November 24, 2006

Horse 672 - In Focus

I must admit I have been in a bit of an automobiley mood this week. I saw in the space of 20 minutes yesterday a silver-grey 1992 Honda Accord and not long afterwards, a metallic burgundy 2005 Holden Vectra (as if someone was trying to tell me something). Every other day I pass another copy of Rosalini and the other driver and I occasionally wave at each other as if to compliment the other on their impeccable taste.

However, I am looking at the very real possibility of leaving this wide brown land and heading to the land of the star spangled banner. Now admittedly the "big" issues of who I'd work for, or where I'd live wouldn't necessarily be solved until I get there, but I can pretty well much guess one of the answers to a smaller question. What do I replace Rosalini with?

I could for instance lop across the border to Mexico and pick one up from down there which is actually quite cheap, or I could look in America itself for a car. Thinking seriously about this, I could in theory already buy what I'm thinking of here in Australia - a blue Ford Focus.

You have to admire the US here. They've been making big clunky cars for so long that they realised that with soaring "gas" prices, Europe had it right all along, so the blue oval brought in the Ford Focus. The Focus Mk1 was a fantastic motor car, the chassis was stiff, it was styled according to the "Edge" design school and if it wasn't for Evo VII would have won the WRC.

The Mk2 Focus although from a styling point of view was nowhere near as radical; in fact Jeremy Clarkson left one in a London high street and found that it attracted zero attention despite the fact that it was at the time an unreleased car. But if you don't buy a car based on looks, the mechanicals had better be good - and in the Focus, they're ace.

In 2005 the car was the highest selling passenger car on the planet with good reason. From an interior space point of view the car is as ergonomically sound as the Astra (which is still as close to perfect as you can get). The feedback from the stiff suspension gives you a real sense of feedback right through your bum, as opposed to a big Falcon which one does not drive but steer. I felt somewhat uneasy in the Malibu in America not because it was a big car, but rather it just felt entirely vague, which I guess is a function of US suspension tastes.

Whilst the Focus is a family car in the UK and Europe and a medium car in Australia, in the USA it looks decidedly small against the backdrop of clunkers. I can see great advantage in this. I'm able to weave my Ka through traffic like a figure skater; given that everything is bigger then this proportion would be maintained with the Focus.

There are also other requirements to think of. Because the car wouldn't be driven my me exclusively it would need to be an auto (despite my loathing of slush boxes). I may also need four doors for carrying things.

On reflection, the Focus is an entirely sensible motor car. The question remains whether that certain someone else (he said with an eyebrow raised) would tolerate a Henry and whether I am prepared to grow into sensibleness yet.

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