Crapwagon Outtake: 1988 Ford Festiva Turbo

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
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crapwagon outtake 1988 ford festiva turbo

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

Chris Tonn
Chris Tonn

Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in ebay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.

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4 of 32 comments
  • A1veedubber A1veedubber on May 01, 2015

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

  • Nrd515 Nrd515 on May 02, 2015

    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.

  • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on May 02, 2015

    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.

  • SavageATL SavageATL on May 02, 2015

    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?