Ford Mondeo ST TDCI | Shed of the Week
Well used but well cared for too, this old Mondeo could make the perfect winter workhorse
By Tony Middlehurst / Friday, December 11, 2020
Shed's outlook on life might seem unusual to some. He has low expectations about everything, because that way he can never be disappointed. He scoffs at the idea that 'you can be anything you want to be' for many reasons, but mainly because his application to become an astronaut got nowhere. And he hooked up with Mrs Shed on the basis that advancing age could never make her look more unpleasant than she already did when he met her.
Remarkably, time has proved him wrong on that one, but in the world of sheds there's a lot to be said for the idea of buying something that's had a few knocks. Unlike Mrs Shed, the beauty of a bashed-up motor is that it really is unlikely to look much worse in the future that it does in the present, so you will never feel it necessary to waste your life mollicoddling it.
Enter stage left today's shed, a dentilicious Mondeo ST TDCi in the fastest colour of Performance Blue. In an extremely honest ad, the vendor (who judging by the sticker on the back is a PHer) tells us that the bodywork is in poor condition. One man's poor can easily be a shedman's excellent though, and this car could easily pass for something rather nice if you stood far enough away from it. The distances required to achieve the same effect with Mrs Shed would involve booking some expensive time on the Hubble telescope.
The dent on the nearside rear door looks like the result of a naked man being suddenly pressed up hard against the panel. There's paint missing off the arch on that side too, but quibbling about stuff like this seems a bit churlish given the £1,150 asking price. We'll get into the mechanicals a bit more in a minute, but first let's remember the brilliantly comprehensive ST spec which still looks impressive today 15 years after it was first rammed into this Mondeo.
The long list included digital radio, heated electric seats (half-leather in this case, full was also available), cruise, auto lights and wipers, and Ford's superb, yet to be bettered Quickclear windscreen. The estate added a huge load space to the package and this particular example throws in a towbar to help you kickstart your burger van franchise.
The least appealing thing about it for many readers will be that it runs on the devil's juice, which in a 21st century context can mean a narrow powerband and plenty of work with the gear knob. The 2.2-litre lump powering this first-year ST TDCi generated its maximum torque of 295lb ft at a usefully low 1,800rpm. Shed doesn't have a dyno sheet showing how many more revs it's worth hanging onto after that, but an unspectacular nine-second 0-62mph time suggests that quite a few of those seconds might have been taken up with changing gear. Still, cog-swapping hasn't been a hardship in a Ford since the Cortina came out in 1962. Cortinas never had this sort of performance. Nor did they deliver 50mpg in general use. We've come a long way.
The seller does confess to a brief of roughness on startup. He attributes this to the smart charge alternator, which can be a thing on these cars as this PH thread will confirm. There again it could be a worn crank pulley which is very much another thing on these cars and which, if ignored, will terminate the engine.
Clogged injectors and EGR valves also lie in wait to spoil your day, but failing dual mass flywheels were less of an issue in post-2003 cars. Rear bumpers sag, leading to damage that's not especially cheap to rectify. We are told that this car has been well looked after and that a goodly wodge of service paperwork comes with it, so hopefully these problems have already happened and been mended.
The vagaries of MOT timings over the last year or so mean that its current certificate will be 18 months old by the time it comes round for its next test in January, but with only a slightly deteriorated brake line to worry about from the last test – since when it's done 13,000 miles – you'd like to think that there's a few more years' use yet to be squeezed out of this attractive (from a distance) bus. The owner says that he recently drove to Yorkshire without any problems. He must have caught them on a good day.
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