The History of The Mk1 Ford Fiesta
As early as 1972 Ford had begun planning a small economical car as a reaction to changing attitudes and rising fuel cost, the codename for this project was Bobcat. The project was personally approved by Henry Ford II and the investigation work carried out was the largest Ford has carried out on any product to date. The opinions gathered were used to produce the initial concepts which were then made into full size clay mockups. 1:5th scale models of the final design were extensively tested in the wind tunnel in order to improve aerodynamics and fuel efficiency.
The Mk1 Fiesta emerged in 1976;. In total it cost over $55million US Dollars to develop and was designed as a multi-national, small front wheel drive hatchback targeted towards female drivers. It was the first FWD transverse engined car Ford had produced. The car was also an attempt to challenge the market stronghold for small hatches held by the Renault 5 and Volkswagen Polo. Production began in 1976 in Germany at Ford's Werke A.G. Production plant in Cologne.
The car, although basic, did have some advanced design features. For example the Mk1 slatted front grill was designed to prevent air from entering the vehicle at high speeds thus lowering the drag coefficient. The aerofoil slats allowed air into the engine bay at low speed but as speeds increased the cushion of air behind the grill directed the air up and over the bonnet, a design feature that Ford had patented and has been used on many production vehicles since.
The car also had a optional non sliding glass sunroof which had the negative effect of exposing people to UV light but this strangely enough wasn't written in the catalogue! The visibility inside the vehicle was excellent due to the large glazed area, narrow A pillars and the excellent driving position.
The Fiesta went on sale in the UK in 1977. To begin with the car was only available in 950cc and 1100cc form, powered by a Kent™ engine. However it proved popular despite its lack of power due to its low price and the fact that it had the largest load space of any car in its class as well as being the lightest. Car safety was not a major selling point at the time, however the fiesta matched the standard set by much larger cars.
The car received a power upgrade in September of '77, the 1300cc Kent™ engine was fitted to the S and Ghia models.
In 1978 the Fiesta won a British Design Council Efficency Award, presented by Prince Philip it was the first car to recieve one. By 1979 over a million Mk1's had sold in just 32 months since their launch and a Fiesta was entered into the Monte Carlo Rally.