You would not in general think of the Ford Fiesta as being much of a “classic car”, would you? Classic cars are more apt to be valuable Bentleys, sporting MGs, or sleek Porsches. A Ford Fiesta is the car your mum or dad had, and in which you probably learned to drive.
A classic, though? Surely a Fiesta is just a small, frugal car to be bought and, eventually, disposed of? Not restored and passed across the auction block, decades hence, for an inflated sum? Well, perhaps and perhaps not as, according to Car & Classic, the European-wide sales and auction hub for classic cars of all shapes, sizes, and values, interest in the humble Fiesta has spiked since the car finally went out of production on July 7th.
In fact, according to Car & Classic, the end of Fiesta production prompted a 206 per cent spike in searches on its online platform compared to average Fiesta searches in the four weeks prior to the announcement. Perhaps unsurprisingly it was the sporty versions of the Fiesta which are prompting the most interest – the XR2 model saw a 107 per cent increase in searches, while the tearaway RS Turbo version saw a 52 per cent uptick.
“Even without taking into account the initial reaction to the news of the last Fiesta ever produced, interest in the model is strong overall, up 14 per cent in the period July 9th to July16th, compared to June 25th to July 2nd and ignoring the weekend of the announcement,” Car & Classic’s head of editorial Dale Vinten told The Irish Times. “It shows how the end of the line for a much-loved model may not necessarily mean the end of its presence on the roads. The classic, and modern classic, car community will ensure that we shall see Fiestas being driven for many years to come.”
In spite of the general drift towards premium-badge cars in the general car market, Ford is still Car & Classic’s most-searched-for brand, with the Escort, Capri and Cortina making up around 34 per cent of overall Ford searches, whilst the Fiesta is currently responsible for 6 per cent.
Will such interest see a spike in the values of old Fiestas? Well, it might but don’t start thinking that your uncle’s rusty old 1.1 LX is suddenly a multimillion barn find. For a start when it comes to classic cars condition is everything. “Low-mileage cars in good, unmolested conditions with a documented service history continue to be sought after,” said Vinten. “The knowledge that you may be driving a car whose current production has stopped plays a part, but rare and restored classic models will also always command a premium: both these immaculate 1981 Ford Fiesta Supersport MkI and 1981 Ford Fiesta 1300 Supersport MkI sold for £15,500 and £17,750 in May and March this year respectively. The market will respond to the Fiesta demise milestone accordingly, perhaps – initially at least – with fewer Fiestas up for sale whilst owners re-evaluate the circumstances.”
The Fiesta had been in production through 47 years and eight generations, encompassing models that were powered by a 950cc 41hp engine, right up to the 200hp Fiesta ST model, one of the great hot hatches of all time.
Ford’s first ever front-wheel drive car (well, unless you count the Germany-only Taunus P4 of 1962) the Fiesta regularly topped sales charts across Europe, but Ford announced last year that 2023 would be the end of Fiesta production. Why?
Well, one reason was space. The Cologne factory, for long Ford’s main European production plant, is switching over to electric cars, starting with the VW-based Ford Explorer EV which goes on sale in 2024. The Fiesta’s production line had to go to make space for the Explorer.
However, a bigger broader reason is that it is very hard to make a consistent profit on smaller cars, and that maths is about to become harder still when the new Euro7 emissions regulations come into force – the Fiesta’s price had already swollen from around €15,000 to more than €20,000 and that would have spiked higher again once the tech to get its petrol and hybrid engines past the new regs was introduced. Few people, it was calculated, would spend nearly €30,000 on a Fiesta, so Ford pulled the plug.
The Fiesta’s place in the range will be taken by the Puma crossover which, thanks in part to being built in a lower-cost factory in Romania, has a chunkier profit margin for Ford. There will also be a passenger version of the new Tourneo Courier, based on the next-generation Courier van, which will be slightly cheaper than the Puma.
However, there is also the possibility of a reprieve for the Fiesta. Ford and Volkswagen are already collaborating on electric cars – hence the Explorer – and VW has just shown its ID.2 all-concept car, which is both compact and affordable (with a potential starting price of €27,000) with a 400km EV range. VW is also looking at the potential for an even more affordable EV model, an ID.1, which could potentially cost less than €20-25,000. Could Ford piggyback on that platform to create a new, all-electric, still-affordable Fiesta for the 21st century?
Maybe that Fiesta will pique the interest of Car & Classic customers sometime around the year 2065.