CC Lite: 1997 Ford Aspire

We probably remember the jokes:  It aspired to be a real car.  Its owner aspired to economy class.  After a three-day temperature swing of 68 degrees dragged Metro Detroit out of the polar vortex into an unseasonably-warm weekend, I could stand to be outside long enough to photograph this Aspire, still aspiring all these years later.

What to say about the butt of some unsavory jokes?

In many ways, these were a joke.  The styling was, to borrow a Britishism, naff.  The interior could have been formed with Soviet concrete, and the thing would get to 60 about as fast as Soviet concrete, despite the very aspirational 105-MPH speedometer.  This example sports exactly one luxury that I could spot-an automatic transmission.  Aspiring to economy class indeed!

So by no means luxurious motoring, but this example’s still motoring despite a bit of rash and some rust starting around the rear wheels.  In fact, the bag suggests it might be shuttling a young one to school.

The shadow of the Blue Oval’s “Glass House” and “Blue Lagoon,” the dealer frame from the Blue Oval’s own hometown, and the Blue Oval adorning it obfuscate its very international origins.  This car’s predecessor, the Ford Festiva, was a Ford-requested, Mazda-designed, Kia-manufactured Ford.  This more-appropriately-named second generation was a joint design between Kia and Ford, made again by Kia, themselves aspiring to gain a foothold in the United States.

Aspiring to be a real car indeed!

What’s left to say?  People rarely aspire to austerity, despite the occasional lament amongst enthusiasts about the death of the “stripper” car.   But, people do aspire to low payments, low running costs, and low maintenance.  I have a couple friends that, had this car been available new today, would have bought one (one who immediately springs to mind bought the most basic Chevy Spark the dealer had, and he had to learn stick to do it).  Most people, though, aspire to a decent used car if that’s what their finances dictate.

So maybe the jokes aren’t that far off the mark, in the end.  But at least one Aspire is still aspiring, still reaching for that star and dreaming that dream.