SIG Gambler 500: 800 Miles, 2 Inches Hard Rain, One Cop Stop, Zero Tickets.

The Death Car Festiva rocked the Southern Indiana Gambler 500. The little car was almost as good offroad as the smart, was better at water crossings, and was happy to be foot to floor for the whole weekend!

The drive down wasn’t bad. My winter coat, gloves, and the car’s heater were more than good for the job.

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Saturday involved hard rain ALL DAY. My hands and feet were soaked, but the rest of me stayed warm and dry. The 12V seat heaters I got were the real MVPs, keeping my body toasty in the fight against the cold water.

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I did get stopped by the cops once. They told me the car is hella illegal, but they couldn’t ticket me because it was just too cool.

I definitely got more pictures taken this weekend than I’ve ever gotten in my entire smart ownership

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There was even some rock crawling and the Festiva did it with stride!

Shop-teacher’s Winterforce snows were basically like tiny mudders. I got through mud that got Jeeps stuck and that rock crawling? I got through with only pinch weld damage whereas a Jeep Liberty lost an entire wheel!

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The river crossing also hydrolocked at least three cars that I know of (a Subaru wagon, a Malibu Maxx, and a Cavalier) but I only got my floorplan a litt...a lot wet. The water was a solid three feet deep in areas. The smart could have maybe made it through depending on the line I chose or if I maintained a decent bow wave.

The Festiva’s electrics also didn’t mind the open air concept. Everything still works!

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The rear of the car also made a decent RV

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I set my floor jack under the spare tire well, put the cover on the car, then climbed in. The space in the back is big enough to lay down in relative comfort. I got way better sleep here than I’ve ever gotten sober in a tent. Usually I have to get trashed in order to get decent tent sleep.

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I did need the propane heater on the second night and it worked smashingly well. It came with a hanger, so I just hung it from the coat hook in the back. Hung far enough down not to upset anything and provided just enough warmth to keep me from dying. That night was super windy in addition to the cold so CO2 wasn’t even on the radar.

Due to the attention the car got, I am toning down the open air concept. I’ll be getting doors of some kind, but they won’t be full. Same with the tailgate. Still open air, less cop magnet-y.

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But there is some baaaad news.

The fuel tank got damaged more during a full send Friday night. Previously, the tank only leaked when you filled it past half. Now it leaks a little under half and whenever the engine is above idle. This is accompanied by horrible fumes for whoever is following me. I expected to spend no more than $90 in fuel but ended up spending $145.

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ETA: Fuel economy was also probably bad too considering I had to be foot to floor for almost 600 miles straight (jacked up the gearing with those tires). I’ll know for sure once I replace the tank and get a reading on what fuel economy is like.

Update: So I’ve been told by someone who races these cars, removing doors, windows, and the boot causes massive drag as well.

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Anyway, water also got into the tank on Saturday... like a lot of water. So now unless I put Premium in it misfires something mean under a quarter tank. Tried Heet and that did nothing. The water also probably didn’t help fuel economy, so I have no idea why my fuel estimate was so far off. Both mpg and leaking it out?

This car has a fuel pump that sits in the tank. Festiva/Aspire tanks are notorious for leaks, so I don’t plan on replacing it with another Festiva tank. I want to get a plastic one like the smart (or a boat) has. But then I’ll have to get an aftermarket fuel pump. I mean, so long as the pump has the same voltage it should work, right?

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