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Thing Blue: a Festiva build

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  • Thing Blue: a Festiva build

    After playing with Miatas for about 8 years now, building a couple of bp engines, and helping a friend build a turbo Escort GT, there were quite a few 90s mazda parts kicking around the garage. This, combined with poor impulse control, and a reasonably good deal on a ford festiva an hour away on facebook marketplace, means I am now building a festiva. I found a lovely survivor, 1991, 155k on the clock, only one minor rust spot, 4? speed with dead shifter bushings, tires from 2006, but a good running engine, a decent interior, factory (working) radio, and it came with the owner's manual, and the factory service manual. not bad for $1200

    first order of business was to fix the shifter bushings, remove the 6in of slop in gear. I discovered it was actually a 5 speed!
    sitting in the garage is a bp(+t) ready to go, but first I plan on doing a variety of chassis upgrades so the car tries to kill me a little less. I also want the car to be reasonably comfortable, so adding the factory a/c system (missing) back in is fairly high on the list

    Front uprights, axles, transmission, front brakes will be from a 2003 kia rio (already aquired) rear brakes from an aspire
    suspension will be hackery with miata springs and whatever struts and shocks I can make work as I am cheap, or the vw coilover conversion, if I decide to spend the money.
    This thread is a combo of documentation for me, on what parts work (or not) and what modifications will be required.
    wheels and tires will be miata stuff I have kicking around

    The goal here is to create a turbo bp powered festiva with functional air conditioning without destroying my very limited budget, that actually drives not too differently than a modern hot hatch. There will be problems, I will do my best to document them, as well as post my costs, so I can see how this silly endeavor really killed my finances.

  • #2
    Posted yesterday by 1990New in the General forum....

    "The sloppy gears can be fixed with 5 bushing replacements. 4 on the shifter arm and one on the stabilizer arm. There are lots of threads here that should be easy to find with as simple search that tell all about how to fix it. I used to have lots of extra bushings but now I only have a few of the stabilizer bushing that go in the bar at the transmission attachment point.
    You pay postage and I will send you one of those free. You can get the others for $1.55 each at
    The shifter stabilizer bushings are $9.00 each there."
    Original owner of silver grey carburetted 1989 Festiva. 105k km as of June 2006. 140k km as of June 2021.


    • #3
      Thanks, I replaced the 4 in the shifter arm and it took care of 90% of the slop, the support rod bushing will be replaced soon enough I hope


      • #4
        No pictures, but I got the rear brakes swapped to the aspire drums, install was simple enough, just grind out the upper 2 holes for the spindle bolts, and bolt in. as the oem festiva wheels no longer fit, I used a set of aftermarket 14x6 wheels that were given to me, which are conveniently drilled in both 4x100 and 4x114.5, the offset is even right so they actually fit! The swap solved both my lack of rear brake shoes and not working parking brake issues as well as fixing the bad rear wheel bearings! the grinding the holes out took a while with a dremel tool though


        • #5
          The next big upgrade is now done! The 2003 kia rio front brakes/upright/transmission swap was slightly more work than I was expecting, and took a little longer than I thought, as I had to order and wait on some parts, but overall went pretty well.

          starting from the engine side for the kia trans swap, the b3 flywheel will not work, the starter ring is too small, neither will the b3 starter. the starter from the 01-05 rio, ford 91-96 escort gt, or 99-05 mazda miata will fit. (I used the miata one, it was the cheapest) The flywheel can be any b6 (or b5?) flywheel with a 200mm clutch surface, I used one from a (90-93)1.6 miata, because I had it lying around, with a "stage 3" ebay clutch for the 01-05kia rio to get the correct 20 spline clutch disc for the input shaft (b3/e series is 18?, f series is 20 g series is 22 spline afik). The miata flywheel is lighter and a little slimmer than the original rio one, so the throwout and clutch engagement point need some adjustment and is less than ideal, but it is within the range of the festiva clutch cable. I used the rio clutch cable bracket and adjusted the clutch so that the lever on the transmission bottoms on the trans case at the end of the pedal travel. The 4 main engine bolts line up on the b3 and the bellhousing matches the rio, escort gt, capri xr2 and other b series fwd engines that use a semi structural aluminum oil pan.

          Transmission mounts: this is where I had to play some games. nothing fit, and the limited info I could find was only somewhat helpful. While the festiva rear mount fit on the kia trans, this put the trans way too high and forward in the car for any front mount to clear a radiator. others had drilled the spot welds out of the crossmember and used the kia mount and bracket, so I tried as close as I could get, using the kia mounting bracket and a front escort gt engine mount next, which was better, the height was (almost) right, but the front mount was way off and the front mount bracket hit the crossmember, as it was just over an inch too far to the driver side. To fix this, I used the left 2 holes in the front kia mount bracket to align the right side of the bracket, then drilled and tapped 2 new holes, effecively moving the bracket left, and then the mount lined up. After installing that mount I found the escort mount was slightly too short, and the transmission was sitting on the subframe, I ordered a new festiva front mount as they are the same except the festiva mount is taller, too tall as it turns out, the trans hit the steering rack, I had to cut the mount down 1/2" and then it all fit.

          Shifter: the festiva shift rod is too ling and the support rod too short, I cut and welded the festiva shift rod 5/8" shorter, but it is not perfect, I still have issues getting it into first gear, in other threads they cut off a whole inch, I may end up doing that, or getting under the car and aligning it all then putting in a tack weld. The support rod is short, but only by about 1/3", I was able to flex the bushing to get it installed, but I may lengthen it in the future

          Axles: I used the 03 kia rio axles, the driver side fit, the passenger side was too long, the hub would not line up with the strut, the solution was to install ford aspire lower control arms, which are longer, and allowed the passenger side axle to fit.

          Hubs and Brakes: The 03 rio hubs and brakes mostly bolt on, I had to cut the alignment dowel off the festiva brake hose, as it made the line impossible to install on the rio calipers, then I had to use aspire tie rod ends to get the correct ball joint taper, and of course this gives me 4x100 so now all my wheels use the same bolt pattern, even if the front is studs and the rear uses bolts.

          In the future I may get a rio flywheel, and will probably improve the shifter linkage so that the shifter sits in more the correct place.
          At least it solved the problems of bad axle cv joints and a bad front wheel bearing, with more easily serviceable brake rotors!


          • #6
            For the shift linkage i endup shorting one 1/2" and making the other linakge 1/2 longer


            • #7
              For the shift linkage i endup shorting one 1/2" and making the other linakge 1/2 longer


              • #8
                Hello, I was curious what you did about the speedometer while hooking up this transmission? I haven't found too much good information about driving a mechanical one from an electrical sensor without buying a $300+ box for it.

                Am I mistaken that the stock festiva cable/plug does not line up properly or did you do something different with the dash?