[V8] Yesterday's experience: Almost NAC....

Roger M. Woodbury rmwoodbury at adelphia.net
Tue Apr 3 09:14:04 EDT 2007

The Black Mariah got new rear axle bearings last week, and now is quiet and
smooth.  BUT no sooner did I get her back, but we had a BIG RAIN and the
starter motor got lunched in a big puddle.  It was almost 13 months to the
day since I had replaced the starter motor, and the wrench told me that he
has changed suppliers three times in the past few years because of parts
quality issues.  Grrrrrrrrrrr.

Yesterday, I had to go to Portland to an afternoon meeting.  My wife had a
major day involving more than 200 miles in her Audi, and the only other
vehicle in the yard for me was The Runt, which is the 1992 F150 shorty 4X4
which is primarily used as a plow truck.  

Well, I did the arithmetic and I rented a car.  I figured that the 330 odd
miles that I would put on The Runt would pay for a rental car and gasoline,
so Enterprise got the call.  

I picked up the Awful Blue Ford Focus at nine and headed down the coast. 

The first thing that I noticed was that there was a bearing, or perhaps
wheel/tire noise from the left rear, so I turned up the pretty good stereo
and that went away.  Second thing that I noticed was quite a lot of
road/tire noise from the rear.  Not terrible:  but louder than with any of
my other vehicles.  

The car was very quick and light on its feet.  Kinda heavy steering and I
think the steering wheel could benefit from being about 3/4" larger in
diameter and the rim being about 1/4" thinner, but after about twenty five
miles it was pretty natural.  

Up 1A to Bangor, and then I-395 to I-95.  Remarkably fast car on the
Interstate.  No cruise control, so mental note to be careful with the right
foot.  The car would cruise effortless at 75-80 without the unaware knowing

Stable.  Light sensitive brakes, steering a tad too quick...more the product
of an inexpensive car than any sort of defect.  Annoying squawsh noise from
the windshield wipers which were either on completely, or at least on
intermittently all day yesterday.

Last night it got cold enough to snow, and this morning there were about two
inches of very heavy, wet and slippery snow on all the roads.  The Focus was
surprisingly sensitive to the presence of snow, and traction wasn't great.
I think the tires were original, so they had 25000 miles on them.  With new
tires or with real winter tires the car would have really good grip.

The car consumed around 9 1/2 gallons of rot-gut gas to go 330 miles
yesterday, and the rent cost about a penny a mile.  Yesterday, I had about
fifty miles of secondary road driving, twenty miles of city driving, and
more than 200 miles on the Interstate.  I also had snow and rain to drive
the car in.  I gotta say that for small dollars the Focus is pretty well
done. MUCH better than I expected it to be.

Next I want to drive the comparable Toyota and Honda and maybe a VW, too.
The cars are a bit too small for my wife and I to be comfortable in, but if
I was single and wanted to buy something in this price range, I would have
to say that perhaps Ford really does have a "better idea".  At least it was
all, ah, in Focus, yesterday.


P.S.  And yes:  for what you pay for a NEW Focus, you can buy a pretty nice
V8, and put another five grand into it.  Before you spend the difference in
dollars in gas or other repairs the Focus would need to be replaced, and the
difference in insurance premiums and taxes would make the V8 even more of a

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