1. Steven Raith

    Like your cars?

    I've noticed recently I've had more and more opportunity to spam the forums about my car, or find ways to make awful, awful car similes etc. I've also been upvoted for talking car stuff (on rare occasions).

    So who here likes their cars? And what you got? Why do you like it?

    I'm currently running The Yellow Shed, a Ford Puma Millenium Edition in 'retina-scarring' zinc yellow. A quick google will give you an idea of how borderline luminous the paint is.

    Why do I like it? Well, it does everything. It's quick enough (125hp/1100kg), it's got nice leather Recaros which are staggeringly comfy on long trips and hold you tight when giving it some. It has all the important bits - leccy windows, leccy and heated wing mirrors, heated front screen, remote boot release, leccy seat height adjustment (Millenium only), air con (broken, arf), CD player head unit (swapped out for an iPod one) with decent speakers, etc. Generally it's a nice place to be.

    It makes a lovely noise - all intake and cam scream, not unlike a high tuned BDA engined Escort. I recently replaced the centre section with a straight pipe, which makes it crack and pop on the overrun, but doesn't make it too loud - a nice mix and compliments the intake nicely, with a bassy burble through the floorpan on full throttle changing to a howl as you approach the rev limiter.

    It's powerband is stupid wide - 85% of it's torque from 1200rpm through to 6000rpm, max power at 6250, soft rev cut at 6500, hard cut at 6750. It revs cleanly, in a very linear manner, to the rev limiter, basically. this means you can go from 15mph in third to 80mph (where permitted) with one movement of your right foot. Magic Third Gear. And the gearbox is a snickety peach of short-stacked ratios specifically designed to take advantage of that engine. You can throw it through the box with aplomb, it's what it was made for. If you've ever driven a Focus or Fiesta, imagine that with a shorter throw. Lovely.

    The practical upshot of this is that you have usable power, pretty much everywhere, in any gear. Which is more confidence inspiring than you might think. I drove an MX-5 with 130bhp and all it's power comes in above 5000rpm, it was easy to get caught out. You just don't have that problem with the 1.7 Zetec VCT engine.

    The handling is sublime - proper flattering. No, you can't do donuts (front wheel drive, innit) but it's generally agreed that the only contemporary car that's noticably better than it for handling and all round ability is the DC2 Integra Type R - widely acknowledged as the best front wheel drive car, ever by most motoring journals.

    There's real feel, and subtelty and nuance to that feel. The front end is very talkative, so you know exactly what's happening there in terms of grip or slip, and as my rear bushes were shagged, I put poly bushes in the rear beam assembly. This introduces a lot of road noise to the cabin, but it makes controlling the - really rather playful, if you want it to be - rear end far easier as you get lots of seat of the pants type stuff, all the time. But yet, it manages to be docile when pootling through town. Yes, it's a little firm, but it's far from jarring. And on fast, bumpy roads, the body control is astounding - it moves around a little, but it never skips, slips or does anything untoward. Really rather special stuff.

    It has (smallish) back seats, a surprisingly usable boot (bigger than a Fiesta - seriously, that's why the back seats are small - they moved 'em forward), can get 300 miles from a tank if you baby it (I normally get around 200....), shares almost all of it's major mechanical parts with the Fiesta/Ka (so wheel bearings, etc are cheepy cheep and readily available), they still look pretty sharp all things considered, and it cost me all of £600 to buy. The handling you get from it, that's stonking value.

    Downsides - it rusts. The rear arches, particularly, rust from the inside out due to the...stupid way the arch liners are installed. just throws salt and mud into the arch lip and it eats it out. £200/side to fix.

    The paint really, really shows up blemishes, worse than a white car in my experience because that colour gets attention more than a white car.

    The headlights are fucktacularly bad. Dipped beam is useless on normal bulbs. Osram Nightbreakers help, HIDs more so, but that's legally dubious.

    Tracking/geometery - I've never driven something that is so sensitive to tyre pressure and alignment. It pays to watch your pressures.

    Otherwise it's never failed to start on me in two years, it's plenty quick enough for 95% of driving, it handles wonderfully whether you're pootling or hammering it, it's cheap as chips to run, mechanically simple, full of character (the same is true of non Milleniums to be fair - which are mechanically identical other than seats/other options), and generally a nice thing to have sitting outside the flat of a morning, glowing through the windows, begging you to go for just one little trip to that villiage ten miles away over those backroads...

    That, and I wanted to just talk cars anyway - any kind of cars - and justify my fanboyism for my car with some opinion/facts. :-)

    So what you got?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Why yes, yes I do. (was: Like your cars?)

      "I recently replaced the centre section with a straight pipe, which makes it crack and pop on the overrun"

      Ah, yes. Changing exhaust for "sound". Contraindicated. It's called "lean popping". You're burning your valves. Get your intake re-tuned before you need to do some very expensive head work.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why yes, yes I do. (was: Like your cars?)

        If it was running lean then the O2/Lambda/Oxygen sensor would pick up on it and richen the mixture.

  2. Steven Raith

    The manifold would make more of a difference, and it hasn't been touched. It always popped very subtly, removing the centre silencer has just made this a bit more aurally obvious.

    I may get it mapped properly, once I have sorted out....everything else on it. Which is rapidly becoming a shorter and shorter list, it must be said.

    1. jake Silver badge

      @ Steven Raith

      When you decrease the back-pressure in your exhaust, you have to increase the fuel-flow on the intake side of things to compensate for the increased oxygen flow into the combustion chamber. If you don't, you will be running VERY lean, which eats valves.

      Your car, like most modern cars, is already in a "nearly too lean" condition from the factory, in order to get better mileage. Thus the occasional subtle popping with the stock exhaust.

      And no, the stock computer will NOT compensate for the increase in airflow. It's not designed for that kind of thing.

      You need to change the EEPROM(s) and/or injectors/jetting and/or fuel pump flow (not pressure, VOLUME!) if you don't want major repair bills down the road.

      Always cracks me up when the CluelessBikerBoys[tm] pull the baffles from their exhaust and/or install a coffee-can muffler and pop-pop-pop away ... until they need a major rebuild.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @ Steven Raith

        Fact is Ford EEC IS designed to handle the engine "leaning out" as you describe. If the ECU can't handle the necessary fuelling increase then it will simply go in to LOS (limited operating stratergy) and light the dash up like a christmas tree.

        1. Steven Raith

          Re: @ Steven Raith

          No christmas lights here. In fact, despite it's very hard life, the car has been faultless in that regard.

          At certain extremes - such as putting a full straight exhaust on it in a wider bore and a different manifold- Jake would have a point, and if you don't tune it for it, you'd likely *lose* power for the reasons he states. But literally the only change is that the centre box is no longer present; it's the same bore, same manifold, same standard backbox (keeps it quiet for daily driving) so it's highly unlikely to cause a problem.

          Plenty of owners have this mod, have done tens of thousands of miles, with no problems (including some who have had the opportunity to have the head checked for other reasons - cambelt breaks, etc - nothing untoward found). Oddly, I did the research before doing it ;-)

          Much like with the 280mm brakes I've got sitting in the boot waiting to go on. Slight increase in unsprung weight should be offset by the fact that even with DOT4 (DOT5.1 is a bit excessive for road use) and braided hoses, they should pretty much never fade in road use, and should be damned hard to fade on track, by all accounts...

          Steven R

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is the secret to a quick car

    Take small car (e.g. Fiesta/Puma, Metro)

    Take biggest engine from the next car up

    Bolt in to small car



    1. Steven Raith

      Re: It is the secret to a quick car

      A nice idea, but it's not as simple as that.

      It works to a degree - you can put a blacktop into a Ka, even a 1.7 Zetec - but the extra weight will affect front end behaviour.

      In general, if you want your car to go faster, make it lighter, and make it stop better. The quicker you can slow for a corner, for the faster you reach it. The lighter you are, the faster you can exit it.

      I don't think anything off the Ka/Fiesta platform really came with a big, big engine (we don't talk about the 2.0 ST150 lump - a heavy and breathless thing) - but with a lot of work I believe you can squeeze a Focus ST fivepot in there - but again, at the cost of handling.

      Or, if you are really keen, you can just cut the bulkhead and some floor out of a Puma/Fiesta, create a transmission tunnel, fabricate some subframes, and then stick the running gear from a Granada 24v Cosworth in there - turbos optional.

      Some people have done this - the crazy bastards.

      It's not like the old days where you could take the V6 engine and squeeze it into a small saloon. Most small cars being FWD has botched that (RWD gave you a larger engine bay, as a rule) and most engines are quite tightly integrated into ancillary systems (security and safety stuff - immobiizers, airbags, etc) which doesn't make it impossible, but does make it harder.

      I quite like the idea of an AE86 Corrolla with an 1UZ on individual throttle bodies, though. Or a 200SX with the same engine....

      1. rhydian

        Re: It is the secret to a quick car

        For a *manufacturer* it is the cheapest way, and has been done for years, from the Triumph Vitesse (Herald with a Triumph 2000 engine), the original Cooper (Engine out of the 1100/1300), the RS 1600/2000 (not the BDAs obviously) and the original Golf and 205 GTis.

        If your only interested in making your own motor faster then sensible lightening and suspension work is the way to go, but when you've got to build 10,000+ and stick a warranty on it then working from the parts bin makes most sense.

    2. Martin Budden Silver badge

      Re: It is the secret to a quick car

      I used to have a Mk 1 Golf with the biggest engine from a Passat. That car flew like the proverbial off a shovel! It certainly proved the truth of a/c's assertion.

      The car I drive now was manufactured in 1959 with a 1192cc engine, it now has 1600cc. As the saying goes: there's no replacement for displacement :-)

  4. rhydian

    My old nail

    I might as well come clean with my own wheels, a 2004 Rover 45 1.4 (no sniggering at the back)

    I picked it up for not a lot (considering it was a 50,000 mile car) after my last 45 (a 2000 1.8) finally fell foul to tinworm after passing 150k. Yes, it's got the raw accelerative power of a dead pheasant and yes it's about as stylish BUT it's a damned fine cruiser. Get it would up to 70-odd on an A-road and the suspension (double wishbones from Honda) keeps it all in check no matter how much you fling it, it's a very comfortable and refined motor for racking up the miles.

    Reliability is pretty good (yes, the head had to be done but now it's done that's it for another 60k+) as the car itself is pretty simple and straightforward. Parts availability is spot on (much better than my old Alfa, with everything available next day) and you can just fling any old shite in the back with no issues.

    Next motor? Probably a ZS 180 (same car, but with a V6), as the 45 fits just right in the garage (I mean everyone else parks their car in the garage right?)

    1. Steven Raith

      Re: My old nail

      You're right about manufacture sponsored upgrades, but who cares about those? Screw getting£30k in debt to have something new, I'll stick to my sheds, ta.

      Also, no problems with a Rover 45. Basic chassis is OK, engine might not be the most powerful thing in the world but it loves to rev. My old man had a 200 TD, which was gutless, but handled nicely at speed, even if it was a bit shoddy around town.

      I'd have a (clean) ZS 180 before a lot of other cars; they are very well regarded in terms of handling, even if the interiors are a bit 'early 90s' in terms of build quality etc....

      Also, that V6 makes a lovely noise!

  5. JamesTQuirk

    Cars are the Solution to Climate Change !!!!

    All we got to do is grind all of them into iron fillings, and feed them to plankton from old oil ships, and plankton will eat iron, suck carbon, and car crap from atmosphere, its nearly a symbiotic thing ....

  6. Zacherynuk

    She has asked me to modify her... but I love her the way she is. (for now)


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