"Saving Ford's hot hatch from becoming a fridge"
A resource site for owners of the Mk1 & 2 Fiesta

Project Bobcat Ford Fiesta resource site

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.

A Ford Fiesta PrototypeThe 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 during February 1977. To begin with the car was only available in 950cc and 1100cc form, powered by a Kentâ„¢ 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 Kentâ„¢ engine was fitted to the S and Ghia models.

The Millionth Fiesta to be manufactured.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.

Special Editions

In addition to the standard production models, many special editions were also released during the production of the Mk1 Fiesta. These were:

Release DateNameNo. Produced
August 1978Limited Edition2000
December 1978Kingfisher2500
March 1979Million3100
December 1979Sandpiper2500
January 1979Jubilee60
July 1980Fire Fly2000
March 1981Sandpiper II4000
June 1981Bravo3000
June 19811300L2000
April 1982Bravo II4000
December 1982Carnival3000
January 1983Quartz7000
April 1983Finesse12000

Production of the Mk1 Fiesta ceased in August 1983 to make way for the new "face-lift" Mk1 or Mk2 as it is more commonly known. By the time production of the Mk1 ceased, the Fiesta had dropped to 5th in the UK sales chart but was still boasting sales of over 100,000 per year.

Page Last Updated: Monday 9th of November 2020