Ford Orion is First Produced
The Ford Orion is a saloon car built by the automaker Ford for the European market from 22 July 1983 until 19 September 1993.
A total of 534,239 Orions were sold throughout the car's 10-year life.
The Orion is based on the Ford Escort, but at the back, instead of the Escort's hatchback, the Orion features a separate trunk / boot. Visually the Orion's notch-back rear end and greater rear overhang make it readily distinguishable from its better selling sibling.
n the early 1980s, Ford's model line-up and image was changing. The company's older saloon line-up was replaced mainly by hatchbacks, from the Escort to the Granada and the new Sierra (which replaced the Cortina). The Orion was designed to fill the market demand for a traditional four-door saloon, left by the demise of the Cortina. The Orion looked similar to a contemporary Escort at the front, but the rear of the body was totally different; the Orion had a long flat boot (making the car a three-box saloon design) rather than a hatchback or estate body like the Escort. Although the Orion's length was similar to that of the contemporary Ford Sierra,[clarification needed] the latter had more rear legroom with the Orion having a larger boot.
Ford initially offered the Orion in only GL and Ghia trim levels, missing out on the very lowest specification levels available on the Escort. Only 1300 cc and 1600 cc CVH engine options were available (though with both carburettor and fuel injection options on the 1.6 Ghia). A lower specification L model was introduced in 1984 as was the option of a 1.6 diesel engine on L and GL models.
The Orion Ghia 1.6i standard features included central locking, sunroof, front sport seats, electric windows, rear head restraints, tachometer and an information binnacle informing the driver when the vehicle needed maintenance. All of these features were rare equipment on a small family car in the 1980s, giving the Orion upmarket pretensions. Other cars in the small executive saloon class competing with the Orion included the Volkswagen Jetta, Mercedes-Benz 190, Rover 213/216, Vauxhall Belmont, Daihatsu Charmant, BMW E30 and the Volvo 360.
The Orion 1.6i shared the same engine as the Escort XR3i and offered similar performance and handling without the insurance unfriendly tag that the XR badge started to command in the late 1980s. The 1.6i was topped by a luxury limited edition called the 1600E in 1989, the 1600E name harking back to the Mark II Ford Cortina 1600E as both were considered as decent performance and well-equipped saloon cars for the working person. The Orion 1600E was available in black, white and metallic grey and had RS alloys, wood cappings on the dashboard and doors, and grey leather seats. Only 1,600 were made, and only 1,000 of these had leather trim.
Eventually though, as the years went by, Ford brought the styling and engineering of the Orion closer to the Escort's and lower-specification models crept into the range along with equipment levels being brought together between the two cars.
In 1986, the Orion received the same facelift as the rest of the Escort range. The Mark II brought the option of anti-lock-brakes (ABS) and a heated front windscreen to the range. The CVH engines were upgraded and were now 'lean burn units' and various models in the range could run on unleaded fuel without modifications to the cylinder head or to the fuel system. Improved locks were fitted across the range, and a number of other improvements were carried out including new suspension and gearbox mounts, updated interior and trim changes, improved soundproofing and revised steering and suspension settings.
The Ford Orion was a four-door saloon automobile model introduced by Ford's European division on July 22, 1983.
At that time, Ford's model lineup and image was changing. The company's older saloon lineup was replaced mainly by hatchbacks, from the Ford Escort to the Granada and the then new Sierra replacing the Ford Cortina. The Orion was designed to fill the market demand for a traditional four-door saloon, left by the demise of the Cortina. The Orion looked similar to a contemporary Escort at the front, but rear of the body was totally different; the Orion had a long flat boot (three-box saloon design) rather than a hatchback or estate body like the Escort. Despite appearances, the Orion was larger than the Escort, being almost the same size as a Ford Sierra.
The Orion was a more upmarket saloon, derived from the third generation Escort, aimed at the fleet market and company buyers. In order not to spoil the Orion's upmarket pretentions, Ford deliberately only offered the Orion in GL and Ghia trim levels initially, and only in 1300 cc and 1600 cc (both carburettor and fuel injection options on the 1.6 Ghia) CVH engine options. The standard equipment on the Orion was far superior to that of the Escort, e.g the Orion Ghia 1.6i standard features included central locking doors, sunroof, front sport seats, power windows, rear head restraints, tachometer and an information binnacle informing the driver when the vehicle needed maintenance. All of these features were very rare equipment on a family car of the 1980s. Also the fact that the Orion was a family car and was available with fuel injection was groundbreaking; Porsche was still fitting carburettors to particular models in their lineup. Other cars in this small executive saloon class were the Volkswagen Jetta, Daihatsu Charmant, Rover 213/216, Vauxhall Belmont, and the Mercedes-Benz 190.
Eventually though, as the years went by, people saw the Orion for what it was, an Escort saloon, and it became the average family car when Ford eventually relented and produced derivatives in basic trim specification. The diesel-powered versions became synonymous with private taxi firms throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
In 1986, the Orion received the same facelift as the rest of the Escort range, and the second generation Orion debuted in 1990, to the same media condemnation as the rest of its fourth-generation Escort siblings. As with the Escort, the arrival of the Zetec engines and suspension changes in 1992 transformed the Orion's dynamic qualities markedly.
In September 1993, Ford dropped the Orion trademark (although it continued in use in Argentina) and simply used the "Escort" trademark for all body styles, to keep the Escort high in chart sales. Something Vauxhall also did by dropping the Belmont-badged saloons and simply calling them Astra. The Escort saloon was discontinued in 1998.
The Ford Verona was similar to the Orion, (the 1993 model was identical, except for the bootlid badge), but it used the Ford CHT engine power unit in place of the CVH and Zetec installed into the Orion.