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Still Going Strong, Ford’s Youthful-Spirited Fiesta Is Celebrating Its 30th Birthday


COLOGNE, Germany, 25 August 2006 – For the last 30 years, Ford Fiesta has proved that good things come in small packages.

Born in the mid-1970s, Ford Fiesta has become ingrained in the European experience. It is a brand that everyone knows. For some, Fiesta has represented that important first car. For many others, Fiesta is a practical, dependable stalwart, just the right size for fun and personal transport.

Although today’s Fiesta is different in many ways from the original Fiesta that went on sale in 1976, it shares many of the fundamental attributes for which Fiesta has always stood.

“Fiesta’s birthday gives us the opportunity to celebrate three decades of change,” said John Fleming, President and CEO of Ford of Europe. “Fiesta represented change when it came on the automotive scene, and while it has moved with the times and fashions over the years, it has remained steadfast in its dedication to providing economical, practical and dependable transportation for people of all ages. That mission is just as relevant today as it was in 1976.”


Fiesta made its debut in the same year in which British Airways and Air France began transatlantic service with their new supersonic flagship, Concorde. It was also the year that a fledgling company, Apple Computer, was founded. Who could have imagined that 30 years later, Concorde’s dream of routine supersonic air transport would be retired, Apple would be a household name and a new Fiesta would be introduced for the iPod generation?

Introduced earlier in its anniversary year, the latest generation Ford Fiesta has a fresh new face that communicates likeability and fun and a bright new interior filled with colour. Its optional capabilities, like plugging an MP3 player into its audio system or Bluetooth voice control, would have been the stuff of science fiction three decades earlier.

Times were different in the 1976 world of compact motoring. Today’s Fiesta offers ’big car’ features, including air conditioning, power folding mirrors, satellite navigation, rain-sensing wipers and an array of other customer friendly technologies. Its look is contemporary, offering customers an appealing choice of exterior colours and a broad model range topped by the rally-inspired Fiesta ST performance car.

Today’s Fiesta has grown in size from the original model, reflecting trends in customer wants for more roominess and greater luggage capacity, traits in which Fiesta led at the time of its original introduction.

Dimension | 1976 Fiesta | 2006 Fiesta | Difference
Overall length | 3.565 m | 3.924 m | 359 mm
Overall width | 1.334 m | 1.685 m | 351 mm
Overall height | 1.360 m | 1.432 m | 72 mm
Wheel base | 2.286 m | 2.486 m | 200 mm

Another place where Fiesta has kept up with the times is in consumer acceptance, measured by sales data. Sales of Ford’s popular small car have increased year on year for the past five years. Annual car sales in 2005 of 358,931 units made it Fiesta’s best sales year since 1998.

And the pace of sales growth has continued in the first half of 2006. Sales of the Fiesta between January and June 2006 were 205,200 units, up 10 per cent versus the first half of 2005. More than 12 million Fiestas have been delivered into customers’ hands in Fiesta’s colourful 30-year history.

Spanish flair

The story of Fiesta is ingrained with the story of Ford’s role in the single European market. It is no coincidence that its name is derived from Spanish. Spain played a key role in bringing the new small Ford to fruition and Ford played an important role in opening the Spanish market to become a major player in European business.

Starting in the early 1970s, Fiesta became a personal mission of Ford’s Chairman, Henry Ford II. A passionate believer in small cars, Mr. Ford rallied his company to the mission of creating a new small car for the world. He was personally involved in every step of the long process that led to the grand opening of a new automotive assembly plant in Valencia with the attendance of the newly crowned King of Spain, Juan Carlos.

By 1972, the mission had its own task force with teams working in Europe and in America to crack the challenge of producing a new small car that would have the right features for modern consumers, the right price and the right cost base for profitability.

The effort was codenamed Bobcat. There was no mistaking the importance Mr. Ford himself put on this project.

Project Bobcat would have profound implications for the Ford business in Europe. It would require new manufacturing facilities and a commitment to new technologies, like front-wheel-drive transmissions. Insiders at Ford at the time were sceptical about front-wheel-drive after an earlier attempt had been problematic.

Yet, Project Bobcat rallied Ford’s best minds to attack the problems and overcome barriers that stood in the way of innovation.

One of the challenges facing Project Bobcat was where to build the new car. Attention focused on Spain. It was a market that was effectively closed to Ford as a foreign player. Spain was growing in importance economically and ready to become a force in Europe and it was important for Ford to compete in Spain. Project Bobcat could become the vehicle to effect change.

Ford entered into negotiations with the Spanish government about the possibility of establishing its new assembly plant in Spain, a move which would require reductions in tariffs that would speed Spain ’s entry into the Common Market. By gaining permission to produce cars in Spain, Ford would have the dual benefit of being able to sell more cars in this growing market. In September, 1972, the Spanish government agreed, reducing tariffs on imported components and machinery while retaining rules that required a high percentage of local content cars to be produced.

The door into Spain was opened. And Ford was ready. With word leaked of Ford’s intentions, localities began competing for the Ford plant investment. In the end, Ford selected a site near Valencia in a small town called Almussafes.

As Project Bobcat began to gain intensity, the look of Ford’s new small car was starting to take shape. Competing design teams in America and Europe – at Dunton, England ; Cologne, Germany and Turin, Italy – created design prototypes based on the engineering and cost attributes that were established by the project team.

Fiesta’s ultimate shape was driven by consumers, thanks to one of the most ambitious product clinics ever undertaken. Entirely in secret, consumers in various European markets were transported to Lausanne, Switzerland, to spend a day at Lake Geneva, part of which in a guarded hall which contained the design alternatives.

Researchers from Ford used the opportunity to gain public consensus on the most attractive designs.

By December, 1973, with the global fuel crisis as extra incentive, the Ford Board of Directors gave Project Bobcat the go-ahead for development and production. Construction of the new Valencia plant would begin the following month.

Throughout the next two years, the pace of development was intensive, as the detailed engineering steps to create the new car proceeded and the Valencia plant took shape.

Fiesta didn’t get its name until 1974, when Ford whittled down a list of 50 potential names to five: Bravo, Fiesta, Amigo, Strada and Pony. The final choice went to Henry Ford II.

Automotive journalist Edouard Seidler, in his book “Let’s Call it Fiesta”, recounted the moment when Ford took the final responsibility, shutting himself in his office on the twelfth floor of Ford’s World Headquarters in Dearborn and started pacing up and down, reciting the suggested names aloud. Mr. Ford liked Fiesta best:

“Ford and Fiesta go well together,” Mr. Ford said. “It’s colourful and dynamic… Bobcat will be called Fiesta.”

Development of the new car took place in Cologne, Germany and Dunton, England, Ford’s two European vehicle engineering centres.

The economical, compact car was Ford’s first with a transverse engine and front wheel drive, and with its hatchback design it generated an enthusiastic customer response, growing rapidly into the giant it became in the small-car segment shared with the Renault 5 and the Volkswagen Polo.

The Fiesta was the right car at the right time. Targeting female drivers particularly, it was launched when around 20 per cent of car sales in Europe ’s leading markets were going to women. But Fiesta’s success lay in a broader based appeal. Production started in Valencia, Spain in May 1976.

The first-generation Ford Fiesta

Launched in the summer of 1976, the first Fiesta came in three versions. The entry model was equipped with a 1.0-litre engine with just 40 PS, compensated by a particularly competitive price. A 45 PS version and a 53 PS, 1.1-litre Ghia model topped the range – the first appearance of such luxurious levels of equipment in cars of this class.

Fuel economy was a key element in the Fiesta’s success, but not its only strength. Through remarkable technological innovation, the Fiesta proved that the measure of a car is not only in its dimensions.

Weighing just 700 kg, it was among the lightest in its class, yet its 1.2 cubic metre load room was the largest in its class. It had the best all-round visibility and the most aerodynamic design, giving it significant competitive advantage.

Many of its advances were groundbreaking. Crash behaviour was optimised thanks to Ford engineers’ application of early computer simulation programmes. The front grille functioned as an aerofoil: at low speeds its slats allowed air to flow through, while at higher speeds efficiently guiding it over the engine hood. This Ford patented system accounted for its best-in-segment drag coefficient of 0.42 Cd, which in turn helped drive down fuel consumption to extraordinarily low levels. At a constant speed of 90 km/h the 1.0-litre 40 PS version used 5.6 litres/100 km, at 120 km/h 8.2 litres and in urban driving 7.9 litres.

The Fiesta’s front wheels were driven by a pioneering axle construction – a patent that Ford engineer and later Ford Motor Company Vice President, Earle S. MacPherson registered in 1949. The rear axle carried a newly developed anti-dive system. Sportier drivers were offered the Fiesta “S”, with stiffer suspension plus a front stabiliser bar to resist lateral force.

Features such as safety glass, automatic safety belts with height-adjustable retractors and a heated rear window, were already standard on the first generation Fiesta. The long list of options would have flattered even a premier class vehicle of the time and included items such as a range of transparent (and removable) glass sunroofs.

Ford sold 67,172 Fiestas during 1976 as production started to ramp up and Germany ’s Bild am Sonntag declared Fiesta winner of its Golden Steering Wheel trophy. Production in Fiesta’s first full year – 1977 – topped 350,000 units and Fiesta was on a roll.

Part of the 1977 new-car registrations were Fiesta’s foray into the North American market. Fiesta sold in the United States for four years until the arrival of the new Ford Escort at the beginning of the Eighties. Nearly 300,000 Fiestas were European Ford ambassadors for American customers during this period, demonstrating the functionality, practicality and driving fun of Ford’s small car.

In 1978, Fiesta was awarded the British Design Council Award as well as a Car of the Year by the readers of German magazine mot. Continuing strong sales in 1978, 1979 and 1980 provided an early peak in the Fiesta sales chart. Fiesta had touched a nerve in Europe.

The production of the first million Fiestas was celebrated in January of 1979, a new record-setting pace for Ford.

A second landmark in the early Fiesta history was reached 11 days later when a key event in the motorsport calendar, the Monte Carlo Rally, saw a Ford Fiesta on the start line for the first time with Finnish superstar-to-be, Ari Vatanen, at the wheel.

The competition car was developed under enormous time pressure and the most difficult circumstances, as Britain was experiencing widespread industrial strikes. The 800kg “Fiestissima” with double Weber carburettors, electronic ignition and dry sump lubrication, had a 1.6-litre engine capable of 7,250 rpm despite its side-mounted camshaft, and delivering 155 PS. A close-ratio, four-speed gearbox was created for the job and a mechanical-hydraulic locking differentiation provided the traction that won this rallying mini a sensational 10th place first time out.

Fiesta sport fans were also able to enter the spirit of the Monte Carlo success with a specially developed and rally-derived tuning kit, available from their local Ford dealers. Base for the conversion was the 1.3-litre, 66 PS model, which could be upgraded to 75 PS for correspondingly lively drive performance, with Weber twin carburettors as well as modified exhaust manifold and mufflers. The engine was specially mounted 25mm lower, and modified pull rods and sport brake pads rounded out the dynamics enhancement.

In the form of the limited edition “Super S”, the Fiesta also flexed its sporting muscle at the 1980 Geneva Motor Show. A lowered chassis, greater track width, lightweight alloy wheels and 185/60 low profile tyres guaranteed tremendous cornering adhesion. Front and rear spoilers provided aerodynamic fine tuning, while appropriate head-turning characteristics came from its widened fenders and striking feature stripes along the flanks and rear. The refined interior included sports seats with integrated headrests. This trendsetting hot hatch came with a choice of a 1.1-litre 55 PS engine or the “1300” with 66 PS, all within a budget-friendly price range.

The “Super S” (Supersport in the UK) was, in fact, the forerunner of the first Fiesta XR2 – a 1.6 litre, 84 PS version of the car introduced in 1981. With ride and handling neatly tweaked by Ford’s Dunton-based Special Vehicle Engineering department, who had established a reputation for performance Ford cars like the Capri 2.8 Injection, the XR2 sewed the seeds of Ford’s commitment to driving quality. Exterior cues signalled its enhanced performance – “pepper pot” alloy wheels, bumper mounted spot lamps, front and rear spoilers, and unique interior trim. The early XR2 is now a sought-after classic.

The XR2 also provided the basis for Ghia design studio’s neat, fresh two-seater sports car concept, the Ghia Barchetta, which debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1983. The Ghia Barchetta concept would inspire the Australian-built Mercury Capri production car for the US market.

Early production peaked in 1980 with Fiesta’s sale pace a torrid 435,155 units across Europe. Fiesta even outsold its new big brother, Ford Escort, which had been named European Car of the Year.

The year 1981 saw two milestones. Valencia celebrated its millionth Fiesta and by March, Ford was celebrating a total European production mark of two million units. It was a new production record to reach the two-million mark in less than five years of production.

For the fourth year in a row, mot readers voted Fiesta their ’Auto der Vernunft’ (Car of the Year). Lower fuel consumption led the list of selection criteria supported by economical running costs, favourable base price, high resale value and attractive styling.

As the first generation of Fiesta drew to a close, it completed its clean sweep of the sales charts. With freshened details inside and out for 1982, it was again the best selling car in its class in Britain and Germany, as it had been every full year since launch.

Second generation arrives

Ford introduced the Ford Fiesta Mk II in September, 1983.

Extensively improved for its second generation, the new Fiesta built on the original’s strengths with design cues from the Ford Sierra. These included a turned down hood, narrow air vents, rounded edges and new headlight shape. Not only did these elements give Fiesta a family resemblance with its bigger sibling, but it also improved aerodynamics.

The drag coefficient was reduced from 0.42 Cd to 0.40 Cd and, with it, wind noise and fuel consumption. This feature was also supported by a longer fifth gear.

Comfort levels were raised. The interior was reworked from the ground up, giving it leading compact class features. Following the latest developments in ergonomics, the interior was divided into zones according to function and equipped with an optimised heating and ventilation system. Even the “L” version included, as standard, large door pockets and a split-folding rear seat for flexible daily usage. Higher series models such as the Ghia and sporty XR2 added finesse with additional air vents and higher quality upholstery. The latest incarnation of the XR2 also stood out from the crowd with a neat body pack and rear tailgate spoiler.

Further advances in economy came with an extension of the powertrain range. Ford’s engine specialists strengthened Fiesta’s running cost proposition with a new 54 PS, 1.6-litre diesel engine, making it the only vehicle of its size to offer diesel. Its homologated consumption of 3.8 litres/100 km at a constant 90 km/h made it one of the most economical vehicles in the world, a claim upheld by media comparison tests shortly after launch.

By 1984, the first models with 1.3-litre lead-free petrol engines became available. Continuously Variable Transmission was another Ford patented technology, developed for front-wheel-driven compact vehicles and first seen in the Fiesta. Such ’stepless’ automatic transmission was achieved thanks to a special belt working between two axles to change ratio. An automatic system kept the gears and engine operating at optimum levels.

The resulting system combined the advantages of both manual and automatic transmissions. Its performance was compared at the time to an optimised six-speed manual. This referred to both power and consumption and meant performance well beyond usual automatic capabilities. Beyond its economic advantages, the new CTX transmission also offered previously unknown levels of driving comfort.

Fiesta Mk III

After almost 13 years of production, the original Fiesta was replaced in February 1989 by an all-new range of slightly larger 3- and 5-door models with smoother aerodynamics.

For the first time in a car in this class, features included an SCS (Stop Control System) anti-lock braking system, optional on all manual transmission Fiestas.

The new, third-generation Fiesta also offered an electrically heated windscreen de-icing system, CTX automatic transmission on 1.1-litre and 1.4-litre models, Ford’s new 1.8-litre indirect injection diesel engine for ultimate fuel economy, new moulded seat design, high-security door and steering locks, and adjustable-height front seat belt anchorage points.

All engines could run on leaded or unleaded fuel and the range included two new ’lean burn’ High Compression Swirl engines in 1.0-litre and 1.1-litre versions. Improved 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre lean burn units completed the petrol engine range.

The XR2i performance version joined the 18-model line-up in October 1989, complete with a unique body kit and interior, plus sporty performance to match its looks.

In spring 1989, the eagerly-awaited replacement model was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show. But first the new car had to withstand a new level of testing. Some three million kilometres were put on the clock, not just in test labs and on private test tracks, but in everyday driving on public roads. For this reason, around half of the target development mileage was completed by customers, generating further feedback and information that could be evaluated and used in the final development stages before market introduction.

This was a first in Ford history. Some 250 pre-production models, covering all body style, package and powertrain derivatives, were introduced into predominantly large company fleets in December 1988. Every week the cars were put through a pre-determined programme and then tested for quality, durability, consumption and reliability.

Alex Trotman, then Chairman of Ford of Europe, explained the importance of this work: “Ford is striving to deliver top quality in all areas. We are sure that the Fiesta will be one of the lead players in its class. The desired quality level will be achieved not least through this test programme.”

The Art of Fiesta

Another of the more unusual events in the Fiesta’s history took place in 1989. It demonstrates just how much impact the Fiesta had made on the imagination.

Cologne action artist H.A. Schult dedicated a three-day “happening” in Cologne with the words “No other industrial product has inspired people’s imaginations more, moved their dreams more strongly, changed their daily lives and influenced their towns and countryside… The Fiesta is ”the symbol of a car that is there for everyone"

Schult’s disguised Fiesta sculptures around the city illustrated various themes such as the age of marble, the stone age, clouds, waves as well as more contemporary trends such as disco dancing. Some 200,000 visitors saw the citywide exhibition and it was covered by 14 television broadcasters from around the world. His “Goldener Vogel”, a Fiesta as a golden bird, became a lasting symbol in Cologne.

In Spain, Catalan artist Josep Guinovart was similarly inspired, using a Fiesta XR2i as his ’canvas’. Using his paintbrush and bits of earth, Guinovart transformed Ford’s small car into a one-of-a-kind artwork.

Fiesta continued to shine in the eyes of the automotive media. In a comparison test in August 1989, Germany’s auto, motor und sport proclaimed that the new model outshone all its main competitors, VW Polo, Fiat Uno and Peugeot 205. In Autobild the same year, the whole Fiesta car line won first place against Fiat Uno, VW Polo, Nissan Micra, Opel Corsa and Renault 5.

Sales success

By the end of 1989, Ford was able to look back on the best sales year in its history to date. Just one month after its market launch, the new Fiesta was leading its segment sales chart in seven European countries.

Over 500,000 new Fiestas were sold by the end of the first year, the best start-up of any European car at that time. Since its original launch in 1976, 5.25 million Fiestas had been built in Cologne, Germany, Valencia, Spain and Dagenham, UK. And the awards kept rolling in: auto, motor und sport readers’ choice for ’Best Small Car in the World’, Auto Zeitung’s ’Smartest Small Car’, What Car?’s ’Car of the Year 1989’, Neue Revue’s ’Best City Car’ and Spain’s ’Car of the Year 1990’.

This period marked the zenith of Fiesta popularity across Europe. Over the years 1990-1992, more than 1.8 million Fiestas were registered to European owners. In 1992 alone, Fiesta sold a record 648,781 units.

The sporty tradition of the Fiesta continued throughout the period. Hot on the heels of the XR2i, the high performance RS Turbo was introduced in 1990 and then upgraded in 1992 to the Fiesta RS1800i, with the new 1.8 litre, 16-valve engine delivering 130 PS.

For 1993, Fiesta introduced a newly developed safety innovation. Its low head injury criterion steering wheel was equipped with special bolstering to reduce the likelihood of head injuries in accidents.

Further additions included a five-speed transmission, stereo cassette radio with RDS automatic volume control and key code anti-theft system, and a sunroof made of special heat-reflecting glass.

Throughout its history, a long list of special edition Fiestas has been introduced in almost all European markets. One example, the Fiesta Calypso made its debut this year, with an electric sliding canvas roof that did not impact on interior sound, with the car retaining a low noise level throughout its speed range. Seat upholstery was colourful and offered firm support and the suspension comfort was said to be among the best in the class. Other examples of special editions over the years include Fiestas Bravo, Lady, Sandpiper, Festival, Economy, Quartz, Finesse, Champ, Sound, Chianti, Magic, Dash, Bonus, Firefly, Finesse II, Olympus Sport, Flight, Fresco, Cayman and many more.

Safety advances continued the following year, 1994, when Ford announced to its customers that all its vehicles would henceforth be fitted with an airbag as standard. This was the company’s largest safety initiative to date and included a pioneering system in the small car class. Alongside the driver’s airbag was an optional passenger airbag, a strengthened chassis with side impact protection, a pre-tensioning and web-grabbing front seat belt system, a safety steering wheel, anti-dive front seats and an emergency switch to cut off petrol flow automatically in case of accidents.

In 1994, crash testing of the Fiesta by magazines provided proof of the efficacy of Ford’s safety drive. A journey one-tenth of a second long resulted in a 54.9 km/h impact with a 100-tonne concrete barrier. Behind the wheel a Hybrid III dummy. Despite the natural handicaps of small car builds – low weight and short deformation zones – the Fiesta proved it was an optimized package. The passenger cell remained largely intact minimising the risk of injury to Fiesta passengers.

Fiesta Mk IV

An all-new Fiesta family was introduced in 1996. The new version was powered by a new family of Zetec SE multi-valve light-alloy engines (initially a 75 PS 1.25-litre version followed by a 90 PS 1.4-litre). A reduced-emission version of the 60 PS 1.3-litre petrol engine was renamed the Endura-E and the line-up was completed by the Endura-D, 60 PS 1.8-litre diesel.

Other features included a fresh new more rounded exterior style, with soft angles between panels and feature lines, a low nose, deep backlight and large lamp clusters. Re-engineered front suspension used a sub-frame to stiffen the front-end structure and isolate the powertrain more effectively. At the rear, a new twist beam axle design incorporated stiffer arms and toe-correcting geometry to improve handling, and soft spring rates to improve ride comfort.

The all-new interior provided a cabin environment combining quality, comfort and excellent ergonomics. Occupant and vehicle security were improved to the highest standards in the small car class with, another segment-first, the combination of an advanced four-channel electronic anti-lock braking system (ABS) with electronic brake force distribution and traction control.

It was also winning awards for its ’green’ credentials. Low fuel consumption and exhaust emissions, and an environmentally friendly production process, put it ahead of not only the rest of the Ford line-up but the competition as well.

That year, Fiesta celebrated 20 years on the market. In that time, it had been the top selling car – in all classes – three times in Europe as a whole, 12 times class bestseller in Germany, 19 times in UK and four times in Spain. The celebration was made complete with the production achievement of the 8.5 millionth unit.

The Turin Show in that year also saw the presentation of the ’cheeky but charming’ Saetta Concept. Meaning ’fast as lightning’ Saetta was a Fiesta dressed in the clothes of a two-seater out of the Ghia design studio. A roll bar ran from the hood to the trunk creating not only a startling, eye-catching design, but also providing the chassis stiffness needed for a fun, compact sports car. It was an early forerunner of the Ford Streetka.

Completing the year’s product actions, Ford added driver and passenger airbags as standard on all Fiesta models.

Another idea based on Fiesta architecture – the Ford Puma sports coupe – debuted in 1997 to the delight of driving enthusiasts. It was powered by a 1.7-litre four-cylinder engine with variable cam timing for outstanding responsiveness and performance.

Fiesta Mark V

At the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2001, Ford unveiled its latest shape version of Europe ’s biggest selling small car.

A new front with angular headlights aligned the Fiesta design with its New Edge stablemates Ka, Puma and Focus. The safety provision was extended further with driver, passenger and now side airbags as well as electronic four-channel ABS. Power steering, aluminium alloy wheels, air conditioning and remote-controlled central locking were all featured.

Lead model in the new series was the 1.6-litre Fiesta Sport with 103 PS and 15-inch aluminium wheels with 195/50 tyres. A stiffer body and reduced ground clearance combined with powerful brakes and optimised power steering to deliver a great handling and driving performance.

The new Fiesta was highly regarded by automotive journalists for its driving dynamics and over all driving quality as it carried the Ford small-car flag in an increasingly competitive European automotive landscape. Undaunted, it started its current path, achieving year-on-year sales growth. Like all Fiestas, it was no flash in the pan.

Like a popular television series, the new Fiesta even inspired a spin-off model in 2002 – the new Ford Fusion, a new type of vehicle with a generous, family-sized space with a small-car footprint and a higher driving position. Fiesta’s new relative made its public debut at the 2002 Geneva Motor Show.

Performance Injection

And in 2004, Ford gave the new Fiesta even more emotion, creating two new performance models. The new flagship was the 2.0-litre 150 PS Fiesta ST and it was the first road car created by Ford’s new TeamRS, an organisation within Ford specialising on performance cars and motorsport competition.

Ever since the Fiesta XR2 of 1981, affordable performance and sheer driving pleasure had been major characteristics of Ford’s small car range. Fiesta ST’s mission was to bring that excitement to a new generation of drivers.

Fiesta ST was aimed right at the heart of the popular ’junior hot hatch’ class. Ford’s objective was to create the best all-rounder in the class with outstanding driving credentials.

The new Fiesta ST saw the return of the fast Fiesta. Its new stablemate, the Fiesta S, would provide two added performance versions – including the first Fiesta performance diesel.

Designed to be a fun to drive ‘warm hatch’ with sporty looks, enjoyable handling and peppy performance, Fiesta S was more economical to buy, to run and to insure. Based on the three-door Fiesta body, the S model featured the same roof spoiler and deep front and rear bumper mouldings as Fiesta ST, as well as versions of its grippy sports seats.

Fiesta manufacturing today

Before the production start of the new-generation Ford Fiesta and Ford Fusion in November 2001, Ford of Europe and its suppliers invested 525 million Euros into the modernization of Ford’s Cologne assembly plant and a neighbouring supplier park. This industrial complex is highly regarded in the industry for its high levels of efficiency and capacity utilisation.

Today, the Ford Cologne Assembly Plan works around the clock in three shifts to product 1,800 units of Ford Fiesta, Fiesta ST, Ford Fiesta Van and the Ford Fusion in a fully flexible manufacturing environment.

In 2005, Ford’s Cologne works produced 403,349 units, among them 98,300 Fusion models.

Fiesta and Ford Fusion are exported from Cologne into more than 50 countries, including example to Angola, Australia, Brunei, Japan, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa. The farthest flung Fiesta export market is the Pacific island Tahiti.

Looking Ahead

Ford’s original vision for the Ford Fiesta was to create a small car for the world, just like the Model T had been at the beginning of the 20 th Century. In many ways, Fiesta has achieved that goal, touching faraway markets but remaining firmly footed as a leader in the important European small-car segment.

Today, as the momentum builds for the latest and enhanced Fiesta – sales up 10 percent on 2005 so far and aiming for its best sales year in seven years – this iconic model is looking ahead to the old saying: “life begins at 40.”

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