Back in the mid-noughties, after a slew of interesting but expensive daily drivers, I needed something cheap and dependable to get through a lean patch.
At the price point there wasn’t much available, and so this little blue cockroach became mine. What power it had was derived through a Mitsubishi sourced 1.5-litre, four-cylinder engine with a five-speed manual gearbox.
The manual had a deliciously vague and slow shift which made changing gears an entirely unenjoyable experience. 74kW, but to be honest, it felt a lot less and needed to be flogged to ensure forward motion. A combination of air conditioning and a decent incline would require a downshift or two and a mashing of the accelerator pedal to the carpet.
The steering was over assisted in the best Korean tradition and the ride was quite soft and compliant, with the trade-off being chronic understeer at the slightest suggestion of enthusiastic cornering.
The interior was constructed entirely of plastics and fabrics that would survive a nuclear apocalypse and as such remained looking factory fresh forever. No in-car tech to speak of, no CD player, no tachometer. A lying fuel gauge, a digital clock and an AM/FM cassette radio were about all you had for entertainment.
So why bother to write about it? Well, in the first instance it fulfilled its brief – cheap, reliable transport. I didn’t service it once for 20,000km and despite the starved tappets sounding like mum’s sewing machine, she soldiered on.
It averaged about 6.5L/100km, and didn’t ask for anything besides some front tyres, a headlight bulb and a replacement interior and exterior driver’s door handle which broke. They were cheaply acquired from a wrecker.
In return, I flogged it mercilessly, left the window open parked in a rainstorm and scratched all down one side on an errant piece of fencing wire.
It also turned out to be an excellent gravel/dirt road car – light steering, soft suspension and low power meant I did actually have some great, safe, driving fun when the bitumen ended.
I sold it on in the family, and it eventually had its chips after 160,000km, still on the original clutch and with nothing but routine servicing.
Sadly, the insurance company wrote it off after a not-at-fault minor bingle required a few too many dollars spent on it. In many ways, an awful cockroach of a car but you couldn’t expect much more from it.
Note: stock image used for illustration purposes