Tiny Econoboxes Head to Big Sky Country for Tiny Festival

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
tiny econoboxes head to big sky country for tiny festival

It’s like Woodstock, but for fans of 1990s econoboxes that make double-digit horsepower.

This weekend, the eighth annual “Westiva” gathering will take place in the rugged foothills of Kananaskis Country, Alberta, drawing proud Ford Festiva enthusiasts from far and wide. Heads up, Montana — if you’re a resident with a passion for slow acceleration and spartan interiors, there’s a group of friends waiting north of the border.

Alberta: big sky country. Oil country. Ranchers and roads populated with Super Duty/Heavy Duty crew cab 4x4s. I once rented a Mazda 2 there, and it was a thoroughly emasculating experience. The little Mazda, of course, could at least get out of its own way.

Westiva attendees don’t care about horsepower. The only time these subcompact hatchback aficionados leave rubber on the road is after they blow a tire on Highway 2. And they’re fine with that.

Organizer Ian Cassley likes his Festiva for its simplicity and mileage. According to Metro Calgary, he drove his first Festiva to 400,000 kilometers (249,000 miles) before trading it in for a fresher model. A body kit and turbocharged four-cylinder borrowed from a 1988 Mazda 323 makes Cassley’s Festiva hard to miss in a parking lot — unless it’s parked behind anything larger than a Fiat 500.

The festival is small but growing, and attracts drivers from as far away as Vancouver, Wyoming and Ontario. Cassley wanted to make the event more inclusive, so he opened it up to other vehicles of the same class.

“It’s not just for Festivas – I’ve put out invites on Geo Metro and Suzuki Swift forums – any kind of econo-box car from the late 80s early 90s,” he told Metro Calgary.

If you go, you’ll likely meet Ryan Prins, whose stock ’93 Festiva has 450,000 km on the odometer (280,000 miles). When the publication asked what kept the Festiva fires burning, he replied, “These cars are very, very easy to work on – I can probably fix almost anything on the side of the road. They have very little electronics.”

Anyone who has ever enjoyed Festiva ownership will likely agree — there’s very few things to break.

[Image: Baileyusa115/ Flickr]

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  • Lithiumbomb Lithiumbomb on Jul 18, 2016

    I had an '88 Festiva as my second college car. For the money, it was hands down the best car I've ever had. It was a base model with only a 4 speed. I got 33mpg city, highway, didn't matter. 33mpg. There was plenty of room on the inside (at the expense of anything safety related), it was easy to work on, and cheap to repair. It did get a little wobbly at 85mph I eventually rear ended someone with it and sold it to some teenager, who then totalled it properly.

    • VaderSS VaderSS on Jul 18, 2016

      ""For the money, it was hands down the best car I’ve ever had."" Same here.

  • IanCassley IanCassley on Jul 26, 2016

    I've just uploaded a new post on my blog with a bunch of photos from Westiva 2016. In spite of the damp and cool weather we still had a good turnout. http://www.econoboxcafe.com/2016/07/westiva-2016-photos.html Hope you enjoy them.

  • Jdt65724922 How can a Chrysler E-Class ride better than a Chrysler Fifth Avenue?
  • Lorenzo This series is epic, but I now fear you'll never get to the gigantic Falcon/Dart/Nova comparison.
  • Chris P Bacon Ford and GM have decided that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Odds are Chrysler/Cerberus/FCA/Stellantis is next to join in. If any of the companies like Electrify America had been even close to Tesla in reliability, we wouldn't be here.
  • Inside Looking Out China will decide which EV charging protocol will become world wide standard.
  • Chris P Bacon I see no reference to Sweden or South Carolina. I hate to assume, but is this thing built in China? I can't help but wonder if EVs would be more affordable to the masses if they weren't all stuffed full of horsepower most drivers will never use. How much could the price be reduced if it had, say, 200hp. Combined with the instant torque of an EV, that really is plenty of power for the daily commuter, which is what this vehicle really is.