1989 Ford Festiva LX 1.3 from North America


Closest I've ever come to driving for free


When I purchased the car, I replaced the rear wheel bearings, muffler, and front brakes. Since that time, nothing.

General Comments:

At the time I bought this car gas was over $4.00 a gallon and I was looking for a motorcycle for fuel economy. Came across this little beauty with an EPA rating of over 30 MPG and a $500 price tag. I couldn't pass it up. It was the proverbial little old lady's, drive it to church on Sunday, car.

Since I've owned the vehicle, it has performed flawlessly. I live in an area that sees temps of -10 degrees and a 100" of snow in the winter and it has never failed to start or got stuck on me. I was simply amazed at how well this little piece goes through the snow.

The only things I've changed on the car were to swap out the 12" wheels that came on it with some 13"ers that came off a '97 Geo Metro, and take out the rear seats. 12" tires are hard to find now, and I was worried about blowing a tire somewhere and being stuck while the local tire shop tried to find a replacement. The 13s also helped the ride comfort quite a bit and made the speedometer pretty much dead on. I removed the rear seat because it was useless to begin with, and I wanted the extra cargo space. With the seat out, you can carry tons of stuff in the back of this thing. It's like a two seater wagon or a mini minivan.

The only draw back I've found with the car is it's not very good on the interstate. It loves expressways around town at 55 to 65 MPH, but it's not quite as happy on the highway at 65 to 75 MPH. Even getting 34 MPG as I do, the 10 gal. tank doesn't give enough range, and the seats are only good for maybe 3 hours before you need to hit the rest area. Noise levels are also high out on the road, but it was built as an economy car and is 20 years old.

To sum up, the car is reliable, roomy, cheap to own and operate, and fits in all those tight parking spots. I might add that the insurance on it is dirt cheap too.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 18th November, 2009

12th May 2010, 11:11

I've put on another 5,000 miles since this review was written, and haven't had to do anything to it other than change oil. Gas is back up to $3.00 a gallon again, so I'll be keeping her a while yet.

19th Aug 2011, 16:52

Update # 2:

Have now put 50,000 miles on this car. Had to replace the front crank seal at 125,000. $10.00 part, but required the removal of everything on the front of the engine, including the timing belt and gears. Replaced the belt as long as I was there for $24.00. That's it.

After more than 20 years since this car was built, auto manufacturers are now building cars with fuel economy in mind, and vehicles that get 30-40 mpg and run for up to 250,000 miles are becoming common. The question is, why did it take so long to get back to where we were in '89?

1989 Ford Festiva L 1.3L from North America


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


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.

7th Jan 2015, 06:20

If you don't mind my asking: How did you manage to get the Weber carburetor to work on the Japanese 1.6?

I have a Japanese 1.6 Mazda 323 motor that I bought this exact carburetor for, but the two do not bolt straight up together, and I don't know of any existing adapter plate to make this work.

If one exists or there is a way to do this, please let me know if at all possible.