Piston Slap: What's a Ford Employee to Do?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap what s a ford employee to do

TTAC Commentator tresmonos writes:

OK. So I used to work for Ford and am now gainfully employed by them (again). My dilemma is as follows:

I am rolling on a Z24 cavalier that I bought brand new in 2001. It has 160K on the clock and the only thing I can see that’s wrong with it is a AC compressor that’s been on limp mode since 2007 (bearing), bad drum brakes due to my laziness (LMAO – SM), and interior fan’s lowest two resistors being shot. The twin cam has a bad coil as it misses at idle, but I could care less. The car’s exterior filth has literally out lasted my marriage. It’s been a hell of a financial savings for me. But we all know the twin cam dream won’t last much longer.

I temporarily moved to SC and blew my car savings load on a 100% rust free 1984 lincoln continental turbo diesel. I repainted it and have slaved over some wiring nightmares on it. I’ve got 6K invested in the thing. And I need a new mode of transportation. Foolish purchase, I know… but if you would look at the clean, rust free body, and sit in that Corinthian plush leather seats whilst romping on the gas to behold two dual plumes of diesel particulate whooshing in the rear view, you’d understand.

The Focus ST is coming out and working at my current employer has me torn between a new ride and being cost effective with a used one. When you work around the product, you want it. I love the fact I know every little thing about my cavalier. I know immediately when I need to address something, and luckily, it’s been just electrical issues thus far (I’ve rewired the entire acc harness in the engine bay due to cheap mexican made delphi spliced together sh**). So, with that preference (being weary of a used vehicle), do I spring on the ST if the Cavillac stays alive long enough? Or do I buy a lightly used Ford/Lincoln for 10K less? I already have a Lincoln, but I cannot find a desirable used Ford sans a SVT focus, though the SVT isn’t known for quality. What do you think I should do? I have an easy 10-15K that I can put down on a purchase. Used SVT focus or new ST? Or make my household 100% lincoln? I’m torn between my cheap habits and the desire for something fun, and I want something as trouble free as my Z24 has been.

I think you know one of my friends. (Yup, I do. – SM) I’m one of his college buddies and he mentioned you would love my new Foxbody Lincoln. Next time you’re in Detroit, let me know and you can drive the shit out of it.

Sajeev answers:

Your college buddy called me out of the blue to tell me about your Foxy Conti. He was there when I towed my Fox-Conti to a ranch in central Texas where it rotted for almost a decade, so he knows those cars. And now that I will be spending an ungodly/vulgar/stupid amount of cash to restore mine, I would be honored to drive your little BMW-Steyr-Foxbody-Continental at some point. And maybe give you a spare part or two for the trouble. Thank you.

Now on to your quandary:

I wouldn’t trust a used Focus SVT, mostly because I worry about a lack of upkeep and a ton of hooning under it’s belt. And because you are a Ford employee, you are almost obligated to lease a new car every two years. Not for corporate advancement or to “fit in”, although those undercurrents creep up in any company in some way/shape/form…but let me tell you a story:

I lived in Metro Detroit when I was a student at CCS. One of my friends, who was very aware of private school tuition, totally surprised me when I saw a brand new Chevy S-10 (that’s how old I am) in the student parking lot. I thought this guy MUST be a fraud, a brand spankin’ new truck? Turns out his Dad was a GM Engineer. And GM offered employees a sweet deal on 4-cyl 5-speed trucks…to keep their CAFE standards up?

Whatever, my point was that this little truck was only $98 a month for a two-year lease. No money down either, I think. So here’s my plan of action for you.

  1. Lease whatever little compact car they have on heavy incentives.
  2. Use the money saved over buying a Focus ST/fixing an SVT to tweak it with an SCT tune, bigger swaybars, Eibachs, +1 tires, whatever you want. It’ll still be slow-ish, but it will do if you make it to your tastes.
  3. Use the money saved to buy a house, if you didn’t already come up with a down payment for one in the Detroit area using the change in your ashtray.
  4. Use the money to address problems on the Foxy Conti…you see where I am going with this?
  5. Sell the Cavalier on craigslist before it dies.
  6. Worry about getting an ST Focus or any other hot button purchase after your short term lease on a shitty car is over. Because, much like the Taurus SHO, Focus SVT and Contour SVT before it, I see this vehicle getting discounted heavily…once the small market that demands it is saturated by it’s excellence.
  7. Have your cake and eat it too, via delaying your gratification.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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2 of 41 comments
  • SV SV on Jul 25, 2011

    2012 Ford Focus SE hatchback, Race Red, sports package, manual. That's what I'd get, anyway. When the lease is up, you might actually be able to get a Fiesta ST - going by the prototypes spotted with US-spec parts it looks like it might make its way over here, and would obviously be cheaper than the Focus ST.

  • Scoutdude Scoutdude on Jul 25, 2011

    Why can't you drive the Conti to work? Leasing a strippo Focus says I got pretty much the cheapest Ford product I could so it looks like I'm a company man. Doing mods to a leased vehicle is stupid and a waste of your money. Sure you could keep the factory wheels and put them back on but then you didn't get any use out of them and you'll only get a fraction of the initial purchase price. Drive the Conti to work until the ST comes out and get one if that is really what you want.

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