We saw a junked first-year Plymouth Horizon last week, but Chrysler’s Simca-based econobox wasn’t the only Euro-Detroito subcompact to make its North American debut in 1978. The first-gen Ford Fiesta, which had been a tremendous sales success in Europe, showed up in American Ford showrooms… where it was met by puzzled stares from car shoppers who couldn’t quite get their heads around the tiny size of the latest car to bear the blue oval.
Still, the Fiesta was very cheap ($300 less than even the bare-bones Horizon), it held four passengers, and its excellent fuel economy gave drivers a measure of freedom from the whims of sheikh and ayatollahs.
66 horsepower in a car scaling in at 1,780 pounds made the Fiesta quicker than the ’78 MGB (2,338 pounds, 62.5 horsepower). Actually, that’s not a fair comparison; just about every car in 1978 was quicker than the black-bumper MGB.
The “Sport” option package added $556 to the Fiesta’s price tag. I can’t figure out what you got for that money beyond the “S” decals and tape stripes; it appears that all the US Fiestas got the same engine in ’78.
Even back in the day, you didn’t see many Fiestas on American streets. Before this one, I hadn’t even seen one in the junkyard for a few years.
If you’re interested in the history of the Fiesta, I recommend this Ford-backed (yet still fascinating) book.