Chapter One: The 1984 Ford Fiesta 1.1 L

I owned from approximately 1995-1997, my age 18-20

My first car!

“L” for Luxury. That means slightly nicer seats and front headrests which were covered in material, as opposed to hard plastic. Proper mod-cons.

My Dad bought me this car as a surprise just as I was learning to drive. I remember coming home from my evening job one day and it was sat on the driveway. An unknown car on the driveway wasn’t all that unusual as sometimes my parent’s friends, or aunties/uncles might be round and have parked on the driveway. I’ve always loved Fords, particularly the Fiesta and the Escort of this time period, and I distinctly remember walking past it thinking “ooh, a nice car on the driveway for a change!” For some reason my Dad didn’t really buy Fords. I think back then you either liked Fords or Vauxhalls, and he was a Vauxhall man so didn’t think the Fiesta would be ours.

Anyhow, I got inside the house and there wasn’t anyone else in there and my Mum and Dad said it was mine! I was so pleased! It was dusk so the light wasn’t great but I could still make out most of the detail of my little red car. It was a bit tatty on the outside, with the obligatory rusty arches and suchlike, but my Dad told me he intended to restore it, so that by the time I’d passed my test, it would be ready to go.

And restore it he did! The arches were repaired and looked good as knew. The rust on the sills was eradicated, the engine serviced. The red piping on the black side trim pieces was re-created and put back on and the sides were re-sprayed. It genuinely looked as-new when he’d finished and I was very proud of that little car. My mates all commented on how nice it was. The car was purchased by my Dad for £50, from a work mate I think. Lol.

Part way through the restoration, and perhaps understanding that I was part of the max power generation, who talked about the XR and RS models, and body kits an awful lot, he asked if I wanted to buy an XR2 kit for it and he’d put that on instead of the other black side trims and stripes if I’d like. I did consider this, but decided against it because after buying the kit, I’d then have to get the pepper pot alloys to finish the look (and meet up with the wider arches of the kit), which would have taken a fair chunk of my beer money – as would the insurance costs.

So, it remained standard and I thought it looked pretty smart. I liked the wheel trims too, which suited the car. Many an hour was taken up in this car fitting a nice Sony tape stereo (which used to beep when you turned the car off to remind you to take the front panel off, to stop thieves nicking it) and learning how to wire up the speakers and suchlike. The Haynes manuals were ace. My radio was the Sony 6700RDS and had the very cool option of Green or Amber display and, being a premium model, it had Dolby NR as well! If I recall, Pioneer speakers that I bought for this car, which were probably a bit too small really as they weren’t all that bass’y.

Cars of this age had a manual choke and this wasn’t any different. I do remember on the cold days of having to pull the choke out and if it stalled mid-journey whilst at the traffic lights, then having to find that delicate balance between too much choke and flooding the engine, meaning the car wouldn’t start again, or not enough choke and not getting it started again either. The odds weren’t in your favour and acted as an encouragement not to stall until the car was well up to temperature. Aaah, thems the days.

After I’d past my test, my first drive out was with my instructor, who I’d asked if he could come with me to help me familiarise myself with the car, which was a great first time out. That night I set off on my first solo journey to one of my best mate’s house; big Dave, just over a mile away from my house. That drive was a combo of nerves, excitement and exhilaration that I was now fully mobile to travel the world at pace! Or it least to drive into town without needing to catch the bus. Dave was happy for me and we went off for a drive too. Sensing that I was clearly very green at this driving thing, and being the good friend that he was (he wasn’t one of those who turned into bravado laddish nob under such circumstances), opting for a sincere adult tone as we drove about the village, knowing when to shut up, when to offer guidance and when to chat and have a laugh. I don’t recall where we went – likely to the shop for some car mags – I just remember that initial drive and how he acted – instilling confidence in me and enjoying the experience of this new found freedom. A great friend.

The Fiesta was in my ownership for a couple of years, before I bought my next car, a Ford Escort, which we’ll come on to another time. The Fiesta was ultimately sold to one of my sister’s friends, who also owned it for a while.

This was back in the 90’s, when you only took a few photos, rather than a few thousand so these are the only pictures. I think the car also had a double black stripe added down the side, but it wasn’t on the car at the time of these pictures. The bike next to it belonged to one of my other friends.

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