The search (pt. 1)

And as any other team, Team Serious Business also needs a car.  

There are some rules when it comes to cars on the Mongol Rally. The engine size must be under 1.2l. Those of you thinking the engine size wouldn’t offer much power can take a look at the Ford’s EcoBoost 1.0 liter engine. One can get in in the factory specs with 140bhp. And a small car with such power can be quite quick. 

The car should also be quite neglected. Some say it should be on it’s way to the junkyard. It should be unsuitable and comical. I my head this all meant the car shouldn’t be modern. I for one was very happy with this. I love older cars because they represent a period where driving wasn’t considered as a nuisance or easy. A period when drivers had to do without driver assists and posting photos on Instagram. 

Mateja had other ideas. She wanted to have at least an AC as we’ll be driving during summer time over slightly hotter places. I, however, thought the AC would be just another thing  to brake while driving around. 

She wanted to buy a more modern car. Something maybe produced in this century. 

Additional rules

While the rules set by the organizer are very important, there were more rules. Set by me. The biggest limit was the budget. I didn’t really want to spend more than 300€ for the car. Mateja also added another 300€. We had a huge budget of 600€ to buy it. 

But we still had different opinion when we talked about the comfort and trim. I was a great advocate for as few accessories as possible. And no electrically powered stuff at all. This sort of stuff can bring a lot of problems in an old car. Especially in a cheap old car. Even if it was all working when we’d buy a car, it might not be working for long. And even if it was the gravel roads and an occasional river crossing would destroy it for sure. 

I saw how resourceful the car mechanics can be. But if we’d have an ECU failure in for example Citroen C2 in the middle east a hundred kilometers from the nearest town… Well, let’s just say we’d have a car heading to the junkyard. Mechanical issues are (at least in my mind) easier to repair. The ECU can’t brake if you don’t have an ECU. We also don’t have a couple of months to make repairs. Mateja didn’t agree completely but has helped with the search.  

But it all seemed too easy still. I had another think on mind. The size. I didn’t want to drive around in a great big lump of a car. Or in a large car. Those sort of cars have a lot of space fort he luggage, but I really like a sort of a minimalist approach when it comes to travel. One large and one small bag packs are more than enough for me. For apparent reasons (such as surviving) we’ll need more luggage this time. But it can’t be too easy. 😉 

Nissan Micra K11By Thomas doerfer – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

A few cars are really popular with Mongol Rally participants. Nissan Micra, Fiat Panda and Toyota Yaris among others. Our choice of car might also be influenced by how knowledgeable we are on some type of it. Let’s take Ford Fiesta. The Fiesta Mk3 is one of my favorite cars. Mateja also likes it. Mainly the comfortable seats are to blame. 

Ford Fiesta Mk3 By Rudolf Stricker – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

I might have mentioned I like cars a couple of (hundred) timers. I also like to collect (or hoard maybe) stuff. I therefore have a few (or five hundred, who’s counting anyway) car parts in store. Like a complete Fiesta Mk3 Si interior with some extremely comfortable winged seats. This interior is one of the finest looking ever to be fitted to Fiesta Mk3. Even though they are in extremely good condition I was willing to sacrifice them tho the Mongol Rally gods. 

Also, Fiesta Mk3 is extremely easy to work on, parts are cheap and easily obtainable. And it’s just modern enough it’s not too hard to live with. 

But Mongol Rally isn’t just about driving some weird old cars around. The car also needs to look the part. As luck would have it I also have a couple of nice (original) body kits for Fiesta which would make it look wicked. We both liked the plan, queued the music and began to comb over the ads. 

Years

Combing over might be an overstatement. We were waiting fort he right cars to surface on the internet. If anyone still think the 1990 was a few years ago… It wasn’t. 29 years have passed since. Even the youngest Fiestas Mk3 are 23 years old. And are known primarily by rust. They are therefore really hard to find. A nice one with the 1.1 engine especially. I know form experience there are perhaps only few nice cheap old cars around for sale. And the good nice old cars are surprisingly expensive. 

We have been looking at the new ads every day and were waiting for the perfect Fiesta. 

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