On this day in auto history - September 3rd

Fri 3rd Sep 2021

It was on this day in 1976 that the long-awaited Ford Fiesta - Britain’s best-selling car of all time - was formally launched.

Against a backdrop of a push for smaller cars in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis, the Fiesta supermini was the smallest car yet produced by Ford and was mainly built at a new factory near Valencia, Spain.

Though the Ford marketing team preferred the name Bravo, the then CEO Henry Ford II vetoed it in favour of Fiesta (Spanish for ‘party’). The vehicle initially went on sale in France and Germany but, to the frustration of UK dealerships, right-hand versions only began to appear in the UK in January 1977 with a sales price of less than £2,000.

Widely-credited with being Ford’s first globally successful front-wheel drive model, the Fiesta quickly superseded the Vauxhall Chevette as Britain’s best-selling supermini in its first year but it quickly ‘plateaued' and was outsold by British Leyland’s Austin Metro during the early part of the 1980’s.

Two subsequent major facelifts consolidated the Fiesta’s lofty position in an increasingly competitive supermini segment but it wasn’t until the fourth generation Fiesta was launched in 1995 that it became Britain’s best-selling car of the year.

It has since repeated that feat many times en route to becoming the biggest selling vehicle in British history with over 4.5 million units sold.

Now in its eighth generation, the Ford Fiesta remains as popular as ever.

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