Ford's highly successful supermini is retiring in 2023. A bold move from Ford but as the brand looks to its future with electrification and hybrid technology we're looking to its roots of what is commonly referred to as 'the people's car' and why we chose its third iteration to bring to TheCarCrowd platform.
Goodbye, Old Friend
The humble Ford Fiesta has been gracing our British roads for almost 50 years, yes 5-0. But towards the end of 2022 Ford announced that it's time for the people's car to bow out, with production ceasing towards the end of 2023.
Spanning seven generations, multiple technological and styling advances as well as Ford's Performance division sprinkling in their magic over the years almost everybody has a story to tell about the Ford Fiesta and we want to tell its story almost 50 years on...
Starting from the beginning
With the market rife with its popular Cortina and Escort models, in the 70's Ford decided it wanted to tackle a new area of the market. The supermini category was newly formed and Ford wanted a slice of a market that other manufacturers had already started capitalising on.
Originally named the 'Bobcat' project the Fiesta was released to the world in 1976 in 3-door and panel van guises its foundations were 'simple' and 'straightforward', and at the end of the recession its low purchase price and maintenance costs were welcomed by the masses.
It is also Ford's first transverse-engined car and is widely recognised as Ford's globally successful front-wheel drive model.
By the end of the MK1 production cycle it had sold well over one million units and its sporty XR2 and Supersport versions are still highly sought after by collectors and command a premium.
Here's one we found that sold on Collecting Cars earlier this year, with over 70,000 miles and seven owners from new.
"By the end of the MK1 production cycle it had sold well over one million units"
Ford's third iteration was where things for the marque got interesting. With competition growing stronger than before the Blue Oval manufacturer quickly realised that a simple bumper revision and recycling of old parts wouldn't cut it this time as they had done with the previous generation.
No, this time Ford headed into the 90's with a completely revamped car, sleeker than ever and with a host of improvements to bring it up to date and keep them as the market leader in small hatchbacks.
For the first time ever, the Fiesta was offered with a 5-door variant. The interior was also refined with improved seats and a heated windscreen, the driving characteristics were also improved through a semi-independent torsion beam rear suspension.
At the heart of the Fiesta was the typical range of Ford's high-compression swirl engines along-side its CVH unit. Two years later fuel injection was introduced and by that time one-million units had already been sold.
The two 'hot versions' came in the form of the XR2i (the one we have here) and its turbo-charged sibling the RST. Essentially a lighter and eager version of the Escort RS Turbo. The key giveaways between the XR2 and Turbo are distinctive alloy wheels, bonnet louvers and green stripe mouldings found on the RS turbo (later named the RS1800).
The Last 'Hot Fiesta' for almost a decade
The MK4 although based on its predecessor the boxier looks were dropped and replaced with a more rounded, smoother body and a host of engine choices. The XR2 and Turbo names were also ditched and replaced with the 'Zetec S' (which later evolved into the ST name as we know it today) which provided 100bhp and more aggressive looks. It wasn't as loved as its previous and future performance iterations and not truly considered a 'performance Ford' despite having similar power to the XR2i before it.
The MK4 was also the last model to be produced at the Dagenham powerplant before it was shut down in 2002.
"Ford headed into the 90's with a completely revamped car, sleeker than ever and with a host of improvements to bring it up to date and keep them as the market leader in small hatchbacks"
A Motorsport Winner
When Ford unveiled its MK6 variant it was loved by the press and enthusiasts were thrilled with the performance and flair.
It was also Ford's entry back into rallying, the Fiesta was entered into the WRC from 2011 until 2016 and won six races in that time. The final generation of the Fiesta was also used in racing and took company M-sport to its first world championship since 2007 and legendary driver Sébastien Ogier to his fifth and sixth consecutive World Driver's Championships.
Preserving the Memory of the Fiesta
The Fiesta will have a legacy of being one of the most popular and successful cars ever produced. Every generation bringing its own flair and uniqueness and capturing the hearts of families and petrolheads for over 40 years. Ford of course have their own 'Heritage collections' and will also be adding the last two Fiesta's ever made to both their UK and German collections, both signed by everyone that built them, a fitting send off to the much-loved supermini.
Whilst we are sad to see the Fiesta go, we want to help preserve the most desirable versions of this car and keep them in the public eye for current and future generations to enjoy. That's why we are pleased to offer this low-mileage, immaculate example of the third generation XR2i, presented in Radiant Red with Recaro seats and 21,453 it is a time-warp, cherished example.
To get involved follow the link below to pre-register for the launch and be amongst the first to find out more about this rare 'Fast Ford'.