As Chris puts more miles on the Festie, both life and frost damage intervene.
The wheel dropped into the pothole and my stomach followed. CLONNNNNNG, the Fiesta’s front driver’s side alloy rang out in the cold winter air like a dropped bell. The low profile tyre was no protection against Nottinghamshire’s homage to the Rift Valley, a hole both deep and wide running transversely across a join in the tarmac.
SHIT, SHIT, SHIT, I thought. Straight away I pulled into a garage forecourt to inspect the aftermath. An old man ambled over as I winced into the wheel well. “Tha’ hit the massive pot’ole up the road,” he stated more than asked. “No end o’ people pulling up here. Phoned th’otline but they’ve done bugger all abou’tit.”
Hunkered down on the frigid concrete, I rued the endless winter and Nottinghamshire County Council’s overstretched road repair regime. Spying no obvious deformation in wheel or tyre, however, and with the pressure holding, I bade farewell to the old man (“T’ra me duck” he said) and continued my journey. I had an appointment I did not want to be late for.
As the cold sunlight played through the fingers of the bare broadleaf trees and the slowly scattering ashes of my grandmother, I had ample pause to consider the many ruts in life’s path.
Transpired I was not the only one feeling deflated. In the crematorium car park, the spelunking tyre had marked the solemn occasion with a mournful sigh, letting out half a bar of pressure. A quick pump up saw me home, but the following morning the rubber was as flat as my mood. Fortunately, a local fitter found the rim to be undamaged, and within an hour the Fiesta was fit for the road once more.
Two years and over 12,000 miles into a three year lease, the jolt of the pot hole created the only blot in an otherwise unblemished copybook. The Fiesta has been reliable and vice free. All the more galling then when a recent big service at a main dealer rang the till at an eye watering £270, a big chunk for a change for filters. I would gladly have foregone an emailed video tour of the Fiesta’s dirty underside for a hundred quid discount.
A recent job change transformed my daily commute from an inner city stop-start grind to a cross-country romp. On these varied B-roads the Fiesta comes out to play, the chassis handling the patchwork of surfaces capably, the three pot Ecoboost heart thrumming away happily. The penalty for hurtling between the hedgerows is an average 37.1 mpg, dismal for a 1-litre. Blame the turbo, not my heavy right foot.
In an age where taller and more German is better, the humble Fiesta’s continuing ubiquity in the UK is comforting. At the time of her death my grandmother and I both owned Aston Martin-grilled Fiestas; hers was in Titanium spec, as befitting a lady fitted with a false hip. For Brits of all ages, tight of both wallet and parking space, the small(ish) Ford is likely as much car as they require. That the Fiesta is also terrific fun comes as a welcome bonus.
The death of a loved one lends much needed perspective to life’s petty travails, pot holes included. But by the same grace, such events also reaffirm the value of everyday virtues, those such as honesty and dependability, a good heart, and a keen sense of fun. Sometimes it takes a jolt to sharpen that appreciation.
Goodbye Gran. I’ll see you again at the end of the road.
Time on test: 2 years 3 months
Faults: None, spelunking aside
Costs: New tyre, £100; major service, £270