It was a disease that changed history, in England complications from the disease accounting for Edward VI, thus ending the Tudor male line; Elizabeth I and her sister Mary both suffered scarring from the disease; and Mary II, wife of William III, died of smallpox before she could produce an heir.
The fight-back against the disease began when the English doctor Jenner administered his first vaccine on May 14th 1796, but it was a long haul.
America and much of Western Europe eradicated smallpox at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, but still in the 1950s tens of millions of cases occurred worldwide, which on occasion fed back into Europe – for example in Sweden in 1963. By the mid-1970s, however, only the Horn of Africa still had the disease present as campaigns by the World Health Organisation and others sought to finish it off.
On October 26 1977 the last natural case of the disease was diagnosed in a 23 year old cook in Somalia, Ali Maow Maalin. Thankfully he recovered. Tragically another case occurred in Birmingham in the following year, when a medical photographer in the Birmingham University Medical School contracted the disease accidentally – and fatally.
Amazingly, stocks of smallpox are still kept for research purposes in two locations, one in the USA, one in Russia. I wonder if it’s only MotorMartin that finds this a little frightening?
The Ford Fiesta arrived amidst much fanfare in 1976 for the remarkable sum of just £1865. The very next year, 1977, Smallpox was eradicated. Now MotorMartin is not suggesting that the Mark 1 Ford Fiesta finished off Smallpox on it’s own but it is quite a coincidence is it not?
There has been a huge variation on the Fiesta theme over the years with different body styles, engines and gearboxes but all have had one thing in common, they have acted as an entry level vehicle to entice the consumer into the Ford Family. Indeed it’s place was only taken over relatively recently, by the Ford Ka.
The first Fiesta, the Mark 1 if you will, started the love affair that us Britain’s have with the Fiesta in all its guises, the Daily Mail (I know) let it be known recently that ‘The Ford Fiesta has become the best selling car of all time in the UK with sales topping 4.1 million in the past 38 years.’ And that ‘It has overtaken the Ford Escort, the previous record holder, to become the most popular model among British drivers.’ High praise indeed.
Ford themselves shared with MotorMartin the news that the number of Fiesta’s registered in the UK topped 4,115,000, compared to the Escort’s total sales figure of 4,105,961 over 32 years and that since its launch, the Fiesta has led the small car segment in the UK for 27 of the 37 years and has been Britain’s best-selling car since 2009 when it overtook the Ford Focus.
Mark Ovenden, head of Ford Britain, said: ‘The Ford Fiesta has gone from strength to strength and today’s car combines style, value, driving dynamics and remarkable technologies such as the multi- award-winning 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine. Before continuing to say, ‘It continues to outsell its nearest retail competitor by more than two to one – and that really tells the story of this extraordinary car.’
Watching the video below shows the different stages of development that the Fiesta went through before we reach today’s Mark 7.
So what does this all say about the latest Mark 7 Fiesta? To answer that question as well as a few others, MotorMartin has been looking at and driving a Fiesta 1.0L Turbo Econetic, featuring the full fat, 125bhp three cylinder engine whilst still delivering free road tax for the discerning customer. Having your cake and still being able to eat it springs to mind!
This particular model was chosen as it has the optional body kit that lends the Fiesta an air of sportiness and aggression that is lacking in the baser models and really allows the Fiesta to stand out from the crowd. I particularly like the lower and sportier look at the front of the car as well as the huge rear spoiler that if looked at from the right angle and squinting slightly, does look vaguely reminiscent of a particular model of Sierra from back in the day. The addition of colour matching side skirts and tinted rear windows complete a rather handsome look.
The front of the Mark 7 Fiesta is dominated by the large grill (Aston Martin anyone?) Front fogs and additional bumps and bulges differentiate this sporting look from the standard model. In the eyes of MotorMartin the Fiesta presses all of the right buttons and is certain to appeal to the driver with a more youthful and agile approach or one that wishes to have one last hurrah before the inevitable and self destructive arrival of a Zafira or Jazz on the driveway…
The interior of the Fiesta has improved in leaps and bounds over the Mark 5 and 6 and looks particularly good at night when the blue interior lighting of the controls contrasts superbly with the sparsely used reds and oranges that highlight some of the more important features. It’s easy to get comfortable in the Fiesta with there being plenty of room in the front and a decent amount of adjustability in the front seat and steering wheel. Yet even with the driver seat pushed as far back as it can be there is still room in the back for two adults, at a push, and certainly they’ll be no issues with adding in a couple of children instead. This is no doubt down to the gradual increase in size of the Ford. Back in 1976 the Fiesta was 3632mm in length yet by the time of the 2008 facelift the Fiesta had grown 3950mm. To put that in perspective, the original Focus Mark 1 was 4152mm, only 202mm longer than the latest Fiesta. Parking a Mark 6 or 7 Fiesta next to an original Focus is surprising to say the least and goes some way in explaining away the excellent interior space that you get from the Fiesta.
Overall then, the looks of the current model can be viewed as a success, with models available to suit all tastes and budgets with this particular model exuding aggression and sportiness in equal measures. MotorMartin likes the front end especially. Can you really criticise it for looking a little like an Aston, really?
Keep an eye out for part 2 where I’ll be seeing if the Fiesta can cash the cheques that its looks promise. A 1.0 Turbo three cylinder engine in something this sporting? Have Ford made a mistake?
I look forward to finding out.
Where will you go?