Dead?: Ford Festiva

I fixed the Festiva just enough to make the 150 mile drive to the first Northwest Indiana Gambler. It would end the weekend in much worse shape.

My fuel leak fix stopped working the morning of. I stupidly tried to make a hose clamp out of JBweld, which failed immediately. I then discovered that zip ties make great hose clamps for a good seal.

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I arrived at camp after sunset and gave the car a good, hard send. In flying through a makeshift rally course at highway speed I broke a rear brake line. I called it a night before I’d accidentally kill the whole car.

The next morning I decided to take a picture then start stripping the car down. I removed my CB, the headlights, and the turn signals. Unfortunately, the turn signals would accidentally end up destroyed. After I had the car sufficiently torn down, I decided to go on the full time trial lap. My brakes were shot, all I had was braking using the engine and manual transmission.

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I hit a jump super hard and started uncontrollably laughing. In doing so I ended up burying the front end in sand. It was amusing as only five minutes earlier I was the only vehicle to make it through the sand pit.

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What you don’t see in those pictures is the caved in unibody rail under the b pillar and slight bend in said b pillar. That happened when I sent the car over an impossibly steep hill and sideswiped a tree in midair on the way down. This is also how I lost my door bars.

I spent a lot of the weekend getting the car from 5 mph to 0 using bushes and trees. The owner of the park encouraged us to blaze new trails, especially if we blazed hard ones. The only rule was that we couldn’t touch the corn field.

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The person who recovered me from the sand only pulled lightly, but it was enough to really get the buckle and the bend in the pillar going.

From here, I just decided to give it one last send. I slammed it into a rock about ten minutes later and discovered the car to only be running on three cylinders.

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I was able to limp it back to camp and that’s when I engaged my “everyone try to kill it” idea. I removed all of the stuff I cared about from the car then one by one, challenged Gamblers to kill the car.

The first person discovered that I partially annihilated a coil on the engine. They cobbled it together enough to get all four cylinders firing again.

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It was then four of us hopped in (remember, I removed the rear seat) with helmets on as a new challenger appeared to try to kill the car. He forgot the car didn’t have brakes and darn near rolled it during his run. By this time the fuel feed line had some catastrophic damage and was pissing fuel everywhere, but the car still ran. Someone grabbed duct tape and got it ready for another send.

With his failure, the car was then passed to another challenger. This one had the car dead in no time flat. He sent it into a shallow pond then got stuck. The car sat there for about 20 minutes with water up to the speakers on the dash. After a Bronco rescued us (after rear ending us), the car ran exceedingly poorly until it stopped running and wouldn’t start again.

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Our diagnosis? The tank was far more muddy water than it was fuel. Nobody cared to fix it again so we declared the mission a success.

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I rigged the steering wheel to permanently blow the horn at anyone that tried to start it and the car was left for dead. We assumed the car just needed to dry out for it to start again.

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Later that day, the car got a victim. Someone tried starting it and my prank deployed. He ended up ripping the horn wires out. xD We successfully towed it back to camp for it to dry out.

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Throughout the night it was rammed by various people, traveling some 20 feet and nearly getting bumped into the onsite lake.

By the next morning, someone went cow tipping and put the car on its roof!

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I gave the title to the owner of the park. He plans on putting the car back on its wheels, fixing what we broke, then having it as a side by side in the park.

Confession time...

Alright. So, I definitely went too far with the Festiva and these two rallies it participated in. It was a fun project, a fun experiment, and the rallies themselves were brilliant. But, I made some choices in various situations that while I don’t regret, I do not want to do again. I’m not going to discuss them. Just know that I’ve learned some lessons. Sometimes experiencing something once is all the experience one needs...or perhaps an experience maybe one didn’t need to begin with. The Passat is - in a way - a symbol of me dialing back my crazy from 12 to hopefully 11 or 10. It’s a safe crazy, a creative crazy...not just crazy. I apologize to those I upset along the way from family, friends, and people who were or are close to me. 2019 may be my best year yet and perhaps the best me, but that doesn’t mean I’m incapable of the occasional screw up...

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Final note.

I’ve been driving the TDI since the Festiva’s death and I learned how to conquer limp mode. Limp mode is actually really easy to avoid if you shift before 2.5k rpm. The Passat has plenty of torque to do that, too! It even cruises at 70mph no problem...but uh, it does immediately run out of power (turbo “turns off”) should you try exceeding 70. What I did wrong the day I drove it was shift at 3k rpm, which meant the car went into limp mode not even a mile from the seller’s house. And limp mode in this particular car doesn’t have any specific light like a smart does, so the whole time I thought I wasn’t in limp mode. Of all the cars with 260+k on the odometer this one is the nicest. It rides, drives, and looks like a car that only has 100k.

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I still await a cable for my ThinkPad so I can fire up VCDS and start my troubleshooting adventure on it. Right now I’m still betting the problem is the N75.

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