It’s said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and I guess that we have all come across this at some point in our lives. Was it that style the other girls in the office adopted when they saw you wearing it or was it the haircut that the guys in the class decided would look good on them too?
It also comes into play with our ‘white goods’; those items we all take for granted in easing our lives to the extent that we don’t really see them. These can be things like the common fridge, the dishwasher, the hoover (for those of us unsure of this one, I’m told that it’s a little electric gizmo that lives on the floor and makes a funny/annoying noise when it’s in use). White goods have also come to include the very item that sits outside our house – the common motorcar.
Of all the cars that all of us have ever owned, used or were passengers in, none is more ubiquitous than the Ford Fiesta. When it was first introduced, other manufacturers rushed to bring similarly sized cars to the market. #
Who here has not owned one, or who had a father, mother, brother, sister, son or daughter or other relative who had one?
I became the owner of a new Fiesta in 1982 – the Mk I, which was introduced in 1976. It came in two-door configuration only and initially had just the one engine – the 957cc – before being followed by the 1.117cc. By 1979, the Fiesta had notched up over a million sales, showing how we all took this cheeky and capable car to our hearts.
The first diesel version arrived in 1983 and went on to excite us with such models as the 1.6 XR2, with its engine capable of over 100 M.P.H., or if you like your numbers in continental mode, 161 K.P.H. We had the Mk. II in 1983, with a bigger 1,297cc pushrod engine which introduced a novel idea: a fifth gear. Coming from a Ford Consul with its three-speed column change and a Ford Anglia with a floor-mounted four speed, the addition of a fifth gear was something of a puzzle. I remember people proudly saying that their new Fiesta had a five-speed box and on being asked what the advantages of that might be, were struck dumb. Today, a large number of manuals have a six-speed box and some automatics have an eight-speed box – ah, progress.
The Fiesta continued to lead the board in sales with the Mk. III in 1989 with a bigger engine, anti-lock brakes, and more importantly for market share, a five-door model. The Fiesta was branching out and reaching the needs of more and more people.
The Mk. IV arrived in 1996 and brought such improvements as dual air-bags and bigger and more efficient engines – notably the Zetec range of engines with the now well-regarded 1.25 and 1.4 versions. This model was also used as the basis of the Ford Ka and the Ford Puma. An interesting point here is that both Ford and Mazda shared the same platform for the Fiesta and the Mazda 121 – an exercise in badge-engineering economies that benefited both manufacturers.
The Mk. V arrived in either 1999 or 2002, depending on whether you deem a facelift in as a new variant. For me, I’d go with the 2002, as the Mk. V had an all-new body shell.
The Mk. V was bigger, better finished, had more toys and didn’t cost a whole lot more than its predecessor. It introduced a new range of engines including the new Duratec 1.3-litre and the 1.6-litre 16-valve Duratec petrol engines. It lasted from 2002 to 2008.
The Mk. VI is the present iteration that we all are familiar with. It built on the Verve concept, which was introduced at the Frankfurt Motor Show, while the car itself debuted at the Geneva Motor Show.
The Verve concept had a wedge-shaped front with an aggressively upswept beltline and long, drawn-back headlamps which saw the use of an international platform utilising Ford’s “kinetic design” philosophy. Basically, it was a one-car body for all international markets. It, once again, shared the body/floor pan with its cousin, the Mazda 2.
The Mk. VI had some updates, noticeably in 2013 when the wide mouth grill (Aston Martin, anyone?) made its appearance. This Fiesta also had a facelift in November 2016, which led some to call it the Mk. VII.
It has engines rated from 69 HP up to 200 HP. It is seen by some as Ford’s effort to move the Fiesta upmarket, even offering a luxury Vignale version.
18 million Ford Fiestas have been sold worldwide since its introduction in 1976. That demonstrates an extraordinary popularity, although it is pipped to the post by the Toyota Corolla, which has shifted some 41 million units.
The Fiesta has consistently been in the top three or four places on the best-selling lists of cars in Ireland.
Our family can look back at a 1982 MK. I Fiesta, a 1999 Mk. IV, then a 2011 Mk.VI and son number one currently drives a 2002 Mk. IV – the face-lifted version with such toys as air conditioning, remote central-locking, remote boot release and electric door mirrors.
Son number two is thinking about upgrading his 2003 Polo to a newer car and the Fiesta is up there as a possible replacement – I wonder if he’d buy our 2011 version?