1988 Ford Festiva L 1.3 from North America


Great little car


Gas tank leak, front end repair.

General Comments:

Best car I've ever owned I am on the original clutch and starter. I bought it new as a year end clearance in feb 89 I have been driving it 17 yrs as my daily driver it has always started and never been garaged.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 24th February, 2006

1988 Ford Festiva 1.3 from North America


Best shoebox car ever made!


Things that I needed to fix were:

Timing belt - it didn't break, but with so many miles it was a good idea to replace.

Clutch - It was starting to slip so I had to replace the disk, pressure plate, and bearing.

Exhaust - The fun MN winters and salty roads took it's toll on the exhaust system, I've had to replace it twice actually.

Tires - Normal wear.

Struts - Normal wear.

Brakes - Normal wear, though Festivas have pretty tiny front brake pads that wear faster than some bigger cars.

Gas Tank sender unit - Under the rear seat. Gas gauge didn't work when I bought the car, bad sender unit.

General Comments:

Festivas are unusually durable cars! Everyone I've talked to who has owned one has commented how tough and reliable they are. Mine is no exception. I bought it from my brother who bought it used in 1990 with 50,000 miles. He drove it for a few years until it had 139,000 miles. I bought it from him and have pushed the mileage up to 210,000 miles. It still runs strong, but it is starting to use a little oil now. The body is rusting pretty bad now thanks to all the winter road salt, I think the body is going to go to the big junkyard in the sky before the drive train does! If the body were not so bad I am confident I could squeeze a few more years out of it no problem.

It's no powerhouse, but it does outperform my 2000 Chevy Metro, and it gets just as good mileage. Hey, I've had the needle up way past the 85 mph limit on I-90 in SD, so it isn't a total dog.

Much more roomy inside than the Metro. Surprisingly roomy, actually. My brother is 6'-5", 350 lbs and he fits in it no problem. I've hauled big TV sets in it, Marshall 4x12" guitar amp cabinets, stuff you would not think would fit inside!

The Mazda B3 drive train which is what is in the Festivas and Aspires is unusually tough. I know people who have gotten 350k-400k miles out the engines, which is almost unbelievable.

The car has never left me stranded, which is more than I can say for just about any other car I've owned.

OK, it's a little loud inside, the ventilation isn't the best in the summer, and it isn't the most beautiful car ever made, but these are pretty minor trade offs for great mileage and reliability.

I wish Ford still made these, I'd buy one right now, I'm seriously not kidding! I'm presently looking for another used Festiva or Aspire to replace this one because the body is getting pretty bad. I may hang onto this one for a winter beater for another year or two.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 5th February, 2006

1988 Ford Festiva L 1.3 from North America


The transmission was shot when I bought it, that was a weekend swap job.

The CV joint was clicking at the same time.

Very mild surface rust under the nose of the car, near the front stabilizer bar.

General Comments:

These little things are about the most reliable machines I have ever had the pleasure to operate. Anything that can keep ticking nicely at nearly 237,000 miles is a bargain.

I had to sink a little bit of time and money into it initially to get it road worthy, but that price is pretty negligible. The car cost me $164. Tack in a tranny at $272, and a CV joint at $66, plus about $60 for new plugs, wires, and fluids.. and we have a grand total of about $562 total for a nice little daily driver.

The car makes no strange noises now (as opposed to initial purchase: box of rocks transmission, and a rattling CV axle). Engine fires up consistently, ticks over clean, handles well given the inherent characteristics of a front wheel drive machine. Haven't had to put brake parts in yet. Recent fluid change, and oil is still nice and clean.

I get decent mileage somewhere in the 40mpg range (on the freeway), and couldn't be happier.

Parking is never a problem, thanks to the dimunitive size.

These cars present a great value for the money, given that many people sell their machines off for well under $1000, and if you have a bit of mechanical ability, you can find cars that are in decent physical condition that need a few minor repairs at a real bargain. Combine that with inexpensive parts and really exceptional gas mileage, and you more or less have a winner.

I have heard people talk trash about these little cars, calling them slow, junk, and just about any other name in the book. Most of the high horsepower lead-sleds can't last as many mile, nor can they pass up the next gas station on the road.

If you are in the market for a decently built, inexpensive commuter car, then you really can't go wrong if you find a used festiva in decent shape.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 17th November, 2005

21st Nov 2005, 09:07

Please report back here with an update when you have put some more miles on your car.

Frankly, the thought of driving a 235K mile Festiva on the freeway sounds scary.

28th Nov 2005, 21:06

I have a daily driver Festiva L manufactured in Oct 1988 and titled as a 1989. It has 245,000 miles on it and I drive it on the freeway every day at speeds in excess of 70mph. I have replaced CV joints and front end parts. Original clutch and the engine has had no work done to it. I have owned this car since 1994 when it had 35K on it. I paid $2800. I have owned many cars since my first, a 1960 chevy, including a 1963 corvette and a 1967 GTO. The Festiva is, dollar for dollar, the best car I ever owned.