After 47 years, Ford has now stopped the production of one of Britain’s most-loved cars... the Ford Fiesta! Let's take a look at its colourful history...
- Ford has stopped production of the Ford Fiesta
- In 2022, there were more Ford Fiestas on the road than every type of Peugeot combined
- The first Ford Fiesta only cost £1,856
Ford has stopped production of Britain’s best-selling car of all time, the Ford Fiesta. After 47 years of production, the manufacturer plans to replace the model with an electric crossover, as we countdown to the ban on petrol and diesel cars.
Spanning multiple generations, most people will have either owned or know someone who has had a Ford Fiesta, right? So, to pay homage to the model and celebrate the its long history, we’re taking a trip down memory lane with Danny Hopkins, editor of Practical Classics Magazine to explore the history of the Ford Fiesta and discover why it was so popular.
Where did the Ford Fiesta begin?
During the 1970s, the Ford Cortina and Escorts were very popular models… even Princess Diana could be spotted out on the road in an Escort! If you’re interested in hearing more about the royal’s cars, check out our article on cars through the decade. But Ford wanted to enter a new market - enter the Ford Fiesta.
The Ford Fiesta was developed in response to the 1973 oil crisis, which saw the price of fuel rocket and motorists needing a more economically efficient car.
Originally named project ‘Bobcat’, the Ford Fiesta Mk 1 was Ford’s first-ever front-wheel-drive, transverse-engined car. The 3-door hatchback was cheap to buy and maintain, only costing £1,856 to buy brand new!
Clambering over the front seat of a Ford Fiesta was the only way for passengers to get a seat in the back, all the way up until 1989 when the Mk 3 5-door hatchback was released (thank you Ford). In fact, the first models didn’t even include airbags! It wasn’t until concerns for passenger safety increased in 1993 that air bags were made standard in all Fiestas.
The Ford Fiesta MK went through seven evolutions in total:
● Mk1 (1976 to 1983)
● Mk2 (1983 to 1989)
● Mk3 (1989 to 1997)
● Mk4 (1995 to 2002)
● Mk5 (2002 to 2008)
● Mk6 (2008 to 2016)
● Mk7 (2016 to 2023)
The Ford Fiesta was first made in Dagenham, Essex, in 1977, a year after production began in Spain. The famous Ford factory’s 10 millionth car produced was a Ford Fiesta, with the car driven off the line in 1996 by retired boxing champion and local resident Frank Bruno. The UK factory produced its last Fiesta in 2002, when Danny Hopkins got the chance to see the last British Fiestas ready for despatch. Danny reflects: “The affection for the car was huge and there was great sadness when the factory stopped building.”
“Over 47 years since the first Fiestas left the Valencia factory in Spain, more than 22m have been sold around the world. Of those, 4.8m were in the UK, where it was our top-seller for 12 years from 2009 to 2020.”
Ford Fiesta Mk1’s and Mk2’s have become a cult car of the 80s, and today are quite the collectors’ item. Recently, a rare special edition of the Mk1 model was expected to fetch more than £8,000 at auction!
How did the Ford Fiesta get so popular?
When the Ford Fiesta first went on sale, it made its Hollywood debut in the James Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me, alongside Roger Moore. By 1980, one million Fiestas had been sold worldwide, increasing to two million by 1982. It then held the top spot as the UK’s best-selling car for six years in a row, before being knocked off the spot momentarily, but not forever.
However, the Ford Fiesta remained beloved by Brits and celebrities. Big names including Nell McAndrew and Jodie Kidd have endorsed the model, and in the 2000s, Alesha Dixon and Peter Andre helped promote the latest Fiesta launches. The Ford Fiesta was even British racing driver and former Top Gear presenter, Vicki Butler Henderson’s first car, which Practical Classics Magazine restored in 2016.
The Ford Fiesta has also played its part in many love stories, including RAC worker Carlos Villamore and Charlotte Wood, who famously met and married after he went to repair her broken-down Fiesta at a roundabout Hertfordshire.
What does life post-Fiesta look like?
Today, the Ford Fiesta is just as popular as ever, despite Ford deciding to cut the model. Last year, there were more Ford Fiestas on the road in the UK than there are every type of Peugeot, and the Ford Fiesta still continues to make the list of the UK’s best selling cars.
In fact, when Ford announced the end of the model in May 2022, it only fuelled the car's popularity… and value! Following the news, second-hand Ford Fiestas less than a year old are being advertised for more than a brand new one. In October 2019, the average second-hand Ford Fiesta price on the Auto Trader marketplace was £7,363. Since the announcement, the price has surged by 42%.
So, if you’re lucky enough to have a Ford Fiesta, you might just be sitting on a goldmine! But be careful, experts warn that with the end of production ultimately sparking an increase in demand for second-hand parts, thieves could be targeting Fiestas next. Make sure you’re covered and check out our tips to protect your car from theft.
Now that production has stopped, if you’re in the market for a Ford Fiesta your only option is to buy second hand.
Danny adds: “For Ford, the switch to electric mobility will see its Cologne plant turned into an EV manufacturing hub that will produce the Ford-badged version of new MEB (Modular Electric Toolkit) based cars as part of the partnership with the VW group. The first Ford model using this tech is set to go into production next year.”
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