The Ford Ka isn't an obvious candiate for a make-over from plain Jane to glamorous drop-top, so the StreetKa came as something of a surprise. Ford gave it a great start, an endorsement from pint-sized Aussie popster Kylie helping it stand out in a relatively busy market in 2003.

Rivals included the Mazda MX-5, Smart Roadster and Peugeot 206 CC. The StreetKa was first shown in 2000 as a concept at the Turin motor show, with production versions produced in Pininfarina’s facility in Italy, built largely by hand and in small volume.

Tim Colliver of independent Ford specialists AC Cars says that they remain relatively sought after and in 2012 sold a one-owner, low-mileage example for £3995. The most recent, best examples (production stopped in 2006) can command up to £5000 but higher-mileage, older models start at around £1500. So purchase prices might be palatable, but running costs can be high because of poor fuel consumption ― 28.1mpg on Autocar’s original test ― and high road tax (£250).

Basic StreetKas do without air conditioning and come with fabric seats, but they’re rare. The majority sold were the Luxury model, with heated leather seats and air conditioning. Ripe for special editions, the StreetKa was also offered in a 500-model run badged Red, with a red leather interior. The Winter model featured 16-inch alloy wheels, a six-disc in-dash CD player and a colourkeyed hard-top. It was introduced in 2005 in a 750-model run.

That hardtop is a two-person job to remove, and you’ll need a garage to store it in. The manually operated fabric roof has few issues ― the earliest suffered from some leaks around the seals but these were improved with an early redesign.

Power comes from a relatively simple and robust eight-valve, 94bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine.  Problems with the StreetKa typically relate to the electrics rather than serious mechanical maladies. The coil pack is known to fail but, at about £100 to replace, including labour, it’s not an expensive fix. Loss of power can point to this, and it’s worth changing the cam sensor, too, if your StreetKa isn’t running smoothly.

If the handling isn’t as sharp as it should be or there’s creaking from the front suspension, it’s likely to have worn bushes on the lower arms. The bushes can be replaced, although it’s tricky to do, and complete suspension arms can be had from about £40 a side. Damaged alloy wheels can be replaced for £150.

Servicing shouldn’t break the bank. A major service costs about £150-£170 space is limited every three years, and an annual check is typically £120. Service packs of filters, plugs and sundries can be bought online for £60 if you’re happy to do it yourself.

The interior is largely stock Ka, which means hard scratchy plastics. It does wear reasonably well, although door handles are prone to failure ― expect to pay about £60 to repair one. Likewise the boot release can cause problems, this being related to a faulty electrical relay and the hood cover.

Plentiful parts availability, lots of owner forums and relatively simple mechanicals mean that nothing should prove too tricky for those prepared to take on maintenance at home, although niggly problems can test your patience.

What to look out for:

Headlamp units are easily cracked, but at about £80 for a complete unit they’re not too expensive if they need replacing.

Find a few speed bumps on a test drive to check for the known front suspension issue. If you hear knocking, then you’ll need to replace the bushes soon.

Electrical issues are one of the biggest problems with the StreetKa. If the engine warning light is on, you’ll be needing a new coil pack and could well be replacing sensors for a while yet to get that light to extinguish.

The bootlid and fold-down roof cover can cause problems with the alarm and access to the boot, but a sensor relay fault is an inexpensive fix. Also check that the boot light goes out.

Door handles, particularly the one on the heavily used driver’s side, are prone to failing and cost about £60 to replace.

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