It all started in 1976, when the world met the Ford with the festive name, the Fiesta, for the very first time. Since the first model left the factory, Ford has produced more than 17 million Fiestas around the world. Join us on our journey to discover the history of Ford’s compact smash hit, which is still enjoying unparalleled success on today’s international second-hand market.
The launch of the Ford Fiesta was a response to the rapidly expanding range of city cars emerging on the market in the 1970s, which, thanks to their compact design and front-wheel drive, were quickly gaining market share in Europe. The first Fiesta was produced in Saarlouis (Germany) in 1976, following in the footsteps of the Mini, the Fiat 127 and the Renault 5. Later that year production started at the brand-new Ford plant in Valencia, with the Spanish roots contributing to the energetic name of this compact five-seater.
Five years later, Ford launched the Fiesta XR2 with a 1.6-litre petrol engine and 84 bhp. This sporty version, with distinctive decorative strips on the side, had a top speed of 160 km/h. The first generation of Fiestas, of which 2 million had already been produced by 1981, managed to make a name for itself among the lower and middle classes and won a number of (design) prizes. The second generation of the Fiesta, which was essentially a facelift with a new front and interior, was released in 1983. In this year, a diesel version (1.6-litre, 40 kW/54 bhp) was also launched for the very first time. This injection engine was to become a permanent feature of the Ford engine range for more than a decade. The sports version had 71 kW (96 bhp) and, like its predecessor, was called XR2.
In 1989 the Fiesta was completely overhauled, since the second-generation ‘facelift model’ was really starting to look dated compared to its direct competitors. The new Ford Fiesta, with a longer and wider body and an extended wheelbase, quickly turned out to be a hit. In Cologne, artist H.A. Schult even used it to create a work of art called the Goldener Vogel (the golden bird). The small car with the mighty eagle wings became an attraction for the many tourists who visited the city. And to top it all off, the third-generation Fiesta was crowned Car of the Year in the year that it was launched.
It wasn’t until the mid-90s, six years later, that the Fiesta underwent another revamp. Ford’s New Edge design first appeared on the jewel in its crown, the Fiesta. The fourth generation of this compact model used the chassis from the facelift model from 1989. Just like other manufacturers, curved body designs started to make their mark in the Ford range. The new Fiesta Mk4 with its distinctive round design and oval grille was available in three petrol versions (1.25, 1.4 and 1.6) and a larger 1.8-litre diesel version.
Following the arrival of a new model in the Ford range, the Focus, the next generation of Fiestas got a serious makeover. It had grown in all respects: the model had a less playful and more mature look and it had also gained a few centimetres. For the first time, the Fiesta was also available with turbo-diesel engines, namely the 1.4 TDCi (68 bhp) and the 1.6 TDCi (90 bhp). A long-awaited sports version of the Fiesta was also launched: the 150-bhp ST model. As part of this sixth generation, which was presented in 2001 at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt, a five-door version was launched for the very first time.
Seven years later, the Mk7 Fiesta took up the torch, with a new 1.6 Duratec Ti-VCT petrol engine and a diesel version with CO2 emissions below the magic threshold of 100 g/km. An ECOnetic model soon followed, and, thanks to a fuel consumption of 3.7 l/100 km, in the UK this Fiesta was named the most fuel-efficient five-seater. An award that quickly had an impact: in the first quarter of 2010, the Fiesta was the most sold car in Europe (140,496 units).
The most recent generation of the Fiesta was presented at the end of 2016 in Germany. Ford listened to the feedback from Fiesta customers, and the interior especially underwent a thorough revamp. All Fiesta are now fitted with Ford’s SYNC 3 system with touch control. A number of safety features, such as automatic lights and Lane Keeping System, were also added. The new Fiesta is also 7 centimetres longer and 2 cm wider than its predecessor. A total of six performance levels (Trend, Business, Titanium, ST-Line, Active and Vignale) and two petrol versions (the new 1.1 petrol with 70 or 85 bhp and the familiar 1.0 EcoBoost with 100, 125 or 140 bhp) are currently available.
What do you need to look out for when buying a second-hand Fiesta?
For those of you who are thinking about buying a second-hand Ford Fiesta, OPENLANE has put together a list of things you need to think about before putting your money on the table.
1. The gearbox in a Fiesta might not shift gear all that smoothly or it might feel a bit cumbersome, which can be caused by disconnected shifting cables.
2. The Fiesta can rattle, creek or squeak – and it’s hard to pinpoint where the sound is coming from.
3. The electronics in the Fiesta can also be a little unreliable: grounding for the accelerator pedal, a loose camshaft sensor, a defective main relay, a poor connection between the battery and the fuse box, sticking relay contacts in the radiator, etc.
4. Fiesta’ don’t like it when the voltage of the battery is too low. For example, the clock on the display might stop working, the radio might not turn off, and cars might even unlock spontaneously.
5. The end of the oil dipstick on the 1.6 TDCi version isn’t very strong; if it breaks off, the sump needs to be removed.