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Dave's 2008 MINI Cooper 2nd gen

Traded in my TypeR Civic for a MINI Cooper 08 plate (now known as Carly Cooper!) a while back as the running costs were just too much (as was the over stiff suspension!). Been running this around 2 years now and have to admit it's a great wee car! Mega fun on twisty back roads as it handles like a go kart, enough power to have fun with and cheap as chips to run.
So this is what she was like when bought, just totally standard apart from being optioned with the chrome line kit for the exterior and interior wise she has the optional mood lighting.

First thing to be done was to replace the timing chain, guides and tensioner as these are a known weak spot of the 1.6 engine in these. Next up, we go her racing stripes from BMW and Gayle and me fitted them ourselves. We were quite proud, managed to get them bob on straight both sides!

Next up, decided to beef up her rump! Was originally looking for a MINI Cooper S rear spoiler, but found a rare "Aero spoiler" which are hard to come by so bought that and fitted it. Luckily, it was already in the same colour as her roof, so bolted straight on.
Nice bit of kit, and went well with the black/sparkling silver theme.

One thing I really didn't like were the 15 inch alloys that came standard on her. Really wanted a set of Cade alloys same as i have on the civic Aerodeck, so after a bit of searching eventually find a nice set of 17's which had the spokes in black (which is what I was going to paint them) and polished rims. Not Cades but ZCW alloys, which look almost identical. Got them 2nd hand for the bargain price of £100!
Had to get special wheel nuts for them as the standards were too short, so got tuner spec ones which fitted a treat. Think the wheels really changed the look of her and go so well with the black/chrome that's on her.

A quick shot of the interior

Next up, decided I didn't want to get stranded with a puncture (previous escapade on a club run in my typeR prompted this!) so searched again and found the full space saver wheel fitment kit (including the wheel). Bit of a faff to fit but got it done and don't have to worry now If we get a puncture (although where we put the wheels that comes off is a different story!)

Future plan is to fit the Pure DAB kit to her (identical to the Alpine kit) so I can have USB/DAB/Aux inputs etc. Looking at possibly an induction kit and if the exhaust ever goes, that'll be replaced with a stainless steel one. No plans to lower this as it's my daily.

Follow Carly's progress in the Members Cars area of the forum.
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  • Dave

    Ford Focus Mk1

      Engine Size: 1989cc
      Engine type: 4 cylinder
      Fuel type: Petrol
      Power: 171 bhp
      0 - 60 MPH: 8.2secs
      Top Speed: 134mph
      Fuel economy (average): 31.0mpg
      Specs based on: 2.0


    The original Ford Focus mk1 was a ground breaker styling wise when Ford released it onto the market in 1998. Bold fresh styling which was totally modern and sharp compared to the older dated looks of the mk6 Escort it replaced put it ahead of more mundane looking rivals. Available as a 3 door/5 door hatchback,  5 door estate or later a 4 door saloon, it was a versatile range which catered for everyone. With a vast range of interior options, engines and options list it also appealed to the buyers and became an instant success. And it drove well too! With decent performance and razor sharp handling, it was also a car you could have fun in and it paved the way for the ST and RS performance models. It still looks fresh even today!


    Focus_mk1_rear.jpg.78920d291e4744e326585e5b627c3352.jpgAs mentioned above, the style of the Focus is one which has aged really well. For a medium sized family car, the Focus was a great looking car. They seem to have proved good rust wise, although neglected examples did surrender to the dreaded tin worm. This has seen numbers fall massively, along with the fact that nobody thought of it one day becoming a classic (ST and RS models aside) so a lot have been run into the ground and scrapped. One area rust is an issue (as with most cars it seems) are the rear arches and also the front arches. The sills have also been known to rust, along with the bottoms of the doors. Inspect these areas carefully. Due to the sleek shape of the front, bonnets can suffer from stone chip damage, which left untreated, will rust. Where fitted, the front fog lamps can also suffer from damage caused by stones being thrown up by vehicles in front, so check these are intact as they can be expensive/time consuming to replace.

    Focus_mk1_bonnet_lock.jpg.0150f19563ae1f059c6a462fc3405699.jpgAnother known issue is the bonnet lock. To open the bonnet on the Focus is done with the key. On the front grill, the Ford badge flips to the side, revealing the lock. You insert the key, turn anticlockwise (which pops the bonnet) then turn clockwise and lift the bonnet to open. While it's a neat feature, the lock itself is badly designed. There is a rod which has a plastic bit at each end that goes from the lock to the mechanism for the bonnet itself. Unfortunately, the plastic does through time break, meaning you have no way of opening the bonnet! To fix it means replacing the whole lock and rod assembly, which is a very tricky and time consuming job. There are videos on Youtube showing how to do this. So check the lock works!


    focus_mk1_18_zetec_engine.jpg.6cfe56c4b8d94b0ca58b5b07c0a4443a.jpgThere were a host of petrol engines available, from the basic 1.4cc and 1.6 Zetec-SE engines, to the 1.8 and 2.0 Zetec engines. Ford also offered a 1.8 turbo diesel which will soldier on for mega mileages. All engines are reliable, although the 1.4 is perhaps too small for the size of car it was pulling. Pick of the bunch would be the 1.8 Zetec engine (unless you can stretch to the ST/RS, which were both really powerful strong units) All require the timing belt changed. Ford recommends every 100k miles/10years but it's more preferable to change at 70k miles/7 years.  All engines should pull strongly through the gears. There should be now signs of smoke and if there is any it may mean the valve stem seals are on their way out or piston rings are failing. Diesels do tend to be a bit smoky, but excessive smoke can point to the turbo/turbo seals being shot. As always, check for service history. A neglected example will almost certainly be ripe for problems. Regular oil and filter changes will keep these engines on song for very high mileages. As with most cars of the era, it's the electronics/computer controlled things that tend to give the most issues. Make sure there are no warning lights on!


    FocusST_interior.jpg.395a429fd16c485026796a8dd10104ad.jpgThe interior in the Focus is a really nice place to be. The seats are comfortable, and available in a wide variety of coverings including leather. The interior also appears to wear well, hinting at the better quality of plastics/materials used on the Focus. There will however be the usual creaks and rattles as most fittings were just the usual plastic clips/push fittings that have become the norm throughout the car industry. Great when they're new, but loosen off through time causing annoying squeaks!

    Equipment wise, Ford offered a fair bit more as standard compared to it's rivals. Electric windows on all but the most basic models, air con, heated front screens (usually part of the "climate" pack), electric mirrors, central locking etc. Mostly the electrics are fine and most faults tend to be from bad earth connections. Check all the electric gizmos work though as tracing/finding a fault can be a pain.




    As it's a medium family car, practicality is built into it's DNA. With room for 5 adults, safety features such as driver/passenger airbags, decent equipment levels, a good sized boot (especially the estate!) plus storage in the cabin, decent power and great handling, it's a great all round car and a great modern classic. Bag an RS/ST and you can do the school run, the weekly shopping, a trip to the local B&Q and have a weekend blast/track day all in one great car. Prices for the normal models is still cheap as chips, but the RS models have already rocketed out of reach for some, with the ST's closely behind. Another one to buy now or regret it later.


    Edited by Dave

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    Performance: 4 Handling: 4 Comfort: 5 Value for money: 4 Our Rating: 17/20
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