By on January 3, 2014

10 -1978 Ford Fiesta Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Ford Fiesta story is an interesting one, with this car being a huge gamble for Ford’s global operations back in the 1970s. This car was intended for the European market from day one, but a fair number of Mk1 Fiestas were sold the United States for the 1978 through 1981 model years (eventually, the Mazda-designed/Kia-built Ford Festiva filled the US-market Ford lineup spot vacated by the Fiesta. These cars have been rare to the point of near-extinction for decades now, being disposable cheapo commuters and all, but they do show up from time to time in self-serve wrecking yards. I found this ’78 Fiesta Sport in Denver a couple years back, and last month I spotted today’s find in Northern California.
IMG_9516We have a handful of semi-modified Mk1 Fiestas in the 24 Hours of LeMons, and they do pretty well on a road course.
01 -1978 Ford Fiesta Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThese cars had interiors that were no-frills even by Malaise Era subcompact standards.
09 -1978 Ford Fiesta Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinAmerican Fiestas got the 1.6 liter version of the Kent pushrod four, which made 66 horsepower.
05 -1978 Ford Fiesta Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one has a Realistic AM/FM radio installed in whatever you call a glovebox with no lid.
15 -1978 Ford Fiesta Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinDo real aviators also drive Fiestas?


0 to 50 in just 8.8 seconds. The fact that they used a 0-50 standard speaks volumes about 1978.

No baby ever held the road better!

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63 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1978 Ford Fiesta...”


  • avatar
    tomLU86

    THAT was a fun car in the “Malaise Era”! Maybe the most fun–toss up witha fuel-injected 1588 cc Rabbit, with a Civic CVCC getting the bronze.

    • 0 avatar
      mankyman

      I learned how to drive a manual transmission on an orange 1978 Rabbit. This was in the late 80s. Honestly, it had a decent amount of go and handling for those days! It was light, the interior components seemed exotic and the engine ran like a champ. It had the VW smell, familiar to all who drove them in those days.
      For a 15-year old who was used to seeing these lumbering Malaise-era cars lurching around the roads it was pretty awesome. Don’t know about the 1978 Festiva though. It pretty much looks the same as my girlfriend’s 1990 Festiva.

    • 0 avatar

      IMHO the fuel-injected Scirocco won the Malaise-era Compact Fun Sweepstakes (MECFS) hands-down. I never expected that 75hp and 1700lbs could be such a blast…I ended up owning three.

      These little Fiestas always made me wonder what other neat little autos Ford was keeping away from the US market…the XR4Ti was another such teaser.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Well I just found out about a car I never knew existed (I knew the mid-late 80s one). I kinda like it in its simplicity. No rear defrost though, and no wiper. That’s going to be an issue in many climates!

    Is the “international” sticker under the name on the back a factory thing? If so, they beat Olds to the punch.

    Also, “Ford Werke AG?” Made in Germany?

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      This was my first car – I had the base version and it did have a rear wiper and defrost. (maybe the Canadian versions were different than U.S.?)
      It was a step up from my friend’s Mazda – which didn’t even have door arm rests!

    • 0 avatar
      vwgolf420

      Yep, a German Ford, built in the Cologne factory. I think the current Fiesta was designed in Germany for the most part, but the US Market versions are made in Mexico.

      • 0 avatar
        Atum

        Too bad 70′s cars didn’t have VINs. It would be cool to see a Ford beginning with a “w” in the VIN. About as weird as the CR-Vs built in Britain, which start with “s”.

        • 0 avatar
          autojim

          They had VINs. The 17-digit VIN was standardized in 1967.

          • 0 avatar
            blueplate

            Wrong, wrong, wrong. Not til 1981 was the 17-digit VIN in place in the US. “Beginning with model year (MY)1981, the [NHTSA] required that all over-the-road-vehicles sold must contain a 17-character VIN. This standard established a fixed VIN format.” — NHTSA

          • 0 avatar

            The 17-digit VIN standard was not implemented until 1981.

          • 0 avatar
            69firebird

            They hadn’t adopted the 17 digit standard yet,but they most assuredly had them.

        • 0 avatar
          jz78817

          I’m pretty sure the VIN on this car is GCFBTA33503 which is in two of the photos. VIN format wasn’t really standardized until 1981 as already mentioned.

          ” It would be cool to see a Ford beginning with a “w” in the VIN. About as weird as the CR-Vs built in Britain, which start with “s”.”

          Transit Connect is built in Turkey so it has a VIN which starts with “N.” a dealer near me has one with NM0LS7ANXDT170362.

        • 0 avatar
          Wheeljack

          If you want a Ford with a “W” in the VIN, look no futher than the Merkur Scorpio. Very easy to remove the Merkur logos and rebadge as a Ford if so desired.

        • 0 avatar
          WildcatMatt

          They may not adhere to ISO 3779, but they do have VINs. In fact, the Fiesta shares the same VIN system as the Capri.

          G = German Ford

          The second symbol is the factory.
          A = Cologne, Germany
          B = Genk, Belgium
          C = Saarlouis, Germany

          Third and fourth are the model.
          FB = Fiesta
          EC = Capri

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      I’ll have more to post about the Fiesta Mk 1 that was imported into the States from model year 1978 until 1980, but for now, I take exception to Murilee’s point that the trim was very basic, like the SoCal junkyard model. That one is a base model, and the Fiesta was imported in three higher trim levels, all with Recaro-like reclining seats and separate head rests, some with sport steering wheel and tach and rear defrosters were optional as well. One very trick option was a stationary sunroof with vent position and came with two replaceable roof panels, one glass and one steel for blocking the sun when desired. The panel not installed came with a pouch and stored in the cargo area. I owned a total of five Fiestas between jobs in Boston and Portland. Again, I’ll have more information, but for now I would rate the trim levels as equal to the 1975-1977 German-built VW Golf/Rabbit, and not in the same malaise/ stripped league as its American market successor, the Korean Festiva. And Murilee, I’ll be asking you for the junkyard location, as the US members of the Intl Focus Yahoo Group will want to know where your found Fiesta is.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheeljack

        Agreed, I had a fairly well equipped Sport purchased in 1986 that I kept until 1996. My car had reclining sport seats, deluxe door trim panels with map pockets, glovebox door, tachometer, sunroof, carpeted rear parcel shelf, etc. A year or so into ownership I stumbled across a loaded Ghia with cloth sport seats in the junkyard. Since my tan vinyl interior was crumbling, I salvaged the entire interior (seats, door trim panels, B & C pillar trims, upper door trims [where one might prop an elbow with the window down] and inner quarter upper trims) and swapped it into my car – much nicer.

        My car also was missing the glass sunroof pane and storage bag (not sure if it was standard or optional) and only had the metal bodycolor roof panel. You see the Fiesta had a flip up sunroof panel (manual, of course) that could be removed and stowed in the cargo area. Another lucky trip to the junkyard yielded a perect glass panel and equally pristine storage bag and elastic tie down straps. The rear cargo floor had built in “slots” designed to accomodate the sunroof bag/elastic straps, that way the sunroof would stay put during spirited driving.

        My car also (unfortunately) had the optional Dealer installed air conditioner, which of course never worked. An unfortunate side effect of this was a crudely installed vent hacked into the center of the instrument panel accent strip that went horizonatally above the HVAC controls and glovebox. I got so tired of looking at this horrible wound in my dash that I even salvaged a complete instrument panel from another junkyard car.

        Needless to say the car was very easy to work on/upgrade for a budding mechanic.

        • 0 avatar
          snakebit

          Wheeljack,
          Sounds like you really scored at the junkyard. One of the five Fiestas I owned was a dark blue ’80 Ghia with all of the extra trim that you say you swapped over. The sunroof was never standard, but an option on at least the top three trim levels )Decor, Sport, and Ghia). I first got hooked on them in 1978 when I was living downtown and car-less. I was able to rent new Fiestas on weekends, and invariably the rental firm gave me one equipped with a sunroof. As for the A/C option, it was as you described: dealer-installed, and I’m guessing that the kit included a template for cutting the holes in the instrument panel for the outlets, and on the few Fiestas I saw with A/C, the holes looked hacked. Also, you can imagine that with less than 80hp, even the small Fiesta was gutless when the compressor was operating. I never drove a Fiesta with A/C, but I did own one of the first US-bound Capri 1600′s with A/C, and that was hard to build up to cruising speed, even though on whole, it was an otherwise sweet car for its time(1971), as most German-built Ford products were.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    Looks like it did a true 40K judging by the lack of rust/body rash.
    Gotta love that big shift-pattern plate too. Grotesque. Sooo malaise era.
    The Kent engine still lives as well – after 50 plus years (as an industrial engine and in limited production in Brazil -wikipedia)

    • 0 avatar
      Crabspirits

      Yep. Got one in one of these…
      http://img.machinio.com/th/7813603.jpg

      Other than the carb falling off it’s riser/adapter thing, it’s been totally trouble free for over 3000 hours.

    • 0 avatar
      April

      IIRC here in the US the Mark 1′s only came with a manual transmission. Probably a good thing considering the low horsepower.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheeljack

        Correct. It was a very robustly built 4-speed unit that did not have an overdrive. There are some good details on the development of the transmission in a nice little book called “Let’s call it Fiesta” about the design and development of the Fiesta.

  • avatar
    WhiskerDaVinci

    There is someone here in Salt Lake that has one of these, in a light mud brown, with factory orange and yellow tape striping. It looks brand new, like it was just purchased last week. So I suspect that it’s a weekend/sunny day only “for fun” car.

    It’s always cool to see what people keep and restore, sometimes it isn’t always the obvious old stuff. There’s always someone odd enough to think something is worth keeping around, and in very good shape. Saddly in this case, I never get to see the guy in a parking lot and ask him what’s up with his period in every single way Mk. 1 Fiesta.

  • avatar
    woodywrkng

    I owned three of these in the early 80′s, one of which I drove 100k miles in three years. Utterly reliable, since they only had about 10 moving parts. The carb was a Weber, and there was a source of aftermarket parts from a company called Bat Industries. The radio normally lived in an optional housing under the center of the instrument panel, and the glove-box door was an option as well. Also optional was a day/night rear-view mirror. 12″ tires that cost 30 bucks each, 35 mpg on the highway, and terrific in snow. With the addition of a rear anti-sway bar it even handled pretty well. The modern equivalent is a Scion xB, which I currently drive.

  • avatar
    Syke

    The car that taught me to appreciate German cars.

    In ’79 my fiance and I were over in Brighton for the World Science Fiction Convention, and I managed to rent a brand new ‘S’ model with 23 miles on the clock. Fell in love with the way it drove (and was cursing my father who browbeat me into buying my ’79 Monza Kammback). Absolutely loathed the British build quality. The car was falling apart on the B-road run from Brighton to Battle. And my non-car-loving fiance did the entire trip down in the passenger footwell as I discovered the joy of English B-roads. She was pissed at me by the end of the day.

    Three years later, I finally got one of my own, a used ’80, also an ‘S’ model. Had a field day with that car, still think fondly of it.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      Same here, although my appreciation focused on Euro Fords. After owning a running Fiesta (as well as a parts car) I went on to buy 2 Merkur Scorpios. In spite of the wide chasm of equipment and refinement that existed between the Fiesta and the Scorpio, you could feel some of the same spirit in both vehicles.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    Tim squealed with fright in the passenger seat, and out of reflex, sought shelter somewhere towards the Fiesta’s bare metal door skin. The little car rocked back and forth in the airstream of the passing big rig, it’s air horns still maliciously wailing off into the vanishing point of the Nimitz Freeway. Eric’s puzzled head appeared over the propped hood, and he turned to glare at the disappearing truck. Garbage blew on the shoulder, and the venting steam formed into a brief rotor around the bearded man.

    “It’s not the water pump.”, Eric proclaimed while hurriedly opening the driver’s door and spelunking under the dash. “It’s this.” The emergency flashers skipped a beat in their steady cadence for a moment from the tampering hand. “No, it’s this.” In the tinny vehicle, the noise of the radiator fan springing to life was audible. “Hand me…one of those things.”, he told his partner, pointing at the cubby tray. Tim gingerly reached around the heavily-oxidized stereo as if it were radioactive, grabbed the small package of fuses, and handed it to Eric after a futile attempt at opening it. “Let’s not take the Lexus, we should take MY car!”, Tim mocked. The inevitable moment of criticism had arrived. Eric grimaced and paused his corroded fuse swap. “Yes. I suppose if we were here because of another bad transmission, it would be perfectly acceptable in that car.” Tim had no retort for this wisdom, and stared out the open window. “Well, at least we wouldn’t be sweating.”

    Repairs complete, and with traces of steam still emanating from the hood’s shut line, the little car was restarted. To say the atmosphere inside was uneasy, would be an understatement. Tim was furious. Eric had reached his breaking point with his complaining of lack of air conditioning, and had called him….”the little B word”. Before reigning in his temper, he had followed it up with “Be a man.” Hardly forgivable. “I’m sorry.”, Tim muttered. No response from his partner. After assuming the Fiesta’s shaking speed of 60mph, he tried to cut the tension with a little music. Eric wondered what the installer of the radio in his car had been thinking, positioning it so close to the passenger side. It had been promptly switched back off.

    It was a long drive back to San Jose. Coolant and tempers boiled over as the little Ford pulled into the driveway. Tim exploded out of the sprung seat as soon as the car came to a slow roll. He unlocked the door of the house, and then slammed it childishly behind him. Steam was rolling out of the Fiesta’s grill again. Eric opened the hood and sighed, then gathered the couple’s haul of vintage clothing from the destroyed back seat. Cushion debris were stuck to Tim’s new sports jacket, and he brushed it off to prevent further uproar. Vapor was blowing out of a fissure in the grenaded radiator. Eric stood and stared at the Ford for a moment.
    “How am I going to fix this?”

    • 0 avatar
      ReallyRandy

      Bravo!

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      Cooling systems were a weak point on these, I went through several radiators in the 10 years I owned mine. The water pump was also prone to failure due to it’s abbreviated length and correspondingly small bearings. The good news was that parts were cheap and easy to exchange. I swapped a radiator in under 20 minutes in the parking lot of the long-gone Sands Hotel on a spring break trip to Vegas one year…..

  • avatar
    racerxlilbro

    Hey, that’s a Formula Ford with a hatch! I believe most of the “711″ blocks we currently use were originally in Fiestas.

    • 0 avatar
      MZ3AUTOXR

      When I first started autocrossing we had a local that had a Fiesta with a Formula Ford engine.

      Makes me wonder – now that you can get a Fit engine for a Formula F, could you put that same Fit motor into an old Fiesta?

      Not that you would really want to…

      • 0 avatar
        racerxlilbro

        “Not that you would really want to…”

        Zackly.

        But, keep in mind that if a stock Fiesta had 78 BHP, that a competitive FF with 113 BHP would be a huge improvement.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheeljack

        Lots of parts exist to upgrade old OHV Kent engines well beyond 100 horsepower. Ford themselves (in Europe, anyway) had a dual weber downdraft kit for it, hotter cams, etc.

  • avatar
    Bob

    It’s too bad ford never brought the second generation Fiesta to the US, my 1988 was a great car when I was living in Spain and I wish I could have brought it back with me. I like the new Fiestas, but I really want a 3 door hatch.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      Rather than upgrade the existing Euro Fiesta to meet side-impact standards, Ford just went with their own design and the Fiesta’s replacement, the Escort, was born.

      That’s a big reason those 1st gen Fiestas are so tossable. There really isn’t much to them. In addition to the lack of impact beams in the doors, the Fiesta also didn’t meet glass impact standards, either. There wasn’t any lamination so when there was an impact, tiny pieces of glass went everywhere.

      • 0 avatar
        roger628

        Well there certainly was lamination in the US version’s windshield.
        It wouldn’t have passed federal standards without it.

        • 0 avatar
          Wheeljack

          Agreed – the glass met all the same standards that other cars sold in the US met at the time. All of the cars shipped over here either came with no glass installed or had the glass swapped out at the port, I can’t remember which. I do know that the port either installed glass into “glassless” cars or took out the exisitng glass and install glass meeting US specs. Silly, but it was easier than adding complexity at the Cologne plant.

  • avatar
    autojim

    Had a ’78 Fiesta S as a salt car for a while. It was sort of a thing in our circle of SCCA autocrosser friends at the time — no redline? Shift when the valves float. When I got it, 3 of the 4 brakes were inop, and the radiator was leaking. Luckily, it came with a lot of spares, and I was able to get it up and running pretty well.

    It was a near-perfect car to drive to my job at DCX’s Jeep Truck Engineering building (the former Nash Kelvinator facility on Plymouth Road) in a Detroit neighborhood that had been nice about 60 years prior. I eventually sold the parts to another Fiesta-mad SCCA member, and the car to a guy looking to turn it (or parts of it — the rear part of the shell was pretty cancerous) into a Group 5 Pro Rally car.

  • avatar
    LeeK

    Of all the cars I’ve personally been associated with, the red 1978 Ford Fiesta my girlfriend (later wife) brought to our relationship was the most unreliable heap that I have ever come across. Her father bought it new in Columbus, Ohio and drove it for three years before handing it over to his newly-graduated daughter. It immediately needed a new clutch, which she had put in by an independent mechanic. When doing the work (cursing up a storm) he noticed that the brakes were completely rusted away to the point of danger. That prompted a trip to the dealer and a $900 bill (which nearly bankrupted us in those first days out of college) that required a complete replacement of the rotors, the calipers, the pads, the pistons, the parking braike, and the brake lines. We chalked that up to the Ohio salt the car saw in its early life. In North Carolina we almost never encountered that. A year later my wife said the car was shifting poorly, so yet another clutch had to be installed. A year after that, the clutch was acting up again and on the way to the garage the water pump failed spectacularly, leaving my future wife in tears. We finally managed to get the car to the garage, smoke pouring from under the hood. The crusty mechanic took one look at, turned to my girlfriend, whose eyes were still red and lower lip still trembling, and said, “If I were you, I would seriously consider selling this car right now.”

    He put a new water pump in, fiddled with the transmission enough to get the clutch to sorta work when the car was warmed up, and told us to pray for it to last long enough to get us to somebody’s car lot to trade it in on some — any — other vehicle. We found a used 1983 Stanza at a nearby Nissan dealer and couldn’t turn the Fiesta in fast enough to rid ourselves of that hunk of junk.

    That said, it was actually a decent car to drive. Peppy (not fast) for the time and light enough to be fun to toss about on winding mountain roads, it also had the welcome utility of a hatchback that was helpful during our frequent moves from apartment to apartment. But the lack of air conditioning during the sweltering Carolina summers combined with the constant headache of clutch issues made us deliriously happy to see it go.

  • avatar
    71 MKIV

    You would always find a handful of these, and similar cars around and in the hangers of any medium sized airport. They were the cars you would drive to the airport, and leave there as you left in the airplane, knowing it would still be there, and would still start when you got back.

    • 0 avatar
      Japanese Buick

      Exactly, an airport car. If you’re a professional aviator who goes on multiday trips, having one is essential. Especially if the airport you’re domiciled in isn’t in the nicest part of town.

      Plus, in response to the crack about the “real aviators” bumper sticker, many who pay for their own flying skimp on their cars to be able to afford their plane. After all why pay a lot for a vehicle that doesn’t do anything interesting when you pull back on the wheel at 70 mph.

  • avatar

    There’s one of these that I see around from time to time here in Portland and I always catch it from the side or the back and the first time I saw it, I thought it was either a Golf or a Yugo. I’ll have to see if I can sneak a snapshot next time it comes out of hiding.

  • avatar
    BillWilliam

    I owned a 1979 0r 1980 Fiesta S… it was awesome , Avon 12 inch tires , it was ,fast ,reliable, changing the battery could be an issue as I remember….I still miss it…. It worked…Period…..Sadly you do not see them anymore… Along with Capris …circa early mid 70′s .

  • avatar
    davew833

    I’ve seen the beige Fiesta in Salt Lake City that WhiskerDaVinci mentioned. It’s not far from my house. The undisturbed snow sitting around it on the street where it’s parked suggest that it hasn’t been moved in a while, but it’s in excellent condition.

    About 10 years ago I saw a Fiesta at a transmission shop in Salt Lake City that had been cut in half. One half was in the dumpster and the other half was sitting next to it.

  • avatar
    luvmyv8

    Bummer, wouldn’t mind having this as a commuter.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I learned to drive on my father’s 78 Fiesta (silver, just like in the print ads of the time). I have many happy memories of this car, but a sad one, too (see below).

    The 1.6 OHV Kent engine was wonderful and reliable, and on the highway we really did get 44 MPG out of it on a cross-country trip with 4 adults inside. Shortly after he got the Fiesta, I bought my first car – a 71 Pinto with the 1.6 Kent engine. These were pretty rare, because the Pinto 1.6 was the el-cheapo model, and the 2.0 OHC offered at the time had more power. So, for a time, we actually had 2 Kent engines around the house.

    The Fiesta’s 12″ steel rims didn’t like western Pennsylvania’s potholes, and dented easily. One flaw in the design was that the front fenders were welded on, so repairs were costly.

    It’s worth mentioning that while the Fiesta was low on power, it only weighed about 1700-1800 lbs.

    As teen drivers, my brother and I abused this car:

    Wreck 1: Hot-dogging with friends in the car, I performed a standing U-turn and plowed the RF wheel into a curb at full power. This was when I became acquainted with the terms caster, camber, and toe.
    Wreck 2: My brother managed to hop the entire vehicle onto a median curb and slide the car’s undercarriage over it, with the front and rear wheels hanging over both sides of the median.
    Wreck 3: My dad rear-ended someone after sliding on glare ice.
    Wreck 4: My brother did something I can’t recall.
    Wreck 5: Failing to stop completely at a blind intersection, I broadsided a passing car, which then careened head-on into a Blazer. The Fiesta was totaled, as was the car I hit. If I had been in 1st gear, I’d have been killed. Haste makes waste.

    The last wreck finished the Fiesta just months after my dad paid it off (4 years), and shortly after that he became unemployed for a very long time. I suppose I still feel some guilt about my youthful recklessness and its impact on our family back then, but my father was most gracious about it all.

    Interestingly, the place my dad was laid off from was the steel mill. He was forced to join the union (which he hated), and he received some threats because of the Fiesta. This car was an early entry into the debate over what constitutes an American car – Ford name, Ford profits, German steel, German labor.

    One of my happiest memories of this car? Taking it to the prom; it was the smallest car there, yet comfortable and attractive by 1981 standards.

    My former Scion xB1 reminded me a lot of that Fiesta in terms of its power, shifting, economy, interior layout, crisp lines, reliability, and value.

    The Fiesta is one of a few cars I’d be interested in restoring, if I ever took up such a project.

    Minor nit in the article: the Fiesta was sold in the US from 1978 to 1980. In 1981, Ford replaced it with the new Escort.

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      SCE to AUX,

      You’ve got the years right, but the 1981 Escort and Lynx replaced the 1980 Ford Pinto/Mercury Bobcat. The Fiesta Mk1 in the states was replaced by the Korean-built Festiva which in turn was replaced by the Aspire. I don’t know what size class to call the Fiesta, but in Europe it would be comparable to the VW Polo, one size smaller than the Golf/Rabbit.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheeljack

        The Festiva didn’t come out for years later, so for many American customers, the Escort was the defacto replacement for the Fiesta since it was more “suited to American tastes” and it was available in a 3-door hatchback configuration.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    As I remember from David Halberstam’s book, The Reckoning, the guy who designed the Fiesta was quite a talented guy. If you read that book it explains (in harrowing detail) the attitude that helped create what is called here “The Malaise Era” The Fiesta was an unambitious European project that kind of slipped past headquarters.

    The guy in an interview told Halberstam that he recalls attending a high-level meeting at Ford where he was pitching one of his “out there” projects. As they questioned him after his presentation, their reception was so cold that he realized half-way through the Q&A that his tenure at Ford was over. So he took his “out there” project to Chrysler and the mini-van was born.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      The guy described sounds like none other than Hal Sperlich. He was Iacocca’s guy at Ford, and Henry Ford II hated him. Sperlich ‘was’ a really bright car guy, but, as one might surmise, lacked some of the protocol skills that are required in dealing with high level auto executives (and that was a huge deal at Ford). That was probably a big reason he got such a cold reception during the questioning. Maybe the other execs knew Ford’s opinion of him by then. When Ford finally got rid of Sperlich, Iacocca knew he wasn’t far behind.

      One of Iacocca’s first acts when he got to Chrysler was to hire Sperlich with his ‘wild’ minivan idea. In fact, it’s worth noting that one of Sperlich’s pitches at Ford was to base the minivan off none other than the Fiesta platform! I would imagine that idea didn’t sit too well with the Ford execs (particularly the luxury-oriented Henry), either.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Poor little thing ~ it’s not rusty nor dented .

    I love tiny little cheap cars as they’re usually light and fun to toss around .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I wonder if the Lotus DOHC head from the Lotus Cortina could be fitted to these. It would be a neat rally car.

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      The Lotus cylinder head question is a good one. As a member of the Yahoo Fiesta Group, I learned of another, ‘tuner’ version of the American spec Fiesta Mk1, called the Healey Fiesta:
      http://www.hemmings.com/hsx/stories/2006/09/01/hmn_feature2.html

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      Where there is a will there is a way. I believe there was also a Cosworth designed twin-cam head that will fit the Kent block as well as a Ford sourced head too. The big issues will be routing of cooling hoses and some sort of dummy shaft to run the oil pump.

  • avatar
    AoLetsGo

    We had a couple of these in the late 70′s and they were fun little cars. I remember talking to a Ford engineer one day when I was driving one and he was telling me how great the new Escort replacement was going to be compared to the Fiesta. Maybe the new Escort had a quieter ride but the powertrain was crap compared to the European Fiesta.

  • avatar
    bankerdanny

    I drove a ’78 my senior year of college in 86-87. 4 of us drove it from central Illinois to Clearwater Florida and back in 4 days. It never missed a beat and easily cruised at 65. It was one tough little car and remains one of my favorites of the 25+ I have owned in my life.

  • avatar
    mfantone

    Some Mk1s do still exist and in surprisingly good condition. Let’s just say that despite the numerous times my wife wanted me to get rid of mine, I held onto to it just because of the fun factor. I’ve now owned mine for 32 years! If you’re curious:

    https://www.facebook.com/marco.fantone1/media_set?set=a.10151508232042949.1073741826.679392948&type=3

  • avatar
    nikita

    I had an ’80, my first new car. Bought it instead of a VW Rabbit because it was about a grand cheaper, significant back then. While the Westmorland, PA built VW’s also had plenty of issues, the Fiesta was my introduction to Ford cost-cutting. Window winders broke in your hand. At least the dealer carried replacements as this apparently was common. The front brakes lasted less than 10,000 miles, along with the tiny tires. Struts went away long before 20,000. Steering rack boots also came apart. Floors oil canned. Nearly constant overheating. At least the all-iron Kent engine seemed to take that in stride.

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      I’ll compare my repair history with the five Fiesta’s I owned during the period of 1982 to 1986, none of them the base model. Only one of them gave me a recurring brake issue, and that was an 1980 Ghia model that I replaced front calipers on about every 7,500 miles. The problem was that they would freeze up and ruin the front rotors. I’ll admit that the front door window regulator handles were flimsy, but if you kept the channels lubed periodically, the handle never snapped for me.No cooling problems, and the first two Fiestas got a daily commute slog of 100 miles round trip, almost all of it at interstate speed. If by oil canning, you meant audible flexing of the sheet metal floors, I experienced none of that in any of my cars. Yes, the tire and wheel combination was a small 12′diameter, but I never experienced strange wear problems or constant out of balance issues with the Michelin X’s that my Fiestas used.

      I also drove two VW Rabbits, a new 1976 West German-built carbureted model and a 1982 Westmoreland model(10 years old when I bought it), both with manual gearbox. Both were fine transportation for their time, with no issues. If I were to repeat the Rabbit experience, I would have waited on the new one until the 1977 model, the last West German-built model, because it was the first model year to get electronic fuel injection. No problems at all with the carbureted model, just would have preferred the fuel injection. I did work briefly after that for Honda, and bought one of the first 1985 CRX Si models, which was one of three new Honda models that year (the others being the Accord SEi and the Prelude Si) to use fuel injection.

      • 0 avatar
        buckeyeautoparts

        Have plans of replacing your old car? In need a replacement on one of your mechanical or body parts or in need of new accessories? No matter which of the two are your concerns right now, Buckeye Auto Parts is the company that you can turn to. Instead of placing your old car to junk, you can sell it to them. They will check all the parts of it that can still be used including the fluids in it. Those parts that are confirmed to still be of use will be cleaned and tested before they get warehoused. Getting your car in one of the largest junk yards in columbus ohio makes a great deal for you can be assured that none of its parts will ever go to junk.

  • avatar
    rconwath

    Just wondering if anyone knows which Northern California junkyard this car is/was sitting in?


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