Thursday, January 1, 2015

5k: Party Time: 1980 Ford Fiesta Mk1

Updated Jan 1, 2015:  This Mk 1 Ford Fiesta is still for sale in Kansas, same photos, but the price has dropped down to $2,500 asking. Find it here on craigslist. Tip from  -tian647 

Original Post May 10th, 2014: The Mk1 Ford Fiesta was designed by Ford of Europe and built in an assembly plant in Cologne, Germany for worldwide consumption.  The Fiesta was only sold in the USA for a few years (1978-1980) before it was replaced by the North American built Escort, an unfortunate turn of events for economy car drivers.  Find this 1980 Ford Fiesta Mk1 offered for $6,400 in Kansas City, KS via craigslist.  Tip from Jason A.

The Mk1 Fiesta is  powered by a 1.6 liter Ford Kent inline-4 equipped with a crossflow head for 66 horsepower.  Attached to a 5-speed manual gearbox and only pushing around 1700 lbs, the Fiesta will actually make for a fun daily driver, as long as you aren't expecting measurable performance figures.

See another cheap econobox for less?


  1. My dad talks about wanting to buy one of these when he went off to college. His father called it a deathtrap and he ended up with a root beer brown camaro with a white leather interior, bought straight off the lot.

  2. US market Fiestas only had 4, not 5 speeds. But more fun to drive then US-built VW Rabbits of same vintage.

    Peter N

    1. Peter - You're right about the 4 speeds, but I gotta tell you I've driven a lot of Fiesta's and Rabbits and the Fiestas were a lot tinnier than the Rabbits. There was a basic Rabbit 1701 which had zero insulation in it and cheaper wheels and tires. That model was pretty close to a Fiesta, but all the other Rabbits felt a lot more rugged and seemed better planted. The Fiesta may have been a tick quicker though.

    2. Tinman: I was a carhauler in the eastern US in the late 1970s, so only picked up a few partial loads of Fiestas. Agree they felt tinny, but just driving around the yards, quicker and better handling than the "Malibuized", Westmoreland built Rabbits. Recall that the Rabbit of the time had a downsized 1455 cc engine for a few years, while the Fiesta had the 1598 cc engine. Btw, like Rabbits/Golf, bought new Golf GTI in 1986.

      Peter N

    3. Peter-I'll cede to the horrible plasticized Westmoreland Rabbits of '79+, they were horrible. But the German VW vs Fiesta throwdown goes to the VW.

    4. The best non-GTI Mk1 Rabbit/Golf from a performance standpoint was clearly the first couple years. The only US-built Rabbit worth having, really, was the GTI. They are all pretty damn rare in any condition now, and especially rare in something preservation-worthy. The other difficulty is that the Rabbit, like Saabs, Volvos, some Mercs, and a few other products of that vintage, were K-Jet cars, which is virtually a lost art.

      The GTI had some of the material deficiencies of the US Rabbits but great seats, nice controls, and it worked really well on the road.

      I think I still have eBay set up to email me if a '75 Rabbit shows up but I don't think it's turned anything up in two years.

  3. The Fiesta was a class below the VW in Europe and the 1.6 pushrod Kent we got was hotter than anything they sold on the other side of the pond until the XR2 version got the same engine. They were fairly quick by the standards of the day.

    There's still a certain amount of retro-tuner interest in these and the UK press occasionally turns up a nice story on one with a Zetec swap.

    The Focus Kent was the same basic engine architecture as had been used in everything from Cortinas through the RWD Mk1/Mk2 Escorts, Mk1 Capri, and of course the *ahem* Pinto, but IIRC the FWD block is different.

  4. I love these little tin cars. Too bad every economy car in this country bloats like a dead pig with every new model year until it eventually occupies the next higher size category and is filled with sound deadening, extra plastic cladding, airbags, etc. There is no faking the feel of lightness, unassisted steering, and a computer-free driveline.

  5. Wow, really nice looking Mark 1 Fiesta. At that price, I would be rushing to buy, if it was close to me. Alas....

    Anyway, these really were a hoot to drive. Very tossable. Tinny? In my memory, not any moreso that a lot of the competition at the time.

  6. I think most (well, several) of us are agreed that once upon a time there were quite a few two-box econocans that offered a livable level of material quality combined with a decent level of performance. The real question is which side of the line any particular econocan falls on.

    Let's constrain this to mid '70s into mid '80s, and we'll limit ourselves to FWD two-boxers, excluding the Chevette and the Starlet and other similar baby-Gremlin RWD two-box missing links.

    So you've got the first three generations of Civic, the first two Accords, the Fiat 128 (okay, it had a trunk but I'm exercising promoter's discretion), the early Rabbit/Golf, the Renault 5, the AMC Appliance/Encore (yeah, some of 'em had a trunk too), the first FWD Escort, the Omni/Horizon, the first FWD Colt/Mirage, etc. And this thing. Did GM have an entry in this arena? I haven't seen a Datsun 310 and whatever replaced it since 1985. Please fill in my failing memories.

    The little Mitsubishis in base form weren't all that nice, but I cracked the head on my first Saab chasing a turbo Colt out I-580 several decades ago.

    The Fiat 128 and Omnirizon and R5 and Alliance were just too cheesy for me to care.

    The FWD Escort (which was really the third generation of the name elsewhere) was, in US form, just really junked-up with cheap trim and fat bumpers and a lot of reasons to hate it even if it might have been a decent car elsewhere. I'm sure someone, somewhere has taken one of the US junkers and cleaned it up into full Euro XR3i trim.

    The early Civic and first-gen Accord were stunningly refined for their time, the early Accord in particular had a level of trim and detail that put Cadillac to shame, though to get pillow-smooth levels of NVH they had to soften the engine mounts to a level that required a pretty sensitive foot on the clutch pedal to avoid bobbleheading the passengers. I'd love to see a first-gen Accord with a late B18, but it's nothing I'm going to spend the money on trying to put together.

    And that leaves the Rabbit and this thing.


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