Return of the Festiva – or How I Finally Benefited from the Government Giveaways

Posted on January 1, 2010

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When I was 17 I acquired a classic beater car designed to last only a few miles at a low risk for a new driver. The car was a 1988 Ford Festiva with 64,000 miles for the princely sum of $2,000. I ended up keeping the car for six years, putting almost 100,000 miles on it. It was a great little car that even inspired a song that needed to be sung to help it get over hills and mountains. Once the cost of repairing the car seemed unreasonable, I gave the car to a friend who lived in the car inspection-free state of Ohio. The Festiva continued to serve for many more years, working on an organic farm. The last time I saw it, the car was in the middle of a farm field buried up to its axle in mud helping with harvest.

Fast forward eleven years. The replacement for the Festiva is likewise on the edge of death. I never really liked the Ford Escort, but it was decent cheap transportation. It has recently developed a multitude of problems that were draining my wallet. At some point you need to say enough is enough and set it out to pasture. We took the Escort for our long Christmas pilgramage to Massachusetts over the last couple weeks and it was clear that the end was near. The engine ran poorly, the car was burning oil, and the gas milage was terrible. We knew that it was time.

I am a fan of cheap, small cars. This is in part because I do not believe in borrowing money to buy a car. The purchase of a $40,000 car is extremely painful if you need to hand over a wad of cash. I like small cars because I think they are fun to drive, they are easy to park, and they generally get great gas milage. We have been evaluating the options.

On Monday, GM announced a fire sale on Pontiacs, a brand that they decided to discontinue. The $6,500 incentive offered seemed too good to believe. We headed over the the dealership and walked away with a new Pontiac G3 with only 15 miles on it. Total out of pocket cost including tax: $9,500.
The new G3 is remarkably similar to the Festiva. Both are white, small hatchbacks. They feel similar while driving. I have really missed the Festiva and it is nice to have the reincarnated version back.
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