The it really should never have worked but it did facelift: 1983’s Ford Fiesta
The 1976 Ford Fiesta’s sales successes made it so ubiquitous that its appearance ceased to be either noticeable or remarkable. This however belies Köln-Merkenich’s initial design, which under the stylistic leadership of Uwe Bahnsen was neat, well executed and had, by the tail end of the ’70s, worn well. However as a new decade began, it began to appear dated against newer and sleeker rivals.
Ford had somewhat against type joined the avant garde with the 1982 Sierra, so naturally the 1983 Fiesta facelift aimed to continue this modernist theme. It could so easily have been dreadful, but the graft of a new, slightly longer, lower nose was virtually seamless. At a stroke, the dated appearance of the existing model was excised, giving the seven year old design a further six years of robust sales success before it was replaced by the rather less well executed mark 3 model.
A car that would require at least three major facelifts over its equally lengthy lifespan illustrated that executed correctly, you only really need to do it once.
4 thoughts on “Theme: Facelifts – Festie’ Refaced”
Is the nose really longer or just looks that way because of the more rounded edges and dipping bonnet?
Also I would argue that in it’s first iteration the MkIII was maybe derivative, but far from lacklustre. I was still driving one only 6 years ago and it still looked (to my eyes at least) fresh and well resolved, and the facelift seem to have been justified solely by the need not so much to refresh it but to keep it in line with the rest of the Ford range.
I’ve always liked the mk3 Fiesta, especially in lower spec form; I think the mk2 looks better in a higher spec trim. At the time, I recall finding the late ‘80s Fords – Fiesta and Escort – to be honest and rather cheerful, somehow.
Here’s a video of how to sell the mk3, narrated by Tony Bastable. The advice given to sales staff in the film is as relevant today as it was 30 years ago. Please note that the video is a bit crackly at the beginning.
I’m not entirely convinced about this facelift. First, one could argue that Ford did not want us to view it as a facelift, but as a new model, hence “Mk2” rather than “revised”. Second, because the original Fiesta was quite old by the time the facelift happened, the front section of the car looks smooth and rounded-off, when from the A pillar back, the edges and featurelines, and especially the drip rail/ window surrounds are not and instantly look aged – it’s like a whole new generation car up front, and an old generation car in the middle and back. A similar outcome was delivered in turning the Austin Metro (except it had no marque badging on it by the end of its life) into the Rover Metro, and for similar reasons – the donor car was too old for an effective facelift. All of that said, the “Mk2” XR2 pictured, does look good front-on. The first facelift of the Mk3 was not very cohesive, but the car underneath had been transformed into something that drove very nicely indeed – in fact, arguably it marked Ford’s renaissance as a maker of fun-to-drive cars.
I am with the doubters. The car wasn´t really changed aft of the a-pillar. The roof and especially the guttered doors look angular compared to the smoothed off nose. I rather think the whole reskin of the later models was better and the rear lamps seemed to me to be quite good (I noticed them, for a start).