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Ford Fairmont

The Ford Fairmont debuted in a mid-1970s America that was eagerly seeking a rationally sized family sedan. With the fuel crisis and tightening emissions standards, GM, Ford, and Chrysler were stuck with their mastodon-sized sedans while customers clamored for something smaller.

Given that background, perhaps we can forgive Car & Driver for dubbing the Fairmont "the American Volvo" when it debuted in the late 1970s--an assertion that history has proven to be well wide of the mark.

Actually, the Fairmont was just like a contemporary Volvo 240--except without Volvo's incredible safety record, metronomic reliability, or rock-ribbed safety quality. In terms of boxy styling and a wheezing lack of athleticism, on the other hand, the Fairmont and 240 were near-identical twins.

In all fairness, the Fairmont was a good step forward for Ford, but Chevrolet quickly eclipsed the Fairmont with its excellent, near-revolutionary downsized Impala and Malibu sedans.

As was the custom, Mercury had its own, entirely extraneous Fairmont clone--the Zephyr--which added to the range an ersatz "sports coupe" version that perfectly captured the wildly overstyled 1970s.

I'm passionate about the Fairmont, but I'm not entirely sure in which direction that passion lies. It's certainly an easy car to make fun of--to be sure, history has not been kind to the Fairmont. However, the Fairmont was a genuinely innovative car in its time--a fact reflected by the fact that its basic platform was used for many other Fords, including the Mustang--and there's something about its honest, square-jawed lines that I like.

Stuart, who maintains Stuart's Ford Fairmont Futura and Mercury Zephyr Z7 Website, certainly didn't need to go through those mental gymnastics--he's a dyed-in-the-wool Fairmont nut who has owned multiple Fairmonts and has photos of what must be every Fairmont promotional item, postcard, and brochure ever produced. Thanks to him for the photos. Oh, and Stuart? Keep the faith.


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I briefly owned a 1978 Fairmont in the late '80s that I bought from my brother-in-law. It was indeed truly wretched but at the time I was truly broke.

The original owner bought the car -- with the stock 4-cyl. (YES!) and four-on-the-floor -- for his wife to run errands and the like. She hated the engine and the tranny so he had both replaced. It was retrofitted with an inline six and an automatic. It was still awful but pretty fast, even though the suspension wasn't really happy with the extra weight of the larger engine. And of course you had to use the parking brake all the time because "park" apparently was a suggestion; it worked more like "neutral."

Other than that I felt like Johnny Cash in "One Piece at a Time." What an awful car.

I'm currently on my second fairmont coupe, a clean burgundy 83 model. My first was a horrific lime gren w/ white top 78 that I believed to be a very very mature mans car, that my not very mature fordanatic brother loaned me as my import was being serviced. Although my co-workers hounded me about a young man driving a mature mans car, I could see the light at the end and the future was definitely going to be BRIGHT. Key points of interest, will be a properly sorted and lowered suspension, k-member, upgraded brakes and interior with a modestly built 302 bullet. After a 2 year wait to find a cleaner fairmont, this 83 was found by a friend who didnt like it. What's that? Another mans lost is another mans treasure, why yes I do agree. A clean rust free cruiser, wonderful canyon carver with enuff octane to keep them guessing at the stoplight grandprix. All done in my very mature and sedate looking fairmont 83 coupe.

I find the Ford Fairmont/Mercury Zepher to be the nicest looking car of its time. It's better looking than the Volvo 240. It's too bad it had to be replaced by (on my opinion) the ugly Ford Tempo/Mercury Topaz. The Taurus/Sable would've made a better replacement. It's similar in size and even better looking. I know of someone who owned a nice example. It's too bad they don't have it anymore. I would've bought it and fixed it up.

I owned a 78 Ford Fairmont with factory 302 and C-4 tranny. Was not slow by any means, but handling left a LOT to be desired. When you cornered at high speeds the rear end wanted to catch up with the front (nearly smashed it up coming around a sharp corner once).

If you have a particular affection for the Fairmont, new suspension bushings and joints, swaybars, performance shocks, wider rims, and modern tires will transform the handling. If you want something unique that will set the guys at the local cruise to drooling, ship in the Australian version of the Ford 250" small six: Fuel injection, 4-valve aluminum head, beefed up bottom end, performs like a semi-built 302, but it's light for good handling, and it gets excellent fuel economy. Now THAT would be a Fairmont to lust for!!!

My best friend in high school had a 1980 Fairmont Futura Turbo Coupe. White with red "strobe" stripes running over the B pillar and down the back. Like the opposite of Starsky and Hutch's Torino.
It had SO much turbo lag. From a standing start it was pathetic You could do a better burnout in a Mercedes Benz 240D. but once the little green "turbo" light on the left side of the dash came on and the turbocharger got spinning it would accelerate well. And it handled REAL well. Better than any other Fox body I've ever ridden in.

I have to take exception to the authors asertion that the F/Z was eclipsed by "near-revolutionary" Impala and Malibu...huh? While these body and frame cars where quieter, the Fairmont chassis was lighterand more adaptable. Fox body Mustangs and T-birds were leagues ahead of GM in terms handling and space efficiency.

I have a 1980 Fairmont that I bought for $300 5 years 7 years ago, and built into a respectable autoX car...complete with 390hp 302 and Cobra brakes. Inexpensive cars when new, are the last of the best of Detroit: RWD, lightweight that can go with a Turbo 4 or a big block, drag race, or road race.

I ordered my 1982 Fairmont Futura from the factory with every option listed in the brochure, but the biggest motor was a 3.3L six. When the motor started to give me trouble out it came and I installed a 1971 Boss 350hp V8 in it with an AOD automatic transmission. Everything bolted in directly except I had to get a rear sump oil pan for the motor. I found that most of the drive train would interchange with Mustangs, T-Birds, and Cougars which made it easy to put in an 8.8 inch rear out of a GT Mustang for better performance. I have currently 200,000 miles on the body and 98,000 miles on the engine swap.
The car does the 1/4 mile in the 13.80s and still gets 22 miles per gallon on the highway. This is a realy exciting car to drive now, because not many people remember this car because of its limited production. I am always asked "Who made the Fairmont?"

considering to pick up 1979 Mercury Zephyr with 6 cyl auto.
Clean, minimal rust with 59k miles .BUT WHERE DO YOU PICK up parts?
are there any clubs out there ?. will only put on a couple thousand miles in small town/year. new cars are mind buggling to repair in addition to Xpense(no annual inspections in Quebec). insurance would be cheap. lots of experience in repairing cars. no hot rodding please, no thanks
help anyone?

There was an old farmer who lived around Woodward, Ok that had a fetish for Ford Fairmonts. He also had a lot of oil money. Combine those two facts and you end up with a big barn with an estimated 100 Ford Fairmonts. Each was outfitted with a full set of tools in the trunk. To my knowledge they are all still there, the son owns them now.

i bought an 81 Ford Fairmont sedan from my cousin for $250. it has a 255 windsor v8 with an automatic. it is a very nice car. drives great handles well and is very reliable although not very attractive. it does great in the mud. but it is so slow. those 80s v8s were so choked down it only has 120hp. it sounds good. sounds like its goin fast but it does 0-60 in longer than 10 seconds

email is
Hooker will send you the instructions sheet of parts etc.
If you set the front end at the right height and set toe
out instead of toe in it will turn the inside tire in enough
to make a big block feel lite.
Remove the upper control arms and make a torque arm/panhard
bar rear suspension - it will bite politely instead of spin
and corner LOTS better.
LTD nose - the radar cop said after writing Buick Regal on
the ticket-and having to scratch it off - geez it looks just
like a Regal! Reply Yeah, I hear that all the time.....
Battery on the rear axle hump(front of the trunk,out of the way)

I have never had such enjoyment from a car - nearly 20 years

I have had my Fairmont Sport coupe for over 30 years. I am now looking to restore it, so I am looking for a good place in get parts.

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