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Ford's Big Baby. It's the Fiesta and it promises trouble for the opposition
It's rather like Dr Who's police box on wheels! You step into the passenger compartment of a car that measures just 1} inches longer and wider than a Hillman Imp and it feels like you're in a car two sizes up. Such is the Ford Fiesta.
There's nothing new in the concept - BMC produced the transverse engine front wheel drive Min way back 1 7 years ago. VW have had the Polo on the road for over a year and you need the fingers on two hands to count the successful 'Super Mini' cars that you can buy today. So why the Fiesta?
First of all, that sector of the market is growing, and fast. The foreign opposition is taking the lion's share and Ford are increasingly losing out. Understandably they don't like it.
Although Ford have been looking into the mini-car concept since as long ago as 1953, it was not until the early seventies that they considered that it was economically viable. In this time the market requirement has changed considerably and Ford now have the strength of Ford Of Europe to develop a multi-national car with the accompanying sharing of development costs. Improved manufacturing techniques have also reduced costs and now Ford hope that the Fiesta will do what the Mini never did, make money!
Basically Ford's baby is a 'conventional' hatch back three door but designed for absolute minimum weight consistent with strength. The tailgate comes down low to make loading easy and the back seat does the usual folding forward trick. As the fuel tank is beneath the rear seat, the area under the boot houses both the spare wheel and a useful locker space.
Great attention has been paid to aerodynamics and such things as aerofoil-style radiator grille slats, flush front lights, a small air dam and rear roof lip all help to keep the drag down to the lowest yet for a Ford car, .442 to be precise.
One novel feature is the removable sun roof. It either tips up at the rear or you unhitch the plastic panel and stow it in the boot. You can also specify a tinted glass panel which has a gauze screen printed on to it to cut down heat from the sun. All trim strips and badges are bonded rather than clipped to the body to cut down on rust traps.
Turning to the engine and transmission, a choice of either 957 (in low or high compression form) or 111 7cc mills are available and a 1 300 version should follow shortly after.
They are all based on the crossflow Kent engine but virtually no parts are interchangeable. A smaller bore has allowed a shorter block needing only three main bearings, inclined valves give wedge shaped combustion chambers for low emissions. Power output is 40, 45 and 53bhp for the three engines giving 0-60mph times of 16.1, 15.0and 13.7 sees.
Being the first Ford transverse engined car, they started with a.....