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1978-1980 Ford Fairmont four-door sedan
Mahwah, New Jersey
St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada
Valencia, Carabobo, Venezuela
|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 most closely related to the Fairmont included the 1980–1982 Ford Thunderbird, the 1981–1982 Ford Granada, the 1980-1982 Mercury Cougar, the 1979–1993 Ford Mustang (and 1979–1986 Mercury Capri), and the 1982–1987 Lincoln Continental.
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. In an unusual move, the rear door of the station wagon was changed from a traditional tailgate to a hatchback-style single-piece liftgate. During the 1978 model year, Ford introduced a coupe version of the Fairmont. Borrowing the Futura name from the 1961-1963 Ford Falcon, the Fairmont coupe wore a separate roofline from the two-door sedan. Borrowing heavily from roofline of the 1977 Ford Thunderbird, the Fairmont Futura was also inspired by the 1955 Ford Crown Victoria. While sharing the grille of standard Fairmonts, the Futura coupe shared the four-headlight fascia given to Mercury Zephyrs.
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. Later in 1981, to increase parts commonality, all Fairmonts were switched to the four-headlight fascia. Additionally, as the higher-priced Granada was switched onto the Fox platform, 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. To expand the model line, the Futura now was an optional trim on four-door models.
The front fascia of the Fairmont differed from that of the Mercury Zephyr at the time of introduction. While the Zephyr always had four headlights, the Fairmont was originally designed with two (with the exception of the plusher Futura coupe). As part of a minor facelift during the 1981 model year, the entire Fairmont lineup received the four headlight treatment as well.
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. The Granada and Cougar lines were given a mid-cycle refresh, while the Granada nameplate itself was discontinued. In its place, the mid-size Fox platform adopted the LTD, Mercury Marquis, and Lincoln Continental nameplates from the full-size car line. In addition, Ford would gradually phase the Fox platform out of production in favor of front-wheel drive models. 1983 would be the last year for the Fairmont/Zephyr; as they were ending production, they were the only models in the 1983 Ford line not to carry the Ford Blue Oval, which had begun making its return in 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 Mustang SVO 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 design. After 1981, both Fairmonts and Zephyrs wore four headilights. As with the Marquis/Grand Marquis, the Zephyr was fitted with (non-functional) front fender vents; for the suspension, 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
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 a standard coupe and four-door (to replace the 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 limited production, uniquely styled 2-door Zephyr coupe named the Z-7. Its Ford counterpart was the Ford Fairmont Futura coupe.
A two-door coupe featuring a roofline inspired by the 1977-1979 Ford Thunderbird (and somewhat by the original 1955 Crown Victoria), the Z-7 also 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-7s 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.
|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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