By Mark Nobes, chief editor

Despite being a big hit for Ford, I've always thought that the Orion (nicknamed the "onion" by some) was a bit of a pointless car. The fact that you were, basically, buying an Escort with a boot just didn't appeal to me whatsoever. But that's just my opinion, of course. You may beg to differ, so why not add your opinion in the comments sections at the bottom of the page!

However, one model in the range that was most definitely worth considering was the 1.6i. This featured the very same engine as the sporty XR3i, but the insurance was a fair bit cheaper and it wasn't such a target for thieves. Apparently, though, the XR3i had a lower ratio gearbox which gave it more acceleration.
Ford Orion MKII grey
Mk2 Orion

The Orion was built for ten years between 1983 and 1993, shifting around 3.5 million units during this time. The popular saloon became the eighth best-seliing car of the 80s in the UK - the Escort and Fiesta were Ford's most popular cars
The Orion launched in 1983 to fill the gap for a four door saloon, which Ford had dropped from the Escort range in 1980 when the Mk3 came out. Although it was virtually the same length as the Sierra, it had more legroom for rear passengers and a bigger boot space.
Initially, no budget models were offered with basic trim levels and an 1100 engine, and you would have to fork out for a GL or Ghia with a 1300 or 1600cc engine. The lower spec L was introduced in 1984.
You may remember when sunroofs were popular back in the 80s. The Ghia 1.6l came with one as standard, as well as rear head restraints and sports seats in the front. Also included were central locking and electric windows, something that even the most basic cars today offer as standard.
Ford Orion Ghia i Ford Ad Card
An Orion Ghia i featured on an advertising card

As with the Escort, in 1986 the Orion had a facelift and the second generation models had improved engines, new suspension and updated trim. High-end models had the added luxury of ABD brakes and a heated front windscreen. All models could now run on unleaded fuel without modifications.


1989 Ford Orion 1600E (16829920930)
By Kieran White from Manchester, England (1989 Ford Orion 1600E) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Late on in 1988, a limited edition 1600E was launched (see photo above) which even surpassed the 1.6i in terms of luxury. It was pretty desirable and came in metallic grey, white or black with ES alloy wheels, leather seats and wood covers on the dashboard and doors. Just 1600 were built.
September 1990 saw the launch of the Mk3, which was the last version made. Once again, the design was rather uninspiring and faced much criticism from the motoring magazines. Three years later, and the Orion nametag was dropped altogether in an effort to boost sales of the Escort range.
The Orion became very popular here in the UK, and in 1987 and 1988 it was the seventh best-selling car.
Orion Ghia
Photo: Ford Orion Ghia Mk1 (1984)

Ford Orion 1.6GL rear end
The rear end of an Orion 1.6 GL

Interior of a 1988 Ford Orion
The interior of a 1988 left hand drive 1.6 Orion

Ford Orion engine bay 2
The engine bay of an Orion, although it's not stated by the photographer exactly which model.

1989 Ford Orion 1600E
A 1989 1600E which has seen better days!
Ford Orion ´84 rear

Rear view of a 1984 Orion

By Marco (Astrobit) (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

1986 Ford Orion - public domain image

Public Domain image of a 1986 Ford Orion - grey

Ford Orion (22948585922)
By TuRbO_J from Adelaide, Australia (Ford Orion) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Ford Orion (22543626867)
By TuRbO_J from Adelaide, Australia (Ford Orion) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

1985 Ford Orion 1.6 Ghia (9703742418)
By Charlie from United Kingdom (1985 Ford Orion 1.6 Ghia) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

1983 Ford Orion GL in Ocean Blue

Public Domain Photo (free to use) of a 1983 Ford Orion GL in Ocean Blue

Dieppe, France (3959800618)
By Mic from Reading - Berkshire, United Kingdom (Dieppe, France) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Doncaster Classic Car and Bike Show 2014

A Ford Orion with it's bonnet up. I'm not suggesting for one minute that they were unreliable, though.

1988 Ford Orion 1.6 Ghia Injection

Although I wasn't a big Orion fan, I always thought this model looked quite smart. I especially like those pepperpot wheels (so 80s it hurts!), although the RS alloys on the 1600E were the smartest, by far.

1990 Ford Orion 1.4 LX