"Of all the working class heroes that have been produced by Ford’s of Dagenham - the Fiesta is the longest surviving. It may not be the most spectacular or glamorous inheritor of the company’s blue collar legacy - "
A feast of Fantasy Fiesta variants
Seven weird and wonderful Fiesta designs you’ve probably never seen before…
Fast, fun, and funky. The Ford Fiesta has always been one of Britain’s favourites, but some of the design concepts over its 40-year production have been downright bizarre…
As we celebrate the Ford Fiesta’s 40th birthday and see the first images of the 2018 version coming from the launch in Germany, we’re reflecting on some of the fabulous models that have shaped the famous hatchback’s four decades of production. Yes, of course the feisty XR2 was on that list, followed swiftly by the outrageous RS models of the 90s, through to the very latest ST-badged Fiestas of today. But what about a Fiesta off-roader? Maybe a Fiesta pick-up truck? Or a Fiesta saloon even?
You may think Ford never actually made any of these, but just take a look at some of the weird, wonderful, and downright whacky designs that we’ve unearthed from the archives.
Would any of these have been a success if they had made it into UK mainstream production? And would the Fiesta have enjoyed such a lengthy reign as king of the hot hatch if they did? Sadly, we’ll never know. But, we can at least wonder as we take a look back at seven of the craziest Fiesta-based designs from the last 40 years…
Is it a Fiesta? Is it an Escort? No, it’s a Fiescort! As the name suggests, it was in fact part-Fiesta, part Escort! The idea was initially sparked in 1977 when Ford bosses decided they needed something to replace the Escort in rallying. After thoughts of ‘homologation special’ versions of the Mk2 Escort, in 1979 a top-secret build took place at Ford’s Boreham facility. Here engineers grafted the entire front end of a Mk2 Escort, complete with competition-spec BDG engine, Hewland transaxle, and rear-wheel drive running gear, to the bodyshell of a Mk1 Fiesta!
Sadly by the time a running prototype was built Ford bosses had changed their minds (and we ended up with Mk3 Escort-based RS1700T, which itself was little more than a concept that never really made it on the rally stages!) and the last anyone knew of the Fiescort was that it was stripped and sold for scrap value…
Ever wondered what a Fiesta built to tackle the demands of off-roading would look like? Well, wonder no more. In 1978 Ford built the Fiesta Tuareg. Named after someone who lives in the Sahara desert, the Tuareg needed to be rugged, resilient, and resourceful to live up to its name.
Ford called on the help of their favourite Italian design house, Ghia, to help them achieve this. The Fiesta Ford sent Ghia may have been a standard 1.1-litre model straight off the production line, but the concept creation they got back featured stiffer suspension, raised ride height, wider track, huge flared arches, chunky tyres, and roof bars with spot lights! The whole project was then finished off with a desert-inspired beige paint scheme with brown and orange stripes.
As a styling exercise, the Tuareg was a huge hit – it looked fantastic. As for its off-road abilities, nobody’s really sure. Although with the Fiesta’s original 90inch wheelbase and tiny 1.1-litre engine, we suspect it wasn’t all that great!
Long before the Transformers came along in the mid-80s, Ford were busy making their Mk1 Fiesta the original Autobot. It may be laughable today, but if the principal idea behind the Fiesta Fantasy had caught on, the entire world may have thought about motoring differently.
The basic ethos behind the Fantasy was to design and build one car that can do it all, rather than needing a number of different vehicles for different jobs.
To do this Ford took one of their Mk1 Fiestas and promptly cut the back off to create a pick-up. From here, they then designed and developed a selection of add-ons that could be fitted to convert the car to what you wanted it to be on that day. This meant you could move all your junk in the pick up on Monday, fill the estate version with shopping on Tuesday, take the kids to school with the 2+2 hardtop fitted on Wednesday, turn it into a two-seater sportscar for Thursday, and then soak up some sunshine with the cabriolet roof fitted for Friday. All from the same car!
Sounds amazing, although we imagine storing all these plastic, fiberglass, and fabric add-ons could cause a few issues.
Back in 1989, this is what Ford thought the city car of the future should look like. At first glance it looks to be nothing more than an ordinary Mk3 Fiesta finished with insipid yellow paintwork. But look closely and you start to spot several differences.
The most notable is the fact the driver side of the car uses the three-door body design, while the passenger side has two doors as per the five-door design. For the UK market this meant the right hand door was the larger three-door type, while the left hand side of the car featured the two smaller doors from the five-door model, but for European left-hand drive markets this was switched around so the driver always had the larger single door.
Why? Well, this wasn’t actually anything to do with the driver, but was instead designed to allow easier access in and out of the car when parked alongside a kerb in a busy city street.
Other ‘city aids’ the Urba boasted included parking aids (common nowadays but unheard of in 1989!), built-in garage door opener (as presumably Ford thought everyone would have electric garage doors in the future!) and a built-in fridge in the rear!
“Aha,” I hear you cry, “We get the Courier in the UK market.” Yes, we do. But the Ford Courier us Brits are used to seeing is basically a Mk5 Fiesta with a ruddy great box plonked on the back. But the South American markets, in particular Brazil and Mexico, had the Courier without the big ugly box on the back – what they got was a Mk5 Fiesta pick-up truck! Visually, it was very similar to the Bantam available in the South African markets, the only real difference being some design tweaks to the rear load bed.
Initially, the Courier was powered by Ford’s 1.3-litre Endura engine – a revised version of the pre-Crossflow Kent engine from the 1960s. Unsurprisingly this lacked the power required to haul the Courier around unladen, let alone with 700kgs of stuff on board! Ford then ditched the Endura in favour of a 1.4-litre Zetec SE as found in the Mk5 Fiesta. This improved performance a little, with the Courier now capable of reaching 0-60mph in a very pedestrian 12 seconds. For the final fling Ford threw in the 1.6-litre Zetec SE, giving the Courier 112mph potential and capable of 0-60mph in (just!) less than 10 seconds!
What’s that you say? You like the Fiesta but you wish it came in saloon form with a proper ‘boot’ instead of a hatch? Well, good news, it does! It’s called the Ikon. But you’ll have to head to India to find one, as it’s never been available to the UK market. The Ikon is basically the same Mk5 Fiesta we got, but with a proper boot added at the back end. It was available with very similar engine packages as UK cars too, including 1.3-litre and 1.6-litre petrol and 1.4-litre diesel engines. The Ikon was even available with the same sporty bodykit as the Fiesta Zetec S to appeal to younger buyers.
But why is there the need for a booted Fiesta? Well, in the UK there isn’t – we’d simply step up a rung on the Ford ladder and opt for a slightly larger Focus if we needed the extra room. But in India this wasn’t an option, and as such the Ikon was very well received and quickly became one of the nation’s favourite cars.
Yeah, we know. We wish this one were a reality instead of the booted Ikon too! But sadly the RS concept was nothing more than an attention-grabbing showpiece to warm the world to the idea of a sporty version of the Mk6 Fiesta. The Fiesta ST that followed was a cracking little car, but die-hard fans couldn’t help but feel a little let down after Ford showcased the RS Concept at the Geneva Motor Show in 2004. Promising 180bhp coupled to a Junior World Rally Car-inspired bodykit and rally-style 18in alloys, the RS concept was seen as the answer to their prayers for fans who’d been longing for the legendary RS badge to make a return to the back of a fast Fiesta. Instead, the RS concept was more of a marketing tool to drum up some interest in the Fiesta ST. But given how well received the idea of an RS Fiesta was, will Ford finally be persuaded to build one again…?
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