KEARNEY — Like Dr. Frankenstein proudly standing next to his creation, Keith Carey stood next his road-ready and head-turning creation, a red limousine carefully crafted from two older model Ford Festivas. For Carey, who lives in rural Kearney, his Frankensteined limo is the result of two passions — mechanics and Ford Festivas.
Why he did it
“I’ve had about 12 (Festivas) through the years. My wife has driven one, my son drove one, my daughter has driven three or four of them. I ended up with one with a title and one without and just kept thinking, ‘What am I going to do with the one without a title?’ It was in too good of shape to scrap it. I like tinkering, so I thought, ‘I’ll give it a shot,” he said. “... With a five-speed you get about 40 miles to the gallon and they’re a small car that is fun to drive.”
How he did it
The street-legal limo is licensed and recently sold to a buyer Carey found in another state via Facebook Marketplace.
“I cut about the front end off of one and then I kind of had to make a puzzle to get them married up. After I got them pretty well tack welded together, I built a sub-frame underneath to ensure they stay together and is all supported,” he said. “I really don’t know how much it weighs, but I’d say if you know the weight of one of the cars, double that up and then take about a third off it.”
His master project in mechanical engineering and welding took about six years, start to finish.
“But there were three years where I didn’t even touch it. It was just working on it off and on. It wasn’t a full-time project,” Carey said. “Off and on, it took all about three years to do it.”
The limo seats six comfortably.
“I tried to vacuum everything out before putting the carpet back in. The back end was made for about three kids,” he said of the spacious interior.
Carey tackled the project with years of “tinkering” experience on his side. Some of his other handiwork includes restoring and reconfiguring Ford Rancheros and assembling a pedicab, also known as a cycle rickshaw. The nonmotorized vehicle uses bike-rider pedal power to move the tricycle, which is used to transport people.
“I learned a lot from my dad years ago. Anytime I had a car, I had to work on it because I couldn’t afford to pay somebody, so I did it myself. My dad did put me through auto mechanic school when I was 17 or 18, that’s where I learned a lot of it, but this also is trial and error,” the Ford fan said of his one-of-a-kind limo creation. “... I was also a bike mechanic. I’ve built model cars for years. I also redid my Gran Torino.”
While he doesn’t think he’ll be making another limo anytime soon, Carey said his tinkering will continue.
“I have lots to do to keep me busy,” he said.