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1978-1980 Ford Fairmont four-door sedan
Mahwah, New Jersey
St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada
Valencia, Carabobo, Venezuela, Mexico (La Villa Assembly Plant)
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door coupe
4-door station wagon
|Platform||Ford Fox platform|
|Engine||140 cubic inches (2.3 L) OHC I4
200 cubic inches (3.3 L) Thriftmaster Six I6
255 cubic inches (4.18 L) Windsor V8
302 cubic inches (4.95 L) Windsor V8
3-speed C3 automatic
3-speed C4 automatic
3-speed C5 automatic
|Wheelbase||105.5 in (2,680 mm)|
|Length||193.8 in (4,920 mm)|
|Curb weight||2,747–2,959 pounds (1,246–1,342 kg)|
|Successor||Ford Tempo / Mercury Topaz|
The Ford Fairmont is a mid-size car that was produced by Ford for the North American market that was sold from the 1978 to the 1983 model years. Introduced as the successor to the Maverick, the Fairmont was sold by Lincoln-Mercury dealers as the Mercury Zephyr, which replaced the Mercury Comet. The Fairmont and Zephyr were sold as two-door notchback sedans, two-door coupes, four-door sedans, and five-door station wagons.
The Fairmont and Zephyr marked the introduction of the long-running Ford Fox platform, used for a wide variety of later models. Those closely related to the Fairmont included the 1980–1988 Ford Thunderbird, the 1981–1982 Ford Granada, the 1980-1988 Mercury Cougar, the 1979–1993 Ford Mustang, 1979–1986 Mercury Capri, 1983-1986 Ford LTD, 1983-1986 Mercury Marquis, 1982–1987 Lincoln Continental and the 1984-1992 Lincoln Mark VII.
While retaining a conventional rear-wheel drive platform, the Fairmont was efficiently packaged and offered excellent passenger and cargo room for its size. Contemporary reviews uniformly praised the Fairmont and it was favorably compared with contemporary Volvo and BMW models. Rack-and-pinion steering gave the Fairmont much better handling and roadability than its Maverick predecessor and despite its roomier interior, lightweight components were used which gave the Fairmont better fuel economy than the Maverick.
As Ford switched to lighter, more aerodynamic cars with front-wheel drive in the 1980s, the Fairmont was replaced by the all-new Tempo for 1984.
At the time of introduction, all Fairmonts were sold as sedans or station wagons. During the 1978 model year, Ford introduced a coupe version of the Fairmont. Borrowing the Futura name from the 1961-1969 Ford Falcon, the Fairmont coupe wore a separate roofline from the two-door sedan. The Fairmont Futura was originally a Fairmont-based downsized Thunderbird design proposal. The Futura borrowed heavily the wrapover "basket handle" roofline of the 1977 Ford Thunderbird which was inspired by the 1955 Ford Crown Victoria.
The front end utilized the four-headlight fascia of the Mercury Zephyr but used a unique cross-hatched grille that mimicked the grille pattern of the 1960 Thunderbird.
For 1981, the Fairmont (and Zephyr) received slightly higher equipment, with a slim molding strip along the side becoming standard, as well as power disc brakes in front. Convenience equipment was also increased. Instead, the turbocharged 2.3-liter four was dropped without fanfare. The Futura model was expanded to the four door and wagon models along with the four headlight front end. For 1981 the higher-priced Granada was switched onto the Fox platform using the Fairmont body with a more formally styled front and rear end clip plus a more luxurious interior. The Fairmont took on a new role, focusing towards entry-level and fleet sales. For 1982, the Fairmont lost its station wagon model, as it was moved into the Granada lineup. The base Fairmont was discontinued along with its two headlight front end. The only Fairmonts offered were Futuras with the four headlight front end.
For 1983, in response to both poor reception of existing models and to better prepare itself for upcoming models, the Ford model lineup was given a major overhaul. To boost sales, the Fairmont-based Granada and Cougar sedans and wagons were restyled and renamed LTD and Marquis with no two-door sedan versions offered. Ford would gradually phase many Fox platform vehicles out of production in favor of front-wheel drive models. 1983 would be the last year of production for the Fairmont and Zephyr. The Fairmont was the only model in the 1983 Ford line not to carry the Ford Blue Oval exterior emblem which had begun making its return on North American Fords in 1982.
A wide variety of engines and transmissions were available, including a 2.3 L OHC inline-four and a 3.3 L Falcon Six inline-six. Two V8s were available - the 255 cubic-inch (introduced in 1980, which was the 302ci with a smaller bore) and the 302 cubic-inch - that were borrowed from the LTD and LTD II. Transmissions included three- or four-speed manuals and the more commonly ordered three-speed automatic. A turbocharged four-cylinder carbureted 2.3 L engine from the Ford Mustang was offered in 1980. A few turbo four-door automatic sedans were used for testing by the California Highway Patrol.
Introduced as the replacement for the Mercury Comet, the Mercury Zephyr shared most of its design with the Ford Fairmont. As with its Ford counterpart, the Zephyr was available in two door coupe, two-door sedan, four-door sedan, and station wagon body styles; both cars shared four, six, or eight-cylinder engines. Before 1981, the Zephyr was easily distinguished from the Fairmont with its vertical slatted grille and four headlights; the taillights were also a separate horizontally ribbed design. After 1981, both Fairmonts and Zephyrs wore four headlights. As with the Mercury Marquis and Grand Marquis, the Zephyr was fitted with non-functional front fender vents. All models came with the Ford 'Ride Engineered' suspension package. The "Zephyr" name was resurrected from an earlier Lincoln vehicle in the 1940s, called the Lincoln-Zephyr (this name also reappeared in 2006 on what is now known as the Lincoln MKZ).
In 1980, Mercury introduced the Cougar XR7 based on the Fox platform shared with the Zephyr. For 1981, as the Mercury counterparts to the Ford Granada, the Cougar line was expanded to two-door and four-door sedans to replace the Mercury Monarch. The expanded Cougar line closed in on the price range occupied by the Zephyr. For 1982, the Zephyr line began to become de-contented as Mercury was preparing the design for the Topaz. Additionally, the station wagon was given to the Cougar line. For 1983, both the 4.2L and 5.0L V8 engines were discontinued.
Alongside the standard two-door notchback sedan introduced in 1978, Mercury also released a uniquely styled 2-door Zephyr coupe named the Z-7 which was a Mercury badged version of the Ford Fairmont Futura coupe. The Z-7 was distinguished from standard Zephyrs by its angled rear deck and wraparound taillights. Many Z-7 models included a two-tone paint job. Under the hood, the powertrain usually featured either the inline-six (I6) or one of the V8 engines. Very few Z-7's had the four-cylinder engine.
The Ford Durango was a group of prototypes of produced out of a joint venture between Ford and National Coach Corporation in 1981. Based heavily on the Fairmont Futura coupe, the Durango was a 2-door, 2-seat car-based pickup truck that was intended as a possible replacement for the 1977-1979 Ford Ranchero as well as a competitor to the downsized Chevrolet El Camino/GMC Cabellero. Approximately 100 are estimated to have been produced.
A special police car version was built in 1978 by Ford's Special Order Department for law enforcement duty purposes. They could be fitted with either a 3.3L inline-six engine, or the potent 302 V8s.
Fairmonts in Mexico
The Ford Fairmont was introduced in Mexico in late 1977 as a 1978 model, replacing the Ford Maverick that was produced there locally. The Mexican Fairmont was available exclusively with the 5.0 L engine (302) with manual and 3-speed automatic transmissions. It was offered as two and four door sedans and a wagon. The Futura coupe with its distinctive Thunderbird-styled roofline was never offered in the country. Instead there was an uplevel 2-door sedan called the Fairmont Elite. It was distinguished from other Fairmonts by its higher level of equipment and vinyl roof. It used the four headlight grille from the Fairmont Futura along with Mercury Zephyr taillamps and rear quarter window louvers.
For 1981, all versions of the Fairmont got four headlights. The regular Fairmont continued to use the Futura grille while the Fairmont Elite used the Mercury Zephyr grille.
In 1982 the Fairmont Elite line disappeared and was replaced by the new Ford Elite II, which was offered in two and four door sedans. It used the entire front end of the American Ford Granada as well as the matching rear bumper. The regular Fairmonts adapted the Mercury Zephyr grille which was used on the previous Elite.
For 1983, the Fairmont received a new V6 3.8 L engine which was sold in addition to the existing V8. This was the last year of the Fairmont as it was replaced later by the Ford Topaz which was a hybrid assembly of the Mercury Topaz with a Ford Tempo front end. The Ford Elite II swapped its Granada grille for the one used on the Mercury Cougar sedan.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ford Fairmont (North America).|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mercury Zephyr.|
- http://www.automobile-catalog.com/make/mercury/zephyr_1977/zephyr_1977/1980.html 1980 MERCURY ZEPHYR Z-7 SPORTS COUPE 140ci data in automobile-catalog.com
- http://www.automobile-catalog.com/make/mercury/zephyr_1977/zephyr_1977/1980.html 1980 MERCURY ZEPHYR Z-7 SPORTS COUPE 255-V-8 data in automobile-catalog.com
- Hogg, Tony (ed.). "1981 Buyer's Guide". Road & Track's Road Test Annual & Buyer's Guide 1981 (January–February 1981): 98.
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