Detroit to Nashville (Jan '00)
Purchased new off-the-lot from Bob Thibodeau Ford in Center Line, Michigan, January 6, 2000. I'm still not sure why I'd test driven a new Neon to see if I'd want to get one before losing my Chrysler employee discount, liked it a lot despite the speeding ticket (damn salesguy rode along and wouldn't let me hit the highway), then drove south to compare it to a Focus. For the first time, I found a Ford dealer with two Focus hatchbacks on the lot. In fact, the red automatic was the first one I ever saw (emphasize hatchback, not sedan or wagon), and the red 5-speed was the second. It was parked three spots farther back, after all. The subsequent test-drive was good. Got on the highway. Quiet. Nice ride. Laid down the deposit and drove off the next day. Ahhhh.
Strangely, I've not developed any strong attachment to the beast. (Notice I've yet to take my own pictures of it! Yegads.) I enjoy the looks, adore the handling and interior noise level (especially compared to well, to every other car we've owned), but the deep-down squeal of delight on seeing it in the parking lot isn't there yet. Personally, I attribute this to moving to Nashville shortly after buying it then riding the motorcycles damn near every day instead of driving the cars. Ah well, I expect to keep this one at least as long as we've had the Vista (5 years!), and I expect little will go wrong with it.
(24 Mar 01) So I think Ford is going for a record number of recalls on this car, although the Escape might overtake it. The only thing that's actually gone wrong was that the clutch return spring broke not critical at all, and in fact I think the clutch felt pretty good when there was only 2" travel in the pedal. The dealer, however, made the experience as painful as possible, processing me like so much livestock to the slaughter. (I doubt I'll ever like a Ford dealer.) Then they sent me love letters twice a week for a month. The best was the one that implied I'd purchased the car from them. (Nashville dealer. Remember I bought it in Michigan...)
Really, though, I have no complaints about the beast. Accelerates nicely, handles amazingly well, looks funky. And since the only comparison car I have left is an '89 Volvo... The Focus will continue to be the favorite car.
updated: 30 July 2003