“$300 buy it now, drives but unregistered, needs a few things done to it” was how eBay brought me together with the Ford Festiva.
With an offer like that, I pressed “buy it now” and drove this white mid-90s manual Festiva home from Caloundra on an unregistered permit. With it being such a common car, and only 300 bucks, I didn’t think I was risking much. My biggest worry at the time was looking suspicious by filling it up at a local service station, with no number plates attached.
Sure, it had some minor dents on the driver’s side and black scratches on the painted bumpers, but it scrubbed up OK after I washed, vacuumed and polished it, and sprayed some white touch-up paint to the corners.
A lesson in selling, and international politics
My introduction to the Ford Festiva came in 1992, when I was looking to buy my first new car. The experience gave me a lesson in the art of selling, as well as international politics. Let me explain:
When the salesman at Ford showed me the Festiva, he asked me what else I’d been looking at. I told him I’d taken a Hyundai Excel for a test drive. “The worry I’d have with the Hyundai,” he said very confidently, “is that there’s a lot of tension on the Korean peninsula, and if North and South start firing, you’re not going to be able to get any parts for your Hyundai.” The great lie – or ignorance – behind his warning was that the Festiva he wanted to sell me was also made in Korea – by Kia. I wish I’d been aware of that at the time, so I could have pointed it out to him.
Anyway, 20 years on North and South Korea were still technically at war, but not battling it out, and I had a Mazda-designed, Kia-built, Ford-marketed Festiva in my driveway, that I needed to get fixed up.
A mechanical inspection for the roadworthy revealed it needed some new linkages for the gearbox (it was quite rubbery on the drive home), some plastic stalks to hold the driver and passenger seat belt anchors upright next to the seats (they all break due to use of cheap plastic) and, from memory, maybe a new tyre and rubber boot or two.
Other than that, it was cosmetic work – with some new hubcaps, plus floor mats and seat covers to hide some dirt.
The only downside to getting it registered came in the form of a piece of metal attached at either end of the car:
It was the number plate “SAD”.
In 2012 Queensland plates were up to starting with ‘S’, and when I got the Festiva registered, it wasn’t good to see that 3-letter word. It meant that after doing school runs and local trips for a while, I would then be trying to sell a “sad” car.
Still, the Festiva drove quite nicely for a 200,000 km+ example, and it wasn’t long before it was sold to someone who didn’t even comment on the number plate. After all the repairs, I made a small profit.. meaning this SAD little car had made me happy.