Motor Sport - Road Test: Fiesta Ghia
"My Year's Motoring. The Editor Looks Back On The Cars He Drove During 1980"
February 1981



Home » Magazine Articles » British UK » Motor Sport »

Road Test: Fiesta Ghia

Motor Sport - Road Test: Fiesta Ghia - Front Cover

Motor Sport - Road Test: Fiesta Ghia - Page 1

Motor Sport - Road Test: Fiesta Ghia - Page 2

Motor Sport - Road Test: Fiesta Ghia - Page 3

Motor Sport - Road Test: Fiesta Ghia - Page 4

Motor Sport - Road Test: Fiesta Ghia - Page 4

Copy of Article Text Below today's equivalent of the endearing Ford Escort Mexico or the RS2000, with the attributes of more performance at the upper end of the scale and improved fuel economy. The Lancia Gamma 2500 was pleasing as a notably individual car, a chip off the old Lancia block, but it and the impossible-to-fault Jaguar XJ-S were both reported on too recently to require further comment.

It was a year in which, between other tests, I and other drivers built up mileage on the Editorial R-registration Rover 3500. After several early faults it had settled down to being dependable transport of the most restful kind until one morning, when I was finishing a long run to London, I noticed the temperature gauge on the danger stop. Taxi drivers began pointing, so I knew water vapour was still appearing, which should have got me as far as the office. It did, but a head-gasket had blown, the trouble being caused by silting-up of the cross-flow radiator. This was duly rectified, but the head studs still had to be tightened down; I was astonished when a Welsh BL distributor charged £13.58 for this simple spanner-job and annoyed on driving away half-an-hour later to find the Rover's brake-servo inoperative. The mechanic had knocked the vacuum-pipe off! This loose pipe was just pushed back into place. (Ever since I have intended to have a look at another Rover V8 engine, to see whether a clip or wiring-up should restrain it, but I have never got round to it.) That failing apart, new shock-absorbers have been needed and the self-levelling strut has had to be replaced; it is a surprisingly heavy member and there was difficulty in obtaining a replacement. A new exhaust was also fitted, causing slight resonance to what was before noiseless pick-up. The Rover averages 20.6 m.p.g., but uses hardly any oil. The radiator flushing was required at 45,772 miles and this ageing car has still only done just over 54,000 miles, in the hands of various drivers. It was on Goodyear tyres for some time and its second set of those wonderful Michelin XAS tyres were then fitted. The front ones had to be replaced after 21,000 miles but those on the back wheels look good for some 24,000 miles. The Sky-port glass roof remained leak-proof. This is a car I would want to replace only with another Rover, I think. . . .

To round off a modest story, our S-registration Reliant Kitten Estate, today's Austin 7, which a daughter had been enthusing over, was swopped with her for our L-registration Fiat 126 (which I regard as a 1970s cyclecar) to enable the Labrador to become a motoring-dog again; you can fit dog-bars to the surprisingly roomy little Kitten, but not in a 126! Both these tiny cars have not only been very sparing with the expensive fuel but also reliable. The Fiat is still on its original Pirelli tyres and, more commendable, its original tiny Marelli battery, and it still starts promptly on most occasions. The Kitten is an instant-starter, and it is likewise on its original Lucas battery and Goodyear "boots".

That was about it, my motoring in 1980. I had a flash-back by driving a three-year-old Triumph 1500HL, was allowed to sample the new Jaguar-powered Lea Francis two-seater, and my "Christmas-car" this time was a British "rust-proof fibre-glass-bodied Reliant Scimitar 2.8 GTC, very handsome in its new styling and a car possessing "character" and sporting appeal, of which a report appears in this issue.

The Scimitar's surprising economy for a 2.8-litre high-performance car and its remarkable fuel-range removed any anxiety over petrol-stations being shut, and on Boxing Day it brought me from Hampshire to Radnorshire in its long-legged stride at an average speed of well over 50 m.p.h., in plenty of time to switch-on the Decca 803 TV and see Raymond Baxter's Land Speed Record documentary.

It was a moderately-captivating year but this survey does not pretend to cover, by any means, all the cars MOTOR SPORT road-tested, and reported on, in 1980. Moreover, it was a year for me of no Mercedes-Benz, through a default when a test had been planned, and I missed the new Alfa Six and other cars I would have liked to have tried. Of the cars tested, the most interesting was the Mini-Metro, the best-equipped the Toyota Crown, closely followed by the Talbot Solara, and the most satisfying the Jaguar XJ-S, while the Ford XR-3 was the most fun.

On the old-car front, too, it was a quiet year. There was, however, that great day with John Walker's 1908 Grand Prix Panhard-Levassor, I used my 1924 Calthorpe light-car for around a three-figure mileage - shameful, compared to how a vintage car should be used, which is regularly (but one can only drive one car at a time!) - and the 1922 Talbot-Darracq light car was taken off to get another DoE test, which in spite of an Inspector being present the whole time, it did successfully, but it has since been off the road because of a back axle that leaks lubricant into the brakes. There was the 1903 16 h.p. two-cylinder Albion on which, thanks to Peter Mitchell and the BL Heritage, I had an eventful Brighton Run, and I see from my notes that I had brief excursions in a 1934 Sunbeam 25 tourer, and that we got the 1927 Family Morgan three-wheeler crackling once more, but only round the fields.

Of course, those whose sole task is road-testing for the Press, especially if they work for the weeklies or dailies, run through far more new cars than I do, in a 12-month. Nevertheless, I have had much fun and by good luck kept my driving licence clean, and I look forward to more road-testing this year, rising petrol prices, and other worries notwithstanding. Incidentally, of the road-test cars submitted to us last year, the "rubber" chosen by the car's makers was as follows:- Michelin on nine cars, Dunlop on seven, Pirelli and Continental each on four cars, Goodyear on two, while one car was on Uniroyal, one on Avon and one on Japanese Dunlops.


Petrol and Oil Consumption of Cars Tested by the Editor in 1980

Car Petrol Consumption Oil Thirst
Renault 30TX 21.5 m.p.g. None, in 600 miles
Ford Fiesta 1.3 Ghia 38.4 m.p.g. Approx, 1,000 m.p.p.
Citroen CX 2400 GTI 25.6 m.p.g. None, in 1,500 miles
Vauxhall Astra 1300S GL 34.1 m.p.g. None, in 700 miles
VW Golf GTL Convertible 31.5 m.p.g. None, in 1,300 miles
VW Scirocco Storm 33.1 m.p.g. -
Volvo 244 GLT 24.5 m.p.g. -
Talbot Solara SX 29.1 m.p.g. None, in 730 miles
Alfasud 1.5 33.2 m.p.g. None, in 600 miles
Audi 200 5T 20.8 m.p.g. None, in 800 miles
Lancia Delta 1500 34.5 m.p.g. None, in 825 miles
Fiat Mirafiori 131 2500TC Sport Approx. 26 m.p.g. None, in 600 miles
Maserati Merak SS 17.2 m.p.g. Approx. 500 m.p.p.
Austin Mini-Metro 1.3 HLS 41.4 m.p.g. None, in 500 miles
Toyota Crown 2.8 Super 25.0 m.p.g. None, in 500 miles
Ford Escort 1.6 GL 36.2 m.p.g. None, in 600 miles
Lancia Gamma 2500 24.3 m.p.g. None, in 1,000 miles
Jaguar XJ-S 14.1 m.p.g. None, in 750 miles
Ford Escort XR-3 34.1 m.p.g. -
Reliant Scimitar 2.8 GTC 27.3 m.p.g. Approx. 1,500 m.p.p.

Captions -

Top-Right - HIGHLIGHT of the year's pre-war moiormg was provided by John Walker's mighty 12-litre Grand Prix Panhard-Levassor of 1908.