indeed made them strong enough to be safe, and not just look the part! Moving on...
On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my, um scalp, warm smell from the chippy, rising up through the air, up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light, my head grew heavy and my sight grew dim, I had to stop for a bite! I'm not sure how Don Henley, Glenn Frey, or Don Felder would feel about me bastardising their lyrics from Hotel California like this, but there we go! So then, on to the interior...
I have heard it said that the dash on the Street Ka is the thing that really lets it's interior down as it is the same as the original Ka, and is an old design dating back to the first of the Ka's which were introduced on 11 September 1996 as a small and low-cost addition to the Ford range. The functional, basic, look doesn't live up to the promise of the exterior styling. But I disagree with that, it is the same old dash, that's for sure, but it's fun a quirky design still looks interesting, and continues to suit the updated looks of the exterior bodywork. I like how it looks, it's fun, I still love that odd little oval clock with it's mis-matched hands, it's cool. The only thing is for me I'd like to have a few more gauges in the dashboard. I think this would make it feel a bit sportier, but you need to remember that this is a car that was designed and built to be cheap enough to be bought by a single girl about town, which is who it is aimed at, hence the lack of proper information provided by gauges, and instead a rather impressive bank of idiot lights!
Still not to worry, the interior is not a bad place to be, the leather seats as its the LUXURY model remember, so no cloth seats here, are quite supportive, and are big enough to be comfortable even after a long drive by a fat bloke. I would also say that there is probably a bit more room than the original tin top Ka, which also helps raise the comfort levels of a long drive as I like to stretch out a bit, I can't stand being huddled up behind the wheel, my belly would rub on it! The pedals are a bit close together for my liking, and as I remermber they were too close in the tin top model too. Driving it in my steel toe capped work boots proved to be a bit of a game as I tended to put my foot on more than one pedal at once, however donning a pair of Converse All-Stars, and I could dance on the pedals with all the accuracy of Fred Astair and Ginger Rogers which made driving the little Ka a very enjoyable experience, and quite a lot of fun!
Even though this is the LUXURY Ka, the interior was pretty spartan, but then to be fair I reckon you're unlikely to spend much time looking around the cabin whilst you're driving, you'll be far too busy watching the road as you cruise along it. One thing I feel I must mention is the heater, this was damn well excellent. I spent as much time as I could with the roof down, I knew I wasn't going to have this little thing long, so I wanted to experience going topless for as much time as possible. I'm talking about the car by the way, as a fat bloke I don't go topless much at all, it's not a pretty sight! So anyway, on several of my little drives I was coming home long after dark, and even though it's the summer, once the big orange orb disappears below the horizon it still got pretty chilly. So I would just roll up the windows, and set the heating controls to 'well done' and this was enough, even though I was still getting a bit of wind on the top of my bald head, I was still warm enough to be comfortable. It was great, and I thoroughly enjoyed every trip in this lovely little car, I pretty much enjoyed everything about driving it, I would even go as far to say that it is a drivers car. I reckon that if you like to drive for no other reason than the pleasure of driving, then male or female you could do worse than getting your hands on a little Street Ka, they're great, really great. If I was someone like Jay Leno with acres of covered storage space for my massive car collection I would definately find space for one of these without any doubt!
OK, so maybe I do look more like Noddys friend Big Ears, rather than Crockett from Miami Vice when I drive it, but thats cool, I'm so glad I had this car, and I was having far too much fun to worry about anything else that might have been niggling away in my mind, or how funny I looked. I would definately agree that perhaps this is a car that is clearly aimed at girls rather than fat middle aged fellas, and so the hairy chested macho man feels too ridiculous to get into it and drive it, but more fool them! To enjoy this little gem all you need to do is hit the road with a big grin on your face and enjoy it. Roof up, or roof down it is AWESOME!
Oh, but don't forget to wear the correct sunglasses!