Rare Rides: A 1991 Ford Fiesta RS Turbo – Slightly Better Than Our Festiva

Image: 1991 Ford Fiesta RSIn 1991, customers had a couple of hatchback options from the Blue Oval in the United States, in either the compact or subcompact segments. At the bottom of the barrel (in all ways) was the Mazda-designed Festiva, and positioned above it was the Mazda-based Escort.

Across the pond, Europeans received a Ford which was actually a Ford — the Fiesta.

Image: 1991 Ford Fiesta RSThe Fiesta was in its third generation in global markets, its lifespan running from 1989 through 1997. Fiesta models included three- or five-door hatchbacks and a three-door panel van in two different heights. Our example today is the hottest of the hot, the RS Turbo three-door.

Image: 1991 Ford Fiesta RSNot available immediately, the RS Turbo variant appeared at dealers between 1990 and 1992. The trim was a step up from the XR2i, and featured subtle styling differences to differentiate it as the most sporty.

Image: 1991 Ford Fiesta RSUnique (killer) wheels sat inside larger tires, and green-colored trim and a color-keyed rear spoiler alerted passers-by to this vehicle’s specialness. The RS Turbo also received green-tinted glass and gills on the hood.

Image: 1991 Ford Fiesta RSRecaro provided the seats for the RS Turbo, and the driver’s hands gripped a special three-spoke steering wheel (there were only two spokes in other trims). It all appears very clean (see below) and in original condition, if a bit spartan. Then again, it’s a lightweight hot hatch, so spartan should be the intent. Ford aficionado Sajeev Mehta wanted me to tell you about the cheesy aftermarket steering wheel and pedals, and how the white painted vents should be mocked mercilessly. The Fiesta RS would also be much cooler if it were a Ghia. You hear me? A Ghia!

Image: 1991 Ford Fiesta RSTen different engines powered various Fiesta models, and under hood here we find a 1.5-liter inline-four with a Garrett T2 turbocharger. Limited space prevented Ford from implementing a larger T3 turbo as on the (Euro market) Escort RS Turbo. Horsepower reached 131 in this configuration, tackling 0-60 runs in 7.9 seconds via a five-speed manual. Sounds promising, right?

Image: 1991 Ford Fiesta RSNot really. The press panned this Fiesta for its poor handling, unaided by numb steering. Owners had a couple of additional worries: insurance and theft. European markets experienced a spike in insurance rates around the beginning of the ’90s, and it was especially bad for hot hatches, which often became targets for thieving youths.

Image: 1991 Ford Fiesta RSDespite those things, an enterprising owner has imported this particular Fiesta from Italy. Now under the 25-year rule, Americans can experience the things that disappointed Europeans in the 1990s.

Image: 1991 Ford Fiesta RSThe RS Turbo is for sale in Virginia via eBay, and a prior listing of the vehicle reached over $12,000 without meeting the reserve. Has this Fiesta guy got the big eye?

[Images via seller]