By on May 1, 2015

The “big engine in a small car” theme has been with car enthusiasts for generations. GTO, Sunbeam Tiger, Cobra, Monster Miata: plenty of enthusiasts, both in the boardrooms and in garages across the globe, know that more power plus less mass equates to speed.

Some enthusiasts, like Carroll Shelby, had plenty of financial backing to explore these whims. Some, like the mad genius who cooked up this Ford Festiva, worked with slightly smaller budgets.

The Mazda turbo under the flaming bonnet isn’t too much of a stretch. The Festiva was designed by Mazda, built by Kia and originally carried an anemic version of the venerable B-series Mazda four cylinder. The seller claims over 200hp out of the Mercury Capri-sourced twincam B6T, which could be a handful if the chassis isn’t well tuned.

Clearly, the car is a work in progress that needs sorting, especially visually. A single color paint job, sans flames and faux blower intake, would go a long way to making this a sleeper. The alloys, looking a bit like the vaunted Volk TE-37, actually look decent on this car.

Making “sissy passengers wet themselves” is a bold claim. The gutted interior will make cleanup easier.

h/t to Jose Diaz

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32 Comments on “Crapwagon Outtake: 1988 Ford Festiva Turbo...”

  • avatar
    John R

    Phew! $4500? It’ll cost that much to get to look non-embarassing and fly straight.

    Crackpipe. $1000 will restart this conversation.

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    Just replace the hood with a non cut one, Earl Sheib it and enjoy. I’d drive it. It is like an attainable SHOGUN.

  • avatar

    Sans flames? Why? All hotrods need flames.
    Other than fixing the blue parts, and maybe adding a front lip, this thing looks awesome as it is.
    (I’ve flamed two of my crapwagons, neither of which had close to 200 bhp though)

  • avatar

    Time to unpimp die Auto.

  • avatar

    That poor guy standing in the background has to be worried about his property values with that thing parked out front.

    Incidentally, one of these Festivas was the first manual car I ever drove.

  • avatar
    Curt in WPG

    Somewhere around the late 80’s I delivered Chinease food in a Festiva. It was that or a clapped out Chevette the restaurant owned. To call it a steaming pile would be generous – this car was only a couple years old (although it had HARD miles on it being driven by people like me) and it rattled and shook like a diesel with 3 plug wires pulled. The structural integrity of this car was questionable what with the interactive crumple zones and all. It’s worth it to pay the extra for an Omni GHL or GLHS if you can find one, those were fun little cars. The Festiva was crap.

  • avatar

    Why is the rad hanging so low on the front end, is falling off or is it just a giant radiator?

  • avatar

    While Mazda DOHC swaps seem to be popular, there’s another way to morer than double the output of the Festiva. The U.S. market Festiva came with a version of Ford’s Kent block UK four cylinder. Lotus turned the Kent block into the Lotus TwinCam and I understand that with some work, I seem to recall a spacer being needed, the Lotus head will fit on a Festiva block.

    You can get a reliable and streetable 140-180 hp out of Lotus TwinCam.

  • avatar

    It has Maryland plates, which I noticed a few years ago almost every single North American car’s Wikipedia page photo has.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve spent countless hours on wikipedia and noticed that too, seems like there was one guy who shot pictures of almost every car near the College Park area. A good number of those were in the IKEA parking lot…employee maybe?

      • 0 avatar


  • avatar

    There are tons of these old Kia Prides still driving around in South Korea in 5-door hatchback and sedan format.

    Back then Kia even had a different logo (sometimes) in that market.

    Still sold today wearing the Pride name (the Rio).

  • avatar

    I hope the widest tires are on the front end.

  • avatar

    And look they had a Festiva Miniwagon, which was actually a Demio.

    (Gran Turismo 1 made me show you this.)

  • avatar

    $4500 is nuts, but if it became mine I wouldn’t mess with the looks. The flames, etc. are the kind of goofy touches you occasionally see applied to beater econoboxes, and there’s something appealingly absurdist about this look on a genuinely fast frankencar. Of course, if it had already been done tastefully I wouldn’t ruin it.

  • avatar

    I’ve seen videos of some of these cars in action. What happens is that they put the BP series engine out of a Miata (or Escort GT and a number of other cars which shared the block) into this lighter chassis, turbo it for 200+hp (generally accepted wisdom is that you start to play roulette with your rods at 250whp), and go troll other tuner cars in your <2,000 lbs rocket. Usually the exterior of the car stays as close to looking like your substitute teacher's ratty old Festiva as possible.

    • 0 avatar

      That makes me think of the things I want to do with a GT Cruiser. Tweak the turbo, slap a woody kit on it, whitewalls, baby moon hubcaps – full senior citizen special.

      Then go hunting for kids in backwards baseball caps driving riced out Hondas. Make them cry to their mommies that some nearly 40 year old in a triple uncool Chrysler beat them in the stop light drag race.

  • avatar

    There’s one of these in my neighborhood that is like the alternate universe version of this car thad didn’t get the hot rod job. Same color, but on black steelies, dents, dings and one black front fender. I’m amazed someone puts the effort into keeping it alive.

  • avatar

    Having previously owned/dailied a Ford Aspire I find it hilarious that it’s brakes were an upgrade for this car!

  • avatar

    Having seen what happens to these cars in a wreck with anything else on the road, I wouldn’t give a penny for it, unless I could scrap the damn thing, as it’s not safe to drive on the road. A friend of mine bought one of these for his first new car, he bought it because he’s from a “Ford” family and it was the only new Ford he could afford to buy for cash. A woman in a ’79 Cutlass hit him at ~30MPH, nearly killing his brother, who broke both legs, his pelvis, right arm, and basically trashed his face. He looks totally different than he did before the wreck. My friend came out of it with only a messed up knee and a sore shoulder. All these years later, his brother is reminded about that night every time he looks in the mirror. His wife has never seen, except in pictures, what he used to look like.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I just watched a documentary on TV about the Golf GTI. It was a German programme.

    Looking at the photo it is similar to the Golf in looks.

    The car should stay as it looks. It will shock people at traffic lights.

    I had this occur to me with my Datsun 620 pickup I built for rallying.

    It looked like sh!t initially, but underneath it was a beast.

    Pull up at the lights with the vehicle shaking and sounding awful due to the twin Webbers at idle and people would shake their heads at me.

    But, the throttle response was explosive. The induction sound of the Webbers on the L20 was unreal. The pickup originally had Pirelli 14″ 205/65s and sat stationary for a few seconds.

    I loved the feeling of acceleration as the assend gradually gained traction.

    Pull up to the next set of lights and the people that laughed just had a look of awe on their faces.

    Now, I’ve sadly grown up and don’t do things like that anymore.

    Leave the car as it is and surpise many. That’s my view.

  • avatar

    Is this a bad price for this car? On the one hand, it would probably take something . . . less than $4500 to put a more tasteful version together. A Festiva cannot cost more than $1000 and pull an engine, etc, and you might be at 2500 ish. On the other hand, it’s put together and apparently runs, and can be used to scare people with eyes. It’s probably some degree of fun and a $4500 toy isn’t unreasonable, and it features the first use, ever, in the English language, of the words, “upgraded to Ford Aspire.” Even RENTAL car companies never dared speak such words.

    I think these were sold in Japan/Korea with various sorts of body kits and such. I’d do a nice gloss black paint, red glossy painted wheels, and fog lights. Something that looks tasteful and makes you think, what is that?

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