News : Ford Fiesta hits 35 with a special edition

Ford Fiestas old and new...
Ford Fiestas old and new...

The Ford Fiesta is celebrating two milestones in the summer of 2011, reaching its 35th birthday with a total of 15 million cars produced worldwide. But despite turning 35, Fiesta is showing no signs of a mid-life crisis. In fact, it looks sharper than ever inside and out thanks to a refreshing facelift.

The Ford Fiesta reached the 15 million production landmark this month, a figure boosted by the popularity of the latest generation model. Ford has built a million of the current model since it debuted 28 months ago. As Europe’s best-selling small car in 2009, 2010 and on track to accomplish the same feat in 2011, the Fiesta is one of Ford’s greatest success stories – appealing to several generations of drivers with its attractive styling, practicality, efficiency and performance.

The very first Fiesta was produced in Valencia, Spain, in 1976 as Ford’s practical and economical response to a fuel crisis that was gripping the world, and it immediately tapped into a small car demand in Europe and around the world. Valencia continues to build the current Fiesta production with Ford’s manufacturing plant in Cologne, Germany, now producing the majority of new Fiestas. The Fiesta also is built in Nanjing, China, Rayong, Thailand, and Cuautitlàn, Mexico.


Keith Adams
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  1. Good looking car, that original ‘Festa. Parked alongside the current model, you see just how much larger modern cars are. However, this was the car that made BL execs wake up and develop the Metro – which for a while trumped it! I’ve driven a number of ‘Festas over the years – the mk1 was great fun – not unlike a large go-kart – very low IIRC. I passed my driving test in a Mk3 – an unremarkable, but very competent car – horrid interior, spent a month with a rented Mk4 – economical, quite gutsy (it was a Diesel), but looked awful – blacked-out rear windows and nasty spoked alloys. Then spent a weekend with a Mk5 (the current model) – very impressive indeed – looks, drives and feels like a grown-ups car – I’d almost consider having one.

  2. Happy Birthday Bobcat! There is (was?) a very very early Fiesta Ghia in a museum in Norfolk somewhere – is it still there?

  3. Comparing the size of the first generation Fiesta with the latest version is interesting, as it makes you realise how ahead of the game Rover Cars was with the updated and repoistioned in the market Rover 25 launched in 1999. Back then the Rover 25 was ridiculed by the press for its slightly large dimensions. Now it is the norm for the upper sector of the Supermini market.

    How times change!

  4. The new Ka is the original Fiesta. I think every manufacturer these days have had to introduce a new small car as the originals grew over the years, Corsa is now original Astra size etc etc.
    The MK1 is still a good looking design and has aged well, and I still have fond memories of the MK1 XR2.

  5. Re: 3 David, you’re right, but it may have been fortuitous that the Rover 25 was that size – after all, they based it on the much larger R8!

  6. Yes, the latest Fiesta looks a lot bigger than the original MK1 back in the 70s. Shows how (all) new cars have grown. I quite like the latest version and it does look ultra modern. I seem to recall that a while before the current car was launched, Ford had plans to rename it – obviously didn’t happen. The Fiesta branding suits this segment anyway.

  7. Great, consistent product,albeit at times a trumph of marketing over engineering, however the real genius about it, (as with all mainstream Fords), is Ford of Europe’s mastering of making a humble model look so desireable in higher spec/sporty incarnations (Supersport/XR2/RS/Zetec S etc) – no one has ever done this better in my opinion.

  8. looking at all the pictures of the Festers, i still think the mark one is still the best looking car out of all of them.

  9. I come on here to get a fix of MG Rover but see a Ford press release lifted from Newspress. Come on guys, you can do better than that!

  10. That “Fiesta in Norfolk somewhere” is in the Caister (on Sea) Castle Car Museum, just North of Great Yarmouth.

  11. Not without a hint of Irony that the 1st Fiesta was briefly sold in the US and was treated as a curiosity beside the LTDs and Mustangs.

    35 years later, the latest generation of Fiesta (albeit the size of a Focus) is due for sale in the states and should be a big seller given the consciousness shift towards smaller and more efficient cars.

    The mk3 is the one that most people identify with, the mk4 looked horrendous with the frowny lights, the mk5 grafted pointy new-edge lights on and the mk6 was the first Focus-shaped one.

  12. @Kev Davis – any article on this site will promote some interesting discussion, and like many folks here I have owned a Fiesta in the past (a Mk3, but don’t hold that against me). Complaining about the content of an update to a site that contains as much research as this one does, and is free to use, is really a bit rich.

  13. I’m 27 and I’ve owned Fiestas from the off. A pristine white 1987 MkII ‘L’ was my first. When I got it in 2002 it had done 65,000. Spotless, but didn’t even have a passenger side door mirror. I loved that car, should never have let it go. I’ve had a Mk IV(facelift) Zetec which was actually a really dull car, and now I have a Mk VI Zetec, which really is a very competent machine. Will probably get another. I do still miss my boggo MkII though…

  14. So what are the official Model designations for the Fiesta?
    I would say the photo above shows a MK1 and a MK7?

    I had a mk1, was a terrible car, went like stink with the 1.4 Valencia/x-flow but the brakes were ‘ok’, the ride and cornering were shocking and the steering was so heavy the steering wheel actually started to come apart with the effort you had to put into it.
    I drove a late mk3 a few times, it was a 1.1 with SPi, gutless car, seats were horrible and the ride left a lot to be desired. Actually it just reminded me how good my Classic mini is!

    I passed my test in a mk4, with the 1.4 Zetec, it was a torquey thing and nice to drive, although it looked bland and miserable from the outside, despite being a Ghia! They sorted the looks with what i would call the Mk5 (same as the mk4 with a better looking front end.

    Always found the MK6 a bit dull looing and never driven one, but the Current MK7 looks stunning. Ford’s kinetic design seems to drift the bigger the car gets, the Fiesta looks spot on.

  15. It always amazed me how different the MK2 looked compared to the MK1, but it was basically the same car.

    I can’t edit posts, but it should say 1.3 valencia above.

  16. My Sis had a P reg Ztec until recently.. I’ve gotta Fabia vRS and that Fiesta round run rings around it when it hit the twisties! Loved driving her lil Fester!

    It started drinking oil and eventually went Pop… The scrap man had it and she got a boring Yaris 🙁

  17. After 35 years the Bobcat still looks fresh. Always saw this as the “purest” of the Fiesta family. Remember my Dad getting a brand new 1.3 Ghia in Stratus Silver in 1980, great car. The current shape really does represent a fabulous evolution of the Fiesta (looks great in that Dolomite’esque Magenta colour). Never owned a Ford personally, but you’ve got to love the brand, they sell and sell and sell.

  18. Drove a Mk2 Diesel for filling Coke vending machines in my area during university holidays in 1988. This car actually was fun to drive and I decided to own a 1991 Mk3 1,3i CL (German version) when I first got a “real” job. An Escort XR3i convertible and a Probe 24v followed. Now my wife owns a Fiesta Mk6 Tdci (90 hp) while I am driving a Mondeo Mk4 2,2 Tdci. This little white Mk3 opened my mind for Ford and I`ve never owned something else.

  19. Ah the Mk1 Fiesta – I remember it well. I saw Mk1s being built alongside Mk4 Cortinas at Dagenham during a school visit in 1978. I later learned to drive in an 1100L in 1981. Interesting to look at the pics though – the Mk1 is a neat, simple-looking design with a ‘happy’ face whereas the present version has not only grown somewhat but also gained that bulbous ‘safety’ front end (not a bad thing, I should add). Such a shame then that The Firm could not keep the Metro on the boil in the same way that Ford managed with the Fester.

  20. Two answer post 17, I got it wrong. In the UK the various generations are apparently known as…

    MKI- 1976-83
    MK II- 1983-89
    MK III- 1989-95 (lingering until ’97)
    MK IV- 1995-1999
    MK V- 1999-2002 (also known as the MK IV Facelift)
    MK VI- 2002-2008
    Mk VII- 2008- to date

    Which means I’ve owned a II, V, and VII.


  21. MK III- 1989-95 (lingering until ’97)

    Yep – for some reason it was sold as the ‘Fiesta Classic’ alongside the Mk IV.

    Also the Mazda 121 was effectively a Mk V Fiesta with a Mazda badge on it!

  22. Favourite spec levels of Uncle Festa’s of old have to be “Popular” and “Popular Plus”.

    We used to call them “Poverty” and “Poverty Plus” and available in such delightful colours as “Hearing Aid beige” and “Armitage Shanks Blue”. I’ve never been in any newer than Mk1/2, and have in fact never owned any Fiesta.

    Joking aside I have many happy memories of friends old banger first car Festa’s and I know they all loved them. I preferred my Mk1 Golf…

  23. I’m guessing that the Mk1 Fiesta must have been one of the earliest cars to feature an integrated front airdam or spoiler, as opposed to a bolt-on one?

  24. Mazda 121s were sold as rebadged mk4 ‘frowny’ and mk5 ‘pointy light’ Fiestas.
    (Alternately, the old square Mazda 121 was built by Kia and rebadged as a Ford Festiva for the US market.)

    Commercial wise, IanS mentions the van, but it also spawned the ‘Courier’ which was the box van version.

    The mk5 ‘pointy light’ version was sold as a booted sedan in emerging markets as the Ford Ikon.

    Speaking of the mk3 ‘Classic’ – does anyone remember the mk3 ‘Si’? It had a bit of a rounder bumper and a small oval grille below the bonnet. I had assumed at this time that this *was* the facelift (the effective mk4) before the frowny.

  25. I remember the Si version, I’m probably wrong here but I seem to recall the the Si coincided with the Zetec 16v engines being first fitted under the Fiestas bonnet?

  26. If my memory serves me correctly, the original XR2 with its 1.6-litre engine was the first Ford Fiesta derivative to top 100mph.

  27. Me and the Mrs have had four Fiestas over the years, 2 MK III & 2 MK IV, all of them did the job really well and were 100% reliable. I like them, the latest version is the best looking small hatch on the market. The MK3 XR2i, RS 1800 and RS Turbo are really forgotten classics and overshadowed by the 205 & Golf GTi’s. I’ve always fancied a Mk1 XR2 or a Supersport.

    As for posting non ARG/BL/MGR stuff go for it, it provokes debate, brings new points of views to the site and its always healthy to have a look at what the competition does differently.

  28. The ‘Si’ version loaned it’s badge to John Cooper Garages for his ‘S’ conversions on the fuel injected minis. He apparently saw one on a Fiesta and liked the badge so phoned the local Ford dealer for a bulk order. And actually it did go really well with the Rover badging of the era.

    The bumpers on the Si, looked a lot like someone at Ford phoned Max power and said “what are the cheapest Fiesta bumpers you’ve got?” It really did give the impression someone said “go and facelift that, but don’t spend more than £xx”

    The MK3 lingered on a bit in the same way that the Old Renault 5, and later Clios did. Renault replaced them, but continued selling the older model as an entry level car, Renault usually badged them as ‘Campus’ sub models. I think the Fiesta Classic was basically there to compete with these. Allied to the fact they were still producing the same floor pan and major assemblies for the early KA’s it was cheap to keep making them if they were selling.

    it is a shame though it took Ford 26 years and 6 generations to sort the rust problem. Fiesta’s rotted as badly as Metro’s.

    Mk1’s – Rear Wheel arches, boot floor, rear & front valance, front edge of wings, Bonnet hinges.
    MK2’s – Rear wheel arches, boot floor, rear & front valance, Bonnet leading edge.
    Mk3’s – Rear Wheel arches, front and rear Valance, sills, Doors.
    MK4’s – Rear Wheel Arches
    MK5’s – Rear Wheel Arches.
    Mk6 – They seem to have cracked it!

    Did i mention the Rear wheel arches?

    The front and rear valance problem was cured by the addition of ABS bumpers, but as i remember even the MK3’s didnt have any form of stone chip applied to their exposed Valances. As for the rear wheel arches, most other manufacturers had cured this by the early 90’s (apart from the 80’s derived metro) even Rover had sorted it on the R8 and even the Late Maestro & Montego’s were a lot better than the earlier cars.

  29. Thinking about the Si badge connection, does anyone else think the ST badges used on the recent models look an awful lot like the ST logo used by BL? Did Ford inherit it from their ownership of BMIHT (Gaydon)?

  30. Although I havent owned any Fiestas, I had two on hire. A 1994 model, then a year 2000 X reg Zetec 1.25. The Zetec went rather sprightly on the open road despite its smallish engine.

  31. Learnt to drive in a mk2 diesel. Can’t say I was in the least bit inspired by it. Liked mk1 XR2s though. The current shape looks pretty good…..

  32. The first and early second Generation Euro made Fiesta was sold in the USA from about 1977 to I think about 1984. Our version had the 1.6L ‘Kent’ engine. Many ended up being bought for their engines for Formula Ford and other racing cars. I don’t recall them with automatic transmissions, thus hurting their sales here in Septic land.
    I drove one all over Ireland on vacation in June 1984. I guess it had a 1.1 L engine, not much power and it had a hand choke – something not in the USA model, heck manual chokes in the USA died back in the 1950’s or early 1960’s for imports.

  33. I love the light blue MkI Van in the photograph. Stunning how fresh it looks, and how dated all the others now look! I wonder how quick the current model will get dated…

  34. Leon – Funny you mention manual chokes, i had one on my first metro and although my car is now injection, using a choke if it’s there is just second nature. These days any one under the age of say 25 has absolutely no idea what a choke even is! From what i remember the automatic chokes on the Fiesta’s were pretty tempremental, they were always packing up, a comon fix was to get a manual choke from a scrap yard and fit that!

    The ‘Kent’ engine had an even longer life than the Fiesta, originally launched in the Ford 105E Anglia (think Harry Potter), later gained a crossflow head when it bacame known as ‘the crossflow’ or Kent Crossflow, then when it ended up reconfigured for the front wheel Drive Fiesta it became known as the ‘Valencia’, then when it gained multipoint fuel injection it was again renamed the ‘Endura-E’, i think they went on to make a 8 valve overhead cam engine called branded as a Zetec.

  35. Always thought of this as a triumph of marketing over reality. What, apart from the name, do the current and original Fiestas share? They are entirely different beasts. To say ‘The Fiesta’ is 35 years old is nonsense, it is just the use of the name that continues. This applies to many other so-called ‘enduring’ models too (e.g VW Golf).

  36. Well in a sense you’re right. However there is a lineage from the MK1 until the current model. The mk2 shared much of the mk1’s body and its engines. The mk3 shared much of the mk2’s engines, even things like wheels and other components are carried over. Then the Mk4 again used many of the same parts from the MK3 and so it goes on. Of course the further you get from the MK1 the less there is in common, but then this is just like i have less in common with my great great grandmother than i do with my sister.

  37. The MK3 lingered on a bit in the same way that the Old Renault 5, and later Clios did. Renault replaced them, but continued selling the older model as an entry level car, Renault usually badged them as ‘Campus’ sub models. I think the Fiesta Classic was basically there to compete with these. Allied to the fact they were still producing the same floor pan and major assemblies for the early KA’s it was cheap to keep making them if they were selling
    I always found it amusing that while we got the “Renault 5 Campus” in France the long lived basement model was badged “Renault 5 Five”! I wonder how the language police allowed that one through…

  38. Off Topic a bit, what is lurking in the picture of the light blue Van?

    I could be mistaken, but is that an M reg AD016 MG 1300?

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