Ford Fairmont

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Ford Fairmont
Ford Fairmont sedan 2.jpg
1978-1980 Ford Fairmont four-door sedan
Manufacturer Ford Motor Company
Also called Mercury Zephyr
Ford Elite II (Mexico)
Ford Zephyr (Venezuela)
Production 1977–1983
Model years 1978-1983
Assembly Claycomo, Missouri
Mahwah, New Jersey
St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada
Valencia, Carabobo, Venezuela, Mexico (La Villa Assembly Plant)
Body and chassis
Class Compact
Body style 2-door coupe
2-door sedan
4-door sedan
4-door station wagon
Layout FR layout
Platform Ford Fox platform
Related Mercury Zephyr
Ford Durango
Engine 140 cubic inches (2.3 L) OHC I4
140 cubic inches (2.3 L) OHC I4 Turbo
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
Transmission 3-speed manual transmission
4-speed manual
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)
Width 71.0 in (1,800 mm)
Curb weight 2,747–2,959 pounds (1,246–1,342 kg)[1][2]
Predecessor Ford Maverick
Mercury Comet
Successor Ford Tempo / Mercury Topaz

The Ford Fairmont is a compact car which was produced by Ford for the North American market in the 1978 to 1983 model years.[3] Introduced as the successor to the Ford Maverick, the Fairmont was also sold by Lincoln-Mercury dealers as the Mercury Zephyr, replacing 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 and Zephyr include the 1979–1993 Ford Mustang, 1979–1986 Mercury Capri, 1980–1988 Ford Thunderbird, 1980-1988 Mercury Cougar, 1981–1982 Ford Granada, 1982–1987 Lincoln Continental, 1983-1986 Ford LTD, 1983-1986 Mercury Marquis, 1984-1985 Continental Mark VII and the 1986-1992 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[citation needed]. 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.

Design History[edit]

1980 Ford Fairmont Futura
Ford Fairmont Futura, Front 3/4
Ford Fairmont 2-door sedan, profile view

Launched in August 1977 as a 1978 model,[4] the Ford Fairmont and Mercury Zephyr were released in three body styles: a two-door notchback sedan, four-door sedan, and a five-door station wagon. In contrast to its Ford Maverick predecessor, the Ford Fairmont was nearly 200 pounds lighter; although exterior length and width nearly match the four-door Maverick, the 105.5-inch wheelbase of the Fairmont is closer in length to the two-door Maverick.

During the 1978 model year, Ford introduced a coupe version of the Fairmont. Named the Ford Fairmont Futura (after a sporty trim level of the 1961-1969 Ford Falcon), the Futura was distinguished by a model-specific roofline. Similar to the 1977-1979 Ford Thunderbird, the roofline of the Futura used a forward-slanted "wrapover" B-pillar in a contemporary version of the 1955 Ford Crown Victoria (though lacking the opera windows of the Thunderbird). To distinguish the Futura from a standard Fairmont, the coupe was fitted with a 4-headlight fascia (shared with Mercury) and a model-specific grille; in place of the standard eggcrate grille, the Futura was fitted with a cross-hatched grille.

For the 1980 model year, the Fairmont model line was revised, as the Fairmont Futura nameplate was expanded to four-door sedans, adding its model-specific front fascia. 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.[5] The Futura trim was expanded further, introduced for the station wagon body style.

For 1982, as Ford sought to better accommodate the redesign of the Ford Granada, the Ford Fairmont model line saw a consolidation, with the Futura becoming the sole trim level. While both two-doors and the four-door sedan body style remained, the Fairmont station wagon was shifted to the Granada model line.


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.


As the launch vehicles of the Ford Fox platform, the Ford Fairmont and Mercury Zephyr were equipped with several different engines throughout their production, including four, six, and eight-cylinder engines. Although no engines were designed specifically for the two model lines, the Fairmont and Zephyr adopted engines from a wide range of vehicles, from the Ford Pinto to the full-size Ford LTD.

The 2.3L OHC "Lima" inline-4 (introduced on the Pinto) was the base engine, paired with either a four-speed manual or a 3-speed automatic. For 1980, a low-boost turbocharged version of the engine was introduced, raising output to 120 hp; shared with the Mustang Cobra, the turbocharged engine was offered in Fairmont/Zephyr sedans and coupes.

As an optional engine, the Fairmont/Zephyr offered 3.3L Falcon Six inline-six. A carryover from the Granada/Maverick, the engine offered similar horsepower to the four-cylinder, though with significantly higher torque output. For 1978, the engine was offered with a 3-speed manual transmission (one of the last Ford vehicles to do so in North America), with a 4-speed manual and 3-speed automatic as options. For 1979, the 4-speed manual became the standard transmission offering.

Shared with the Ford LTD II and full-size Ford LTD, the Fairmont/Zephyr was launched with a Windsor V8 as its top engine offering. For 1978 to 1979, the 139hp 302 cubic-inch V8 was offered; for 1980, the 302 was downsized to 255 cubic inches and reduced to 115 hp for 1981. For 1982, the V8 engine was discontinued for the Falcon and Zephyr.

Engine Production Configuration Carburetion Output
Ford 2.3 OHC I4 1978-1983 2.3 L (140 cu in) SOHC I4 2-barrel[6][7][8] 1978-1981

88hp @ 4800RPM[6]

118lb-ft @ 2800RPM[6]


86hp @ 4600RPM[7]

117 lb-ft @ 2600RPM[7]

92hp @ 4600RPM[8]

119 lb-ft @ 4600 RPM[8]

1980 2.3 L (140 cu in) turbocharged SOHC I4 2-barrel[9] 120hp @ 5400RPM[9]

145 lb-ft @ 3000RPM[9]

Ford Falcon 200 Six 1978-1983 3.3 L (200 cu in) OHV I6 1-barrel[10] 1978-1979

85hp @ 3600RPM[10]

154 lb-ft @ 1600RPM[10]


91hp @ 3800RPM[11]

160 lb-ft @ 1600RPM[11]

Ford Windsor V8 1980-1981 4.2 L (255 cu in) OHV V8 2-barrel[12][13] 1980

119hp @3800RPM[12]

194 lb-ft @ 2200 RPM[12]


115hp @ 3400RPM[13]

195 lb-ft @ 2200RPM[13]

1978-1979 4.9 L (302 cu in) OHV V8 2-barrel[14] 139hp @ 3600RPM[14]

250 lb-ft @ 1600RPM[14]

Mercury Zephyr[edit]

Mercury Zephyr 2-door sedan
Mercury Zephyr station wagon

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 larger Cougar XR7 based on the Fox platform shared with the smaller 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 1982, both the 4.2L and 5.0L V8 engines were discontinued.

Zephyr Z-7[edit]

Mercury Zephyr Z-7 2-Door Sport Coupe, showing rear roofline

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.


Ford Durango[edit]

Side view of 1981 Ford Durango

The Ford Durango was 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 two-door, two-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 200 are estimated to have been produced.

Police use[edit]

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 a 302 V8. A few turbo four-door automatic sedans were used for testing by the California Highway Patrol.[citation needed]

Fairmonts in Mexico[edit]

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 three-speed automatic transmissions. It was offered as a two- or four-door sedan and a wagon. The Futura coupe with its distinctive Thunderbird-style roofline was never offered in Mexico. Instead there was an uplevel two-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 the Mercury Zephyr's 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 was renamed Ford Elite II, which was offered in both two- and four-door sedans. It used the entire front end of the North American 1982 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 1982 Mercury Cougar sedan.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-24. Retrieved 2014-06-21.  1980 MERCURY ZEPHYR Z-7 SPORTS COUPE 140ci data in
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-24. Retrieved 2014-06-21.  1980 MERCURY ZEPHYR Z-7 SPORTS COUPE 255-V-8 data in
  3. ^ "Ford (USA) Fairmont data catalogue". Retrieved 2018-06-17. 
  4. ^ "Stuart's Ford Fairmont Futura and Mercury Zephyr Z-7 Website | Factory Press Photos". 
  5. ^ Hogg, Tony (ed.). "1981 Buyer's Guide". Road & Track's Road Test Annual & Buyer's Guide 1981 (January–February 1981): 98. 
  6. ^ a b c "Detailed specs review of 1978 Ford Fairmont Futura Sports Coupe 2.3L automatic offered since December 1977 for North America U.S." Retrieved 2017-12-16. 
  7. ^ a b c "Detailed specs review of 1982 Ford Fairmont Futura Sports Coupe 2.3L offered since September 1981 for North America U.S." Retrieved 2017-12-16. 
  8. ^ a b c "Detailed specs review of 1982 Ford Fairmont Futura Sports Coupe 2.3L automatic (a/c opt.) offered since September 1981 for North America U.S." Retrieved 2017-12-16. 
  9. ^ a b c "Detailed specs review of 1980 Ford Fairmont Futura Sports Coupe 2.3L Turbo automatic offered since November 1979 for North America U.S." Retrieved 2017-12-16. 
  10. ^ a b c "Detailed specs review of 1978 Ford Fairmont Futura Sports Coupe 3.3L offered since December 1977 for North America U.S." Retrieved 2017-12-16. 
  11. ^ a b "Detailed specs review of 1980 Ford Fairmont Futura Sports Coupe 3.3L automatic offered since October 1979 for North America U.S." Retrieved 2017-12-16. 
  12. ^ a b c "Detailed specs review of 1980 Ford Fairmont Futura Sports Coupe 4.2L V-8 automatic offered since October 1979 for North America U.S." Retrieved 2017-12-16. 
  13. ^ a b c "Detailed specs review of 1981 Ford Fairmont Futura Sports Coupe 4.2L V-8 automatic offered since October 1980 for North America U.S." Retrieved 2017-12-16. 
  14. ^ a b c "Detailed specs review of 1978 Ford Fairmont Futura Sports Coupe 5.0L V-8 automatic offered since December 1977 for North America U.S." Retrieved 2017-12-16. 

External links[edit]