October 11, 2005

Horse 417 - It's a Visual Thing

I must admit after reading this site for so long I still fail to see what the hell you see in that little pile of red pus but each to his own. I just can't believe that people take such a thing seriously. - Toby

Why a Ka? That's so bubble-shaped Euro. - Katja

In 1995 at the Paris Motor Show, a little blue supermini concept was unveiled to virtually no fanfare, was given no pride of place on the stand and was just sort of hidden off to the side of their stand. Little did they realise that on opening night, the little Sub-B compact would actually draw attention away from their GT90 supercar with people asking where they could buy one.
Ford was stumped and by Christmas 1995, the Ford Ka hit showrooms in Europe and in Britain in January.
When I saw one of these at the Motor Show for the first time the thought from Wayne's World "Oh yes, it will be mine. Oh yes, it will be mine." shot through without hitting the sides. Here was a car that had everything one could ask for in one package.

The adverts "It's a visual thing" weren't far wrong. The 1996 Amsterdam Motor Show ran this banner "Kunst met een grote Ka" or almost literally Art With a Big Ka. Like Peter Pan (the boy who never grew up) the Ka has hardly changed at all in 10 years. A 2005 plate Ka is still pretty well as cute, and avant garde as the original 1995 version.
Did I mention cute? It has a happy face, and a set of lights with a grille that have been styled to reflect where the engine came from - the '59 Anglia. Borne out of Ford's "Edge" design theory, it spawned its bigger cousins the Focus, Mondeo, Falcon. As Ford have come back from the edge (pun intended) they've blanded up again, which explains why the cheeky little Ka needs to stay there. 10 years on it's the only Ford with fun.

The engine is a Kent 105E or FVE (Four Valve Endura). There's four valves per cylinder under that little bonnet, something unheard of in 1959 but standard in 1995. The engine has had nearly 50 years of development now so is pretty well unburstable. Reliability matched with fuel efficiency which still puts even the Smart to shame.
Dynamically the wheels are shoved into the corners, so if you remember the fun you had when you drove a Mini all those years ago, it's reproduced here.

It's a real pity that Ford dropped it from Australian sale. With increased petrol prices, it's starting to make a lot of sense and with a top speed as standard of 109mph it easily eats motorways. I've taken mine to Melbourne and back on several occasions, and the furthest I've got at 110km/h is 809km which is just extraordinary. Did I mention cute?

So I'm happy I own my little pile of red pus Euro Bubble. I still think "aw, you're soooo cuuute" every time I see it and there aren't many cars you can do that with after several years of ownership... goodness knows what happens when she eventually dies, I intend to keep my "woman in red" for the next 60 years. I figure that in 2065 when I'm 87 years old, that the Ka will still look like something from the future.

It's a visual thing.


Katja said...

The only Ford with fun? DOCH!
Everyone knows Mustangs are the best Fords around. (Everyone includes Me, Myself, and I.)

But the good thing about a Ka is you can place "tja" on the end and get a cute name.

Rollo said...

Australia doesn't get the 'stang in the current model line up. We don't get the Five Hundred either which is a downer.

Jules said...

Viva la Fiesta!

My Fiesta is waaaaaay cooler than your Ka.

They should put a knife to the Ka's throat once and for all.