Ford is celebrating 40 years of the Fiesta, so we thought what better way to acknowledge the milestone than with 10 things you may not know.
We hate to break it to you, but you are getting on a bit if you remember the launch of the Ford Fiesta. Ford is celebrating 40 years (yes, four-zero) since the small hatchback rolled off the production line in 1976 in Valencia, Spain.
No one, not even Ford, could have predicted just how much of a global phenomenon it would become. Yet here we are, enjoying the fact it is still an immensely capable and fun car to drive all these years on, as the Fiesta ST200 proves.
Let’s get on with the facts, shall we?
1) There is one Fiesta for every person in Croatia
Since the Ford Fiesta went on sale, a whopping 4,339,149 cars have been sold in the UK to date. That’s enough for every person in Croatia. It sold so well, in fact, that it accounted for one in every 20 car sales in the UK. As for European success, think 18 million cars. That’s a lot of cars.
2) The model name was picked by Henry Ford II
The oldest grandson of Henry Ford and son of Edsel Ford, Henry Ford II, named the Fiesta because of its alliteration with Ford and as a way of celebrating the new connection with Spain, where engine production began in 1975. It was two years later UK sales of the Fiesta began.
3) Popular is an understatement
Not only did Ford celebrate building the millionth Fiesta in 1979, it has continued to sell like hot cakes ever since. In 1982, it became the best-selling car in its class in Britain and Germany for six years running and has been the best-selling car in the UK every month for SEVEN years in a row. 2015 was the best year for the Fiesta since 1996, with a total of more than 133,000 sold.
4) It showed the Ford Escort who’s boss
The previously best-selling car in the UK was the Ford Escort. But that crown was passed onto the Fiesta in 2014 when it was announced it had surpassed the Escort’s 4,105,961 registrations.
5) The Fiesta RS is already a thing, folks
Ford is currently ruling out an RS version of the Fiesta so the ST200 variant is as good as it gets for now, but it has happened before. The Fiesta RS 1800 introduced in 1992 had a 1.8-litre 16v petrol and was a replacement for the Fiesta RS Turbo (introduced in 1990), which featured an XR2i engine and Garrett turbo combination. Suffice to say, both cars were entertaining to say the least.
6) Speaking of hot-hatch Fiestas…
The very first sporty version of the Fiesta was introduced in 1981 in the form of the XR2 – a car that earned itself a loyal following of boy racers through the 80s and 90s. It had a 1.6-litre petrol engine, stiffer suspension, aesthetic revisions to make it look meatier, perforated alloy wheels and auxiliary driving lamps. Not only that, it became the first Fiesta to break the 100mph barrier. A MK II version arrived in 1984, complete with low-profile tyres, improved suspension and superior brakes.
7) Airbags weren’t always standard
Airbags are one of the greatest car-related safety inventions but it took some time before all cars had them. In the case of Ford, it was 1993 when it made the driver airbag was made a standard fixture – the same year ‘All That She Wants’ by Ace of Base reached number one.
8) There have been SEVEN generations
When the latest version of the Fiesta was introduced in 2012, it marked the seventh generation. The Mark VI Fiesta arrived in 2008, its launch marked by the introduction of a 1.6-litre Duratec that managed sub-100g/km of CO2 emissions. The MK V, meanwhile, was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2011 and was produced in Cologne and Valencia.
9) Small engines are big news
When the Fiesta first arrived, it had a choice of a 1.0-litre or a 1.1-litre engine in the case of the Ghia. As time went on, it was fitted with various lumps of varying size, including a 1.8-litre diesel. But as emissions laws have tightened and with targets to meet, the Fiesta started reverting to smaller and smaller displacements. Okay, so the modern-day 1.0-litre EcoBoost has a beefy turbo attached, but it’s still a pint-sized motor that is more powerful and eco-friendly than anything before it.
10) It now packs nearly 200bhp
40 years later and the Fiesta is stronger than ever. The aforementioned ST200, launched in 2016, has a 1.6-litre EcoBoost petrol engine that outputs 197bhp and an extra 15bhp when using the temporary ‘overboost’ function. Enough, then, to make it a lairy pocket rocket just about anyone would enjoy to drive – and one that many of us could afford, with prices starting from £22,745. As for performance, 0-62mph takes 6.7 seconds and the top speed is 143mph. Here’s to another 40 years, eh?