History of the Ford Fiesta 1976-2017

  • The Fiesta has now been sold in eight versions since 1976
  • Total UK sales of our most popular supermini top 4.5 million
  • Project Bobcat was built at a brand-new factory in Spain

The eighth-generation Ford Fiesta is better-equipped, plusher, faster and sharper to drive than ever before, which might explain why it’s set to become Britain’s bestselling supermini straight out of the blocks.

It’s difficult to imagine now, but back in the early-1970s, Ford’s decision to build a new small front-wheel drive car was seen as a huge risk for the US-based carmaking giant. To that point, the smallest car on sale in Europe was the Escort, and the company was worried that it would struggle to make a profit on such a small car.

As well as developing a brand-new small car, it also set-up a new factory in Spain in which to build the new car – in an area previously unused to carmaking. But by the time the Fiesta went on sale in the UK in early 1977, the previously unskilled workforce was building.

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Ford never looked back – and with a total of 4,500,000 sold in the UK, it’s easily the country’s most popular small hatchback. The outgoing model has sold more than a million since launch in 2008, and between 2009-2016, it’s been Britain’s bestselling car – bar none.

Here’s how the Fiesta legend has grown over the past 40 years.



  • Engine production begins at Valencia
  • Fiesta name chosen personally by Henry Ford II for its alliteration with Ford, its spirit and its celebration of Ford’s new connection with Spain

Ford Fiesta Mk1 in Ghia spec


  • Production of new Fiesta begins in Valencia, Spain in May
  • Fiesta initially available in 1.0-litre and 1.1-litre Ghia versions


  • UK sales of the Fiesta begin
  • Export of Fiesta models for the US market begins


  • Millionth Fiesta built for worldwide sales


  • Ford introduces the new Fiesta XR2 with a 1.6-litre engine, stiffer suspension, unique perforated alloy wheels and styling treatments, including available auxiliary driving lamps. The first 100mph Fiesta


  • Fiesta is best-selling car in its class in Britain and Germany for six years running

Ford Fiesta Mk2


  • Aerodynamic new Fiesta Mk2 introduced. This new model was longer and more fuel efficient, available in 1.0-litre and 1.1-litre
  • 1.3-litre model launched with a fifth gear
  • Fiesta 1.6-litre diesel introduced. This overhead-cam, indirect injection engine would become a mainstay of the Ford line-up for more than a decade


  • XR2 MkII version of new Fiesta introduced with 1.6-litre, single-overhead-cam engine and 5-speed gearbox, plus low-profile tyres, improved suspension and brakes


  • Best sales year in Britain with 153,000 Fiestas sold

Ford Fiesta Mk3


  • Fiesta Mk3 launched with anti-lock brakes and lean-burn engines, in 1.0-litre and 1.1-litre versions
  • New Fiesta featured a longer and wider body shape and an increased wheelbase. It was available for the first time as a five-door model
  • Fiesta is first small car with ABS
  • Fiesta MkIII adds 1.4-litre – the first Ford engine to meet pending European emissions standards due to take effect in 1996 – and 1.6-litre engine options
  • Fiesta XR2i joins the range later in the year with new 1.6-litre twin cam engine and 5-speed gearbox as the range’s hot hatch.


  • Introduction of Fiesta RS Turbo at Turin Motor Show
  • Using the XR2i engine with an intercooled Garrett turbocharger, the Fiesta RS Turbo was 1.6 seconds quicker than XR2i to 100km/h (62mph)


  • Fiesta RS 1800 introduced. Powered by a 16-valve 1.8-litre engine with improved hot hatch handling, plus five-spoke alloy wheels and a body-colour spoiler
  • Introduction of 1.8-litre, 16-valve Zetec engine


  • Driver airbag becomes standard

Ford Fiesta Mk4


  • Introduction of the new Fiesta Mk4 with all-new rounded, aerodynamic shape and oval grille
  • Available with 1.25-litre, 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre engines, plus a 1.8-litre diesel
  • Dual airbags standard

Ford Fiesta Mk5


  • Short-lived ‘new edge’ Fiesta introduced, with new engines and sharp-new look
  • Well loved Zetec S model rolled out at the end of the year to go on sale in 2000.

Ford Fiesta Mk6


  • All-new Fiesta Mk6 introduced at the IAA Frankfurt Motor Show
  • Production begins in Cologne and Valencia of the new Ford Fiesta


  • Ford Fiesta Mk6 goes on sale in the UK, launched initially in the five-door version with a new line-up of engines, including the new Duratec 1.3-litre and the 1.6-litre 16-valve Duratec petrol engines
  • Fiesta three-door model and the range’s 1.4-litre Duratec petrol engine and new 1.4-litre Duratorq TDCi common rail diesel engine
  • Durashift EST automatic shifting manual transmission introduced


  • 2.0-litre 148bhp Fiesta ST launched as the first production offering of Ford Team RS. It was the most powerful Fiesta ever at the time

Ford Fiesta Mk7


  • All-new Ford Fiesta Mk7 unveiled at Geneva Motor Show
  • MkVI Fiesta goes into production in Cologne, Germany, Valencia, Spain and Nanjing, China, with new 1.6-litre Duratec Ti-VCT petrol and sub-100g/km 1.6-litre Duratec diesel engines


Ford Fiesta Mk7

  • Fiesta Mk7 gets a facelift to become the first Fiesta to come with the three cylinder 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine. Launched with Ford’s MyKey technology that would become a mainstay in many future Ford vehicles


  • Fiesta becomes best-selling vehicle ever in the UK, surpassing the  4,105,961 registrations achieved by the Ford Escort


  • Best year for Fiesta sales since 1996 – selling more than 133,000


  • Fiesta ST200 launched with a specially-developed 1.6-litre EcoBoost engine that delivers 200hp – fastest-ever production Fiesta
  • Fiesta becomes best-selling car in the UK every month for seven years in a row


2017 Ford Fiesta

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