Our family has had the AU II Fairmont (not the Ghia!) for just over five years. Due to the largess of a previous government it is on LPG, so it was a good choice for our son on his red Ps at the time – solid enough with a couple of airbags. Only $2300.
It had 213,000km on it when we bought it and I replaced the struts, shocks and springs to restore the comfy ride. I find it a relaxing car to drive with nice vague steering (if that makes sense) and that lazy power, albeit a little diminished on that front now as it has near on 350,000km. I just put new plugs in, which seems to have given the old warhorse a bit more pep and better economy.
(Just to be clear, I do like all sorts of cars, having just owned a modified Renault Megane Sport 225 Cup – a precise steering weapon with firm but compliant suspension that corners like a go-kart!)
The sound system was fairly good, but I replaced it with a single-DIN Clarion CD/Bluetooth/USB unit and a convenient little pocket for more junk underneath.
Just keep changing the oil and filters, get the tranny serviced every 50,000km and these old taxis keep going. The emissions are on the fair side when run on LPG and better than a VW diesel. Plenty of room in the boot, even with the LPG tank.
A front caliper seized, so it was $45 for a replacement from the wrecker and we whacked on new rotors and pads – a few new swearwords invented getting to those brake fluid bleed nipples though!
Broken electric antenna eel? No probs – a new one off eBay and more new swearwords getting at the antenna motor behind the fender inner liner (never do this at dusk).
They are so comfy inside. Velour seats are the best, and I think less sticky than even leather with the little holes in them. Although the driver's side has a bit of a tear, so a lambswool cover soon fixed that. The air-con is ice cold on these, especially after I replaced a leaking heater tap that had locked on open (mystery slow coolant leak fixed too...). Plus, they have the rear outlets that some new cars don't even have now.
The mosquito net headliner: I tried a can of spray glue I thought had done the trick, but alas, next morning it's a saggy baggy elephant again. Oh well, back up with a dozen brass thumb tacks gives it the planetarium look!
The paint is stuffed on the horizontal surfaces, but I prefer to call it a rustic look. Speaking of rust, quite a few bubbles appeared under the numberplate on the boot. A screwdriver and rust converter put paid to that. Then the joy of an angle grinder and Dremel to tidy up before bog, orbital sander, primer and a $15 can of maroon spray paint from Supercheap.
The front and rear bumpers are scratched and have a few dents. Who cares? It helps when merging and for those people who don't do the zipper or make the most use of the slip lane (Why is it people feel the need to merge 50m before they end? Don't they know intelligent road planners design slip lanes to minimise congestion?). I am a reasonably courteous driver, but this momentarily infuriates me.
Anyway, I like that it is an ugly car, an unfashionable Ford. And I nearly forgot the steering wheel is so big, you can rest your elbow on the supremely comfy armrest.
Those bloody gazillion-spoke alloys are designed to attract brake dust, and when you clean them the spots just seem to be moved around, even with the pressure cleaner.
One of the suggested considerations for a review is 'What improvements do you think could be made for future models?'. We don't need to worry about that now do we?
So these are my subjective ratings. Call it a bomb, it doesn't worry me. I can pose in the next car I pick now the Megane Sport 225 Cup is gone. I am of the view all cars have some merit – depending on your point of view.