Theme: Compromise – The Fiesta Mk.1 – Blood on the Boardroom Floor

So you thought there was only one Fiesta Mk.1? In fact there nearly were two, and the one we never saw almost tore Ford apart.

wolf004

From its inception in 1969, Ford’s small car project had always had inter-continental ambitions. An early project structure saw engines manufactured in Brazil being used in cars made first in Europe, with a production base in Brazil following on, which would not only serve the home market, but would also export to the USA. US and Asia-Pacific production sites would follow. Other visions included a simplified low-powered variant adapted for production in developing countries, a third world car maximum speed of 55-60mph, a 0-50 time of 25-30 seconds, capable of being sold at 50-60% of the price of the cheapest Ford Escort.
Continue reading “Theme: Compromise – The Fiesta Mk.1 – Blood on the Boardroom Floor”

Theme: Compromise – The Fiesta Mk.1 – Almost Revolutionary

Let us consider the conventional wisdom about the first generation Fiesta.

autocar-2-october-1976-koln-dom
Source: Autocar

It arrived some time after the revolutions in small car design which raged through Europe in the fifties and sixties, and continued to bear fruit into the early seventies.  It was thus a rationalised ‘best practice’ car, standing on the narrow but solid shoulders of at least four influential and successful rivals which arrived early enough in the 1970s to influence and inform Ford’s designers. Continue reading “Theme: Compromise – The Fiesta Mk.1 – Almost Revolutionary”

Compromise: On the road to Fiesta – Part 1

Driven to Write looks in depth at the Fiesta’s development.

fiesta-1

Lest it should pass un-noticed, January 2017 is the fortieth anniversary of the Ford Fiesta’s launch in the UK. Production at Ford Germany’s Saarlouis factory began in July 1976, with the core Almusafes plant coming on stream in October 1976, so the lucky continentals were introduced to the car a few months earlier. Continue reading “Compromise: On the road to Fiesta – Part 1”

Anniversary Waltz

So many cars, so little time.

A car to return to. Image: Spiegel.de
A car to return to. Image: Spiegel.de

Like most of what we do here at Driven to Write, our commemoration of significant automotive anniversaries throughout the past year came about largely by accident and was therefore never intended to be exhaustive or definitive. But with 2016 consigned to a blessedly welcome end, we now find ourselves like overindulged children with an embarrassment of riches for which we have little real use. So in the spirit of post celebratory ennui, we propose to take a brushstroke to the cars we never quite got around to last year. Continue reading “Anniversary Waltz”

Party Animal – 1976 Ford Fiesta

Image: Ford Social
The dynamic of this photo set-up deserves an article in its own right. Image: Ford Social

Late is better than never, and having sat on its corporate hands for years, Ford finally launched their supermini contender in 1976. So what took them so long? The answer lies both in Uncle Henry’s corporate culture and deep-rooted fear of failure. But having toyed both with front wheel drive and subcompacts at various times, the beancounters were having none of it. Continue reading “Party Animal – 1976 Ford Fiesta”

Fastback Flashback – 1976 Rover SD1

We attempt to remain aloof to the SD1’s visual appeal, but like the car itself, we fall at the final hurdle.

Image: stubs-auto.fr

When it comes to legacies and reputations, has sufficient time elapsed to talk about the Rover SD1 without falling into the usual narrative tramlines? It’s a tricky one isn’t it? After all, the big Rover remains a deeply likeable car with much to commend it. Yet at the same time, although it didn’t quite attain Lancia Gamma levels of customer toxicity, it became the living embodiment of British Leyland’s genius for snatching defeat from the very cusp of victory. Continue reading “Fastback Flashback – 1976 Rover SD1”

Future Postponed – 1976 Aston Martin Lagonda

The same year Concorde entered service, Aston Martin introduced a roadgoing equivalent. But like the emblematic supersonic jetliner, the Lagonda embodied a future which ultimately failed to take flight.

Image: 7car.tw
Image: source

Despite the fact that it didn’t run and wouldn’t actually enter production for another three years, the Lagonda’s thrilling sci-fi appearance caused a media sensation in the Autum of 1976 and probably saved Aston Martin’s bacon at a very difficult time. Because a year before, the Newport Pagnell-based car maker was in receivership, falling prey, like Jensen, Iso and Maserati to the fallout from the 1973 oil crisis coupled with the costs of adhering to ever-tightening safety and emissions regulations. Continue reading “Future Postponed – 1976 Aston Martin Lagonda”

Silent Running – 1976 Bristol 603

Bristol launched the 603 in 1976. They were still making a derivation of it right up to their demise in 2009. We chart its languid progress.

1976 Bristol 603. Image: only-carz
1976 Bristol 603. Image: only-carz

Considering the fact that Bristol used a variation of the same chassis for half a century, it might seem a little pointless discussing the 603 as a stand-alone model. Especially so when one considers how much the end-of-days Blenheim 4S owed to its 1976 forebear. However, it did mark one of those rare evolutionary shifts in Bristol style – one which saw them through the next thirty-odd years, although in retrospect that may have been unwise. Continue reading “Silent Running – 1976 Bristol 603”