The following is the "Reader's Digest" version of the story. Grab your beverage of choice and follow this link for the full build thread!

After more than 400,000km and 13 years of faithful service our red '92 Festiva has been retired.It's been through 25 of the lower 48 states and 4 provinces; it's taken five of us on 20,000kms of road trips: it's seen 40ºC temperatures across the deserts of Nevada and -40ºC close to home.I've taught two of my older kids to drive standard with this car, it was my oldest daughter's wedding car! In short, this car owes us nothing!!!

Photo credit: Scott Reimer aka leapinthelovemachine
Our red Festiva with a friend in 2010!
I've mentioned in an earlier post that a large amount of rust had been developing, especially over the last two or three years. 

Here's what's left of the red car after stripping parts to be transferred to the project or to be sold:


What's being switched over? I'm glad you asked....

- Tein coilovers all four corners
- FMS* stainless brake lines all four corners
- Adjustable strut bar
- Ford Aspire brakes all four corners
- 13"x5" Toyota alloys originally on a Corolla GT

- Clear, flush mounted signal lights
- Kia Pride tail lights (from the UK)
- Mazda 121 grille (from Australia), head and clear corner lights (from Germany)
- High mount LED third brake light mounted inside
- “Swoopy” power mirrors.
- Stainless steel hydraulic hood strut
- Tinted rear windows
- Tint across top of windshield.

- Rear wiper modified to park horizontally at the bottom of the window rather than vertically.

- Seats from a first generation Toyota MR2
- Custom console with dual cup holders
- Aftermarket steering wheel
- Tach cluster with 180 km/h speedometer (from the Philippines)
- Variable speed intermittent wipers
- Chrome interior door handles
- Chrome trim rings for window winders
- Mazda 323 rear view mirror
- Grab handles for front and rear passengers
- Factory air conditioning

- Pacesetter short shifter originally spec'd for a Ford Probe with shortened shift rod.

- recently replaced gas tank and Walbro 225lph fuel pump
- Pioneer DEH-4000USB head unit
- Cerwin Vega 5 ¼” speakers with tweeters in the doors
- JBL/Ford 6”x9” three way speakers in custom cargo cover

We decided some time ago to search for a replacement. The results of that search can be found here.The tear down of that car didn't take too long as I had both my younger sons helping out. 

Front suspension tear down...

Cleaning the interior prior to sound deadener installation...

Once that was done the slow process to put it all back together again began. First order of business was the installation of sound deadener throughout the interior. I used just under 100 square feet of B-Quiet's "Extreme" product. I had put this in the red car and it made things a lot less "buzzy" inside... much more comfortable for the long road trips.

Sound deadener intalled
Passenger door

The main difference with the new car is that it will be powered by a 1.6l DOHC 16v turbocharged engine from a 1988 Mazda 323GT. This required installation the ECU and some of the wiring from the donor car. That will run the engine while the lighting, gauges etc will be run by the stock Festiva harness.

Spec stage 2 clutch kit installed
All buttoned up and ready to drop in the engine bay

Level and square and looking right at home

Only one custom mount required.

Another difference will be the installation of custom front and rear bumpers. These are fashioned after those made by ATH in Germany for the Kia Pride, which is a sister to the Ford Festiva.

Rear bumper painted and installed

Front bumper and grille mocked up. Bumper still needs a bit of work before painting.

That's where we are as of February 23rd. Keep watching this space for more updates. Thanks for your interest, if you have any questions or comments please leave them in the comments section below.

March 11th update 

There's been a bit of progress in the last couple of weeks. the front suspension is back in.
Battery tray and bracket are made and mounted. I wanted to keep the battery in as close to stock location as possible first to keep the wiring relatively simple and second to retain as much weight up front as possible. This meant going to a smaller battery than stock. I also wanted to use an automotive battery so I sourced the smallest one I could. It is the size specified for earlier Mazda Miatas/MX-5s.

Size comparison: Festiva battery on the left, Mazda Miata battery on the right
 You can see there's quite a bit of difference between the two! The battery post orientation is the same on both as well which helps with the wiring.

Fabricated bracket

Modified Honda Civic battery tray

Battery in place.
This setup clears the clutch linkage on the one side and leaves room for the planned air filter location on the other as you can see in the rough mock up below (the black box is the battery template). I've also managed to use the stock battery tray mounting holes so no new ones were required.

Intake mock going over top of the battery location

Oh, one more thing. I purchased a set of exhaust heat sheilds from a friend in Arizona. there's no rust on them or the bolts he sent along with them!

Arizona sourced heat shields!

That's all for now! Thanks for your continued interest and keep checking back for updates. If all goes well those will be every couple of weeks

UPDATE: July 14th

Lot's has happened in the last couple of months. I got the engine in and started only to find that the clutch wasn't working as it should. The problem turned out to be that the Spec stage 2 disc was too thick so I had to drop the transmission and replace that with a stock one. I still kept the Spec pressure plate and it's holding up quite well. It took me a while to get the brakes bled and in the process I ended up dripping some brake fluid on the newly painted bumper... that will get repaired in the near future. I did have some cooling issues which resulted in a new, larger slim fan being installed on a different radiator. The engine does run a bit hotter than the non-turbo engine I had in the old car but shouldn't be an issue. Might prove to be a plus come winter!

The car has been on the road now for about 6 weeks now and I'm really enjoying driving the car. Fuel consumption is a little higher than I had hoped but I'll worry about that later.

Me with the car.
Wall mural in the Calgary community of Bowness

At Bowness Park in Calgary

Engine compartment
The engine was originally at home in a 1988 Mazda 232GT. I am currently running stock engine and boost control. I have not installed an intercooler choosing instead to use an AEM water/meth injection system. That's been put in stealthily so that the only thing visible is the nozzle in the intake pipe. Future plans include the addition a manual boost controller . I have the controller in my possession but want to make sure everything else is working properly before added it. Next major work will be charging the A/C system. I've waited until now so that I was sure that I wouldn't have to take anything apart. We're planning a little road trip in August so I will have that done before we leave. I'm also going to replace the muffler before we go as it drones way too much. It's tolerable around town but gets really annoying on the highway.

Gauge pod... boost, oil pressure, clock

Wider shot of the dash and gauges

I went to hook up the Pioneer head unit I had transferred from the red car and it went 'pop' and stopped working. I've picked up a new Kenwood unit with bluetooth and other goodies. It's nice to have music again.

UPDATE: August 15th, 2016:

The exhaust system has been replaced and a bung installed for the wide band O2 sensor. Car is much quieter now with very little, if any, effect on performance. Thanks to CARS in Crowfoot  for a great install. I've now dialed in the timing as it was way too close to TDC. Running about 14º BTDC at the moment and it seems to be a sweet spot with performance much improved. On a weekend trip it was discovered that the hose to the boost gauge had a weak spot which finally let go causing some idling issues. That has now been sorted as well. With all these changes fuel consumption has improved considerably. I was initially getting only 30 miles per imperial gallon (25 miles per US gallon) and was a little concerned. The last couple of tanks have scored 41 and 43 miles per imperial gallon (34 and 37 miles per US gallon), a 40% improvement!!

I changed out the stock B6T upper timing cover for one off a Ford Escort GT BP engine. the difference being that the BP one doesn't have the opening for the center mount. Seeing that I didn't use the B6T mount that left a gaping hole for water and other debris to get in and cause problems.

Stock B6T upper timing cover with opening for center front engine mount
BP (Mazda 1.8l DOHC) upper timing cover

Still have to charge up the A/C, install the sender and hook up the VDO oil pressure gauge. Priority is for the A/C as we're heading out on our five day, 2400km/1500mile Montana and Wyoming road trip on the 23rd!

Thanks for you interest in our little project. Any suggestions, questions or comments would be greatly appreciated.

UPDATE (SORT OF): November 25, 2018

I've posted on the main blog outlining the differences between a stock Festiva and ours. Follow this link and enjoy!


  1. What tein coilovers set did you decide to go with?

    1. Sorry to take so long to respond. Rears are GHM07-12531. Fronts are GHM06-12746R and 12746L. All are also marked DW3W and 22012.

  2. How did you make that front bumper? I've got a few ideas but that's nice

    1. I didn't make the bumper. Both front and rear bumpers are reproductions of a kit originally manufactured by ATH in Germany for the Kia Pride. Neither the originals or the reproductions are available any longer.I purchased mine a long time ago.