Different models of the Ford Fiesta throughout its 47-year history.
From what were orange and onion orchards came out in October 1976 the first Ford Fiesta manufactured by the American multinational. Henry Ford II chose the Valencian municipality of Almussafes to build a factory that supplied vehicles to the markets of southern Europe, and although originally the idea was to produce the Ford Taunus, the oil crisis advised a smaller utility and lower consumption. Thus was born the Fiesta model, an American car with a Spanish name that will say goodbye in July (there is still no specific date, according to the company) forever from the Cologne plant – where it is currently assembled – after 47 years of history. The Valencian factory manufactured it exclusively for a few years, but it has subsequently been assembled in 15 other factories of the company. Five of the 22 million units produced in its almost five decades of life have come out of Almussafes. In the U.S. it was only sold for a couple of years.
The Fiesta, one of the most popular cars on Spanish roads in the 80s and 90s, says goodbye a year ahead of schedule to make way for the generation of electric vehicles in Cologne and because the taste of drivers has varied and prefer SUV models to passenger cars. There will be, therefore, no electric version of the car known colloquially as Fordfi. "It was a car for the people, neither big nor luxurious. Thank you partner for everything you have given us", collects the video with which the American multinational says goodbye and thanks the services provided to the Fiesta.
During its gestation, those responsible for Ford called the prototype Bobcat and although many names were shuffled -Amigo, Bravo, Sierra, Bebe, Bambi, Bolero ...- Henry Ford II himself chose it to be Fiesta, perhaps inspired by the work of Nobel Ernest Hemingway or because it simply went well with the young audience to which it was addressed. The first one that left the assembly line averaged about 3.5 meters in length and weighed less than 800 kilos, but the model evolved and the last redesign, from 2017, measured four meters long and 1.2 tons in weight. It looked nothing like the original. The utility revolutionized the cars in its range by incorporating front-wheel drive and ABS braking system.
The model was an instant bestseller.
Most of the employees who lived through the inauguration of the Valencian factory in October 1976 are retired, but they still remember that the first vehicle that left the assembly line was raffled among the employees. And it was Juan Carlos I himself, recently released monarch of Spain, who addressed the winner, a mechanic from Extremadura from the Carrocerías plant, and shaking his hand handed him the keys to a car that cost about 125,000 of the old pesetas. "He has been a beloved icon and faithful friend to millions of drivers," reads the farewell announcement. Almussafes does not forget its origins and a unit of the original model is preserved in the lobby of the central offices of the factory.
Almussafes lost the model with which it debuted in the automotive sector twice: the first in 1997, when the company opted for the Spanish factory to assemble its small Ford Ka. The Fiesta was taken to Germany and the staff lived with anguish that decision because the utility was a safe value, of great acceptance and sales among the public, in the face of the doubts that surrounded the Ka, recalls Carlos Faubel, president of the works council of Ford in Almussafes. The talisman model for the Valencian factory was redesigned in 2002 and stayed until 2012, when it was displaced by the C-Max and Gran C-Max minivans, the Transit van or later the new Kuga. The workload was assured and the farewell was lived with some nostalgia but without drama.
Faubel, leader of UGT, started working at the factory in 1989, when the Fiesta had been filming for 13 years. Then joined the Escort, the Orion, the Focus, the Ka... "I went in when the sporty model of the Fiesta, the XR2, was launched, and I remember it perfectly because I was paid for its launch," he says. The Ford utility emerged at the same time as the Renault 5 or the SEAT 127, all cars of the moment. "There was then a market to give and sell," admits Faubel, who attributes the longevity of the Fiesta to the fact that it has been able to adapt to the times.
The car with which many learned to drive in Spain remains, for the memory, in the famous song Sufra mamón by Hombres G: "She left with a posh child. In a white Ford Fiesta. And a yellow sweater..."
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