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Ford Fiesta History

1981 Ford Fiesta Festival Mk I.

1987 Ford Fiesta Mk II.

1990 Ford Fiesta XR2i.

The rounder, smoother Mk4 Fiesta.

Ford Fiesta Mk V Zetec

2002 Ford Fiesta Mk VI.

The '06 look.

3-door LX Mk VI.

2004 Ford Fiesta Team RS.

Ford Fiesta

The Ford Fiesta is a mid-class supermini car designed by the Ford Motor Company in Europe, and also manufactured in Brazil, Mexico, China, India and South Africa. It is now marketed worldwide, including Japan and Australasia, but was only sold briefly in North America. It is one of Ford's most successful cars with over ten million sold in six distinct generations since 1976 and production continues as of 2006.


In the early 1970s, European demand from consumers for superminis was rising, as Ford's competitors were launching cars like the Fiat 127 and the Renault 5. The effects of the 1973 energy crisis was also affecting demand. Ford needed a small car to compete in this emerging market. After research and many mock-ups, a prototype and project known as "Bobcat" was created, which would be the basis of Ford's new car, the "Fiesta". After years of speculation by the motor press about Ford's new car, it was unveiled in late 1975.

Mark 1 (1976 - 1983): Birth of the Fiesta

The Fiesta Mk I was launched in 1976. It was also a breakthrough for Ford as it was their first truly successful front-wheel drive car. It was also the first new Ford car since the Ford Granada five years earlier. The first generation Fiesta was also a "world car", an "Americanised" version being sold in the United States from 1978 to 1980 where it was classified as a subcompact car. The Fiesta's small size prompted American management to invest in what would become the European Mk III Escort introduced in 1980, and the first generation American Escort, introduced in 1981. Mechanically, the Fiesta followed tradition, with an end-on four-speed manual transmission mounted to a new version of the Ford Kent OHV engine dubbed "Valencia", named after the brand new Spanish factory in Almusafes, Valencia, developed especially to produce the new car. Ford's plants in Dagenham, England and Cologne, Germany were also used to manufacture Fiestas.

The Fiesta was a runaway success overnight, and the one millionth Fiesta was produced on January 9, 1979. The car was available with 957 cc (high compression and low compression options), 1.1 and 1.3 L OHV petrol engines and in base, Popular, L, Ghia and S trim, as well as a van. A sporting derivative (1.3 Supersport) was offered in 1980, effectively to test the market for the similar XR2 introduced one year later, which featured a 1.6 L version of the same engine. Black plastic trim was added on the exterior and interior, and the car looked exciting. The small square headlights were replaced with larger circular ones resulting in the front indicators being moved into the bumper to accommodate the change. In a stroke, Ford had created a cult car so beloved of boy racers throughout the 1980s. But with a four-speed transmission and just 84 hp initially, the performance of the early XR2 hot hatch was disappointing compared with later rivals.

Mark 2 (1983 - 1989): A legend

The second generation Fiesta appeared towards the end of 1983, which was essentially a mild facelift of the Fiesta Mk I. The 1.3 L engine was replaced by the lean-burn 1.4 L. The 1.1 L (1117 cc) could achieve a maximum speed of 95 mph on a flat surface.

A "Fiestamatic" had been rumoured for some years and the new CTX continuously variable transmission, also fitted in the Fiat Uno, eventually surfaced for the first time early in 1987.

The most bizarre feature of the Mk II was that throughout its entire production life, the fitment of an almost completely different dashboard was perpetuated on the lower-series trim levels compared to the more expensive variants, the sole common visible components (save for minor switchgear and lighter socket) being the fuse-box cover and fuel/water gauges.

The Ford Fiesta was regularly a top-selling car in the UK throughout the 1980s and was also popular in Europe. It was both well-regarded by men and women. But towards the end of the decade, it was getting left behind by more modern rivals like the Vauxhall Nova.

Although there were some XR2 TT models produced, these were cars that were converted either by Turbo Technics or an approved fitting centre, and boasted approx 125 hp (the car only weighed about 800 kg) with a large amount of torque, easily outclassing most other cars in its class. Ford was keen to look after these customers and realising the high quality of the conversion all the warranties were still valid after the conversion.

Mark 3 (1989 - 1997): Five doors at last!

Launched early in 1989, the third generation Fiesta was a comprehensive reskin of the old car with an all-new body shell. This addressed one of the Fiesta's most serious shortcoming - the lack of a five-door derivative. However, apart from the long awaited addition of fuel injection to the XR2 (thus creating the XR2i) and a new version of the Valencia engine christened HCS (available in 1.0 and 1.1 L), the old running gear remained, and the car was still uninspiring to drive compared to its rivals, despite a comprehensively-revised suspension system. It didn't deter Europe's small car buyers however; the Mk III Fiesta sold a million units during 2 years, but the motoring press was still unimpressed. The real star of the new Fiesta range, however, was the RS Turbo. It had a turbocharged version of the XR2i engine and could reach 130 mph (210 km/h).

Specification on the Fiesta range was much improved for the 1990s, with top of the range versions getting anti-lock brakes, electric windows, central locking, and, later on, dual frontal airbags. A 1.8 L diesel engine from the larger Escort was also added to the Fiesta range. A "high-cube" van variant was announced during 1991, sold in Britain as the Ford Courier.

1992 saw the RS Turbo being superseded by the RS1800 - as the CVH engine was being phased out, the RS1800 shared its 1.8 L Zetec fuel-injected engine with the 130 PS version of the then-current Escort XR3i and had a top speed of 125 mph (200 km/h). The XR2 name was also dropped in early 1994, and the insurance-friendly 'Si' badge appeared in its place on a slightly less sporty-looking model with either the 1.4 L PTE (a development of the CVH) or the 1.6 L Zetec engine.

The inclusion of the Zetec engine in 1992, and an injection of safety features from the Ford Mondeo in 1994 kept the Fiesta competitive. Although superseded by the newer and improved Mk IV in 1995, it was still sold in small numbers until 1997 as the "Fiesta Classic". It was then replaced by the Fiesta-based Ford Ka.

Mark 4 (1995 - 2000): Minor restyle

The Mk IV Fiesta was launched in 1995. It was based on the chassis of the Mk III car, but most components were heavily revised, including a new suspension system, which gave the Fiesta one of the best handling abilities in its class. The range was further improved with the addition of a range of new Zetec engines, available in 1.25 L, 1.4 L and later, 1.6 L forms, the 1.8 diesel engine from the mkIII/IV was also available in a direct injection, turbocharged version, (from the Mondeo and Escort, now marketed as the "Endura DI," vastly improved compared to the earlier versions) for use in the all new mkV. As well as the major changes to the chassis of the Mk IV, the Mk V also benefited from a new interior and exterior styling, albeit maintaining a similar shape to the Mk III.

Mark 5(facelift) (2000 - 2002):

A Focus-inspired restyle in 2000 was an attempt to address this problem, which had a newer face and a smoothed boot (trunk). However, this was a brief change due to the imminent unveiling of the all-new Mk VI model.

This also saw the launch of the Ford Ikon, which was a four-door Fiesta sedan (saloon) designed for India, where Ford was now producing cars in a joint venture with Mahindra. The Ikon was also introduced in other developing countries, such as Brazil (where it is known as the Fiesta Sedan), South Africa, Mexico and China, where sedans (saloons) are preferred to hatchbacks.

The later 1.6 Zetec S 3door/5door edition of the mkV is regarded as the hot hatch model. This is one of the most revered of all of the Fiesta's amongst enthusiasts, and is often mooted as the "best looking" of all the Fiestas.It can reach the speed of 132MPH. The 1.2,1.4 and 1.6 engines are the most powerful and lively engines in the range.The 1.2 can reach speeds up to 122MPH.The 1.4 can reach 124MPH and 1.6 can reach 125-132MPH. It depends if its a Zetec-S, Ghia or the LXi.

A common modification of the mkIV and V Fiesta's is the engine transplant of the 1.7 Zetec S engine from the Ford Puma, the subsequent car is often referred to colloquially as a "Pumesta." The 1.25 and 1.6 engines are the most powerful and lively engines in the range.

Mark 6 (2002 - 2005): Third generation

In 2002, the all new third-generation car was unveiled. This was for the first time, a completely clean sheet design, with no genetic links to the 1976 original. Most engines were carried over from the previous Fiesta, but renamed "Duratec" with the "Zetec" tag used for the sportier models in place of the previous Si. The styling was heavily inspired by the larger Focus. Ford Fiesta Mark 6 has been sold in the Finesse, LX, Zetec, Ghia, Black and Limited Edition variants.

Engines available include 1.25 L, 1.3 L, 1.4 L, 1.6 L, 2.0 L petrol (gasoline), plus 1.4 and 1.6 TDCi (common rail diesel engines developed in a joint venture with PSA).

The Ford Fiesta ST is the performance variant of the new Fiesta, capable of speeds of up to 130 mph (210 km/h) and hopes to relive the success of the XR2. To differ it from the standard Fiesta, it also has visual enhancements, including 17" alloy wheels.

This was also the first Fiesta to be sold in Asia and Australasia (all 1.6 L LX 3dr/5dr, Zetec 3dr, Ghia 5dr), replacing the Kia-based Festiva. In Brazil and Argentina, a Fiesta Sedan version was introduced in late 2004. A similar Fiesta sedan model, with a different front end, was released in India in late 2005.

A facelifted version, with an exterior restyle and a new soft-feel dashboard went on sale in November 2005.

Mark 6 revision (2006 - )

In 2006 Ford introduced a slightly tweaked version of the popular Mark 6 Fiesta. Although not mechanically different, there are a number of subtle cosmetic changes which have helped improve the car's look. The front and rear headlamps have been reshaped and the bonnet and bodystyling has been altered to give it a chunkier, more streetwise look. Inside, the dashboard has been updated with new "soft feel" plastics following criticisms of the hard, cheaply textured original, and the digital fuel readout has been ditched in favour of a new analogue instrument display in a style similar to the Mk.2 Focus.

New "optional-extras" now available include satellite navigation, powerfold mirrors, Bluetooth voice control and MP3 player connectivity. Another inclusion by Ford are the new range of exterior metallic paint colours. You can now choose from 4 vibrant colours including Apple Green, Amethyst, Tango Red and Sublime.

Mark 7 (2007-)

The Mark 7 Fiesta is intended to be released in 2007. It is expected to be a larger car than the current Mark 6 car, as it will use the new Ford platform that will also go into the Mazda 2 replacement and maybe a new small Volvo.

The car, as scooped by Auto Express, is expected to feature the new Ford corporate company look as seen on the S-MAX and will probably be sold alongside the Mark 6 until at least 2010.

Fiesta in sport

Two Ford Fiestas famously starred in the 1979 Monte Carlo rally - the British entry driven by Roger Clark and aided by co-driver Jim Porter and a German entry piloted by Ari Vatenen and co-driven by David Richards.

Both cars were highly modified with special motorsport components throughout and featured pioneering Limited Slip Differential (LSD) technology. The cars were powered by competition tuned versions of the 1600cc Kent crossflow engine - a later version of which appeared in the Mk1 Fiesta XR2.

The 2 cars worked well in the arduous ice and snow that year. Roger Clark did not set any records but the German car achieved 9th position overall - a very encouraging result which sparked demand for sportier Fiestas.

Since this there have been sporting and "hot hatch" editions. Versions include S (sport), Supersport, XR2, XR2i, Si, RS Turbo, RS1800 and ST.

Ford Fiesta
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