Ford Fiesta in the 1970s

Ford Fiesta S, 1976
Ford Fiesta S, 1976
Image courtesy of The Ford Heritage Vault

Ford introduced the Fiesta in Europe in 1976. It was Ford's first entry into the minicar market.

The original Fiesta was a 3-door hatchback with front-wheel drive. It was smaller than the Escort, Ford's small car at the time.

The Fiesta concept was by Tom Tjaarda of the Ghia styling house in Italy. Ford bought Ghia in 1970. [1]

The new Fiesta looked crisp and clean. There were plenty of straight lines. It had the feel of some of the best automotive styling of the 1970s.

The Fiesta was timed well. When the Fiesta, called project 'Bobcat', was in development the oil crisis of 1973 struck. The days of cheap fuel and large gas-guzzling cars were over, even in the Unites States.

The Fiesta was a truly European car. It was designed in Italy and manufactured in the UK, Germany and Spain. Ford's Spanish factory opened specifically to build it. [1]

Ford also sold the 'European Ford' Fiesta in the United States. The US-spec car had a 1.6 litre engine.

The Fiesta in the UK

The Fiesta was first available in the UK from February 1977.

At the time of its UK launch, the Fiesta had four main competitors: the original BL Mini, the Vauxhall Chevette, the Renault 5 and the VW Polo. The new mini cars were known as superminis. They were bigger than the BL Mini, but still smaller than the next class up, cars of Ford Escort size.

The new Ford became Britain's second best-selling minicar in 1978, when it overtook the Vauxhall Chevette. It out-sold the original Mini for the first time in 1980.

The Fiesta had a choice of three engines on launch:

There were trim levels:

The larger engine was an option on the L and Ghia, and standard on the S.

The basic Fiesta had very little chrome trim. It was also very basic inside. The L had a more fashionable look. The seats were covered with a stylish houndstooth fabric. The L had chrome bumpers, halogen headlights and reversing lamps and the option of the more powerful 1100cc engine.

The Fiesta S was the sporty model. It had the 1100cc engine as standard. There was a colour flash on the side and an S motive. Inside it featured reclining seats in striped nylon fabric; the classic 1970s deck-chair look.

The S was equipped as a small sports saloon. It had stiffened suspension, a rear anti-roll bar, a tachometer and a trip recorder.

The Fiesta Ghia was the luxury model. It had its own unique interior with crushed velour seats and simulated wood trim. The Ghia also had a tachometer and a quartz clock. The 1970s' luxury package was completed with a vinyl roof.

From September 1977 both the Ghia and the S had the option of a 1300cc engine with 68 bhp. From September 1978 the L and S had a rear wash/wipe system as standard and the S had a radio as standard.

FFord Fiesta Kingfisher, 1978
Ford Fiesta Kingfisher, 1978
Image courtesy of The Ford Heritage Vault

Ford Fiesta limited editions

Ford's concept of limited editions offered extra features on top of some of the Fiesta models. In the 1970s, they spanned the gap in the range between the L and the Ghia.

Limited edition Fiestas included:

Fiesta Kingfisher

The Kingfisher was offered with two-tone paint in Cosmos Blue and Strato Silver. It also came with a package of luxury features as standard:

There was also a single-tone Kingfisher which lacked the sunroof, remote door mirrors and head restraints.

Fiesta Million

To celebrate the production of one million Ford Fiestas, Ford launched the Fiesta Million limited edition in 1979.

The Million was also based on the L. It was black or silver. The interior upgrade included tartan-style seat fabric, stereo cassette player, centre console with clock and head restraints.

Ford Fiesta Sandpiper, 1979
Ford Fiesta Sandpiper, 1979
Image courtesy of The Ford Heritage Vault

Fiesta Sandpiper

Continuing the bird theme, the Sandpiper was two-tone bronze and beige. Like the other limited editions, it was based on the L.

How much did a Ford Fiesta cost in the 1970s?

The basic Ford Fiesta cost £2,114 when it first went on sale in 1977. Prices of the complete range were:

Read more:

Ford Cortina in the 1970s


[1] The Complete Catalogue of Ford Cars in Britain from Model T to Fiesta, by David Burgess-Wise, published by Bay View Books in 1991, page 85

By Steven Braggs, January 2023

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Retrowow - vintage, retro and social history

Mid Century ★ Facts & Figures ★ Collectibles

Retrowow - vintage, retro and social history

★ Mid Century ★ Facts & Figures ★ Collectibles ★