Ford Ka proved less

is more

WHEN it comes to what makes a true classic, sometimes less is more.

We have witnessed this in diminutive cars like the old Austin 7 and the BMC Mini. But in more recent years the honours have to go to the Ford Ka.

The strangely named Ka was one of the first modern city cars and was launched in 1996.

It has transformed through various generations but the original, pure design is the one which took the automotive world by storm.

It featured knife-edge panel fit and close-cut shut lines which was a new direction for Ford. It was admitted at the time that five years previously the car could not have been contemplated because the body press techniques that were necessary were not in place.

It was the shape of the car that fired the imagination of many. It was a mixture of fluid curves and was further made distinctive by the presence large, one piece, moulded bumpers and wheel arches which made the vehicle more durable and easier to repair.

The designer of the car was Chris Svensson who had designed a similar-shaped car when at the Royal College of Art in 1992.

The Ka was praised by the motoring press for its handling. Under the supervision of Richard Parry-Jones the suspension and steering settings allowed for hard cornering and high levels of grip, providing strong handling characteristics.

At launch, the Ka was produced as a single model, with a number of production options including air conditioning, power steering, height-adjustable driver's seat, adjustable position rear seat with head restraints, passenger airbag, central locking and power windows. It was almost predicting the highly equipped city cars that were to follow.

On driving an early example, I noted that this little car would probably change the perception of pocket money motoring forever and it did.

However, the Ka was not immune from corrosion and its early power unit was the 1,300cc four-cylinder Endura E based on a design dating back to the 1950s Anglia models. An old fashioned engine indeed, but what a sparkler it would have been in 1996 with the addition of the latest economical and lively three-cylinder engines.

This original engine was not destined to last long for such a new kid on the block and in 2002 was superseded by the more modern Duratec unit.

Costing £7,350 in 1996, this was a real low priced gem from the blue badge marque and a modern take on the Ka graces Ford showrooms to this day.


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