Fiesta Fly

THE CRAYFORD FIESTA FLY

By the end of the Crayford Cortina Mk.5 production run, Crayford had only the Mercedes convertible with power hood in the pipeline, Crayford had steadily moved up market, but now the big manufacturers, Ford and VW, had rediscovered the convertible market, XR3 and Golf cabriolets began to flood the market at reasonable prices.

Crayford needed an inexpensive convertible that they could sell in numbers, and so decided on a two-pronged attack over the winter of 1981. They would split the factory into two teams, David McMullan would develop a Fiesta convertible and his partner, Jeff Smith, would develop the new mini metro into a convertible.

Ford had introduced its first small car in years with the Fiesta in 1976. And so David McMullan came up with the Fiesta Fly, the name means a fast lightweight open carriage. The Fly had a welded-up, closed boot, making it light and strong, all cuts were rust proofed and covered with a plastic sill so the car required no repainting. They even planned (against normal policy) to use second hand base cars to enable them to build a convertible for under £4,000 (based on a used car worth £2500), they even planned to hold off-the-peg cars in stock.

At its Westerham base, Crayford may have produced around 30 Mk.1 Fly convertibles, mostly on basic models from the 950cc Popular to the 1.1 & 1.3 litre cars. Crayford built two updated MK.2 cars, then they sold the whole project to Bournemouth based coachbuilders F. English. They were the largest Ford dealer in the county with a truck division producing coach built truck bodies.

F. English planned to build over 200 Fly’s a year, an early scoop was to get all Ford Sports dealers to take its new XR2 Fly model, they even produced a very slick brochure for the XR2 Fly and it sold well, quickly reaching around 30 sales. But again, the high spec of the XR2 pushed the price up to over £8,000. In the end, year on year sales of 200 plus conversions were not sustainable. F. English stopped building Fly’s and sold the manufacturing rights. The fly rights passed on several times, going around Europe, production carried on all the way up to the Mk.5, the Fly concept therefore lasted nearly 20 years.

The club register has 83 known cars, but as many as 200 could still be undiscovered. Beware of copies, they are easy to make, avoid any car with a roll bar.

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