Ford Festiva aficionados nerd out on compact cars in Alberta at 'Westiva'

Ford hasn’t sold the subcompact car in North America since the mid-90s, but there is still a big following — and they’re getting together in Kananaskis this weekend.

Western Canadian ‘econobox’ meetup happens in Kananaskis Saturday

The Ford Festiva hit Canadian markets in 1987, but the company stopped selling it in the mid-90s in North America. (Westiva 2016/Facebook)

During the summer, it's not unusual to see groups of Vespas, Harleys or Porsches going for a Sunday drive together on the highway.

But this weekend, fans of the less flashy Ford Festiva are getting together in Alberta.

The meetup is called 'Westiva' (not to be confused with the Westfalia Volkswagen camper van).

"We just basically park and look at each other's cars and talk Festiva stuff," Ian Cassley, the organizer of Westiva, told the Calgary Eyeopener Wednesday.

"Just comparing stories of, you know, the challenges of getting parts," said the owner of a souped-up Ford Festiva.

Nimble and fun

The Ford Festiva was available in Canada from 1988 to 1993, until the Ford Aspire replaced it.

In other markets, it was sold as the Mazda 121 and the Kia Pride — which is still manufactured in Iran by the Saipa Motor Corporation and remains one of the most popular cars on the road.

"It's fun to work on, it's fun to drive, it's a little bit different," said Cassley.

"Fairly nimble, the stock car didn't have a lot of power on it, so it was pretty easy to throw around and not get yourself in trouble."

The Ford Festiva, a boxy economy car manufactured in the late 80s and early 90s, has a small but devoted following in Alberta. Festiva owner Ian Cassley talks about the "Westiva" gathering in Kananaskis this weekend. 5:12

The 'econobox'

The Westiva event is open to any 'econobox' — a slang term for a boxy, compact and fuel-efficient car — built in the late '80s early '90s, such as the Dodge Colt, Chevrolet Sprint, Geo Metro, Suzuki Swift and Nissan Micra.

"Out on two big road trips, we averaged about 44 miles per gallon! That was with five of us in the car, on the interstates most of the time and with air conditioning running," said Cassley.

Cassley is expecting about 10 cars to show up, but said he's been to a meetup in North Carolina where 73 Ford Festivas from across North America rolled in.

Ian Cassley is the organizer of 'Westiva' — a meetup for western Canadians who own Ford Festivas. (Ian Cassley)

The family-friendly Westiva event gets started at 10 a.m. on July 16 in the parking lot of Wedge Pond in Kananaskis. 

Bring a picnic lunch and stick around for a 30-minute cruise to the Boulton Creek Trading Post afterward for ice cream.