Fiesta’s Legacy: The Timeless First-Generation Ford Fiesta

The Ford Fiesta holds a special place in the hearts of compact car enthusiasts, standing the test of time as an all-time favorite. It's a testament to Ford's knack for innovation and staying on the pulse of change, all while crafting cars that speak to a broad audience.

Table of Contents

First-Generation Ford Fiesta black

In ’72, Ford embarked on a mission to cook up a compact, fuel-savvy car codenamed “Bobcat.” Why? Well, people’s tastes were changing, and gas prices were soaring. This concept got the personal stamp of approval from Henry Ford II, and Ford went all out with the most epic research mission they’d ever tackled. The goal? To craft a snazzy, front-wheel drive hatchback that would turn heads worldwide, especially among the ladies. It was a total game-changer for Ford, introducing their first-ever ride with a transverse engine and front-wheel drive. And it was all part of their master plan to take on the big shots, the Volkswagen Polo and Renault 5, in the compact hatchback scene.

Ford Fiesta mk1 rear picture

Exploring the Superior Attributes of the Ford Fiesta

First-Generation Ford Fiesta showcase model

The OG Ford Fiesta, that first-gen gem, knows how to nail that sweet spot between aesthetic appeal and getting things done right. Craftsmanship? Oh yeah, it’s next-level awesome. This ride was born to be the answer to the 1973 oil crisis and rocked at being fuel-efficient.

The Fiery Core of the Ford Fiesta

First-Generation Ford Fiesta blueprint

It made history by being Ford’s pioneer with a transverse engine layout and scoring big as the brand’s first front-wheel drive model to win over folks across the globe.

Straight Four Engine

First-Generation Ford Fiesta 4 cyl engine

The OG Fiesta had a 1.1 L straight-four engine, and you could pick high or low compression. It came in different variants, like Base, Popular, Popular Plus, L, GL (starting in ’78), Ghia, and the van.

Now, depending on where you were, the first-gen Fiesta had many engine options. They all had one thing in common: they were all inline four-cylinder engines that sat sideways under the hood. These engines ranged from around 1,000 ccs to a 1.6-litre version, a lighter twist on Ford’s famous “Kent” overhead valve I-4.

In the U.S., the little 97.4 cubic-inch engine made a modest 63 horses, and you could only get a 4-speed manual.

This engine, rocking the “Kent” architecture, got a makeover to make it lighter and more straightforward for the Fiesta. But it’s a far cry from the 1.6-litre Kent that went on to power Formula Ford racers and some Lotus models.

The significant change was in the crankshaft, from five main bearings to a lighter and simpler three-main bearing setup. They didn’t need a more extensive, worse engine for the first Fiesta since there were no hot rods or racing vibes back then.

Diesel Engines

First-Generation Ford Fiesta diesel engine

The base 1.5-litre turbocharged diesel comes in three variants, each with a five-speed manual gearbox. The entry-level version pushes out 75 horses and 190 Nm of torque. It can hit 104 mph, but the 0-62 mph run takes 13.3 seconds.

If you’re ready to drop a bit more cash, the 95-horsepower engine with 215 Nm of torque is the move. It’ll get you to 112 mph, and the 0-62 mph dash happens in a quick 10.9 seconds.

Now, if you’re all about that Eco life, the 95-horsepower diesel Econetic edition covers you. It’s got some unique touches, like low rolling resistance tires and a nifty start/stop feature. It’s a bit slower, with a top speed of 111 mph and a 0-62 mph time of 11.9 seconds, but it’s the most fuel-efficient Fiesta in the gang. It’s estimated to sip fuel at a rate of 88.3 mpg and keeps CO2 emissions low at 82g per kilometer. Eco-friendly and pocket-friendly!

Mileage of Ford Fiesta

With its 1.5 L engine, the car’s manual petrol version achieved 39 mpg. On the other hand, the Ford Fiesta diesel variant had a 1.5 L engine and 58 mpg of mileage. The latest Ford Fiesta Car offers the same average as well.

Stats for engine

Engine Specification:

Engine Configuration

Fiesta’s Velocity Secrets

First-Generation Ford Fiesta and latest generation

Sure thing! Even though it didn’t win any speed contests, the OG Fiesta was still a blast to drive. That was all thanks to its super light curb weight, clocking in at under 1,700 pounds. That made this ride feel nimble and let it squeeze every ounce of power from its not-so-big horsepower.

Over in Europe, they had a little treat in 1980 with the 1.3-litre SuperSport version, but North America missed out on a first-gen performance edition straight from the factory. The original Fiesta rolled from 1976 to 1983, enjoying a long life in the automotive world.

Interior of Ford Fiesta

First-Generation Ford Fiesta interior

The Fiesta got a lot of love for its smart interior setup. Even though it was a compact ride on the outside, it felt pretty spacious inside. How’d they do it? Pushing the wheels out to the corners made the front and rear ends shorter and gave more room between the wheels.

Ron Wakefield, the European/Engineering Editor over at Road & Track, who’s about 5’9″, noticed something extraordinary. When he set the driver’s seat to his liking, he could pretty much “sit behind himself” comfortably.

First-Generation Ford Fiesta back seats

There was enough leg and foot space, plenty of headroom, and no cramped vibes. And if you looked at the dashboard and how they set up the instruments, it had a real BMW vibe.

Exterior of Ford Fiesta

First-Generation Ford Fiesta back side

This ride is a total surprise, from its beautifully sculpted exterior to the cockpit that looks like it’s inspired by a slick mobile phone. We’re calling it: small-car design is making a comeback in a big way.

First-Generation Ford Fiesta front side angle

It’s like following in the footsteps of the Mini Cooper, the fresh Fiat 500, the cool Renault Twingo, and the soon-to-be-revealed Toyota iQ.

The first-gen Fiesta was all about that compact car life. Its body had clean, simple lines that fit right into the late ’70s style. And here’s the cool part: its fuel efficiency and skill on the road were all thanks to how sleek and aerodynamic it looked. It was like a small car with big moves!

Verdict on Ford Fiesta

First-Generation Ford Fiesta badge

The Ford Fiesta is a severe contender for the Parker Best Used Car award, and it’s already taken the title twice in a row in 2020 and 2021. It’s no surprise, as the Ford Fiesta is still one of the most beloved used cars in the UK in this setup.

A commenter in the world of car reviews had this to say about the Ford Fiesta:

“This car was a real gem, especially regarding economy cars available in the US. It was 90% the size of the Rabbit but packed about 90% of the room, just as Car & Driver pointed out. These little cars had some real zip to them.”

Plenty of car enthusiasts and critics have been giving the Ford Fiesta some significant props, shining a spotlight on its top-notch features and how practical it is.


First-Generation Ford Fiesta keys

The Ford Fiesta holds a special place in the hearts of compact car enthusiasts, standing the test of time as an all-time favorite. It’s a testament to Ford’s knack for innovation and staying on the pulse of change, all while crafting cars that speak to a broad audience. Users and fans can’t help but praise its killer design and performance, earning it a top spot for folks who value a compact, cost-effective, and fun-to-drive experience.

Highs and Lows of Ford Fiesta:




Is the first-gen Ford Fiesta a good used car option?

Yes, the first-gen Ford Fiesta is a popular choice in the used car market, known for its reliability, fuel efficiency, and timeless design. It has earned praise from enthusiasts and critics for its practicality and performance.

Why is the first-gen Ford Fiesta still popular among enthusiasts?

The first-generation Ford Fiesta continues to be cherished for its innovative design, practicality, and fun-to-drive experience. Enthusiasts appreciate its compact yet spacious Interior and its enduring appeal as a cost-effective choice.

What engine options were available for the first-gen Ford Fiesta?

The first-generation Fiesta offered various engine options, including a 1.1L straight-four engine and later, a 1.3L SuperSport version in Europe. It was Ford’s pioneer with a transverse engine layout.

Written by: Motorcardata

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