This year marks 45 years since the first Ford Fiesta was sold in Europe. Since then 16 million Fiestas through seven different generations have been sold across the world, making it one of the most popular Ford models.
Initially, Ford had had no desire to introduce a small car to rival the new Mini and Renault 5, determining that the cost of production was too high. However the 1973 oil crisis increased the public’s demand for smaller vehicles and, not wanting to be left behind, Ford’s design team started to plan.
Ford unveiled its new model at the Le Mans 24 hour race in 1975, before production started in France and Germany in September 1976. Initially only producing left hand drive models for the European market, much to the annoyance of UK dealerships, right hand drive versions became available in early 1977 and sales took off.
The original name was not Fiesta.
Ford’s marketing team had put forward the name ‘Bravo’ for the new addition. However Henry Ford II vetoed the idea and chose the Fiesta name (meaning ‘party’ in Spanish) which already belonged to the General Motors brand as it was used on the trim of their station wagon range.
Not to be outdone, the marketing team introduced the Ford Fiesta Bravo in 1981.
A firm Ford favourite
The concept of a hatchback, let alone a ‘hot hatch’ was not a much used term in the mid 70s. Looking back such was the appeal of the early Fiestas, Ford soon realised that a sportier version would be well received. It introduced its Mark 2 version in 1981 with the classic XR2 option following shortly after.
The XR2, X for performance pack available from dealers, and R for Racing, offered rally car style headlamps, improved suspension, ventilated front disk brakes, upgraded exhaust and of course more power. The exterior styling, the fun and excitement of driving such a sporty small car has thankfully not been lost in subsequent generations of Fiestas. Mark 5 Fiestas were the first to have passenger airbags and the first small car to have anti-lock brakes.
Packed with technology
The Fiesta might be Ford’s entry level vehicle but it has always been afforded the latest technology from throughout the range. Mark 3 sports versions, namely the XR2i had the option of a fuel-injection engine.
This level of innovation has been at the core of the Fiesta’s success - an affordable small car that has all the benefits of vehicles above it in the Ford family.
With one of the lowest insurance bands, it's the perfect first car and perfect family car and not many cars can claim to do both well.
Today’s Fiesta models are now available with Ford’s award-winning Ecoboost and mild-hybrid engines. There are still sporty options too for those that want the Ford Fiesta ST Line, ST2 and ST3 options.
The Fiesta range might be more comfortable and include more technology than it did in 1976 but it’s still an iconic small car that is as fun to drive as it ever was.
Our Pye team will be happy to share their Fiesta memories as you take a test drive of the class of 2021.