Well, if we're doing reminiscences from Ford's 'will this do?' era...
My uncle has always been the car person in my family. What I know about cars (which admittedly, is very little) comes from passing him tools while he put a Porsche 914 engine into his VW camper in the nissen hut that took up the majority of my parents back garden. So, when I got my first car, it was down to him to find it, and I was the proud owner of a D-reg Mk4 Escort. I mean obviously it was terrible, but it was mine.
That is, until I got a call from him when I was in my final year of university. His friend's brother, who used to work for Ford in Dagenham, had just spent £350 fixing the ten year old Escort he'd owned since new so they were chopping it in against a new Zafira. Did I want it for what they'd been offered in part exchange, which coincidentally also meant he wouldn't have to spend another weekend welding my Escort up for its MOT in a few months? It's a Ghia, and everything.
Yeah, deal. By the way, what colour is it?
Whatever Ford say, its not green.
So, M639UMK. My dad drove it up to collect me at the end of term. This is luxury. I have 16 valves, no choke, central locking, electric windows, electric sunroof. It even goes round corners, in a fashion. Unfortunately, I also appear to have very little clutch. £350 is sent Mr Clutch's way and all is good with the world. I fix the remote boot release by attacking the contact on the boot lid with a wire brush. I feel like a boss. Remote boot release? This is AMAZING.
Over the next four years, I stick 40k on it going back most weekends from London (where I've moved to after I graduated) to Bristol, where my girlfriend still is. The electric windows stop working, which I fix by sticking increasingly large pieces of tinfoil into the switches to make a connection. The rear arches also get increasingly grotty, but Wandsworth council's MOT depot don't seem to care, so whatever. Until one year where I leave it too late to book a test so go to my local garage instead. They take one look at them and burst out laughing. I think it failed that year on seven separate corrosion-related points. Shit. Still, £300 of welding and some cack-handed attempts with a spray can later I'm back on the road. After all, its been reliable until now, right?
Enter the karmic old car gods. The temperature gauge has never worked, so when I'm driving back from Bristol in the snow a couple of months later I don't notice a problem until I stop at the lights at Clapham Common and notice steam. Turns out water has got into the fuse box and killed the fan. I throw a bit of money at the local garage to wire a fuse inline to it, and limp it on for six months with ever increasing signs of HGF. Eventually hot starts become impossible and it gets sent to the bridge of dreams, replaced by a Citroen ZX that's three years older but infinitely better (until, um, that also dies of HGF). RIP little Escort, you're not quite as shit as everyone says.