Beautifully ugly: Ford Scorpio Ultima estate

90s cars Ford General Bunk

When the moment comes, parting with this Ford Scorpio Ultima estate will be such sweet sorrow, not least because it’s one of the last tangible links to my dearly departed Dad.

But I also ran this modern-day Ford Edsel on and off for the past 18 months and came to thoroughly like and respect this much-maligned car to the point where I almost bought it off him.

A classic chopper and a changer when it came to cars over the course of his life, this Scorpio held the distinction, I believe, of being the only car he kept for more than five years with the exception of a 1989 Fiat Tipo (check out Inspector Montalbano on BBC4) that hung on for around eight.

But it wasn’t his first Scorpio; it was his fourth after a blue Cosworth-engined estate version that he only got to enjoy for a paltry six months before some idiot ran into the back of it. But he rated RUI7782 as the best car he ever owned.

With just 33,000 miles by the time it was nine years old, this 1998 Ultima 2.3 16v, two-owner minter with leather, auto box and all the toys came with a bulging service history file detailing a no-expense-spared maintenance regime.

A solid LPG convert by this stage, he promptly had a top-of-the-range system fitted and thereafter enjoyed some 20,000 miles of very pleasurable and pleasingly trouble-free motoring for very little outlay until he had to give up driving.

Rear of Ford Scorpio Ultima Estate 

Which was nice because, once upon a time, there was little that this man didn’t know about motoring at the blunt end. Such as the time he forcibly wedged into chunks of wood into the rotting chassis of his Triumph Herald 12/50 to maintain a bare modicum of structural integrity (this may have been in the days before the MOT came to Northern Ireland).

He was also the man who, miraculously to me and my equally car-mad big brother, managed to convert the slush box of his spectacularly huge Vauxhall Viscount to a manual set-up by buying a scrap Cresta PC for the manual box, flywheel and pedal box, not to mention copious amounts of blood, sweat and considerable swearing (he didn’t do tears).

He also spent months cooped up in the garage undertaking an extensive body restoration and respray of a blue Fiat 124 Sport mk3 that we rated as our very favourite car. The sight of that lovely thing being finally wheeled out of the garage certainly copper fastened his status as our complete motoring hero.

None of these aforementioned jobs were done out of pleasure, he insisted, but by pure economic necessity. But when the family finances manifestly began to improve at around that time, he promptly fell from grace in our eyes after he traded the 124 Sport just months later for the car that was ‘designed by computer, built by robot, driven by morons’. Yes, the all-new 1979 Fiat Strada.

However, we were saved from the torture of that red three-door poverty-spec monstrosity after only a year by the unexpected arrival of our youngest sister, which in turn prompted the purchase of a new Fiat Mirafiori estate 1600, so that we could more comfortably cram all five of us across the rear bench. Can’t beat the old days, eh?

After a long-standing Fiat flirtation that took in a Supermirafiori estate, two Unos, two Tipos, a Tempra diesel estate and a Fiat Croma, he returned to worship at the altar of Ford with a lovely first-gen Granada Scorpio V6, followed by three more of the second-gen sad-eyed Scorpios. 

1998 Ford Scorpio Ultima 2.3 16v Estate 

He firmly waved off the cries of the Scorpio’s many detractors among friends and family of which I, shamefully, was one until I was later won over by RUI7782.

And even if he was a tad annoyed at the Top Gear crew’s choice of (who would have thought it?) a burgundy red Ford Scorpio estate as the back-up car for Messrs Jeremy, James and Richard on their epic Africa Special trip last year (not to mention their deliberate clumsiness that led to it being swallowed by a river), he maintained a stiff upper lip.

But he had enough of a sense of humour about it to enjoy telling a story he read about Ford’s pathetic attempts to complete the facelift that would be the Scorpio’s last. They had apparently taken the time to extensively facelift the front bumper and grille for the 1998 model but didn’t even bother doing the rear because the Ford Europe bosses had decided by then to stop Scorpio production and abandon the executive car market altogether. Ha.

So why would I not buy RUI7782? Even the man maths of importing and taxing this car to the Republic of Ireland, where import and motor taxes for older cars are obscene, refused to square up to our meagre finances. Hence my sweet sorrow at our inevitable parting.

It’s up on bay of e, where my Dad had stumbled across it in the first place, so I hope someone will bring happiness to the sad eyes of this Scorpio and give it a good home.

Ed speak: The Ford Scorpio Ultima Estate is currently for sale on eBay. At the time of writing, the price is a mere £435.99, which is measly amount for such a competent load-lugger that has clearly been cherished. The 1998 facelift model is the Ford Scorpio of choice, especially in ultra-desirable Ultima spec. Not only do you benefit from the subtle facelift, but you get all the toys and gadgets.

What's more, LPG tends to cost 50p less than regular petrol or diesel, so you can laugh at the ignorant people who scoff at your supposed sad-eyed big Ford. It's tough selling a car that belonged to a dearly-loved family member who has passed away - I know this from having to part with my own Dad's mint Saab 900 Talladega. 

Help John find a good home for his late father's car. Ignore the detractors and go your own way. You too could fall in love with Ford's beautifully ugly executive estate. You can read more about the mis-understood car on the excellent Ford Scorpio website.