Go to any car dealership and you can be certain you'll come across a used Ford Mondeo - it is a fact as inevitable as the world being round or water being wet. Supplies of Ford cars are plentiful - used Ford especially so - with competitive pricing and popular styling just two features of a car company making arguably the best cars it ever has done.
There are two histories the used Ford Mondeo sitting on the forecourt could have in its logbook. The first history would reveal a mid-thirtysomething salesman with many motorway journeys under his belt (and many corporate lunches too no doubt). His suit jacket having been lovingly hung up in the back as it accompanied him on his travels and sales pitter patter. The second life the car could've had would be the all purpose, all conquering family pet. Muddy football boots, furniture from Ikea and mountains of glitter from a night out would all have come into contact with the Mondeo.
Whether the car comes with life history 1 or history 2, it doesn't matter. Either way the car would've faithfully carried out it's duties and has only appeared on the forecourt because either: a) salesman didn't sell enough and was sacked, b) salesman sold lots and was given a new Mondeo, c) family had another child and bought a people carrier. A good buy on all accounts then, but before you decide on which colour to go for, let me fill you in on the birth of the Mondeo and how it made Ford's accountants’ life expectancies rise dramatically.
Replacing an institution is tough. Whether you're singing Freddie Mercury's parts for Queen, acting James Bond in the latest film, or playing rugby instead of an injured Johnny Wilkinson for England, you'll be more closely scrutinized than the original. And so was the case with the Mondeo. Entering the showrooms in 1993, the new car replaced the much-loved granddaddy, the Ford Sierra. Despite its global market, the European arm of Ford was haemorrhaging money and had developed the unenviable reputation of making cars the accountants wanted. This resulted in poorly built vehicles that were as interesting to look at as a Monet in a cardboard box.
Things started promisingly (not for the accountants mind) as the Mondeo shared very little in the way of parts or design with its appalling 90's predecessors the Escort and Orion - resulting in high development costs. Top pub quiz fact: it was the first car to have a drivers’ airbag across the entire range. This forward thinking from Ford meant it topped many safety test standings and appealed to companies not wishing to give their staff death traps and of course families. Sales rocketed and it was named European Car of the Year in 1994.
One criticism was that the styling was still more cardboard box than Monet. A facelift in 1996 addressed this to such a degree, that only the doors and roof remained the same as the Mk I model. The corporate Ford oval was incorporated into the front grill giving the car a more curvy and playful look. Still no Monet but the palette was starting to take shape. The facelift was as well-received as Jackie Collins’ and this helped boost sales further although the additional outlay from Ford did mean specification levels dropped, meaning wheel trims were back and alloy wheels were consigned to the optional extras order form.
Over the next four years, with Ford's European fortunes taking a drastic u-turn for the better and as the new space-edge Ka and Focus models were being launched, the Mondeo was suddenly in need of another shot of botox. As the new millennium dawned, so did the Mk III Mondeo - the car that more than likely stands before you at the used Ford dealership. Although it was in the same design club as the Ka and Focus, it wasn't considered part of the ‘New Edge’ Ford design and therefore sat in the corner of the club looking restrained. A more expensive, Volkswagen Passat inspired interior is the stand-out feature, which looks expensive because it is.
Combined with further safety enhancements including the excitingly titled ‘Intelligent Protection System’ (IPS) which was a system that basically decided for you which life-saving features to use in the event of a crash. It was the most popular large family car for its entire 2000 - 2007 life-cycle. It is too early to comment on the latest Mk IV model, although it did find its way into the latest Bond film ‘Casino Royale’ for a brief scene, before being swiftly replaced by Bond's orginal Aston Martin DB5 (what did I say about following an institution?)
To summaize, the Mondeo may be the most popular vehicle of its class and therefore buying one will result in you being as unique as a Manchester United supporter, but it has sold in it's droves for a mutlitude of good reasons. The choice as they say, is yours.
Kevin Creese is an automotive journalist currently promoting http://www.sandicliffe.co.uk and their range of new and used Ford cars