Isn't it about time we did 1984 all over again?
Back then gas prices were high, nobody wanted to buy cars from Detroit, and everybody was listening to Michael Jackson music.
Summer 2009: Same story, different plot. Ford, as it was back in the day, is in the midst of introducing a "World Car" – a car that substantially meets the needs of most motoring countries without the need for much model differentiation.
Your Unhumble Car Czar owned Ford's first World Car, the Escort, for a satisfying but ungratifying 18 months back when. It was fine around-town transportation, but above 50 it pogoed over bumps and bounded for the next lane. It wanted a downshift at the first whiff of a headwind.
The Escort's sort-of U.S. heirs, the Festiva and Focus, ran the gambit from competent to almost-brilliant in 50-state forms.
Now that the global economic plunge has made global automotive platforms more than just vaguely sensible ideas, Ford is finally ready to get the whole World Car Thing right.
The 2011 Fiesta, arriving in the U.S. in mid-2010, is, um ... GO. (Think "All your base." Think "FIT." Don't think too much).
Ford already has test models in the hands of young hipsters who are off making viral Jason-drives-through-Krispy-Kreme-and-Just-Loves-the-Handling YouTube videos about them.
Except for some here-today-designing-the-next-bungled-BMW-butt-tomorrow stylist's vapid idea to model the new Fiesta's center instrument panel after cell phone keys (let's be thankful no brilliant young rectangle-glassed wonder thought to make the dashboard of a 1984 GTI mimic a boom box) this is a good-looking ride. Comes in purple-y pink, Pre-political-Anita-Bryant orange, Kermit-the-Frog green, and other cheerful "Recession? What Recession?" colors.
By all accounts, 117 hp moving 2,380 pounds on meaty low-profile rubber for just 13 grand makes the 2011 Ford Fiesta the second coming of the first generation Acura Integra, which was about the best all-around fun car you could get in the 80s.
A tip of the sombrero for replicating the excellence/price quotient of a quarter-century ago with a full complement of modern safety equipment ... but for 2011, Ford, even if we're still all up Ess Ache Eye Tee Crick by then, you could amp things up just a little more without going all Lincoln Blackwood Silly on us.
By all means, pump-out those low-cost, high-grin standard Fiestas for the masses (and even for Muffy and Buffy, whose parents can't currently afford to buy them little German cars owing to ongoing SEC investigations), but let's please make that "Psst ... hey buddy ... wanna buy a turbo kit?" future buyer survey item you've been teasing us with on your web site a just-slightly-higher-cost, much-higher-grin reality.
A 170 hp turbo option on the U.S. Fiesta would be really swell, Ford. And a six-speed sequential shift gear box with real left-down, right-up paddle shifters would do lots to break the Land of the Free out of its post-hot-rod-SUV hangover.
Keep those funky colors.
If Ultra Violet comes close enough to Plumb Crazy Purple and far enough away from Promise Pink you can count on at least one un-hip self-appointed imaginary government bureaucrat showing up on your showroom door step next year.