1989 Ford Festiva L 1.3L from North America

Summary:

Fun and economical car, although old enough parts are less easy to find

Faults:

When I bought it, completely went through stuff like clutch, seals, timing belt, brakes, ball joints, CV boots, etc.

Started pushing lots oil out valve cover PCV breather into air cleaner. Assume something like a broken ring, but never disassembled it. These engines expensive to do internal repairs, cheap used engine usually better choice.

Bought low mile Japanese Mazda B6 to replace the OEM Mazda B3. They are physically identical and B6 bolts right in.

Also replaced the troublesome feedback carburetor with an old aftermarket Weber that I saved from VW Rabbit I used to own many years ago. Much more pleasant to tinker with, and I can now change oil filter without crawling under the car. It got rid of that much tubing and electric gizmos.

Oh, and I replaced the rear springs with same diameter front springs off some kind of old Triumph. Rides rougher, but I needed to be able to haul several bags dog and cat food without bottoming out.

General Comments:

Overall it's as close as you can come to a road legal go-kart, and wonderful in city traffic. Especially peppy with its "new" 1.6L engine and the Weber carburetor.

Very efficient body design, like the little shelf type dash.

Like the low sill when you open the hatch.

Wish it had the 5 spd overdrive transaxle, the 4 spd is not so good at highway speeds. Not a hard swap, just haven't run across a cheap Festiva 5 spd transmission.

The 12 inch tires are impossible to find, and expensive if you special order them. I switched to 155-80-13s using Mazda 323 wheels from junkyard. They only stand about inch taller and change gear ratio about 4% so not much difference. Geo Metro wheels are supposed to fit also, and I'm sure there are others.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 8th September, 2009

12th Sep 2009, 00:12

I bet 13 inch wheels off a Ford Aspire would fit too.

8th Sep 2010, 21:13

You can get the original tires made by today's standards from a place called Coker Tire in Chattanooga Tn. They have the old molds or something and usually sell for about $36 each.

20th Oct 2014, 04:03

Aspire wheels do not fit the Festiva unless you also swap to Aspire hubs, steering knuckles, rotors, and rear axle beam. 323 wheels fit and Hyundai wheels fit. There are actually lots of wheels that fit, but not Aspire wheels.

1989 Ford Festiva L 1.3L EFI from North America

Summary:

Cheap, reliable and no frills

Faults:

Replaced fan temp sensor, coolant bypass hose, headliner, and a headlight bulb.

Starter is beginning to go out.

Stalled out when put into Park or Reverse due to dirty battery terminals.

General Comments:

This one tough little car. I paid $500 for it and maybe invested $50 total in parts. So far it has given me zero trouble - all work I have done was preventative maintenance.

It's really peppy, gets decent gas mileage, and was a great buy for the money. And it still looks great after 20 years.

My only real complaints are that it's noisy and the transmission could really use an overdrive gear. But what can you expect from an economy car?

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 15th May, 2009

27th Aug 2009, 21:32

This the person who wrote the review. Here is a followup:

I ended up taking out the starter, only to discover that it was fine and the flywheel was missing some teeth. I guess that's just an annoyance I'll have to live with.

The radiator has started to leak coolant. However, it looks like a rubber plug has gone bad and will need replacing. Should be an easy fix.

After about a year of ownership and 10,000 miles, I still have no real complaints about my car. I'm confident that it will keep on running reliably as long as I take care of it.