Romance in Rougrane Throws Light on the Meadows

 Festival of the Unremarkable.

Ford Fiesta Mk 3 (BE13) circa 1989 seen in Köln, Easter, 2022

For many people Cologne is a city people don’t even know well enough to associate with the smelly liquid that goes by the same name. Due to pure good fortune I had the amazing opportunity to live there between 2000 and 2006 and for me, Cologne (or Köln) is the city of the Ford Fiesta and, indeed Ford of Europe. In 2013 a gold winged Fiesta was placed high over the skyline in recognition of the motorcar’s place in Köln’s history. I went back after a 10 year absence this Easter and found this car. I also discovered that the city is not much changed since 2009.

The photo car heading today’s article is the kind of car that does not really make it into articles – it is quite ordinary. That is very much part of the Fiesta’s identity and also part of the genius of Ford’s approach to this for decades. However, ordinariness is not to be mistaken for a criticism. When I think of the interest inherent in car design, it is the Fiesta I use an example. The challenge of making a safe, durable, comfortable and reliable product like an affordable Fiesta is a huge one. To ensure a Fiesta hits all these targets and still remains fun to drive is one of the miracles of modern industry and one that most people take entirely for granted.

The Fiesta (here photographed on the Hansa Ring in Köln) is a 30+ year-design; the car itself is no younger than 1997 when this iteration handed over to the BE-91. Having checked up on those details it is something of a surprise to realise this car dates from so far back. The reason they do not seem so antique is because the were so ubiquitous and they hung around for so long, becoming like part of the general background.

Ford Fiesta Mark V photographed in Basel, Switzerland, Easter 2022

I suppose it is also a testament to the inherent un-remarkableness of the shape that it does not seem especially ancient looking. That and the fact its rear lamp design lived on in the also-ubiquitous 1995 BE91 version of the Fiesta. That makes it seem incredibly familiar so it slips the normal time-stamping such features get marked by.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

15 thoughts on “Romance in Rougrane Throws Light on the Meadows”

  1. Richard Parry-Jones was the reason that Ford Europe made cars that were fun to drive and handled well.

    1. The man from the 50 meter test. I’m not an expert on vehicle dynamics, but I will try that test.

    2. A refreshingly brief and concentrated article,
      thank you Richard!

      To my eyes, the Mk3 (the original, not the inconsistently bloated facelifts) is admirable in 3dr guise, as, in the fewer doors version,
      its problematic
      resemblance to the 205
      seems to be almost gone and it has a strong, likeable identity of a minimalistic, spartan
      yet eager-to-serve character.

      Where it scores further is its perceived robustness
      & simplicity (yet, unlike the 205, this notionally penetrates also its build quality – weird, as, in reality, while definitely less flimsy than the 205, it was still very far from a Golf in terms of fit
      & finish).

      It was a joy with the
      1.25 engine, a proper
      “under the radar” warm hatch, with a dynamic heart (read: susp. geometry & steering texture) almost
      of a hot hatch.

      Unforgettable.

      As for the Mk6, it is indeed extremely attractive in 3dr guise. Being so voluminous, though, it is sadly more of an Escort/ Focus alternative, than
      a proper FoFi.

      Nevertheless, I predict it will become a classic – the 3dr design not only ages well, but actually looks more and more relevant with each passed week.

      Even if it wasn’t blessed with the R.P.Jones’ dynamic ‘buzz’, it’d be still a car to aspire towards solely on
      its looks alone.

      Pity there wasn’t a peppy, torquey, lust-for-life midfield-size petrol engine. If it had one, it would be legendary. The engines were sadly either dull on throttle response (and/or transient response), the 16v ones being too ‘shallow’ for its heft, or just too slow (the OHV).

      Build quality was also severely lacking, I recall.

      It looked best in the dark blue, and in black (however the light green and red metallic were also desirable).

  2. Nice to see them. I think the mk3 is a lovely piece of design.

    There’s a chap on YouTube who’s into Volvos and older cars in general, I think. He bought a base spec mk3 Fiesta in very good condition and is enjoying looking after it and gently restoring it. It’s both nice to see a car being cared for and to see a base spec model like this one -it really shows off what a good design it is, inside and out. This and the (superb) Peugeot 205 were real high points – they’re friendly and satisfying designs, somehow.

  3. Good afternoon Richard. I never quite took to the Fiesta Mk3, at least in its original iteration:

    It looked like a poor facsimile of the Peugeot 205 and that crease below the DLO that sliced across the C-pillar was particularly disruptive to my eyes. The heavy re-skin that produced the smoothed-out Mk4 successfully updated the design in the style of the Mk1/2 Mondeo:

    That said, it also introduced the rather piscine front-end treatment:

    Which was replaced by this in a subsequent facelift:

    I didn’t like the fishy front end at the time, but its rather grown on me since.

    Incidentally, on the example in your photograph, someone has gone to the trouble of blacking out the indicators in the tail lights, then adding new reflectors below the lights. Weird…

    1. Some versions of this Fiesta had dark indicators and the additional reflectors were cheap…

  4. I should have added that the Fiesta Mk6 (and Fusion) was a work of genius:


    At least until they messed it up (a bit) with a facelift that added nothing but fussier looking lights front and rear:

    1. The facelifted (buttlifted?) rear lights look as if Murat Günak had been employed by Ford for some time.

    2. The Fiesta Mk 6 and the Fusion are indeed designs of staggeringly high quality. I know some will fall on the floor when I say this: I´d put both cars in my short list of ten cars I can´t stop looking at when I see them. The facelifted Fiesta is still very good indeed. They really worked magic with both of those cars.

  5. I thought the Mk 4.1/2 was quite tidy, but I never really bothered evaluating Fiestas.
    I remember driving out of Shannon Airport behind a new, rental, Mk 5 (Wiki)/MK6 (Daniel) and as it drove over a sleeping policeman one of the rear reflectors fell off.

    1. Hi Mervyn. Yes, Ford loves to play fast and loose to confuse us with its mark and generation numbers. Some refer to the 1999 second facelift to the 1989 Mk3 (when the ‘fishy’ face was changed back to something more conventional) as the Mk5, hence the all-new 2002 model becomes the Mk6.

      Logically, and ignoring reskins and facelifts, there were just four different generations of Fiesta:

      First: 1976 – 1989
      Second: 1989 – 2002
      Third: 2002 – 2008
      Fourth: 2008 – present

    2. I would agree that the 02 – 08 generation was a superb piece of styling, though I’m not sure about the Fusion version. Possibly I hold a grudge because that was foisted upon Mazda as well.

  6. The Mk3 (the original, not the inconsistently bloated facelifts) is admirable in 3dr guise,
    as, in the fewer doors version, its problematic
    resemblance to the 205
    seems to be almost gone.

    Where it scores on a subliminal level, is its
    perceived robustness
    & simplicity (but, unlike the 205, this notionally penetrates also its build quality – weird, as, in reality, while less flimsy than the 205, it was still
    far from a Golf in terms of build substance).

    The Mk6 is extremely attractive in 3dr guise,
    yet it fails on the identity test, as, being so voluminous, it is more of an Escort/Focus
    alternative, than a proper FoFi.

    I predict it will become a classic, however, as the 3dr design not only ages immensely well, but actually looks more and more relevant with each passed week.

    Even if it wasn’t blessed with the RPJ dynamic ‘buzz’, it’d be still
    a car to aspire towards
    solely on its looks alone.

    Pity there wasn’t a peppy, torquey, lust-for-life midfield-size petrol engine. If it had one, it would be legendary. The engines were sadly either dull on throttle response (and/or transient response), the 16v ones, or just too slow (the OHV).

    Build quality was also severely lacking, I recall.

    It looked best in the dark blue, and in black (however the light green and red metallic were also desirable).

  7. I think the sixth gen ones are aging so well – I liked the way the 5 door had a more upright tailgate and voluminous feel, while the 3 door was more coupé-like and sporty. I think they both owed a lot from the [possibly apocryphal] story about Ford Germany buying a Audi A2, disassembling it and putting parts of it up on the canteen wall to ‘inspire’ the staff.

    I really like the Fusion too – they seem to be everywhere still [here in Kent – I call them ‘cockroaches’ – and are aging nicely, though they always look as if the suspension needs an extra inch of lift for the wheels to look ‘right’ in the arches. It’s like they wanted it to be a mini SUV but then bottled it at the last minute.

    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/gh3w6h9gaqwr9mz/ford-fusion.png?dl=0

    As testament to that, the Mk1 EcoSport [which was only ever available in Brazil] was built on the same platform as the Fusion and is a wonderfully resolved little SUV. beastie. With a lot of shared parts.
    (Though the less said about the mk2 the better.]


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