The Ford Fiesta

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-wheeldrive, 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 waterjacket spacing. The bore is reduced from 81 mm. to 74 mm., thus shortening the block length by 30 mm. Stroke length is 55.7 Min. for the 957-c.c. engine and 65 mm. for the 1,11 7-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 transaxle in a light alloy housing, with an allindirect gearbox mounted in line with the engine and a spur-gear final drive behind, both sealed for fife and sharing the same SAE 80 lubricant. Solid drive-shafts of unequal length have constant velocity joints at each end. The clutch can he 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 negativescrub geometry. Al the rear there are coil-springs again, a tubular beam axle located by trailing arms, braced shock-absorbersand a Panhard rod. Front disc and rear drum brakes are self-adjusting and the Mintex friction material can he 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. 10 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 he 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 were particularly entranced by the optional sun-roof, a tinted-glass panel which can be tilted for draught-free ventilation or removed completely for stowage in the boot.

There is more, much more, to this attractive little car, which should take the British and maybe European super-mini market by the ears. We shall report on it more comprehensively when a road-test Fiesta is available.


The MG-B GT V8 is dropped

Leyland have stopped production of the MG-B GT V8, just under three years and 2,500 examples after its introduction. The reason given for its demise is the need for rationalisation since the Ryder report and the consequent inappropriateness of small volume production in mass-production plants. This MG V8 has trickled out at the rate of a mere 20-25 a week latterly and maximum possible capacity was,only 50 a week.

Rover Gala Day

Leyland are inviting entries from owners of post-merger Leyland vehicles or vehicles constructed by any of the companies which preceded the formation of British Leyland, for a concours to be held at the Rover Gala Day at the National Agricultural Centre (the Royal Showground), Stoneleigh, near Kenilworth, on August 14th. The scope allows for such diversity as Rover motorcycles, Beans, Rileys, steam wagons, up to Rover 3500s and XJ-Ss. Concours entries are free and acceptance of the entry provides free admission on the day to vehicles and occupants. Primarily organised by Rover, Solihull, for Rover employees and families, but open to all, the day's activities include equestrian events, film shows, flower shows and Land-Rover exercises. Concours entries should be made before August 10th to Andrew Whyte at Jaguar Cars (not Rover!), Browns Lane, Allesley, Coventry, CV5 9DR (0203-34 2121).


Since our story on the Rover V8-engined Stag (page 920) went to Press, May Engineering's telephone number has changed to Epsom 23777.