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Thread: Ford, you pay for more

  1. #1
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    Default Ford, you pay for more

    Ford gives you more. That was the company's strapline in the 1980s. A friend's dad mentioned how he didn't like Ford back in the 1980s and he preferred Japanese cars instead. With Ford you had to pay extra for this, that, and the other, and it all added up, whereas Japanese cars had more stuff fitted as standard. Ford was only cheap if you wanted a basic model. If you selected most of the extras then you often ended up paying more than a Japanese car with the same features, and the Japanese car was usually better built and more reliable.

    Let's go back to August 1983. Margaret Thatcher was a hero PM and the Ford Escort was Britain's best selling car. Ford had given their hot-hatch Escort another shot of adrenaline with fuel injection at the end of 1982, creating the legendary XR3i.

    The price of a basic XR3i just in time for A reg was £6150.60, including all taxes. In comparison a basic 1.6 L model which the XR3i is derived from sold for £5058.60. It may come as a surprise that the (infamous) clover leaf alloys are no longer standard like they were on the old XR3, so will increase the price a bit to £6278.09. With hindsight, you would have probably picked some more stylish aftermarket alloys or the pepperpot alloys as fitted to the XR4i that still look modern today rather than the clover leaf but this is 1983 when alloy wheels were a rare sight on the road and mainly encountered on sports cars.

    If you want black paint then it costs an extra £80.68. Remember Ford's famous slogan “any colour so long as it is black”? Henry Ford must be turning in his grave!

    No XR3i is complete without the front spotlights but they will set you back £81.50. You think about buying some spotlights from a car accessory shop for half the price until the salesman reminds you that the wiring loom isn't fitted unless you specify them. You have second thoughts and realise that it's probably not worth trying to save money here.

    Front fog lights are also available for £70.53 and a headlight washer spray for £97.19.

    Central locking is an optional extra at £136.36. Once you have started using central locking you will wonder how you ever managed to live without it. It's a security feature as well. No longer can a burglar enter your car because you accidentally forgot to lock a door. It's something that your partner nags you to buy.

    A tilting / sliding glass sunroof costs £288.98 although it's a standard fitment on the Ghia. An expensive option but one of the latest and greatest design trends of 1980s cars before air conditioning was available for most cars – including the XR3i. You shudder at the price but then think about racing down the highway with the wind in your hair and how on stifling hot days the interior is cool and comfortable. It's the next best thing to a Cabriolet and the fact that it's even an option on the L model persuades you to buy it.

    Tinted glass is £43.08 and also standard on Ghia. Undecided on this one until your partner comments about their sensitive skin and you realise that cars with tinted windows look meaner and cooler than those without. It's one of the cheaper options so you can't really refuse it.

    The salesman then offers you the options of electric front windows at £161.41 and opening rear quarter window at £36.83. You pick the opening rear windows because it's another cheap option and passengers in the back might appreciate some fresh air. The electric front windows aren't cheap but they are fun to use and save your wrists from repetitive strain injury, so you can't resist them.

    Rear seat belts are extra at £89.93. You were about to give them a miss until your partner stresses that you must not compromise on safety. In a decision between ninety quid or a nasty accident (an image forms in your mind of a kid thrown through a car windscreen!) then there is just no contest. The seatbelts win.

    The XR3i, like many Fords from the early to mid 1980s, was fitted with a basic P21 'snap, crackle, and pop' LW / MW radio with two knobs and a row of push buttons between them. This has about as much street cred as the xylophone you used to play in primary school. Fine for old codgers who want to listen to cricket on Radio 4 but FM and a cassette player are essential features for anybody with musical tastes. An upgrade to the SRT 32P – which is a P21 with FM and a cassette player – is a pricey option at £261.59 although a fully electronic ESRT 32PS stereo radio cassette player is also available at an eye watering £315.45. At these prices it's unsurprising that many buyers opt for the miserable P21 then install an aftermarket stereo of their choice that's better and / or cheaper than the Ford offerings. Aftermarket car audio was big business at the time.

    An electrically operated radio aerial is convenient (and potentially rude!) so at just £43.85 you feel compelled to buy it.

    Customers who select both the electrically operated radio aerial and the tilting / sliding glass sunroof are eligible for an Executive Pack which costs £334.56, a few pounds more than the individual items, but provides a significant discount on the stereos - £118.37 for the SRT 32P or £172.20 for the ESRT 32PS. You select the electronic one. Not quite a Blaupunkt but undeniably a bargain at this price.

    The total cost £7582.36. You decide that you want a red car which reduces the price slightly to £7501.68. That's still £1351.08 on extras, or nearly 22% of the cost of a basic plain XR3i. Apart from the Executive Pack enabling you to buy a stereo at a huge discount, the only other consolation is that a 5 speed gearbox is now standard.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Ford, you pay for more

    Ford used to do this a lot, though the higher spec cars normally had a lot of accessories as standard.

    The basic specs ones only seemed to exist to get potential customers into the dealerships, where they could be talked into buying something with more features.
    The Trickster On The Roof

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Ford, you pay for more

    Recently bought the new Mazda 3 sport fastback, it has every concievable extra for both safety and luxury at NO EXTRA COST, the price you see is the price you pay. Reliability, comfort and economy are all exceptional.
    If Ford and others are charging extra for safety features walk away
    ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN IN THE NEXT HALF HOUR.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Ford, you pay for more

    Back in the 1980s base model cars were very spartan by the standards of today, but loading a new car with extras has always been ridiculously expensive. I was at college with a guy whose dad was a manger at Vauxhall Ellesmere Port (late 1980s) and his advice was to stick to base models if you wanted value for money or mid-spec cars if you wanted more toys. Avoid the top-end models as these are overpriced for what you get and never load a base model with extras. I bought a new Toyota Auris Touring Sports (a mid-spec model) in January which has everything anyone could possibly want and am delighted with it. The salesman said the base models are slow sellers with the mid-range Auris and Avensis but more popular with the smaller Yaris and Aygo.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Ford, you pay for more

    When I bought my Nissan Micra I went for a reasonably high spec one to get all the features I wanted.

    This was a "nearly new" end of line car with just the delivery mileage, but had sat around at the dealers for months, so I couldn't really add any more spec to it.
    The Trickster On The Roof

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Ford, you pay for more

    I think that Ford heavily committed itself to the fleet buyers market in the 1980s which is why low spec Escorts and Sierras were big sellers. Ford appeared to become more generous with extras and accessories in the second half of the 1980s. By 1988ish an electronic stereo radio cassette player with FM was standard on all but the most basic spec cars, and sunroofs, central locking, and electric windows were now standard on several mid spec cars. The XR3i was a car that Ford could make more profit than it really should by making so many features optional extras. In contrast, the Orion Ghia Injection had far more stuff as standard.

    Japanese cars tended to be bought by private buyers in the 1980s so models with lots of accessories and extras as standard were very attractive.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Ford, you pay for more

    Good equipment levels at attractive prices was how Japanese brands established themselves. The cars were reliable and bulletproof but there was a lot of anti-Japanese prejudice (including in the media) that had to be overcome to enable them to gain a foothold in the market. Getting that initial small group of customers who were happy with their cars and the value for money they offered meant word quickly spread and a trickle became a flood within a decade.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Ford, you pay for more

    Japanese manufacturers did not make much effort to capture the fleet buyers in the 1980s. Even today Japanese fleet and company cars are uncommon despite some Nissan, Toyota, and Honda models being manufactured in Britain.

    It's unclear whether it was the Mk3 Ford Escort or the Mk2 Vauxhall Cavalier (possibly both) that destroyed the theory that fleet buyers would only pick RWD cars. I have wondered if Ford was (possibly unintentionally) clever by selling a FWD Escort and Orion at the same time as the RWD Cortina and Sierra. There is a cynical theory that the Orion only existed because Cortina owners were put off by the jellymould shape of the Sierra. Originally the Orion was only sold in a GL, Ghia, and Ghia injection spec and the more spartan L model didn't appear until later as a result of consumer demand.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Ford, you pay for more

    Quote Originally Posted by CrystalBall View Post
    Good equipment levels at attractive prices was how Japanese brands established themselves. The cars were reliable and bulletproof but there was a lot of anti-Japanese prejudice (including in the media) that had to be overcome to enable them to gain a foothold in the market. Getting that initial small group of customers who were happy with their cars and the value for money they offered meant word quickly spread and a trickle became a flood within a decade.
    Some of the Japanese makes started out in the UK selling through the smaller dealerships that British Leyland had de-franchised. Often these were family run businesses in smaller towns & managed to keep their customers
    The Trickster On The Roof

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Ford, you pay for more

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard1978 View Post
    Some of the Japanese makes started out in the UK selling through the smaller dealerships that British Leyland had de-franchised. Often these were family run businesses in smaller towns & managed to keep their customers
    Very true. Following the creation of BL most towns with separate Rover, Triumph, Jaguar, and BMC dealers found that they didn't need four BL dealers which threw open the door for some of them to switch to selling Japanese cars. A certain local Honda dealer was in 1970 a Triumph dealer which later became a BL dealer then decided to switch to Honda after the Triumph Acclaim ceased production because that car was technically a Honda and they no longer wanted to service BMC cars (which they hated) or Austin Maestros but they would have the tools and the knowledge to service Honda derived Rovers.

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