Miata-Based, Turbo LS-Swapped Ford Festiva Makes Little Sense, But Also 500 HP

It may not look like much, but it’s honest work.

byChris Teague|
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Every now and then we see a build that makes us scratch our heads and wonder; "why would anyone do that to such a fine piece of engineering?" However, that was never the case with Andrew Coulombe's Ford Festiva, because his ride was a bit of a crapcan from the beginning, but after some serious modifications, it's now a crapcan with a turbocharged LS V8 engine under the hood and some serious bragging rights.

Known as the thousanddollarcarguy on YouTube, his 1990 Ford Festiva runs a Chevy LS V8 but hides an even bigger secret under its Ford body and GM engine: a Mazda Miata chassis. Coulombe told The Drive that the project started when he and a friend (a fairly accomplished builder in his own right) sourced a $400 Miata and stripped all of the body panels off to make a Miata-kart. The LS and transmission came from a $700 2001 GMC Yukon XL and were welded to the stock Miata driveshaft. 

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Had they stopped there, they would have had a running and driving body-less Miata with rear-wheel drive, big power, and a limited-slip differential—but they didn’t. Their next step was to turbocharge the LS, which Coulombe says should put down around 500 horsepower at the wheels. Not surprisingly, the tiny chassis with such huge power had traction issues, so the kart at that point was mostly just a novelty.  

Andrew Coulombe

Once the kart was rolling under its own power, he started thinking that the build had more potential than being just a backyard toy. He looked at one of his broken-down Festivas and realized that the body dimensions were very similar to the Miata's. Inspiration struck, and it turned out that there’s only about an inch difference between the two cars’ wheelbases, so he was able to cut portions off the Festiva’s floor to match with the Miata-kart chassis and welded some old bed frame rails to hold the floor in place. He even claims that "everything lined up perfectly."

There are still a few hurdles left to cross before it’s considered “done,” which is always a relative term when it comes to one-off builds. Coulombe says the turbo is currently sticking out of the hood, so he’s in the process of making new piping and moving the radiator down to accommodate everything in the engine bay. His ultimate goal, he says, is to drag race the car with an occasional autocross thrown in the mix. The state of Florida, where Coulombe lives, is notably devoid of any emissions or safety checks for its citizens’ vehicles, so the car is just considered to be a 1990 Festiva on paper. It's easy to register, cheap to insure, and will be absolutely brutal if Coulombe can get the power down on the road where it belongs. It's not Leno's Festiva by any means, but it's pretty damn sweet for a home-built hot rod.

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