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The Ford Fiesta
A new front-wheel-drive baby for Europe
In the early days of Issigonis' pioneering Mini, Ford proclaimed their disinterest in this ultra-small car sector of the market. Instead they aimed at the cheaper end of the medium-sized saloon sector and made a killing with the Cortina. Now, in these days of more sophisticated mini-cars, Ford have eaten their words and joined in the sales race with the transverse-engine, front-wheel-drive, three-door Fiesta, midway in size between the Leyland Mini and the Escort. Theirs is no pretence at pioneering, the Fiesta's likeness to the Polo, Golf, Fiat 127 et al hinting at plagiarism. Indeed, Ford of Britain's Chairman and Managing Director Terry Beckett confessed, at this European Ford's introduction,' to his company having bought for study during Fiesta development no less than 48 of the opposition's similar vehicles. One hopes that the best features have been taken from each.
A static study of left-hand-drive versions of the Fiesta has left us with a good impression. Driving impressions will not be possible until right-hand-drive cars are constructed at Dagenham late in the year, prior to the British sales release in January. Fiestas for the Continental market are being produced already at Saarluis, Germany, and Valencia, Spain, for marketing in September.
Fiesta comes in four different series and 10 models with a choice of three different engines in two sizes, 957 c.c. and 1,117 c.c., the former in low- and high-compression forms with 40 and 45 b.h.p. respectively, and the latter, an option in all models except the more stiffly-suspended, sporting "S", in which it is standard, with 53 b.h.p. DIN. The low-compression, economy small-engine shares the same higher final-drive ratio as the big engine. A 1,300-c.c. high-performance version is promised for next year.
Though close in its push-rod, cross-flow, straight-four design to the established Kent engine, the Fiesta power-unit is completely new except for retaining the Kent water-jacket spacing. The bore is reduced from 81 mm. to 74 mm., thus shortening the block length by 30 mm. Stroke length is 55.7 mm. for the 957-c.c. engine and 65 mm. for the 1,117-c.c. unit. The shorter length with large journals makes for a stiffer crankshaft, which has allowed a reversion to three main bearings for reduced friction. The cylinder head has wedge-shaped combustion chambers and inclined valves. Ford's sonic idle carburetter is fitted and the cooling fan is electric.
Fiesta's transmission is a brand-new trans-axle in a light alloy housing, with an all-indirect gearbox mounted in line with the engine and a spur-gear final drive behind, both sealed for life and sharing the same SAE 80 lubricant. Solid drive-shafts of unequal length have constant velocity joints at each end. The clutch can be replaced without removing the engine, and a neat, patented device allows for automatic clutch-cable adjustment.
McPherson struts and coil-springs comprise the front suspension, which has negative-scrub geometry. At the rear there are coil-springs again, a tubular beam axle located by trailing arms, braced shock-absorbers and a Panhard rod. Front disc and rear drum brakes are self-adjusting and the Mintex friction material can be inspected for wear without removing a wheel. Steering is by rack and pinion.
Specific attention to a low drag factor ensures a top speed of over 80 m.p.h. for the low-compression 957-c.c. version with a DIN consumption of 41 m.p.g. on 2-star fuel. At the top end of the range, the 1,117-c.c. version reaches 88 m.p.h. with a DIN fuel consumption of nearly 35 m.p.g. on 4-star. There is a front spoiler and a small lip over the rear window for aerodynamic efficiency. Weight is under 14 cwt.
This wide-track car is just 11 ft. 8.4 in. long, 16 in. shorter than the Escort, is 4ft. 3.7 in. high, and boasts a greater area of glass and more interior space than any other car in its class. The tailgate extends right down to bumper level and the rear seats can be folded down to provide more than 42 cu. ft. of luggage space. Certainly, we were surprised at the sensible amount of leg and head-room in the back seat of this neatly-trimmed, comfortably upholstered little car.
Trim standards range through the basic Fiesta, the "L", the "S" to the top-of-the-range Ghia. Attention to detail and equipment in all the models appears excellent; we.....
Top-Right - Exterior of the front-wheel-drive Ford features the company's oval logo prominently displayed after years of chrome anonymity, plus a Germanic character, reinforced by the utility of a third door.
Bottom-Middle - Higher up the Fiesta range the interior offers acceptable instrumentation and the same German influence, especially in that Mercedes-style of steering wheel. The transversely mounted engine has three main bearings and is at present offered in 957 c.c. or 1,117 c.c. capacities: sporting models will have at least 1.3 litres.