You should know by now that I try to sprinkle clues to a car's origin everywhere, from the name of the car to the list of sources at the bottom of every piece.
Sometimes I have to think hard on what to call a vehicle, and in this case, adding "Autorama" to the car's name is a deliberate link to its origins. And that's just it: with so little to be found on this vehicle, maybe at some point you'll stumble on more information about the Ford Autorama Festiva GT-A.
With commenting now active, please do add anything you know about this car and I'll make sure it's added to the piece.
After all, I'd hate for this cute little American-Japanese warm hatchback to be forgotten.
The key here is the word "warm." Before you think that Ford unleashed an all-wheel-drive, turbocharged, rally beast onto the roads (carefully disguised as a Festiva, natch), I regret to inform you that underneath the hood beats Mazda's venerable B-series 4-cylinder engine, wearing the "BJ" designation. Fitted with Mazda EGi fuel injection, the 1.3-litre dual overhead cam motor was uprated from the version fitted to normal Festivas and 323s—but it still only cranked out 87 horsepower at 7,000 rpm.
But where are my manners—what's Autorama all about?
In Japan, cars are sold a little bit differently. Dealership chains are often multi-city branded affairs often run as subsidiaries or close affiliates to the manufacturer. Though the practice is on the decline, each channel has a different look and feel—and sells only a certain range of cars.
For instance, Toyota has Toyota dealers, Toyopet dealers, Corolla dealers, and Netz dealers. Netz, for instance, is a bit more youth-oriented and sells mainly city cars, plus the GT-86 and Prius.
This arrangement allows for the dealership network to operate, if need be, at arm's length from the main company, and able to offer not only a range of vehicles but investment opportunities as well. Investment in things like bus companies, supermarket chains, and discount stores gave the network enough cash to expand, with the expectation that the car and investment business would earn all parties a sizeable profit over a number of years.
Familiar with Eunos and Autozam? Basically the same deal. Just a shame Japan's asset price bubble popped big time on December 2, 1991, kicking the stock market and land prices in Tokyo into the toilet.
Autorama was responsible for distributing Ford products in Japan, including the Mazda-designed Festiva. Ford eventually bought the sales channel and integrated it within their operations, but in the late 80s and early 90s it operated semi-independently.
So what enthusiasts got from this boardroom ballet was a Festiva-based, 800 kg (1760 lbs) warm hatchback designed to entice enthusiasts over to Ford showrooms. It's not a Mustang, but its cheeky face and Japanese-style performance accessories catalogue hint at a side of the Blue Oval we'd never see again.
Some sources online quote its 0-100 km/h (-0-62 mph ) time in as little as 7 seconds…
Don't forget that Japan's car market was going crazy for retro styling at the time, and the car's Nissan Be-1-aping face and white nosecone look like a nod to the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint 1600 GTA.
The whole thing is just crazy, isn't it? Forget the SHOgun, I want a Festiva GT-A.