Thursday, December 10, 2020

What are we up to now?

When the econoboxes of the late eighties and early nineties came on the scene the aim was to provide an inexpensive and economical alternative to the gas guzzlers of the day. This was not a new phenomenon in the auto industry! In the mid fifties British sports cars were expensive and didn't get very good gas mileage.

In 1956 Donald Healey, of Austin Healey fame, was tasked by Leonard Lord, chairman of the British Motor Corporation, to come up with a small low-cost sports car. This resulted in the development of the Austin Healey Sprite, a small lightweight two seat roadster that Healey described as "something a chap could keep in his cycle shed"!

1960 Austin Healey Sprite. Photo taken Aug '18 in Calgary.

Why am I bringing this up on the Econobox Cafe blog you may ask?

Sunday, July 26, 2020

European hatchbacks: fourth in a series.

Welcome to the fourth and final (for now) post in our series on a number of econoboxes, and their "hot hatch" variants, that were not available in the North American market. In this post we'll journey to Italy and Japan!

First to Italy to have a look at the Fiat Tipo. This subcompact first went on sale in the European market in June of 1988 and in the UK the following month.It was only available as

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Putt Putt: Memories of a first car

I've been involved in the Festiva community for almost twenty years and over that time I've met a lot of other owners, both locally and internationally. I've also had the opportunity to help some owners keep their cars on the road. I recently parted out a Festiva as it was beyond saving with rust having taken its toll. I asked its owner, Sara, to share the story of that car and here it is...

May I introduce Putt Putt!

My younger sister (Jana) purchased the car in July 2013,shortly after she turned 16, from a guy in Calgary named James; she named it “Putt Putt” because of the sounds it made. It was just shy of 118,000 km and from what I heard, it was very lightly used and had just been sitting in a garage mostly

One time when she was driving our cousin home from school, smoke started coming out of the radio and they had to pull over and get picked up. Luckily it turned into nothing worse!

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

European hatchbacks: third in a series.

Welcome back to France! After a quick trip across the channel in the previous Euro hatchback post we've returned to take a look at the Renault Clio and Citroen AX econoboxes and their hot hatch variants that were not available in the North American market.
European econoboxes and hot hatches.

The Renault Clio was introduced in 1990 to replace the successful but aging Renault 5.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

A Festiva by any other name

May of us have nicknames for our cars and Festiva owners are no exception. Sometimes our cars are named by others, some names stick and others don't.

Here's a few of those names, and stories behind them, from friends in the Festiva community!

Ben in Kentucky:
It was my brother who named Frito. Shortly after acquiring the vehicle he was cleaning it out for me and found an empty bag of the Frito’s snacks in the interior. His brain connected that to the film “Idiocracy” in which one of the main characters names is Frito, and also features a white Festiva GL in a rather hilarious monster truck segment. I liked the name, particularly for its unique brevity, and for its similarity to the another white Festiva in the community called “Pedro”.

Frito: a very well travelled Festiva!

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

European hatchbacks: second in a series.

Welcome to the second of four posts featuring a number of econoboxes, and their "hot hatch" variants, that were not available in the North American market. These will be models available from the late 80s until the mid to late 90s manufactured in France, the UK, Italy and Japan!

European econoboxes and hot hatches.

In this week's post I'll introduce you to cars from both sides of the English Channel.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

A case of mistaken identity... it's NOT a Fiesta!

One of the bane's of Festiva ownership is that people aren't sure what kind of car they're looking at and are prone to call it something other than what it is. The most common alias is Fiesta, and it has happened to me so often I've given up correcting them!

Not a fiesta!
So for more of a lighthearted post I thought I would share a few mistaken identity stories from the Festiva.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

European hatchbacks: first in a series.

The selection of econoboxes in North America in the late 80's and early 90's wasn't a wide one.There were a few domestic models but most were captive imports such as the Ford Festiva and Dodge Colt or models directly from Honda, Toyota and the like. Cities and towns are generally spread over long distances in North America so cars, and trucks for that matter, tended towards the large size for comfort and because we had the room! Such is not the case in Europe. Towns and cities are much closer together, countries smaller and the continent is more densely populated. If you took a twelve hour drive in Canada or the US you wouldn't leave Canada or the US. A twelve hour drive in Europe, for example from Amsterdam to Milan could have you  in a total of six countries; Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland and Italy! That's part of the reason that the majority of cars in Europe tend to be smaller. Combine that with the high cost of fuel and the result was, and still is, a much larger selection of cars that would fit into the econobox category. 

European econobox and hot hatch
This is the first of four posts coming over the next couple of months that will feature a number of those econoboxes, and their "hot hatch" variants, not available in the North American market. These will be models available from the late 80s until the mid to late 90s manufactured in France, the UK, Italy and Japan!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Gas prices in April 2020: a good news/bad news story.

The price for regular gas in Calgary is currently hovering around 60¢ per liter. It hasn't been that low since December of 2003!!!! The gas prices have been floating between $1.10 and 90¢ since June of 2019 so the drop is quite significant. That brings me to a couple good news/bad news scenarios.

It's April 12, 2020 and gas can be had for 58.9¢ per litre!!
Good news: gas is cheap. The bad news: there's nowhere to go! We are currently in a situation where provincial and national parks are closed, and we are required to stay home. One comment I've seen a couple of times asks the question "Is it just me or is anyone else getting three weeks to the gallon?"

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The Festiva gets hosed!

Last week I listed a number of updates/repairs coming up for the Festiva. In the last few days I cleared one of those tasks off the list!

Engine bay before mods...
When the car was first built I had to cobble together a custom lower radiator hose to join the modified water outlet on the engine to the stock radiator.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

What's next for the Festiva?

There's a number of things we'd like to get done on the Festiva before the first car show we plan to attend in July.  Relatively minor projects include installing a water temperature gauge, rebuilding the lower radiator hose, replacing the rear transmission mount and installing new strut mounts. 

Heading to the mountains for some cross-country skiing

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

What's in your automotive library?

In the years before there was YouTube and the internet the main source of information on how to fix cars came in a book or manual. News of things happening in the automotive world usually came in a magazine of some sort. In the 80's and early 90's I had subscriptions to Road & Track along with Car and Driver. I picked up the occasional Motor Trend along the way and it was in their August 1988 edition that I first read of the Festiva and its potential.

A portion of our automotive library.

That got me thinking... what books or magazines do I have in my automotive library?

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

A forgotten econobox

When was the last time you saw a Yugo? Well, friends of mine recently posted a couple of photos of one in Pennsylvania.....

Yugo in the wild. Pennsylvania 2020. Photo credit Isaac Rodriguez

Yugo in the wild 2020 Pennsylvania. Photo credit Isaac Rodriguez.

Just what is a Yugo and why don't we remember them? The Yugo GV was manufactured in Serbian city of Kragujevac and introduced to North America by Malcolm Bricklin. The year was 1985 and Bricklin was having a rough go with the Pininfarina Spiders and Bertone X1/9s he was importing and needed a product to bolster his business.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Summer car show plans

There are a lot of choices when it comes to car shows in and around Calgary. Our current plans are to display the car in three events this summer.

The first one will be the Spring Hill 567 Corner Classic on July 18th. Entry fee for this show is a donation to the Cochrane Veteran's Food Card program. Two groups, the Cochrane Spring Show and the Spring Hill Charity Show & Shine, have joined together into one show for this year. I took part in the 2019 edition of the Cochrane spring show and had a great time.

At the Cochrane Spring Show 2019
The second show will be the Okotoks Show and Shine on August 16. There were well over 500 vehicles at last year's show with upwards of 10,000 people enjoying the show. 
Okotoks Show and Shine 20119

The Bowness Auto Parts show is on August 30th. We've been in that one the last couple of years and have really enjoyed it. It's nice an close to home, it's free, and there's always a great turnout.

Bowness Auto Parts Show and Shine 2019

There are lots of other shows to choose from and a number of places to find out about them. A quick search on-line will give you a wide range of choices. Here's a couple of those links :
What are your favorite shows to visit or participate in? Let us know in the comments below.

Monday, February 17, 2020

It's show time!

Part three in a series:

You've picked your spot and parked the car, now what? I'll give the car a quick check to make sure its looking its best. Make sure you haven't missed any garbage, that the glass is clean and there are no obvious dirt on the outside. One thing I forgot to mention in the previous post is that any non-essential items that you might normally carry in the car should probably be left at home.

All set up at the Okotoks Show N Shine (August 2019)
Once the show gets rolling be prepared to answer questions about your ride. With our Festiva most people don't realize how different it is from a stock version. To help with that we have a poster made up that highlights the major changes. We've also have a sheet that goes into more detail which is laminated to keep it in good shape and dry if it's raining.

Show sign.

When you purchase personalized plates in Alberta they send you two but we only have to display one on the car. That allows me to use the other plate on the sign. The poster is in an inexpensive frame from IKEA to keep it out of the weather and it's all mounted on a piece of foamcore from the Dollar Store

The info sheet... printed on two sides and laminated!

Be sure to take some time to check out as many of the other vehicles in the show! Before leaving your car make sure anything of value is secured out of sight. I'll put a couple of extra cards under the wipers and have the info sheets in a conspicuous spot. 

Do you have any tips or suggestions for car shows? Let us know in the comments.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Show N Shine planning time.

Part two in a series:

You've decided on a show... what's next? There's lots of things to consider... time commitment, location, costs, in town, out of town, what do I need to bring, what to do during the show and others. If the show you're interested in going to has preregistration I recommend registering early to ensure that you can get in and show your ride.

Found a shady spot at the Okotoks Show N Shine August 2019

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Show N Shine season is almost here!

Part one in a series:

So you've decided you'd like to share your automotive passion at a Show and Shine! How do you find them? Which show or shows should you enter? Are there different kinds of shows? Is your car good enough? Over the next few posts we'll try and answer these questions and more based on our experience over the last couple of years.
Westiva, a local meet for Ford Festivas held annually. August 2017.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Something's missing!

For those of you that followed our "If you plan it they will come" road trip you'll remember that somewhere between New Orleans and San Antonio the Festiva's engine developed a misfire. It ran a little rough under 3000rpm but seemed to smooth out a bit above that and we were able maintain highway speeds. Fuel consumption increase by about 25% for the remainder of the trip but there were no other apparent issues. We made it home safely and now it's time to figure out what's going on with the car.

Safely home after our "If you plan it they will come" road trip.
The first diagnostic step was to run a compression test. I discovered that there was something missing in cylinder number three.