There's always a party at Ford, it's only the venue that changes. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Festiva represents a party sort of like our political third parties in that no one really wants to come. This one may be different, but will its price have you wanting to party on?
The laggardly replacement in the U.S. of the Fiesta with Festiva joins a litany of European cars supplanted by models built in places with more favorable exchange rates. Prior to this switcheroo, GM replaced the tasty German-built Opel 1900 with the Japanese Opel by Isuzu, and hoped no one would notice. They did. After the fact, VW move most of Golf and Jetta production for the U.S. from Wolfsburg to Puebla Mexico, lest they become Deutsch-marked as grossly overpriced.
It was the switch from the brilliantly compact and swathed in European sensibilities Fiesta with the plastic chrome-laden Escort that was perhaps the most egregious piece of product replacement. Actually the Escort took the reins from both the Spunky Fiesta and the long serving but needed to be put down Pinto in providing Ford stalwarts with Reagan-era penalty box transportation.
In 1987, just one model year model year after Ford introduced the revolution on wheels Taurus, they also let you roll around in a phone booth. The Kia-sourced Festiva followed the then-fashionable high-roof styling trope, which provided a surprising amount of interior space for such a short car, owing to the upright seating position. That, plus tires the size of faucet washers made them tippier than the Tower of Pisa.
The Mazda-engineered Ford built by Kia arrived on these shores with a 1.3-litre SOHC four that put out anywhere between 63 and 73 horses over the car's model run. Backing that up and sending power to the front wheels was a selection of 4 and 5-speed manuals or, later. A complete fun vampire of a 3-speed auto was offered later. The car here in the states, like in Japan, was named Festiva in an attempt to draw on the familial relationship with the European Fiesta.
Thing of it is, Fiesta's a party, while Festiva is nothing. And really, if considered in terms of handling and sporty models offered, that's an accurate description of the two cars. In fact, Festiva could be the name of an antidepressant, or maybe that of the creepy bald uncle on a Telemundo version of the Addams Family. Overall, the Festiva wasn't going to give anyone a party in their pants.
This 1993 heart-transplanted Festiva however, may just do that. Painted red with glossy black on parts more commonly seen these days a smog eaten grey - or missing -the car's subtle fender flares suddenly seem to have purpose. A litany of adopted parts - Honda rear window aero-aid, Miata wheels, Escort console and Aspire brakes and suspension -make this kind of a Frankenfestiva, but it's what's under the hood that may just make this a phone booth worth a collect call.
In lieu of the 1.3, this Festiva rocks a 1,838-cc DOHC Mazda BP out of an 1994 Escort GT. You may know that as well as the engine which, in slightly different guise, powered Mazda's MX-5. In the Escort it sported 130-bhp and a 7,000 rpm redline. And that was in a car weighing around 2,400-lbs. The Festiva tipped the scales at around 1,700-lbs. As Homer Simpson might intone, Hoo hoo, hee, hee, oh my!
The ad notes not only all the mods, but also the fact that you could undo almost all of them because the seller has kept all the old parts. There's also a lot of maintenance that appears to have gone into the car that you probably would be crazy to want to undo.
So what's not to like? It's a total sleeper in the traditional big engine in a small car hot rod format, and is funky enough set it apart from the cookie cutter cars in the class. On the downside there's the question of the Miata wheels - and their rear-drive biased offset not being appropriate for this front-driver application. Then there's the fact that it's a Festiva, and almost all the cool mods are invisible to those who would judge you for, well driving a Festiva.
But screw them, this may be the only Festiva - outside of those SHO-powered insanity peppers - that anyone may actually want to buy. To do so, the seller has set the bar at $2,400, and it should be noted that is well over what Kelley and her Blue Book says you should pay. Of course Kelley doesn't know anything about this Festiva's big four, or any of the other cars rolled into it, so her opinion doesn't really count.
Yours does however, and so you need to vote on whether you think that $2,499 for this Festiva gets your party started. Or, if that amount is too much of a cover.
H/T to John Wagner for the hookup!
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