By Dave Turner
All photographs by, and copyright of, the Author. They may be found at the base of the article.
Fiesta Mark 111 1989-1995
“There’s A Little More of Everything”
It is apparent that as we move forward in time to study a range of vehicles that the complexity and myriad variations become increasingly difficult to describe in simple and understandable terms. Fords first series of small Fiesta cars was extremely successful but when a successor was launched it coincided with a general downturn in affluence while the new car itself was decidedly bland and unexciting. No doubt as a result the number of production changes and appearance of ‘Special Editions’ in an effort to promote sales occurred every few months.
The Fiesta Mk 111 took five years and £550 million to develop and the result could best be described as bland but aerodynamic. Interior accommodation was greatly increased by extending the wheelbase by over 6” although the overall length was less than 4” greater and the width just under 1” more than before. One result of this was that a five door version could be created but the softer springing and suspension was said to make the driving response ‘stodgy’ when compared to the preceding Fiesta.
Launched in April 1989 the new cars featured engines in the various models that stretched from the 1000cc HCS units up to the 1.8 diesel. The initial model line up consisted of Popular, Popular Plus, L, LX, Ghia and S but the first XR2i came in October and the RS Turbo the following June – both initially with 1.6 CVH engines. The first of the numerous specials appeared in July 1990 as the Bonus while during the following year more arrived – Bonus 11, Flight, Fresco and Quartz 11.
August 1991 and the range was revised, the Popular name was gone the base level was simply badged ‘Fiesta’ and then L, LX, Ghia, SX and XR2i, the RS doesn’t appear to have been included in the regular sales material until late in its lifetime in early 1994. In May 1992 both XR2i and RS got Zetec 1800 engines and later that year the L model disappeared, but two new badges appeared – LA with automatic transmission and DL with 1.8 litre diesel engine. More specials came on the scene – another Bonus and a Freestyle.
Developments in 1994 included a stronger structure that included side impact protection although the range was simplified at the same time and featured – Fiesta, LX and a new badge – ‘Si’ that featured heavier bumpers, that at the front incorporating a ‘smiley’ grille that eventually became a Ford characteristic – for a while. The Ghia remained although the XR2i was replaced by the RS 1800 in sales material. More specials came along – Azura, Java, Mistral, LX Mistral, Sapphire, LX Sapphire, Equipe, LX Equipe and Finesse.
The next Fiesta Mark 1V came along in October 1995 but the Mark 111 continued into 1996 as the Classic, Classic Quartz and Classic Cabaret.
From the model aspect, the initial series of Fiestas were covered in MAR 212/3 (May/June 2007) but relatively few miniatures were inspired by the subsequent Mk 111s.
Autosculpts range of little resin/aluminium castings included a Mk 111 Fiesta, in fact the only Fiesta in that range. It depicts in a quite appealing way the five door with sufficient detail to identify it as a Ghia version by the specific detail on the wheel covers. This range changed hands a few years ago but the lists of re-produced models so far doesn’t seem to include this little gem. Looking exactly like the Autosculpt is the little five door metal kit from Lion Models in Germany, almost the same size and even the wheels are the same Ghia pattern.
A mystery in this section is the Gama model 1990 Fiesta recorded as their number 1002, but as yet no trace of it has been found. An unusual source of vehicle miniatures was the Lladro name that is normally associated with decorative porcelain products but they produced a couple of delicate looking Ford subjects at the end of the 1980s. One was a 1990 Escort, the other a five door 1989 Fiesta depicting a an ‘L’ model – sufficient detail on the wheels and side strips suggest this. Also, reflecting its Spanish origins the Lladro Fiesta has the windscreen wipers as appropriate for a left hand drive example. Lladro had previously done a similar creation of a 1976 Fiesta and it is likely that all these were obtained through Ford themselves.
A recent development in the world of model cars has been the adoption of resin for many of the 1:18 scale offerings, giving a rather solid and heavy character that invariably omits any opening parts, the only moveable items are the wheels. Otto is a range of these and has produced a series of models of high performance Fords from the 1980s/90s. Among these is a RS Turbo, the real car ran for just less than two years from June 1990 and had reputation of being an extremely uncomfortable but exhilarating experience. The detail both inside and outside is superb, let down only by the surprisingly cheap sticky label for the “Fiesta RS Turbo” badge on the bool lid. Apparently there were only 1,250 examples of this model .
Even more limited was the 1:43 scale model of the RS Turbo from Kess, of which just 204 examples are said to have been made. Scalextric issued numerous versions of their XR2i slot racer in the early 1990s and that had the driver on one side of the interior in some versions, the opposite side in others. The simple one-piece plastic body captures the character nicely, the exterior mirrors probably not lasting long on seriously raced examples. The wheel pattern depicts that on the 1.6 cvh early Mk 111 XR2i.
The Fiesta based Courier van and Kombi were mentioned in the Courier piece in MAR 279 (2014) but were an important part of the Mk 111 Fiesta story. While the van lent itself to a variety of liveries – at least a dozen, the Kombi on the other hand appeared only as a red issue. From the packaging of the “Courier” van and the Kombi these could have been Ford promos. The Matchbox van depicts the ‘Standard’ version of the Courier, it has the side rubbing strips that are absent on the ‘Popular’ version.
the German range of Schabak model Fords from the early 1990s were also some sort of promos through Ford and the model trade in general. Very well made XR2is came in both 1:43 and 1:25 scales. Both had very neatly done opening parts although the doors on the smaller model only the lower half opened while the wheels on that size don’t appear to represent any in the Ford catalogue. Both had engines were sufficiently well detailed to identify the 1.6 CVH type. Interestingly these were produced in both left and right hand drive as they were obviously intended for both markets.
Ford Fiesta Mk 111 1989-1995
|Autosculpt||UK||F17||5 Door Ghia||42mm||1:89||resin/aluminium|
|Lion||Germany||41||5 door Ghia lhd||43mm||1:88||metal kit|
|Lladro||Spain||7608||5 door ‘L’ lhd||264mm||1:14||porcelain|
|Otto||China||120||3 door RS Turbo lhd||209mm||1:18||resin|
|Kess||China||15021||3 door RS Turbo lhd||1:43||resin|
|Scalextric||UK||C287||3 door XR2i 1.6 lhd/rhd||118mm||1:32||plastic slot racer|
|Schabak||Germany||1085/1086||XR2i 1.6 lhd/rhd||88mm||1:43||diecast|
|Schabak||Germany||1520/1521||XR2i 1.6 lhd/rhd||151mm||1:25||diecast|
|Matchbox||China||198||Courier Standard van lhd||75mm||1:54||diecast|
Illustrations Ford Fiesta Mk 111
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