the Mk1 and Mk2

Ford has incurred massive global success with their introduction of the Escort in the late sixties, and the trend in huge sales continued throughout the 1970’s until Ford Revised the range and produced the mk2 Escort. It was around this time that Ford saw a gap in the market.

The Escort was a 4 door family saloon car, much smaller than the larger cars that Ford produced before it, and this was one of the many traits that gave the Escort its massive success. But what if Ford made a car smaller than the Escort? One that could carry 4 people with ease, with luggage, retained in a smaller than frame than the larger cars they produced. Work began in 1972 on the new Ford ‘supermini’, otherwise known as project Bobcat, and in 1977 it washed ashore in the UK brazening the name Fiesta. It immediately saw great success, with great praise from the motoring press and accompanied by equally as impressive sales figures.

The first Ford to wear the XR badge was the Fiesta XR2. The car combined sporting style and performance with comfort and value.
The XR badge was created by Ford to offer their customers a sporting car, without having to deal with the limited number of RS dealers in the country. The Fiesta XR2 was Fords first ‘hot-hatch’. The XR2 was created in Fords SVE plant. It came equipped with the Kent over head valve engine that was used in the Escorts it followed, which produced 84bhp which gave the XR2 an impressive 0-60 time of 9.4 seconds and topped out at 105mph.

Ford decided to introduce another sporting model to the Fiesta range, one that still had the stance of a hot-hatch without some of the burdens. So came in 1980 the Fiesta Supersport. In total 2000 cars were sold and came equipped with a 1300cc version of the Kent engine used in the XR2.

The entire mk1 Fiesta range was hugely successful, as was the XR2 selling cars in their tens of thousands. Production of the mk1 finished in August 1983, paving the way for the introduction of the new model

After the enormous success of the first Fiesta, Ford updated and up rated the model by face-lifting it and giving the new shape Fiesta more equipment. It was also brought up to date in terms of looks, safety and performance. The mk2 had a much more rounded shape to it, with a more refined interior, still somewhat lacking by today’s standard, but adequate for most people. The engine range was overhauled too, using Fords new Compound Valve angle Hemispherical chamber engine, (CVH) as used previously in the Escort XR3, and then later used in the XR3i. The XR2 model was continued, thanks to the success of the earlier model, and like the rest of the range was updated.

The Escort was considered Fords flagship motor sport model and therefore the XR2 could not show the XR3i up. For this reason, the XR2 never acquired the fuel injection from the Escort, and had to settle to aspiration via a Weber carburettor. It was still not a shy machine getting to 60mph in 8.7seconds and continuing onto 112mph with the power from the CVH engine coming in at 96bhp. It is still one the most fun cars to drive for the money they can be picked up at. A popular retirement plan for the Mk2 XR2 is to be fitted with a turbocharged version of the CVH engine and used as a track day car, due to this being fanatically viable for a lot of car enthusiasts and the sheer number of parts available for the Fiesta.

Other noticeable additions to the range were an automatic gearbox option, and the introduction in the later stages of the mk2’s life, the lean-burn engines which proved to improve fuel economy without any loss in performance by around 25%.

As well as the Fiesta evolving, the XR brand evolved with it bringing more power, better performance and better handling along with it.

10% of all Mk2 Fiestas sold were XR2’s. Which is why we still have so many around us now

The Mk2 production was ended in 1989 when another update was called for. Roll on the Mk3 Fiesta