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Old 01-11-2017, 02:21 PM   #1
theastronaut
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'88 F*rd Festiva Autocross/Track/Daily Driver Build

I guess it's about time I start a build thread for this thing. It's too late to start at the beginning so I'll do a few posts to catch up to where it's at now.

It's a bare-bones '88 L, clock delete and all. Carb'd, four speed, and was all stock with 126k on it when I bought it. It's in decent shape overall.

I had blown up the engines in two of my daily drivers so I needed another daily driver. I didn't want to spend much since I had to rebuild two engines. I had been checking Craigslist almost daily with no luck. Nothing on the various Facebook groups I'm on. I was at a local flea market with a few friends and one of them spotted the Festiva behind one of the sellers' tables. They jokingly said, "hey, there's John a car!", thinking that I wouldn't be caught dead in an econobox "Ford". (I'm a Chevy/VW guy, so I still argue that it's technically a rebadged Mazda). It had "$800" marked on the windshield- cheap enough, so I checked it out and ended up test driving it. It ran and drove great so I made an offer, we haggled a bit and eventually made a deal. I got the owners phone number and arranged to pick it up the next day.

So I had found a cheap car, but the Festiva was ugly. Really ugly. The bumpers and wheels had been poorly shot with flat black rattle cans, the side trim was faded and stained, and the whole car needed a thorough cleaning.

These pics were after a good wash and a quick respray of the wheels in a less dreary color. Now I wasn't quite as embarrassed to be driving around in a "Ford" econobox... Of course I can't leave anything alone so this was just the start.





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Old 01-11-2017, 02:22 PM   #2
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Re: '88 F*rd Festiva Autocross/Track/Daily Driver Build

One of the first things I did was to add a pair of NOS Cibie driving lights behind the grill. I live in a rural area with plenty of critters that like to cross the road. I've never had a car that I felt had adequate lighting from the factory so all have been upgraded with E-code Cibie H4's in the past. That wasn't possible on the Festiva so the driving lights were the next option. I made a couple of 1/8" thick steel "L" brackets and welded them to the inner bumper to mount them. They're wired into a relay that's triggered by the high beam wiring so that they're not on with the low beams. I also built a 12 gauge relay harness for the factory headlights and found a better pair of housings to replace the faded original lights (no pics of these yet). I can now see deer and other road hazards much earlier with plenty of time to brake and avoid them.



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Old 01-11-2017, 02:23 PM   #3
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Re: '88 F*rd Festiva Autocross/Track/Daily Driver Build

The next step was to strip the spray-bombed bumpers and properly refinish them. I used lacquer thinner and a red scuff pad to get the old paint off, then masked it out and shot them with paint made specifically for trim and bumpers. The side trim got the same treatment. I had some SEM paint leftover from another project so I used that to paint the red stripe.








I also found fordfestiva.com and saw a post showing how to install a short shifter for a Civic. Also redid all of the shift bushings with firmer nylon instead of rubber bushings.

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Old 01-11-2017, 02:28 PM   #4
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Re: '88 F*rd Festiva Autocross/Track/Daily Driver Build

The next step was to get rid of the stock 12's and nosebleed stance. I've had slower cars (36 and 40 hp early VW Bugs) but none with such low levels of grip. I'd previously had an '87 Conquest TSi which handled great, and I've done a little suspension work to my '64 VW so that it's not half bad around corners. This thing would squeal the tires around corners at my normal driving pace, it was pretty pathetic.

The first thing I did was to upgrade to 14x5.5's from an Escort. They're actually steel wheels with a molded plastic face and separate metal trim rings around the lip. It was surprisingly difficult to find a set in good shape, most have cracks in the plastic by now. They're. 4x108 so I used 1" adapters to fit them, which made the wheels stick out about an inch up front. The tires are 165/55 Achilles ATR-K's. The wheels I found came with the plain painted center caps, it took a little while to find the other version that has a brushed metal face and black background.








To get them to fit I used a hammer and dolly to gradually flatten the fender lip flat, and pulled the opening out as much as I could without distorting the body lines. I also heated the stock springs for a slight drop and slotted the strut mounts to gain a little negative camber. They fit without rubbing but it wasn't sitting as low as I wanted it yet.




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Old 01-11-2017, 02:30 PM   #5
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Re: '88 F*rd Festiva Autocross/Track/Daily Driver Build

I originally just wanted to slam it for looks so I started researching my options for dropping it. I ran across the "Advanced Suspension Mods" thread on the Festiva forum and decided to go with the Raceland Mk2/KYB Mk1 coilovers since they would offer plenty of drop. Once I got the coilovers on though I became more interested in how it handled since it now had more grip than anything I'd ever owned.





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Old 01-11-2017, 02:33 PM   #6
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Re: '88 F*rd Festiva Autocross/Track/Daily Driver Build

I've done a little more cosmetically- grandma style floor "rugs" and a Nardi steering wheel for the interior. The clear was badly faded and flaking on the hood so I fixed and primed a couple spots and wetsanded it in preparation for paint. The base coat I bought ended up being way off. I had my first autocross the next day so I shot a couple coats of clear to seal it up until I could get the base tinted to match. The "fake patina" look turned out to be a hit at the autocross, so it may stick around for awhile.




I picked up a Yakima roof rack at a flea market for ten bucks, bought the correct clips on eBay cheap, and shortened the load bars so they looked more proportional to the size of the roof. I also swapped the silver painted center caps out for a set with brushed stainless outer rings and black centers.




The woven floor rugs.




And the Nardi wheel.

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Old 01-11-2017, 02:37 PM   #7
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Re: '88 F*rd Festiva Autocross/Track/Daily Driver Build

I took the car out to my first ever autocross and came within a tenth of winning the fwd class they put me in. The car feels great out on the track, it's extremely planted in the corners. The fastest time was a 42.9 and I ran a 47.01 on a very open track. Having only 58 hp was a big disadvantage with the layout as I was accelerating all the way down the straights, even through the chicanes that all of the more powerful cars had to slow down for.


This vid is from my second autocross, they caught my first and second runs.

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Old 01-11-2017, 02:49 PM   #8
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Re: '88 F*rd Festiva Autocross/Track/Daily Driver Build

I found a factory tach cluster, cleaned it up, and reset the miles to match.




I also bought a 1.6 from an early Miata to swap in. Mazda designed the Festiva for Ford so most of the parts are Mazda parts. The original 1.3 B3 engine shares the same basic block design as the Miata 1.6 B6ze engine so it's a pretty simple swap.




And then I bought a Mercury Capri XR2 for the much stronger 5-speed transmission (Festiva is a four speed that won't take much more power than stock). This is also a Mazda designed, B6 powered car but it's front wheel drive like the Festiva. So the oil pan, coolant outlet, axles, and other fwd related items will work on the Festiva. This was a turbo Capri so it was a low compression engine, which I didn't want with the intake I'd picked out...



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Old 01-11-2017, 02:51 PM   #9
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Re: '88 F*rd Festiva Autocross/Track/Daily Driver Build

Completely redid the brakes... Also added a NA Miata brake booster and master cylinder for less pedal effort.




Couple of pics from a kayaking trip.






And I bought a second '88 L so I could mock up the engine swap and still drive the first one.




After searching for six months I finally found an intake to fit Weber sidedraft carbs onto the Miata engine.






First test fit of the B6 into the mock-up car.


Last edited by theastronaut; 01-11-2017 at 02:59 PM.
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Old 01-11-2017, 09:57 PM   #10
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Re: '88 F*rd Festiva Autocross/Track/Daily Driver Build

Wow! I am so in on this one, always enjoy your posts/projects!
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Old 01-12-2017, 06:34 PM   #11
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Re: '88 F*rd Festiva Autocross/Track/Daily Driver Build

Subscribed !

You'd fit in well with the nuts over at Grassroots Motorsports forum too. They dig offbeat stuff like this.
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Old 01-13-2017, 08:07 PM   #12
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Re: '88 F*rd Festiva Autocross/Track/Daily Driver Build

Kind of a cool little build
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Old 01-14-2017, 11:17 PM   #13
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Re: '88 F*rd Festiva Autocross/Track/Daily Driver Build

I am in. Man I am digging this.
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Old 03-01-2017, 05:56 PM   #14
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Re: '88 F*rd Festiva Autocross/Track/Daily Driver Build

I was hooked from the first picture of the car! I bought a '88 mazda 323 for $200 for a road trip that I absolutely loved, but my wife made me sell it when the rally was over... It handled well and put a huge smile on your face as you bombed down the road in that ridiculous car! I loved the Mazda platform and the Ford crisscross of parts available, it makes building, repairing and upgrading potential of one of theses cars almost like snapping Legos! Love it!
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Old 03-02-2017, 10:53 PM   #15
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Re: '88 F*rd Festiva Autocross/Track/Daily Driver Build

Thanks dudes! I was a little hesitant to post a "ford" econobox build on here but it looks like it has some fans lol.

This has seriously been one of the most fun to drive cars I've owned. Not long after I bought the Festiva I bought a '92 Miata, thinking I'd keep it for autocross/road course duties and sell the Festiva. I added a nice set of fully adjustable coilovers, BBS wheels, and sticky tires, but the little Festiva on cheap all season tires still puts the upgraded Miata to shame in the corners.


I've picked up a third Festiva, this one was listed as "not running" but it was so cheap ($100 bucks!) that I couldn't pass it up. The ad didn't list many details so when I got there to look at it I was surprised to find that it had A/C and power steering. Of all the racks that will swap into a festiva, the factory PS rack has the quickest ratio. My '88 has a really slow manual rack, so the rack and A/C will be swapped in from this car.





I also attended "Festiva Madness 10", the largest all-Festiva show in the world








Pic taken right after I got home from Madness. I got 36.25 mpg and hit a top speed of 102.97 mph... downhill (GPS verified!).





I bought a set of Nankang NS-2R tires in the 120 treadwear version so I finally have a set of sticky tires for autocrossing.




For the engine swap, I filled a factory upper engine mount with urethane to stiffen it up, and made spacers to relocate the engine 2.125" farther forward for better weight distribution.

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Old 03-03-2017, 10:19 PM   #16
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Re: '88 F*rd Festiva Autocross/Track/Daily Driver Build

Looks like so much fun!
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Old 03-04-2017, 09:00 AM   #17
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Re: '88 F*rd Festiva Autocross/Track/Daily Driver Build

Intereating project, looking forward to more progress....
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Old 03-05-2017, 10:48 AM   #18
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Re: '88 F*rd Festiva Autocross/Track/Daily Driver Build

those cars are neat, havent seen one up in here in the midwest in a long time figured they all rotted away. friend of mine had one in highschool and he was 6foot 4 so it was kinda funny to see him drive it
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Old 03-05-2017, 09:39 PM   #19
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Re: '88 F*rd Festiva Autocross/Track/Daily Driver Build

I thought I already posted these, but I guess not. This is my friend Charlie's car who has spent a ton of track time developing the perfect suspension setup for these cars. He posts everything he tests and finds (good and bad) so people like me can copy it. This was his old daily driven, street friendly Festiva that made 170 whp. The supercharged race-only Miata in the vid makes 340 whp. Charlie drives to the track, swaps tires, races against race cars, then drives home.

My car has the same suspension setup at Charlie's car. He's from Arizona and flew into Madness 10 so he didn't have his car with him. While at the show we had people asking about his "Advance" suspension setup so we took turns taking my car out to show off what his setup is capable of, which shocked everyone who rode along. I think my favorite part of the weekend was when Charlie was driving my car and said, "other than the lack of power, this feels exactly like I'm driving my car".



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Old 03-06-2017, 06:09 PM   #20
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Re: '88 F*rd Festiva Autocross/Track/Daily Driver Build

Cool
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Old 03-14-2017, 01:10 PM   #21
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Re: '88 F*rd Festiva Autocross/Track/Daily Driver Build

I always kinda dug these little things. Please give us more!
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Old 03-14-2017, 03:56 PM   #22
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Re: '88 F*rd Festiva Autocross/Track/Daily Driver Build

I derbied the twin to your ac car, against a bunch of regals, yeah i was the smallest car, and had the smallest motor, but hey i got like 5th, woulda ran if my car didnt CATCH ON FIRE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! had electric fans and one wire shorted and WOOSH. best 100 bucks i ever spent. fun lil cars
Im in for this build(s)
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Old 03-14-2017, 06:27 PM   #23
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Re: '88 F*rd Festiva Autocross/Track/Daily Driver Build

I love the look of the side mount carbs and the velocity stacks on them! Out of curiosity, why are you going away for fuel injected and why didn't you use the turbo from the XR2? Is it because of the antiquated computer setup without many if any tuning options?

I always thought if I got another 323 (or maybe now a festiva) I would go find a b6t like in that XR2 or the 323 GT and re-pin the harness to run on a haltec computer system so I could tune it.
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Old 03-30-2017, 10:31 PM   #24
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Re: '88 F*rd Festiva Autocross/Track/Daily Driver Build

Quote:
Originally Posted by 69gmcc10 View Post
I love the look of the side mount carbs and the velocity stacks on them! Out of curiosity, why are you going away for fuel injected and why didn't you use the turbo from the XR2? Is it because of the antiquated computer setup without many if any tuning options?

I always thought if I got another 323 (or maybe now a festiva) I would go find a b6t like in that XR2 or the 323 GT and re-pin the harness to run on a haltec computer system so I could tune it.
I ran dual Dellorto carbs on my '64 VW for years so I'm familiar with setting them up. On the VW I picked up 12 mpg highway (24 to 36.25) on a completely stock 1600 by adding dual 36mm Dellorto DRLA's, a header, ratio rockers, and a lightened flywheel. I will be running CB Performance's Black Box to handle the ignition so I expect better mileage out of the Festiva since I can control the timing better, and it'll have better gearing than the VW. Another reason is I want the instant throttle response for autocross that a turbo car just doesn't have. And the intake noise when using an individual runner intake and carbs or itb's is addictive! I'm not looking to make a ton of power with this engine, it'll be pretty much stock except for mild cams to complement the intake, and I'll add a header.
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Old 03-31-2017, 11:27 AM   #25
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Re: '88 F*rd Festiva Autocross/Track/Daily Driver Build

Excellent point, I didn't think about the lag of the turbo and your focus on motorcross. I also found out that festiva's were carbonated until the 90's.

Very cool!
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