By on August 27, 2019

Ford has executed an on-then-off strategy with regard to its Fiesta offering in the North American market. Currently in off mode, your local Ford dealer encourages you to look at the sporty and capable first-ever third-world offering EcoSport instead.

But today we’re stepping back in time to 1978 to take a look at the genesis of Fiesta. The Fiestasis, if you will.

Ford began development of the Fiesta in the early Seventies as a new competitor to offerings from the likes of Renault, Peugeot, and Volkswagen. A super mini, the Fiesta would occupy a size class below the (European market) Escort. The project received the go-ahead from Henry Ford II in 1972, and the final design work was carried out at Ghia by noted designer Tom Tjaarda. In development the project was called Bobcat, but Ford asked General Motors if it could use the Fiesta name instead. The General owned usage of the name ever since the Oldsmobile Fiesta of the 1950s.

“Have it,” GM said.

Ford implemented a coil spring suspension in the Fiesta, whereas most rivals used torsion bars. In cars equipped with the sports “S” package, Ford included an anti-roll bar. All first generation Fiestas came equipped with 12-inch wheels, disc brakes up front, and drums at the rear.

The project marked a couple of firsts for Ford’s European operation arm: It was the first time they’d developed a front-drive car intended for several markets, and the first super mini from Ford. A new factory was built in Valencia, Spain to handle Fiesta demand, estimated at 500,000 units per year. Production capability in the UK at Dagenham was also used, as well as the Cologne and Saarlouis sites in West Germany.

On sale in early 1977, European models used 957-cc or 1.1-liter Valencia inline-four engines. Models intended for North America had different specifications than their European brethren, and rolled out of Germany rather than Spain. U.S. versions had a larger 1.6-liter Crossflow four and catalytic converters. The U.S. also required impact bumpers and sealed-beam headlamps, and customers demanded optional air conditioning (not available across Europe). A four-speed manual was the only transmission available in any Fiesta. Hatchback Fiestas were the only option in North America, but other markets also received a three-door panel van.

The Fiesta was a global success for Ford, which replaced it in 1984 with a Mark II version. However, in North America it lasted only through 1980, as an America-centric Escort was ready for its debut in model year 1981.

Today’s Rare Ride is a very tidy 1978 example with the sporty S package that adds additional gauges to the upgraded suspension. Currently a Seattle resident, this Fiesta emigrated to the U.S. via Vancouver, which is a small blue-collar shipping port in Canada. With 33,000 miles on the clock, it asks $4,500.

[Images: seller]

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47 Comments on “Rare Rides: The 1978 Ford Fiesta, a German Car...”


  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Notice the VW clone steering wheel? I worked at a Ford dealership part-time in the early 80’s and the technicians (mechanics) were not happy when asked to work on one of these, as they were different and therefore took more time than the run of the mill domestic Ford products.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      It seems quite possible that most Ford techs didn’t have comprehensive sets of metric tools at the time.

      I’m impressed that this car has its window cranks. I recall them being missing on the ones I rode in forty years ago. The US Fiestas had much larger engines than the ones sold in meaningful numbers on the other side of the pond, big enough to make up for the bumpers, door beams, and emissions controls that non-export cars lacked.

      Other than French cars, which important competitors had torsion bars? The Audi 50/VW Polo had coils according the parts catalogs I can find. The best selling car in Europe in the mid ’70s was the FIAT 127(close relative of the Yugo 45) and it had coils in front paired with a transverse leaf in the back. The Austin Metro had rubber cones, IIRC.

  • avatar
    bufguy

    I loved these cars and they were a worthy competitor for the Rabbit in performance and European sensibility especially in since just as these were introduced to the American market VW was starting production in its Pennsylvania plant producing Malibuized Rabbits.
    The Fiesta diminutive size is quite apparent in the pictures. Very little clearance between front end and firewall. rear wheels intruding on back seat and notice how little space there is in between the front seats…Every contemporary car has amble space for arm rest or storage.

  • avatar
    phxmotor

    A Ford executive I had dealings with acquired a German Fiesta in 1979. On a whim. To see for herself what Ford’s smallest North American offering was really like. Wadddda car! She loved it. I loved it too. Easily equaled or even exceeded the benchmark of its class the Morris Mini. Both great cars (!) with drivability unmatched by anything on the road … (including all the nonsense overpriced Saudi Prince “super” cars) … It’s the kind of car that makes driving fun.
    33,000 miles? No rust? Factory (dealer add on) AC? Hell its a new car. Other than not having ABS or Airbags it qualifies as one of the best cars ever built.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Never noticed it before, but darned if that instrument panel isn’t almost a dead-ringer for a 1990-1991 Honda Civic IP, with the exception of the warning light stack!

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Featured car does not have a/c. If it did it would have two horizontal vents in dash beltline, as well as two knobs, IIRC, one for fan (also engaged the compressor), and one for a/c temp.

      We had two of these, I had a 1980 Decor (basically a cheaper Ghia) and my sister a full zoot (Except cast wheels, good thing too because they were known to corrode) 1980 Ghia (w a/c that blew so cold that on humid days snow flakes would come out of the Centre vents.)

      The US Fiesta 1.6 was basically the mechanical bits from the European XR-2 but without the sexy trim pieces. Worst components? The brakes, they tended to stick in salty climes and wear out the pads and shoes quickly. If you knew this it was possible to properly grease the sticking points but most failed to do this.)

      Bought mine in 84 w 69,000 miles. After the cat broke, I went to a straight pipe, after the thermactor pump failed, I removed all that equipment too (car was 5 or 6 years old at that point). A year later I pulled all the bumpers off, drilled a hole in and collapsed the hydraulic bumper shocks and reinstalled. They fit much closer to the body at that point and looked better.) Finally sold car in late 88 w approaching 200k miles for near what I paid for it. It was a very simple and honest car. Very comfortable and was a little hot rod. I out ran contemporary Camaros and Firebirds. Chief engineer of Cadillac lived up street from me, was amazed the 12inch XZX tires didn’t disintegrate (I told him it’s because of Michelin quality!)

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Ah, the car I learned to drive on!

    My father – a Ford guy for 30+ years by then (with the exception of a 62 Beetle) – bought one of these brand new in ’78. He was also a machinist at the Homestead Works of United States Steel in Pittsburgh, and a member (by force) of the USW. He typically voted R, which made him unpopular.

    But he took some abuse for the Fiesta because it was imported, despite being Ford-badged and built (I think) by union labor in Germany.

    Our car was not the “S”, but it had steelies, cloth interior, and the silver paint often advertised at the time. Incidentally, the pushrod 1.6 was the “Kent” engine block, also used in the 71-73 Pinto as the base engine, which I also had.

    Our family of four traveled in the Fiesta on a couple of 2000-mile round trip vacations (no cruise control!), and in the 55-mph world of 1978-82 we got amazing 40+ mpg fuel economy.

    I took my date to the prom in this car (smallest car in the crowd at the time), and my brother and I generally abused the car to explore its limits. My friends and I would go out “Rabbit hunting” to provoke the local VW owners. Between us 3 drivers in the family, the poor car had 5 crashes (mine was the first), until I totaled it in 1982. That’s another story.

    These cars had welded-on front fenders, and were generally pretty fragile. Even the 12-inch tires were terrible for the potholed roads of western PA. We consumed a lot of 155-80-R12 Michelins back then. The Fiesta was very lightweight (1850 lbs, IIRC), so it would light up the front tires with little effort.

    Good memories.

    The one in the pictures is a bargain. Fiestas tended to rust out very quickly; combined with low sales volume and a short run in the US, they are very rare indeed.

  • avatar
    EquipmentJunkie

    My shop teacher in high school drove a pea green Fiesta…liked the car but not that color. The Fiesta’s 12-inch wheels seemed to be like the original Mini wheels at the time.

    I always like these early Fiestas but never had a chance to drive one. It seemed like all my schoolmates all tended to drive either Rabbits, Chevettes, or Escorts, so I’m still wanting.

    Eastern-PA had lots of VW Rabbits scooting around our back roads, so that was our go-to German-built, FWD hatchback. Then the GTI arrived in ’83 and solidified that brand loyalty.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      I guess VW brand loyalty survived that long because it was PA, where Rabbits were built from 1979 along with pickups and finishing with Jettas from ’87-’89. In Virginia, Rabbits peaked around 1976, when fuel injection was available and teething issues were minimized until production moved to PA and the cars changed. In spite of what the media said, Jettas were preferable to GTIs until they too moved to PA. Then everything moved to Puebla, and VW would forever rely on new customers for survival in the US. VW brand loyalty outside of PA pretty much died when people noticed that water cooled VWs didn’t have the same set of advantages as air cooled VWs.

      Beetles had been priced very close to the bottom of the market when they were most popular. Dollar devaluation in the ’70s meant that the Rabbit was an incredibly austere premium product by the time production could be moved stateside. If you find a comparison test from 1978, generally the conclusion would be that the Rabbit had the most complete set of desirable attributes but wasn’t worth the 20% more than the competition that VW had to charge. Westmoreland was supposed to fix that, but unfortunately they made changes and used local suppliers that led to commentators characterizing the treatment as the Malibuization of the Rabbit. PA production peaked in 1981, which really says it all.

      • 0 avatar
        EquipmentJunkie

        The strength of VW diesel option sold a lot of cars in the whole product line in this region of PA chock full of frugal people with deep Germanic roots. The Escort and Chevette eventually got diesels, but the Rabbit had a head start and had a wide range of trim levels to bolster the image of their higher price. In fact, it was not unusual to see a solidly middle-class professional trade in their domestic land yacht in the early-’80s for an upscale trim Rabbit diesel due to the total cost of ownership.

        My parents granted me the “honor” of piloting a diesel Chevette as my daily driver at age 16. That ’81 Chevette was a strong lesson in humility for a teen. I don’t know what the difference was in price between a Chevette and a Rabbit, but a VW was worth twice the amount. My father and I had numerous discussions about the Chevette’s lack of merit in the place of automotive history. My father dubbed it, “A modern-day Model T”. This was not meant as a glowing review, but rather an indictment of its utilitarian execution. He said in one of our conversations that no matter how bad a vehicle is, there is always something that the vehicle possesses that works well. We both agreed that the Chevette had a nice shifting 5-speed manual…and that’s where it ended.

        A few years later, the family graduated to an ’80 Rabbit convertible. Wow! A nice-driving car for its day. I later bought an ’81 Rabbbit diesel as a daily driver…dead slow but still had entertainment value in the corners since momentum was such a highly-prized commodity.

  • avatar
    cprescott

    One of Ford’s finest cars. Love the simplicity of the interior and the very well done and tight exterior styling. I’d love to own one of these.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    A high-school pal owned one. His father had bought it during the 2nd gas crisis to supplement his V8 Mercedes. He quickly realized it was Not. A. Benz., and handed it over to his son.

    That 1.6 might have been plenty okay with just a driver aboard, but filled with 4 still-growing high school boys, the car had to be whipped like a rented mule. Still, it took all that abuse and just kept going.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “…filled with 4 still-growing high school boys, the car had to be whipped like a rented mule”

      Being one of those 4 high school boys, and the driver, I can verify that.

      As a fellow (now former) xB1 driver with you, I found my 05 xB1 to be a modern analog to the 78 Fiesta – boxy, with a clean interior and exterior design, small 4-cylinder with stick, economical to buy and operate, and dependable.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    A colleague of my father’s was old money and bizarrely frugal. They lived on a large piece of land, but I believe their kids’ pets froze to death in their house during the winter. My parents didn’t seem to be fond of the idea of my sister and I spending much time at their place. The guy made his long commute to his job as a professor of a decent university in a Fiesta for a couple of years. When his son turned sixteen, relatives gave the kid a Pierce Arrow. There was definitely some sort of tri-generational friction going on, but it was funny that the teenage son had a car worth about a dozen times as much as his father’s.

  • avatar
    MeJ

    :…via Vancouver, which is a small blue-collar shipping port in Canada…”
    Being from Vancouver that was very funny, made me laugh out loud (or LOL as the kids are saying now.)

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve never been, but it sure seems to be an affordable place!

      • 0 avatar
        MeJ

        Yeah, it’s beautiful here but the traffic congestion and housing prices are ridiculous.
        Still, as a car guy, it’s a great place because I see so many incredible cars on a regular basis because of all the 1% ers and their toys.
        It’s at a point now where seeing a brand new 911 GT2 RS isn’t even a big deal (just last week, in fact).

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I don’t even drive the cars I have but I was in discussions with a gentleman about purchasing his clean XJ8 in a few months when he buys something else. The weakness of the X350 is the air ride system but this is replaceable with conventional shocks from what I read. I may have to do something stupid and buy yet another car I don’t need, because…

        • 0 avatar

          I would enjoy if it were that mist green colour. Also avoid the first year of manufacture, as they had more issues and water leaks.

          I thought you were more of a X308 guy though. For *real* dignity.

          PS. Noted journalist Alex Dykes had an X350 (later one supercharged) and it was an appalling heap, according to him. Just electrical issues you couldn’t fix, and when it did break it had to go on a flatbed to the specialist*.

          *Source: Said it right to me.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I’d much prefer an X308 but for the right money with no miles and clean I’m interested. It actually is that tiel green weird Jag green color.

            According to Wiki both X308 and X350 were available as 2003s which I find strange, this one is an MY04 X350 which is not the best year. Car has under 40K at present but has thrown the air ride light and I think he’s thinking a F it. Avg valuation per Manheim was a surprising 2,800 but with those miles probably more. I’m hoping for I’m sick of it 2 grand and its yours otherwise probably a no go.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaguar_XJ_(X350)

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaguar_XJ_(X308)

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I recall his woes which gives me pause. The flatbed part I’m wondering about because they are RWD and not AWD AFAIK. The XJR S/C also had its own unique issues, this one is an N/A 4.2 V8. I’ll continue to do my research, from what I read the drivetrain is generally solid aside from the coolant tank leaking somehow, the throttle bodies being junk/need replaced, and something about the heater core liking to gunk up. Electrical gremlins do suck, but as long as it drives, hvac/cd player, and driver lock/window work I’m still a buyer for the right money.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            youtube.com/watch?v=elcrF2CNpHk

          • 0 avatar

            On the 2003 thing, there were 03 X350 models in Europe, but not here. MY04 was the first year here.

  • avatar
    pale ghost

    I was working in Europe on assignment for a multinational which bought a paint plant in Benicarlo to supply the Valencia Fiesta factory. Paint plant was a total mess and the company brought in a plant manager from Germany to straighten the place out. Talk about culture clash. The company was very safety conscious. I signed into the plant the first day with a Safety and Environmental guy from the UK who sarcastically asked his plant counterpart “Any explosions since my last visit’. I had a rental Fiesta – I loved it. I got pulled over doing I believe 150KPH with the pedal on the floor. I handed the motorcycle cop my Pennsylvania drivers license. He had a WTF look on his face. Back then the PA licenses were printed on part of a punch card – no picture. Not anything like the official European licenses. My guess is he heard of Transylvania but not Pennsylvania. My Spanish was atrocious. He finally pointed to the speedometer and waved me on.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    I rented one of these when I visited England in the early 80s. Fabulous ride for barreling down narrow country lanes on the wrong side of the road with two college buddies. I really enjoyed that little car.

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      Rentals was how I got hooked on these. You don’t usually find a US rental agency with manual transmission cars, but one near BU in Boston had a small fleet of ’78 Fiestas, all with that cool sunroof. When I transferred to Portland, OR I was determined to get one, never imagining I would eventually buy five of them in total for me and a couple of friends.

      • 0 avatar
        Robert.Walter

        The sunroof was a mixed bag, literally. The option came with a removable unit in glass that could be swapped for a painted/headlined version. The unused unit had a nice vinyl bag with rubber straps that fit into slots on the luggage compartment floor forward, and a slot between them and in the support crossmember rearward.

        The flexing and loading of the roof as one clamped and unclamped the panel has its deficiencies, if one was in habit of opening and closing a lot, as I did 2x+ daily, the roof sheet metal tended to rust forward of the two front pivot plates.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    For some reason I always thought these were British not German.

  • avatar
    ThomasSchiffer

    When I was growing up these were everywhere. I seem to recall the most popular color in Germany was a brownish kind of orange, based on my visual observation.

    Rust killed most of them after a few years.

  • avatar
    snakebit

    OK, let me tone down the sellers over-enthusiastic description of features on the North American 1978-1980 Ford Fiesta. The ‘S’ does come with(as the Ford shop manual describes)stiff sport suspension with rear stabilizer bar. Other than that specification, all of these used the same brake system, the same 1600cc Kent 4cyl OHV motor, the same transaxle. ALL of these Fiesta’s came with a speedometer, temp gauge, and fuel gauge. On the base model and Decor model, the large round gauge cubby on the right housed a combination temp and fuel gauge, and in the center was a shift pattern between the speedo and the combination gauge. On the’S’model and Ghia model, a tach replaced the combination gauge, and a small fuel and temp gauge went in the space between the tach and speedo where the shift pattern went on the two lower trim levels. On the Craigs List Fiesta, the upholstery looks like it came from a Decor model, being that it’s all vinyl. An ‘S’ model should have cloth seating surfaces with stripes running front to back. If these seats weren’t swapped out by an owner, it may be that the all-vinyl seating surfaces were a Canada-only specificstion on the ‘S’. Reclining front seat backs were standard on the top three trim levels, and as you can see from the photos on Craigs List, they were operated with a knob similar to Recaro seats, so they were infinitely adjustable.

    I personally owned three of these Fiestas(a ’78 ‘S’ model and a ’80 Ghia while in Portland,OR and a different ’80 Ghia once I moved to Boston), and I bought two more Decor models for friends in Boston. I used the Portland cars for a daily 100 mile commute five days a week and every third Saturday, with no issues, in the early 1980s. The only issue I had in Boston was a front brake caliper freezing up that took three replacements to make it right. The only downside, if you can find one in good condition these days, is it’s getting harder to find replacement 12 inch radial tires for them. I would buy another one like this Craigs List example. If this one had the nifty factory sunroof(one steel replaceable panel, and one glass panel, stored in the cargo area with its own vinyl pouch), I’d be on the phone to the seller today.

  • avatar
    Steve203

    I tried one of these on at the Ford dealer when they came out. No go for my 6′ self. Not enough leg room or head room.

    In the 80s, there was a self storage place next to the southbound side of US-131 between Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, MI that was packed with Fiestas. Must have been close to a dozen of them. A few years later, a couple of Festivas joined the horde of Fiesta.

    I just scrolled down 131 on Google satellite view and saw a couple self-storage places that could be the one I noticed 35 years ago, but all the Fiestas are gone.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I was 6’5″ to 6’7″ at the time, and I fit OK. But I was also much lighter than today!

      • 0 avatar
        Fordson

        I bought a ’70 S model new. I was 6.0′ in 1979…these had just a ton of headroom…ton of room-room – these had absolutely stunning space utilization…for a car that was 143 inches long. I regulation 30″ wide stove would fit inside the hatch no problem…and the hatch would close.

        Clutch cable had to be replaced a few times, but other than that, just oil, filters, tires – and every 15k miles a valve adjustment required.

        The 1.6 Kent had a ton of torque for a car that weighed around 1800 lbs…no issues with driveability at all. 35-40 mpg all its life.

        I finally junked it in 1995, with 182,000+ miles on it…it was rusted out from living in western New York…but it had never had the head off, never used oil (changes every 3k miles…), never had clutch replaced, maybe 2 sets of brakes…very stout little car that was a lot of fun to drive…and yes, it did have a pretty blue-chip design/style pedigree.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      I am 6’2” and the only car that I ever owned that had a more comfortable seating position was my 2005 Smart Fortwo. Even my 89 VW Cabriolet which replaced the fiesta was not as comfortable.

  • avatar
    ABC-2000

    The car I learned to drive on, it was 1982, 957cc, it was just great but insanely slow!

  • avatar
    rudiger

    The Fiesta was what you bought if you wanted a small, affordable German car but didn’t feel like dealing with the Rabbit’s issues or VW dealer network. I know, because that’s exactly what I did.

    While not exactly fragile or tinny, they were definitely lightweight in the good and bad auto definitions of the words. They were screwed together pretty well so parts didn’t fall off, but they did fail (alternator and horn on mine). It was just the typical German austerity that you had to expect on their bottom-feeder cars.

    Speaking of horn, this was my first experience with Ford’s miserable experiment with putting the horn switch on the turn signal stalk instead of the steering wheel hub. They tried to claim it was the ‘European way’ but that sounded like a bunch of BS, to me, and it was really a cost-cutting move.

    Cheap, simple, and easy to fix, overall, the first Fiesta was an okay first car, especially for the late seventies.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      +1 on the silly horn thing. That was peak cost cutting.

      • 0 avatar
        Robert.Walter

        For folks that held the wheel at 9/3 or 10/2, the stalk operated horn button was in an insanely convenient location. Even for those that held the wheel at 6 or 12, the stalk was no less than convenient than a horn pad. When I replaced my Fiesta with a new 89 VW Cabriolet, I was amazed at how solid the VW body and roof mechanism were, how crap the outer door handle assemblies (eventually the trigger kept sticking while in warranty) and column stalk switch gear (noisy and much less smooth with poor detente than Fiesta), temperature selector (stiff and non linear) were.

  • avatar
    threeer

    A dear, cherished family friend (so much so, he was considered an uncle more than just a friend) moved from a VW Type III to a brand new Fiesta around 1979. Silver exterior with a blue interior, I thought that little box on wheels was a revelation every time I saw it. Parked inside his garage in Karlsruhe, I always paused to look at it when I’d visit.

    Cars like this (especially left in such good condition) interest me far, far more than just about any exotic. As a matter of fact, I am currently pining heavily for a 1986 Dodge Ram 50 that just was listed on ebay (and didn’t sell) in resplendent burnt orange that looks for all the world like my very first car, a 1978 Plymouth Arrow (also in burnt orange!). I need a yard sale to raise $3k stat!

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I love the simplicity of this car. As a kid, I remember seeing them, I enjoyed the “international” badge on the back. But I didn’t see many of them in Pittsburgh for the reasons SCE mentioned in his post. Union town, big domestics ruled and these little guys rotted fast from the copious amount of road salt we use in the winter. I’d totally take this home if I could.

    The 12 inch tires! A quick search shows they can be found, but only in no-name tires. I know when I had to find 225/60/15 for my 89 Mustang, finding a decent brand name tire was hard.I finally went with Coopers CS5, which is a touring tire. No one does 15 inch wheels/tires anymore and the resto houses are happy to sell you the OEM Goodyear Gatorbacks for $325/tire.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    “Ford implemented a coil spring suspension in the Fiesta, whereas most rivals used torsion bars.”

    Do you mean a torsion beam (twist beam) rear axle? Plenty of FWD cars have used those (my Audi Fox had it, with coil springs). The Fiesta just used a beam axle with coils, trailing links, and a Panhard rod.

    I knew a couple of folks that owned these – a friend that owned a red base model, and a cousin (family owned the local small town Ford dealer) that had a silver Ghia. Both with a/c. These were plenty quick enough, with the 1.6 and four-speed.

  • avatar
    427Cobra

    My mom had one of these when I was in high school/college. I learned to drive stick on it. Fun little car. One night on her way to pick me up at college, she had some sort of issue that fried the electrical system. Luckily, a dealer managed to get it going, & we managed to make it back home, tho everything smelt burnt.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Did she have a/c option? My sister’s fiesta, then 6 or 7 years old at time, had the a/c pulley scuff the main harness (my guess is the harness shrank and the engine mounts became less resistant and the pulley could swing enough to short the harness. I spent a good day and a half on Labor Day weekend removing the harness to fix it. After my sister arrived at my folks vacation home without various external lighting. It occurs to me now that she was lucky as the lead in the harness that was cut could have been something vital like the radiator fan or airbag crash sensor (just kidding on that last one).

  • avatar
    MQHokie

    I inherited one of these from an uncle in 1985 as my first daily driver. He’d been trying to tune it up at some point and had it catch fire under the hood after a backfire, then threw sand all over it (with no air cleaner) to put the fire out. My father and I rolled it down the hill to our garage, pulled the carb and cleaned it and the manifold as well as we could, then poured some 2-cycle mix down its throat and started it up. Tough little bugger that it was, from that day forward it ran reliably until a couple years later when a school bus ran my father off the road in it and he tore up the suspension. I remember one night it broke the water pump belt late at night about 15 miles from home. Taking care with the throttle, I was able to nurse it home without overheating it – I doubt many modern engines would be able to do that.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Lucky it was only a fan belt. I had to replace water pumps in both our fiestas and since the pump pulley was so close to the inner fender, it was literally turn the tool 1/4 turn at a time. At the time I only had a metric monkey wrench and both times the seal failed in the brutal gold of a Detroit winter. Good times.


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