It was the year 2012. – The year that Felix Baumgartner jumped from the space (or something like that), Summer Olympics were held in London and Barack Obama was re-elected as a president of USA. But, none of those things were really important to us more than a news that my grandfather had finally decided to swap his old Zastava 101 (Stojadin) for something newer.
Zastava 101 was a fine vehicle back in the 70-s when he bought it brand new and waited more than 5 months for it to be produced and delivered to him. It was a Yugoslavian machine made for the people and roads of Yugoslavia. There was nothing really special about it. But, people bought it in large quantities for the main reason that you could not buy anything else in the country these days.
Anyways, despite all odds, Zastava 101 served my grandfather for a long time but it became rusty, full of problems and it was time for it to retire.
After the corrosion “ate” half of the car’s body, engine started to “cough” (sometimes even “bleed”) and you had to use both hands to change a gear, my grandfather finally decided it was time for a change.
Being a regular customer at the local outdoors marketplace, where people sell everything that you can imagine, grandfather started his quest there to buy a cheap used car that will last him for at least 40 years (like Zastava 101 did).
Buying a used car is hard enough, but buying one that is cheap and hoping that it will outlive you is something especially tricky.
The thing is, after just a few weeks of searching, the old man found his ideal replacement for the “Stojadin” in a form of 1999 1.3 petrol Ford Fiesta for just about 2000 €.
Well, Ford Fiestas are wide spread across the Europe, everybody knows how they look like and that they are not really expensive. Our whole family was excited and pretty much happy when our new transportation vehicle arrived.
The car was so clean that you could eat on it. Paint was so nice and shiny. The engine was running so smooth that it was hard to feel a buzz. – Well, at least in my memories it was that way.. But, the thing is, that the previous owner gave us a book in which he not only wrote all the services and maintenance costs that he had, but even the details of when he washed and filled the car with the petrol. The car was as good as a brand new.
Life and death
For the whole two years, many of us drove it (grandfather, my mother, me, aunt and even uncle) and the Ford Fiesta had 0 problems. Seriously! We spent 0 € on that car after we bought it, not counting minimal small service (oil and filters change). The car had no trouble going up the steep hills even tho it only had about 60hp. The ground clearance was really nice so you could get over any pothole, sidewalk, bump or muddy terrain with no effort
And then, one night, after few weeks of constant rains, the great flood attacked almost whole of my country. My family was not untouched either. The great flood attacked us over night and got into our yard, our home and our garage. The beautiful and brilliant Ford fiesta was flooded to the roof.
Because of this being a car blog post, I will not write about the damage the flood did to our home or the costs and the strength it took to fix and rebuild it. No, instead I will focus on something that died, something that we all loved, the Grandfather’s 1999 Ford Fiesta..
The grim days
After we finally managed to pump out the water and the mud from the garage, we left the poor thing in our yard for a few days so it can dry. When we tried to start it, it gave no signs of life. No.. the poor thing was dead and blowing air to the tank could not save it (mouth to mouth life saving technique)
We called the local mechanic for help. He towed the Ford Fiesta to his garage and tried to assess the situation. It turned out that there were many problems:
- disc brakes destroyed,
- all the lights dead,
- the battery was dead,
- alternator was kaput (dead),
- the heater was dead,
- spark plugs were dead,
- carburetor was fubar,
- and so many other things..
The thing was, we all needed a car so a huge debate escalated about whether we should buy a new one or try to repair this one. As grandfather was the one who bought it originally, his vote was the strongest and it was decided that we will try to fix the car.
It took various mechanics and electronic technicians to fix some problems. Almost all of the electronic parts were destroyed and unusable, it was not an easy job to locate all the problems and to fix them. For more than half a year, we barely saw the car. It was constantly in some mechanic’s garage. Even at the times when it came back to us, the very next day we would find another problem that needed to be fixed.
Many spare parts were used, much time was spent, but, after about half a year, we finally managed to fix our beloved 1999 1.3 petrol Ford Fiesta.
Grandfather says that he spent about 750 € in order to save that car, but to tell you the truth, it was more like 1500 € when you combine everything.
That little car still works. It has some hiccups every now and then, we had to replace few more parts over the years but the main thing is.. it bloody works. You can still travel 150 km/h with it (although, it’s unwise), you can still run over bumps and potholes, drive it when it’s -15 °C or +40 °C outside and it will get you from point A to the point B with no questions asked.