To celebrate 40 years of the Ford Fiesta, 40 different models from across the four decades of continuous production drove in convoy at the weekend from Ford’s Engine Plant in Dagenham, Essex, to Brighton Race Course for a summer festival celebration of all Ford models.
The Dagenham to Brighton drive was open to all Ford vehicles, with each car receiving a unique numbered plaque. Around 300 Fords took part, ranging from Cortinas to Rangers, and to mark the 40th anniversary the plaque numbers 1-40 were allocated to Fiestas from the four decades.
First launched during the UK’s legendary long hot summer of 1976, the Ford Fiesta is now the UK’s best-selling car of all time. Originally produced at the all-new, purpose-built factory in Valencia, Spain, sales of the Fiesta in the UK began in 1977.
In the 40 years from 1976-2016, Ford sold 4,339,149 Fiestas in the UK alone, with European Fiesta sales set to surpass 18 million before the end of this year. Over these four decades, more than one in every 20 cars sold in the UK was a Ford Fiesta!
In 2014, the Ford Fiesta became the UK’s best-selling car of all time, overtaking the Ford Escort. It is not only the best-selling car in the UK this year; it has been the UK’s most popular car every month for the last seven years.
Also on display at Dagenham was a MkIV 1.4 Fiesta Ghia, the ten-millionth Ford vehicle produced at Dagenham, as well as the MkVI World Rally Championship car. Members of the Fiesta MkI owners club were also involved in the drive, bringing with them a variety of sport Fiesta models as well as a MkII Fiesta Popular and a MkI Fiesta Van.
Ford of Britain chairman and managing director Andy Barratt said, “The opportunity to have these wonderful heritage vehicles lined up next to our latest Fiestas, such as the ST200, is very rare and was fully appreciated by the Ford fans that made the 69-mile journey down to the festival.”
E&T test-drove the new limited edition ST200 – the fastest production Fiesta ever produced – at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. It is a very, very fast Fiesta.
The chronological evolution of the Fiesta model from the early MkI to the latest MkVII was evident at the Ford event. External design changes have been accompanied by new technologies, safety features and increased levels of equipment.
Today’s Fiesta, with a range of powertrains - including the award-winning 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine - can be ordered with heated seats, cruise control and integrated navigation system, including a rear-view camera, a standard feature in the ST200.
Ford Fiesta timeline
• Engine production begins at Valencia
• Fiesta name chosen personally by Henry Ford II for its alliteration with Ford, its spirit and its celebration of Ford’s new connection with Spain
• Production of new Fiesta begins in Valencia, Spain in May. Fiesta initially available in 1.0-litre and 1.1-litre Ghia versions
• UK sales of the Fiesta begin
• Export of Fiesta models for the US market begins
• Millionth Fiesta built for worldwide sales.
• Ford introduces the new Fiesta XR2 with a 1.6-litre engine, stiffer suspension, unique perforated alloy wheels and styling treatments, including available auxiliary driving lamps. The first 100mph Fiesta
• Fiesta is best-selling car in its class in Britain and Germany for six years running
• Aerodynamic new Fiesta MkII introduced. This new model was longer and more fuel efficient, available in 1.0-litre and 1.1-litre
• 1.3-litre model launched with a fifth gear
• Fiesta 1.6-litre diesel introduced. This overhead-cam, indirect injection engine would become a mainstay of the Ford line-up for more than a decade
• XR2 MkII version of new Fiesta introduced with 1.6-litre, single-overhead-cam engine and 5-speed gearbox, plus low-profile tyres, improved suspension and brakes
• Best sales year in Britain with 153,000 Fiestas sold
• Fiesta MkIII launched with anti-lock brakes and lean-burn engines, in 1.0-litre and 1.1-litre versions. New Fiesta featured a longer and wider body shape and an increased wheelbase. It was available for the first time as a five-door model,
• Fiesta is first small car with ABS
• Fiesta MkIII adds 1.4-litre – the first Ford engine to meet pending European emissions standards due to take effect in 1996 – and 1.6-litre engine options
• Fiesta XR2i joins the range later in the year with new 1.6-litre twin cam engine and 5-speed gearbox as the range’s hot hatch.
• Introduction of Fiesta RS Turbo at Turin Motor Show. Using the XR2i engine with an intercooled Garrett turbocharger, the Fiesta RS Turbo was 1.6 seconds quicker than XR2i to 100km/h (62mph)
• Fiesta RS 1800 introduced. Powered by a 16-valve 1.8-litre engine with improved hot hatch handling, plus five-spoke alloy wheels and a body-colour spoiler
• Introduction of 1.8-litre, 16-valve Zetec engine
• Driver airbag becomes standard
• Introduction of the new Fiesta MkIV with all-new rounded, aerodynamic shape and oval grille. Available with 1.25-litre, 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre engines, plus a 1.8-litre diesel. Dual airbags standard
• All-new Fiesta MkV introduced at the IAA Frankfurt Motor Show
• Production begins in Cologne and Valencia of the new Ford Fiesta
• All-new Ford Fiesta MkV launched initially in the five-door version with a new line-up of engines, including the new Duratec 1.3-litre and the 1.6-litre 16-valve Duratec petrol engines
• Fiesta three-door model and the range’s 1.4-litre Duratec petrol engine and new 1.4-litre Duratorq TDCi common rail diesel engine
• Durashift EST automatic shifting manual transmission introduced
• 2.0-litre 150PS Fiesta ST launched as the first production offering of Ford Team RS. It was the most powerful Fiesta ever at the time.
• Fiesta launched with voice activation and Bluetooth
• All-new Fiesta MkVI unveiled at Geneva Motor Show
• MkVI Fiesta goes into production in Cologne, Germany, Valencia, Spain and Nanjing, China, with new 1.6-litre Duratec Ti-VCT petrol and sub-100g/km 1.6-litre Duratec diesel engines
• Fiesta’s 1.6-litre Duratorq TDCi engine sees power increase to 95PS and three petrol engine options benefit from CO2 emission reductions
• Introduction of the Fiesta MkVII, the first Fiesta to come with the three cylinder 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine. Launched with Ford’s MyKey technology that would become a mainstay in many future Ford vehicles
• Fiesta ST launched with a 1.6-litre EcoBoost turbo engine that produces 182PS - Awarded Top Gear Car of the Year
• Fiesta Red/Black editions unveiled with 140PS 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine. More power-per-litre than a Bugatti Veyron
• Powershift launched
• Fiesta becomes best-selling vehicle ever in the UK, surpassing the 4,105,961 registrations achieved by the Ford Escort
• Best year for Fiesta sales since 1996 – selling more than 133,000.
• Fiesta ST200 launched with a specially developed 1.6-litre EcoBoost engine that delivers 200PS - fastest-ever production Fiesta
• Fiesta becomes best-selling car in the UK every month for seven years in a row
• Fiesta ST wins more than 10 key awards since launch in 2013, including What Car? ‘Best Hot Hatch’ for three years in a row