We are no longer carless, but the proud owners of a 1990 (limited edition) Familia. It’s a dinky little hatch, but it’s extremely roomy (like, far more spacious than the Levin) both in front, back and the boot. BF was pleased, because it’s a manual, and it’s a 1.6L so has enough power to haul our asses around.
No, it’s not our dream car, but like I told BF, that’s not what we’re looking for. What we’re after is something solid and reliable – not pretty, not fast, just functional.
But to be honest, it ticks almost all the boxes! Electric windows, good cupholder..and working seatbelts were also a plus. And although a four door would have been nice, it’s not a must-have at this stage of our lives, especially given that this car isn’t uncomfortably cramped inside. It only has 115,000 km on the clock, and prior to this guy (apparently a private dealer, only owned it since April, according to the report we ordered from carjam.co.nz) a woman owned it for 11 years and kept a folder with all receipts and meticulous records. She had lots of little things done, the kind of maintenance you’d expect, and I’m going to continue doing that with the car. She has brand new tyres from her warrant, which was done in April, and a brand new rego through until September.
The not so good
The seller was pretty honest on the listing. The things he didn’t mention were the passenger window only opened/closed from the master control on the driver’s side, and the extent of the rust. He said there was a little bit of rust along one side of the driver’s door. There was also a little bit more along the boot edge and under the lid. However, he and BF agreed it wasn’t structural. It shouldn’t be an issue for warrants for some time; BF and our panelbeater friend can work on it themselves; and at worst, we would just replace the entire tailgate in the future. It shouldn’t be hard to find a Mazda tailgate, or an equivalent Ford one. The slight clicking he mentioned and which we heard on the test drive is either the CV boots (not the joints) or steering rack, which we will get done fairly soon – as BF says, to get the car “immaculate”. He’s really wanting to look after it; I’m glad he understands how important it is for us to keep this car as long as possible and to baby it as much as we can.
Show me the money
The asking price was (oddly enough) $1733. Like I said earlier, my budget was up to $1500 for the right car, MAX. So we went with $1500 cash in hand.
But he said he had already received an offer for $1500, and turned it down.
In the end, we took it for $1600. I was a little bit reluctant. The rust scared me quite a bit. But mechanically the car was fine; it drove beautifully, felt solid underneath (I don’t know how to describe it, but BF’s Levin didn’t feel solid like that), had low k’s and had obviously been quite well cared for over the last decade. There was nothing else comparable in our price range, and spending an extra $100 I think was worth it. We could have spent $1000 and bought something with 200,000km on it, or something 25 years old. No thanks.
We then spent $109 on oil and new air/fuel/oil filters. BF did all the work himself. Then I duly noted down in the folder: serviced with all filters changed and new oil 😛
Plus $12 for the Carjam report (more on that below) and $9.20 for the change of ownership. Youch!
Just for anyone who’s interested!
- Found a fresh listing on TradeMe which looked interesting; showed BF when he came into the room
BF got excited, gave me a little speech about what a find this was and how disappointed he’d be if we missed out on cars like this due to my reluctance to act
- Got in touch with the guy to discuss seeing the car
- After a lot of back and forth texting, arranged to view it the following morning (handily enough, he lived three roads away)
- Ordered a Carjam report for $12, which told us about the ownership history, whether it had ever been reported stolen, damaged or had money owing on it, when it had gone for warrant inspections, whether the speedo was reliable, and when it was first registered.
- Went for a test drive. We looked over the car like hawks. BF did a really thorough check (so proud of him! He knows so much more now) checking the body for rust, dents and faults in the paint/bodywork; the exhaust for smoke or black soot; and all the bits under the hood. Asked a SHITLOAD of questions.
- Completed the change of ownership form ($9.20), paid for the car and drove away!
I’m definitely glad BF was able to service the car himself and change out all the filters, despite them being really fiddle and difficult to remove. It was a little nervy when he changed the fuel filter; he also adjusted the revs in accord with the recommended settings for the new filter. But we later found that they just didn’t gel with the car… it was revving too high and would over-rev after every gear change. Not nice. I told him it would just have to wait until the weekend, because he had work lined up for the rest of the week. But he insisted on doing it immediately…no way was he going to let the car stay that way! So when we got home at about 8, he popped the bonnet, turned on the outside lights (dim as they are) and fiddled with the revs til they balanced out.
Overall, I’m feeling a little tentative. I’m nervous to see how this will pan out. With luck, it will last us a good few years, but then again, luck has never been on our side with cars. On the plus side, our car knowledge has increased tenfold in the last couple of years, and we’re both dedicated to taking care of it and extending its life. According to the Dog and Lemon Guide, this is a good, reliable car that should last for many years, and being a Mazda, parts should be easy to get for it.
And now, I get to start saving supermarket fuel vouchers again, and watching gas prices fluctuate with a hawkeye!