In 1990 I was 16. I’d just read The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger and On The Road by Jack Kerouac and thought of myself as some kind of deep, misunderstood, Bohemian journeyman. So, i thought I’d go on a hitchhiking road trip to find myself or something. With my bag packed I headed off on my adventure.
Long story short, I found myself in Reading, thumb out, waiting for a friendly driver to stop and help me on my way.
As a young, naive 16 year old, stood at the side of the road, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I certainly didn’t expect the pretty, blonde girl in her tight leggings that pulled up in her white XR3i cabriolet. Without even a moments hesitation I jumped in and we headed down the dual carriageway towards Wokingham at over 100mph. She was lovely and the car was great.
A white mk4 Escort XR3i cabriolet with a white roof. Strangely I remember the car better than i remember her.
I’d like to say she took me to her flat and showed me a thing or two, but sadly I can’t. She was lovely nonetheless.
Many, many years later, my best friend ‘inherited’ almost the exact same car from one of his relatives. He ran that for a few years and I looked after it for him. It was such an easy car to work on, built in a time before electronics ruled the world.
Eventually, his job dictated he needed a better, newer car and being the top bloke he is, and having watched me drool over it for years, he gifted the car to me.
It needed a few bits, like the valve stem oil seals, and the roof had some rips in the usual places, but it was basically sound and serviceable…….and I loved it.
The XR3i suited me. It was old school, simple, fun, iconic and a convertible. In the summer it was brilliant. Less so in the winter.
As far as the driving dynamics were concerned, it was ok. After years of use and abuse it had seen lots of better days so was a little tired. The suspension was soft, the gear linkage loose and the interior was cheap, creaky plastic as far as the eye could see.
When it was box fresh it had a little over 100bhp, less by my tenure, and when you compare that to the equivalent modern ford of today, say the focus ST, time has moved on considerably. The current Focus boasts 247bhp, man that’s a lot.
I was honoured to have finally owned such an iconic ford. It was great fun and turned heads like very few modern cars do and It was practical, fun and cheap to run.
Oddly, one issue I had was keeping hold of it. People were always asking to buy it and some ‘scrote even tried to steal it one night. In the end, I passed it on to the next keeper.
With old retro cars like the XR3i and several other retros I’ve owned, I consider it my duty to enjoy them and try to ensure they survive for as long as possible. The value isn’t generally my primary
concern. With this XR3i for example, it came to me for free. I put a little bit of money into it and had bought a replacement engine for it (didn’t get ‘round to fitting it). When i sold it, i basically sold
it for the cost of the engine but it went to a very good home. Hopefully this car received the care and attention it deserved and will carry on raising smiles for many miles. I’ll miss it for sure.