Yesterday I was stopping by my mechanic to checking on a minor issue with my 2014 Regal GS, and then remembered the venerable folks at A&A are closed the first Saturday of every month and was going to leave. I breezed past this innocuous red Ford Hatchback in front of the shop. I said to myself, “Looks like an older generation Fiesta”. A few seconds passed…wait, what? These weren’t sold here! I got out and took note and some photos.
Turns out it’s not a Fiesta at all but a Ford Ikon hatch. This is one of many derivatives of the global Ford Fiesta platform, and the Ikon was produced from 1999 to 2011, and refreshed in 2008. I really cannot say what year it is but I would say no later than 2010 or 2011, according to Wikipedia. It was produced in India, China, South Africa and Mexico, and came with various gas and diesel powertrains. As someone who has owned 4 hatchbacks and who likes little cars….I can appreciate the economy and utility this little car brings its owner. And recent Fiestas were noted for their nimbleness and solid driving dynamics.
So how did this one get here? It had Ohio plates but then I noticed it had Mexican DMV tags from the state of Chihuahua and the city of Ciudad Juarez, a large city of 1.3 million on the border with Texas. It is a long way from home but in fine shape due to the hot and dry car-friendly climate it lived in. I would guess this is a Mexican expat who drove it north when he or she moved to Ohio.
I wonder how easy it was to register this car? No crash tests of this generation of Fiesta in the U.S. My neighbor married a Canadian who tried to register her older Jetta here, and it was miles of red tape and $1,500 so she sold it in Canada and bought a car here. And I wonder what issue is causing it to be left for service? I wonder how easy it would be to get parts for this vehicle if this particular platform was not sold in the U.S. or Canada? While I’m sure there is commonality to some degree with Ford’s global platforms, I would guess getting parts for this would not be easy, cheap, or fast here in the Rust Belt.
Wow, what a find and so far from home; I bet it doesn’t even have snow tires. Now, I’m a bit confused about the Ohio license plates since in both photos I see license plates from Mexico.
Is that a rust on a cowl at the base of a windshield on the last picture?
No that’s the black plastic that goes underneath the wipers and the dark brown is dirt between it and the glass
It’s the same as my focus less the dirt
Nice car. I remember seeing a lot of these on our trip through Baja a couple of years ago. By the way, despite living less than 500 miles from the border, I rarely see Mexican-plates cars here. Maybe once a year, if that. Last one I saw was a new-looking VW Transporter van (FWD, TDI), also with Chihuahua plates.
This is indeed an older Ford Fiesta, after a very light re-skin to become a Figo/Ikon. We had the sedan version in South Africa, badged as Ikons, and the hatchback was called the Ikon.
The first Ikon (based on the Mk 4 Fiesta) was built in South Africa (at the Silverton plant) along with the Fiesta. There was even a light pickup (“bakkie” in the local lingo), with locally-developed Struandale-built Rocam engines – which were later exported for use in the Mk1 Ka and some other European small Fords.
I suspect that you just show up at a DMV office with the VIN of a wrecked and rusted Focus of similar age that resides behind somebody’s barn and nobody blinks in a state that doesn’t require annual safety inspections. Ain’t nobody got time to go outside and read a whole VIN number.
Unless you are some type of diplomat from Mexico assigned to the Midwest, I doubt that the local DMV would allow you to register without a fight. The next battle cry would be the insurance companies who compare VINs for compliance. It would be their discretion whether to insure or not.
As for parts, as long as a contact understood Spanish, I’m sure parts could be imported from a Mexican parts website.
I don’t know about Ohio, but the midwestern state I’m from never actually looks at or inspects the car and verifies the information I give them. And no yearly inspection either. So while I wouldn’t recommend it, the scheme that the parent proposes could possibly work – at least for some time. This would depend on having the information you give them not conflict with the information they already have in the system, hence the reason you’d want the information off of a car that’s moldering behind someone’s barn. A car someone else has an active registration or from a regular junkyard where it’s been tagged in the system as scrapped wouldn’t work.
Insurance would work the same way – they’ve never actually inspected and verified I own the car I claim I own. I’m sure they cross-check it with the DMV, but hey if the DWV says it checks out….
Of course, there’s always the possibility of being found out. I’m sure if you ever got into an accident there, or an attentive cop ran the plates you might have a few awkward questions to answer. Though I would give this a better chance of flying under the radar than something like a Nissan Skyline.
Neat, a visiting Mexican Ford in Ohio. As noted by Teddy, not Ohio plates, Mexican.
Here in central Florida, we get the occasional visitor from South of the Border, but I don’t recall seeing one of these Ikons. We normally see SUVs, and once a Dodge Neon (the one built on the Fiat Tipo platform).
On a totally unrelated line, I saw this morning a Tacoma with Alaska plates. That wouldn’t be so outrageously rare in Canada or perhaps a northern US state…but Uruguay? about 8500 miles? And it wasn’t a new truck, by any means. To have it shipped would cost more than the value of the truck.
Well, sorry for interrupting.
It would be effectively impossible to do so, with a couple of narrow exceptions. Noncompliant cars less than 25 years old (for safety/DOT) 21 years old (for emissions/EPA) can enter the United States for a maximum of one year if they’re owned and driven by certain diplomatic and military classes of people. They may not be sold within the US; they must be exported or destroyed not later than one year after entry. The exceptions are few and narrow (the “show and display” provision is for bona fide special-interest/limited-production cars or cars being imported for very short periods of time to be shown or displayed at particular events). For more info see this CC post and comments on another CC post starting here.
But as others have pointed out, this car hasn’t been registered in the States; it’s registered in Mexico. Mexican nationals can drive their own cars into the States, just like Canadian nationals can.
A market research company I once worked for has a Latin American operation based in Mexico City. They would routinely assign someone from the Mexico office to here to help coordinate/translate/whatever needed to be done. One of these operatives drove her VW Polo from Mexico City to Evansville and then drove the car for several more years, all of the time with a Mexico DF license tag. It was after I was “downsized” from the company but eventually the young woman married someone from the Evansville office and resigned her position. I was told that the woman’s family came and got the Polo and drove it back to Mexico, but I don’t for sure.
A update on this. My speculation on this being a Mexican national’s car was indeed correct…living in Ohio but visiting our area. Paul (the proprietor) said the car was experiencing intermittent overheating issues. His diagnostic reader was not reading the trouble codes in this car…it flat out wasn’t reading anything, which is a bit surprising. They were next going to look at the simple stuff first to see if they could find out what was causing the issues without the electric diagnostic tools. Otherwise, they may send him to a Ford dealer…or back to Mexico!
Tell your mechanic to use FORScan next time 😉
A few weeks ago in Seattle I saw an olive green car with Mexican plates that looked quite a bit like this one. It was at night, I was a pedestrian, the car was in motion, and I got only a very brief look at it.
I’ve see Tsurus in the Seattle area before, with their Mexican plates.
I’m pretty sure I saw this same car in Tukwila (south side of Seattle) the weekend after Thanksgiving. The same day I passed a VW Westy with European plates of some sort heading south on I5 north of Seattle. Tourists?
I saw it at NW 85th St., and 15th Ave. NW, Crown Hill.
Maybe travels around a bit. Those Mexico plates stand out. That’s closer to where I spotted the Euro Westy.
I see half a dozen cars a week with Mexican plates, I presume tourists. Just like you can drive your car with New Jersey plates in Mexico. Lately I’ve been seeing quite a few camper vans with various European plates as well.
For how long? I presume until your tourist visa runs out. And quite likely, long after that. Unless the driver does something really egregious, I doubt most LEO want to mess with the paperwork on a foreign plate.
A few years ago I wanted to buy my first new car. I could not buy a Ford Mondeo in the US, I went to a Ford dealer in Tijuana and gave him the story on what I wanted to do with the car. Basically he told me I could have my aunt “buy” the car and I could drive it around in the US; i could never register it because of the safety/emissions laws, and have traveler’s insurance the whole time. Nothing wrong with driving it in the US as far as he was concerned… I may take the leap on a VW Amarok…
I just had a thought – it would be funny to see this little car with Chihuahua plates parked next to a big Suburban with Newfoundland & Labrador plates.
I just seen this car exact plate and everything on Big Beaver and Dequindre in Troy, MI. Wow.