Fiesta! Party! 1978 Ford Fiesta S

Thanks to its looking much like a VW Rabbit, this car has appealed to me for a long time. I like the simple design, and I like the promise of European handling in a small car that’s pretty common, has great parts availability, and is frequently modified for sporting events. Unfortunately, all US-market Fiestas were sold here from 1978 – 1980 and are therefore not smog-exempt, so you’re still in for that. Unfortunately, the Fiesta was at that point replaced by the Escort. Which would you rather have – a car named after a party, or one named after a high-class lady of the sort accompanying certain politicians?

Surprisingly, there are a fair amount of these cars out there on the market if you’re willing to travel a bit. This 1978 Ford Fiesta S in Las Vegas, listed on the dealer’s website as well as a couple of other sites, looks like a pretty tidy example. It does seem to have some minor dents from storage, as well as a missing outer door handle and inner door panel, but other things point to it having had fairly light usage.

1978 Ford Fiesta front

This is an S model, ranking just below the Ghia, on which I originally thought these were the wheels typically used. Some period aftermarket alloys would be a neat upgrade, but the ones currently on the car are not all the bad either, although probably a pain to clean. You can see the missing door handle, but the paint appears to have decent shine to it, and the chrome mirror looks right on a 70s compact. Hood and gas door alignment are off, but they might just not be closed properly.

1978 Ford Fiesta engine

As we’re talking about the hood, let’s look underneath. Typical for the period, it’s a mess of hoses, but looks reasonably clean if not detailed. Other pictures show some mess on the hood above the battery, so I’d want to be sure there’s no corrosion related to acid escaping. US-market cars got the biggest 1.6 liter Kent engine, with a whopping 84 horses (although I’m not sure that’s US-spec power). Hey, that’s one more than my Lancia Beta!!

1978 Ford Fiesta interior

The interior looks really clean and simple. Do remember the driver door panel is missing, but in a cheap car like this you usually don’t see this level of cleanliness. Interestingly enough, even with 77K miles of wear, the steering wheel and shift knob don’t appear to have gone all shiny. Dash also appears to be crack-free, which is pretty huge for a California car.

1978 Ford Fiesta rear

Here you can see some of the problem areas with this car. It grew up in Seal Beach, CA. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Seal Beach is near the ocean, and therefore has salty air. As a result, there is some rust showing up under the rear hatch window. You can also see the minor damage to the front fender, and the missing bumper corner and light.

Overall, this is a neat little car that has some really strong points. What’s more, those parts that are missing/damaged would probably not be too hard to procure, either from here or from a Euro-market car. However, at $1995 the dealer’s margin might be a little optimistic. If I were in the market for one of these, I’d definitely check out this apparently identical example in Albuquerque, NM for only $975.


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7 Responses to “Fiesta! Party! 1978 Ford Fiesta S”

  1. Tom Albert Says:


    I’m guessing I’m a little late on this search. Is the Fiesta! Party! 1978 Ford Fiesta S
    By Chris Keen
    sold yet?



    • Chris Keen Says:

      This site is mostly to draw attention to unusual cars for sale listed on sites such as craigslist, not cars that I am personally selling. If you like, you can sign up for emails to get information on my latest finds, using the button on the right hand side labelled “Sign up for my daily rust!”.

  2. Jared Thompson Says:

    Hello Chris,

    I just saw your page and had to let you know that I bought that car. 🙂
    I also bought the one in Albequerque. So I have Fiesta twins. Nice little article that I can forward to all of my friends that don’t know what I have. They ended up in Cincinnati Ohio btw. They will soon be out in the car show circuit.


  3. Dave Simon Says:

    Every time I see that car in Northside it makes me smile…also makes me jealous…I want one!

  4. Colin Says:

    Could I see a picture of the interior , I have three and though I know all fabric choices it came in

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