Junkyard Find: 1978 Ford Fiesta Sport

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1978 ford fiesta sport

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.

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  • CincyDavid CincyDavid on Jun 21, 2015

    I rode in a silver one once, seem to recall black and white houndstooth upholstery...but that was in the early 80s and my memory is foggy. I'd love to have one, but the only one I have seen in decades is the peanut butter color one on Hamilton Avenue in the Northside neighborhood of Cincinnati. Every time I see it, I smile. Come to think of it, I haven't seen it this year. I wonder what became of the little beastie.

  • Gayneu Gayneu on Feb 16, 2017

    Wow, this brings back great memories for me. I did not realize this website existed until I Googled "1978-1980 Ford Fiesta for sale". As was stated earlier, I am surprised by how few of these I see. I bought a 78 while in college. It was definitely the Base model - yellow, tan vinyl, AM radio. Threw an AM/FM/8-track in the dash plus a broomstick to hold up the hatchback door and was ready to go. Very fun car and always reliable. I remember drooling over a stranger's silver Ghia version later - tach, passenger-side mirrow, AC and sunroof - what luxury!

  • Robert I have had 4th gen 1996 model for many years and enjoy driving as much now as when I first purchased it - has 190 hp variant with just the right amount of power for most all driving situations!
  • ToolGuy Meanwhile in Germany...
  • Donald More stuff to break god I love having a nanny in my truck... find a good tuner and you can remove most of the stupid stuff they add like this and auto park when the doors open stupid stuff like that
  • John Williams Sounds like a Burnout Special you can put together on any 5.0 F150. Whoever said this was Cars and Coffee bait is right on the money.
  • ToolGuy Question: F-150 FP700 (  Bronze or  Black) supercharger kit is legal in 50 states, while the  Mustang supercharger kit is banned in California -- why??