Reviving the loyal company car


Its true to say I am somewhat obsessive when it comes to cars. Given my engineering background, I get a lot out of the cars I own but equally, I keep them in good shape. Our trusty fiesta has a colourful history.   Buying cars in Romania is not for the faint hearted. Many second hand cars are routinely ‘clocked’, whereby traders pay as little as 30 euros to reset the odometer, so you have no idea what the actual age of the mechanics are, except they are almost certainly not as they appear. I heard of a story in late 2016 where a trader bought two 5-series BMW’s that were used for Istanbul-Vienna runs on a weekly basis & had clocked up more than a massive 750,000km on each car. The trader reset them to 50,000km before selling them because ‘the bodywork looked ok’!

So those who know us will know all of our cars are right hand drive, bought in the UK and driven back to Romania. For good reason. Cars in the UK are around 40% of the Romanian price, are often in pristine condition & have been washed every Sunday of their lives, by hand, by the previous owners. So for a given budget, you can get a much newer, much better condition car in the UK than you can in Romania. Our Fiesta van was no exception. One owner from new, with only 100,000km on the clock, the car was bought for the same money that you can buy a trashed Dacia or worn out Corsa in Romania. Ours was a one lady owner, low use 7yo Ford Fiesta.

So after a long long search I finally found what I wanted. A two door Fiesta van, 7 years old with good history & near perfect condition. Being a van, it had only got front seats & metal panels in place of the rear windows.  So I flew to the UK, bought the car, bought a spare bumper to replace the industrial-van grey bumper with a smooth finish, white one to match the car. I loaded this into the boot, and remarkably, 2 students who were stuck for a lift to Cologne from London, plus some personal kit & off I drove, 2700km back to Brasov, in a little 1.4 diesel Fiesta.

The engine drive belt was the only thing that was in real risk of causing a break down. As the trip progressed, i would take photos of the belt every fuel fill up so I could zoom in to inspect the cracks. By the end of the trip I was checking the belt every hour, it had deteriorated that badly. As you can imagine, almost 40 non stop driving hours apart from the odd few hours sleeping in rest stops, takes a great toll on the mechanical parts of a car.  Suffice to say, the car made it.  Next steps were to make the car look less like a van, so I had the white back window panels trimmed in matt black to look like rear windows.  Later, I realized we actually needed rear seats from time to time so I managed to obtain all the trim kit to convert the van to a car, including seats, seatbelts and carpets, leaving only the heavy duty suspension in van spec.

Next step was to add the graphics. As you see, the car came up very well. But after 3 years of tough service the car was showing signs of use, running all over the country and even on a work-trip to Poland when Anne & Andra spent a week with Leech & Lang on a bench-marking exercise. Almost every panel had dents on it.

So, off to the body shop she went & had every imaginable part of the body repaired & painted.

After that, it was off to the graphics shop. Here you see the picture in its current form. it still has a little work to go, but its almost there.    Next steps, some brighter wheel trims for the winter tyres and some further graphics on the car.  After this, it had a new clutch, full service and various repairs including the window regulator. All in all, the original purchase price has been reinvested, but the car has become sentimental to us now, after giving such excellent reliability to the Property Management team over the years.