Practical Classics (UK)

Just call me Mondeo Man

Tim has gone for the full Nineties rep experience…


For most of last year, our ‘modern’ had been a VW Beetle – not one of the classic air-cooled, rear-engined ones but one of the newer ‘Golf-in-a-partydress’ ones. It was a highly reliable turbo diesel example, but while it was a fun thing to own it didn’t fill my heart with joy each time I saw it parked outside. We had already decided that whatever replaced it had to have more classic credential­s but also be capable of covering significan­t distances in comfort.

Just before Christmas, my old-friend Matt Richardson’s Youtube channel, Furious Driving, featured a Ford Mondeo MKII that he had dragged out of a hedge (with a fair amount of that hedge still attached) and was planning to get it back on the road, to sell to finance one of his other projects. I don’t think Matt could quite believe the interest that it generated, and the project took on quite a life. Meanwhile I started to get nostalgic thoughts about Mondeos.

You see, when I first started out as a motoring journalist these were current cars, and often they would be the hire car of choice for photoshoot­s – usually covering huge distances full of the detritus needed for these activities, including a snapper, cameras, ladders, tripods, flasks of tea, sausage rolls and tea-stained maps (before sat navs). The Mondeo would do this effortless­ly and often ‘invisibly’, but as a result I realised I had quite a soft spot for these old Fords. They are fast disappeari­ng too – once a common sight in most B&Q car parks, the firstgener­ation Mondeos have vanished leaving the plethora of oversized soft-roaders we see today. The lower-spec models such as this one are even less common because… well, most enthusiast­s want the Ghia or ST24 models.

So, following a couple of emails, Matt and I thrashed out a deal whereby I ended up with the Mondeo and he ended up with the Beetle. The video of this encounter is on his channel should you wish to check it out (and indeed if you want to hear what I actually sound like).

A long story short

So, what’s the history of the car? Well, it was originally sold to Arriva as a lease fleet car and ended up with Bovis Homes. When that lease came to an end, it was bought by the family of the Bovis employee – clearly it was a ‘good’ one. It was then used for trips to the golf course and taking the dog to the park, but was later parked up in a front garden in South London for several years. Quite why it stopped being used is unclear, because everything seemed to work OK, and it appeared to have been serviced at a Ford main dealer just before being laid up.

Matt recommissi­oned the car, and despite some fun and games with the fuel system and an aftermarke­t alarm/immobilise­r he didn’t find much wrong. The rear brakes needed new

pipes and new cylinders, all four tyres were replaced and after an oil/filter change it saw an MOT for the first time in many years. The biggest thing was cleaning – the interior was revolting and the exterior wasn’t much better. Then the longest trip in many moons was undertaken, bringing the car from Kent to the East Midlands where it now lives.

‘I’m currently just enjoying the late Nineties Ford experience’

Belt up

The cam belt was probably overdue for replacemen­t, so I opted to have a local garage do the work – mainly because it won’t fit in my garage right now, and the thought of doing a cam belt on my driveway in January didn’t fill me with warm fuzzy thoughts. Sometimes, you pick your battles.

What I have done is continue Matt’s fine work improving the car’s condition. As found, it had an odd set of aftermarke­t wheeltrims that went in the bin due to their condition. Sadly, a courier managed to lose a complete set of original Ford trims that were sent to Matt, which meant I had to start the process again. I found two good secondhand ones and two new-old stock ones on ebay, and could not believe how they changed the appearance of the car. Having since found a brochure for the car, I’ve discovered that by fluke I’ve managed to buy exactly the right ones for the car.

It’s also that time of year when the roads are covered in a sticky mixture of salt and filth, meaning that I’ve had to get busy with the snow foam. The years of tree sap have done it no favours, and there are some minor car park dinks, plus the obligatory crack in the rear bumper that needs fixing. So, while it polishes up well, I’m under no illusions that it will need some paint correction soon.

New wiper blades were needed – Matt fitted some NOS ones he found in the boot but the rubber had gone hard so a new set of Bosch blades has almost sorted the forward vision. Almost… because the washer jets decided to stop working on the journey North. I’ve tried rodding them out with a pin – the pump is whirring away and you get an initial squirt and then nothing – like having washer jets with a prostate problem. More disassembl­y required, methinks. Oh, and the radio either works on the speakers in three doors, or the just other one depending on its mood.

Otherwise, I’m just enjoying the late Nineties Ford experience – and it’s not disappoint­ing! These are really nice cars to drive, and so comfortabl­e. The handling is predictabl­e, balanced and easy going. Parts are cheap, easy to obtain and for the few things I’ve done so far, really easy to work on. My prediction is the prices for these earlier generation Mondeos will start doing what all other old Fords do very soon… and it won’t be long before they aren’t quite the bargains they are today.

 ?? ??
 ?? ?? Take that, flith – you don’t belong here.
Take that, flith – you don’t belong here.
 ?? ?? That’s better. Now it’s time to tinker with its little faults...
That’s better. Now it’s time to tinker with its little faults...
 ?? ?? New rubber makes for a squeaky clean windscreen.
New rubber makes for a squeaky clean windscreen.
 ?? ?? It’s from behind the wheel that the Mondy really shines.
It’s from behind the wheel that the Mondy really shines.
 ?? ??

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