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Cologne, Germany - The Fiesta celebrates its 30th anniversary this yearas one of the most successful small cars produced by Ford with more than 10 million units sold worldwide.
After the Ford Model T that motorised America in the period 1908- 1927, the Fiesta is arguably the car maker's second most popular model.
Ford was in a difficult position in the wake of the 1970s oil crisis with a tradition of building big fuel guzzlers. The VW Golf and Renault 5 were making their inroads on the European mass market. The Golf was launched only a year after the 1973 oil crisis and the Renault 5 a year earlier.
Designed by Ford Europe, the Fiesta Mark 1 was finally came into the showrooms in 1976 and instantly became a success, making its mark as Ford's first successful front wheel drive vehicle.
Available in 1.1 and 1.3 L petrol engines with an output of 40-84 hp the car was a nippy city runner with production running at full capacity at Ford's factories in Cologne, Germany, Dagenham in England and Valencia in Spain. By early 1979, the one millionth Fiesta left the production line.
The face-lifted, second generation Fiesta Mark II came in 1983 with bigger headlamps and bulkier design. The 1.3 L engine was replaced by the more lean-burning 1.4 L unit.
An all-new body shape came with the Mark III generation (1989- 1997), offering a five-door version for the first time. The top range versions also featured anti-lock brakes, electric windows, central locking and dual front airbags for the first time. The top of the range was the RS Turbo with a turbocharged XR2i engine and a top speed of 210 km/h.
Major restyling changes were introduced with the Mark IV generation (1995-1999). Although based on the Mark III chassis, it came with a brand new interior and exterior design as well as new suspension and engines. The new Zetec engines were available in 1.25 L, 1.4 L and later 1.6 L with an output of between 104-126 hp. The 1.8 diesel engine from the Mk III was also available in a direct injection version.
The Mark V generation (1999-2002) saw only minor changes to the model in the run-up to the all-new Mark VI.
The latest 2006 model is a far cry from the original Mark I featuring no recognisable design link and closer resemblance to the Ford Focus. The dashboard, often criticized for its 'cheap plastics' look has a softer feel. Optional extras include satellite navigation system, power-fold mirrors, Bluetooth and MP3 Player.
Although never as successful in Germany as in England where it headed the top sales list for several years, the city of Cologne has prided itself as the home of the Fiesta.
The cathedral city honoured the car in 1989 with gigantic golden wings designed by artist HA Schult. The car can be found atop the Cologne City Museum and is a popular tourist destination. The entire work of art weighs around four tonnes and each of the golden wings measures 10 metres in length. © 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
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