$1,200 V6 Sport: 1992 Ford Tempo GLS

A sporty Tempo seems like sort of an oxymoron, like jumbo shrimp, but that’s exactly what this 1992 Ford Tempo GLS was intended to be. Sporty, I mean, not an oxymoron. This one can be found on Craigslist or here on the CL archive and it’s located in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The seller is asking $1,200 or they’re “Willing to trade for 5 speed Coupe or Hatchback.” It doesn’t get much cheaper than $1,200 and we instantly know that this car has an automatic transmission.

Ford renamed their Tempo Sport GL model the Tempo GLS and it basically included a monochrome paint scheme, a rear spoiler, a tighter suspension, and, for 1992, the new Vulcan V6 as the standard engine. In 1993 the Tempo GLS was gone.

This car was looking great until this photo. Hopefully the RF bumper can be fixed without blowing the budget. Most Barn Finds readers probably do their own body work and paint so this fix shouldn’t be a deal killer on this Tempo GLS. 1992 was the last year for this model and unfortunately it isn’t a manual transmission car. Eventually, once most vehicles are old enough to be collectible, it’ll be the milestone cars that are collectible – the first and last year made, etc. I would rather have an AWD Tempo with a 5-speed than a two-door sport Tempo with an automatic but that’s just me.

I’m not sure if that’s an aftermarket heated seat or a massage pad thingy but in either case it shouldn’t be there for the photos. The interior looks good otherwise, other than maybe just needing a good cleaning which you would do anyway.

Here’s that 3.0L Vulcan V6 which would have had around 135 hp. The seller mentions that this car is “good on gas, reliable and in good shape for it’s age.” Other than that front bumper it looks good to me and it’s darn near the most interesting car – actual usable, drivable car – that a person can get for $1,200. Have you run across another interesting, fully-usable, daily-driver-quality $1,200 car that looks as rust-free and good as this 1992 Tempo GLS does?


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  1. Will

    My wife drove a 93 tempo when we met. It was her first new car. She totaled it. She rolled it in a single vehicle accident on an interstate with no other cars around her. I have never figured out how it happened. That was about 25 years ago. A couple of days ago we were talking about finding an old Tempo for her to transport Grand kids. To bad this one is to far or I would snap it up. It is the perfect “Granny” car for my Wife.

    • Fred w.

      When we met, my wife drove an ’89 4 door Tempo that she bought new. We ran the car for a few years with zero issues, but I got concerned about how much further it would go and traded it off. The owner claims this car has 55K original miles, but the title says 150K (he says due to a DMV error). In person, it would be easy to figure out which is true.

      • dweezilaz

        Look at the worn carpet and driver’s seat near the back rest. That’s not 55,000 miles.

        Even in the 80s that velour fabric wore like iron. There is a lot of wear on what can be seen of that seat.

        It is clean though.

      • Cory Stigall

        I have the car fax to back it up of you care to see.

        Like 1
  2. CanuckCarGuy

    My first new car was an ’88 Tempo coupe…5 speed. For what it was intended for it was a decent car, although it went through fuel pumps like crazy. Ford eventually refunded owners partial out of pocket expenses, for any out of warranty replacements.

    • Paul

      I had a 1987 4 door Tempo with the 5 speed. Passengers would presume it was an automatic until I started shifting….unfortunately I was rear ended at a traffic light in 1996 and that was the end of the Tempo.

  3. Rube Goldberg Member

    A Tempo “Sport” ( whistles), who was “sportin” that kind of cash in 1992? I had a car like this, was one of the many couple hundred dollar beaters I’ve had over the years. 4 cylinder, a pretty lackluster car, WAY behind the Asians in quality, but it worked, until my ex-wife boiled all the coolant out of it one night trying to get home, and sent it to the Promised Land.

  4. Superdessucke

    My brother had a 1986 Tempo. I don’t recall how many miles he put on it but it was a lot. He had to junk it not because it stopped running but because the seats literally rusted through the floor!

    I also had a girlfriend with a light blue one. I think it was a 1990 or 1991. I would bet that 50% of the men in America have had a girlfriend with a Tempo at one time or other. She traded it in on a new 2002 Civic.

    These had kind of a weird life cycle. One day they were everywhere the next day they were nowhere.

    • Fred w.

      No unattached guy at the time would have been caught dead with one!

      • Steve

        Fred, I daily drive a rough 93 that looks similar. Do you think this could be reason women look at me like the kid in art class that ate paste????? Heck all this time I thought it was my bad breath holding me back!!!!!

  5. JammerX19

    The AWD Tempo was an awful piece of crap. My ’89 would go like mad in the snow during the winter but every spring you’d be replacing universal joints in those rear shafts, and if you didn’t do that soon enough, you’d also be replacing the oddball double wheel bearings used in the rear wheels.

  6. jdjonesdr

    Don’t see too many two doors. I’d drop it an inch and paint it black and put some nicer rims on it.
    All show, no go.

    • DonK


  7. Ty'Eira Marie Morrison

    Funny… I’m actually Facebook friends with the guy selling it, and remember when he bought it

  8. KSwheatfarmer

    Had a 4 door Topaz with the 5 speed. Fun little car to drive,very reliable just not big enough for maw and pa and 3 munchkins.

  9. MH

    Looks like junk. I also dont care for the sticker in the back window.

  10. Rock On

    I had a 4 door Tempo 5 speed in the mid eighties for a demo when I sold these cars new. A coworker of mine taught me how to shift gears in it without using the clutch. Always wondered how the next owner made out with it.

  11. Whippeteer

    Too bad it’s on the other side of the state. It would make a good daily/winter rat.

  12. Whippeteer

    The stitching on the side bolster of the driver’s seat is coming apart.

  13. grant

    Everyone hates these cars, but like the Escort they were actually pretty robust. With that said, (rolls up newspaper, swats Scotty on the rump) NO! NO! NOOOOOO!

  14. Jack M.

    Yesterday we weren’t buying the car because it had the wrong rad cap. Today we aren’t buying the car because it has a sticker in the back window. Pretty tough crowd, or you all drive impeccably perfect cars.

  15. Madmatt

    When I met my wife 20 years ago,she was driving a 93 Tempo,
    that didn’t have a single straight panel on it,broken windshield
    crushed passenger door,and filled with trash…!,the poor thing
    was only about 5-6 years old…!Well, the first thing I did was
    take my die grinder and cut a slot in right side door..to get it open..lol
    That car lasted us for about 5+ more years,and had almost 300,000 mi
    on it,If clutch hadn’t wore out it would’ve still been going,even though
    Rust was becoming a big problem.What a great car that was for us…
    our 18 year old came home from hospital when he was born,….in it.
    Man that poor car took a lot of abuse..!

    • Steve

      Damn. Your wife must have had a hell of a delivery. 😬

  16. Daniel wright

    Tempos were cheap throw away cars..we had two in my family both bought used and tired. Both took vast amounts of abuse after we bought them. My brother in law loved shifting without using the clutch and not gently…this one being AWD should be preserved for the rare care that it is.

    • Whippeteer

      I don’t see any mention of being AWD.

  17. Nova Scotian


  18. MoparMatt

    Its no Plymouth Acclaim. . .

  19. BOP Guy Member

    My Dad, having an always changing group of low mileage cars, bought a four cylinder 5 speed in 1986, probably one year old. When I graduated high school, my best friend and I decided to take a road trip: Sacramento to Canada, across Canada into Minnesota, off to the northeast, down the east coast, some time in Florida, and across the south to San Diego for a week at the beach. Then back home. Took the whole three months, camped in campgrounds the entire time, and seeing America. That Ford Tempo was tough as nails, never failed us. Never knew they made a 6 cylinder. Were those engines reliable? I’m tempted to buy it for a daily driver. What do you guys think?

    • daniel wright

      The Ford 3.0 Vulcan engine was better then some of the cars they put it in. I have had two Taurus with that motor. I drove one a few hundred miles with a misfire in two cylinders and it still got me home.

  20. Sembilan

    My father bought an 86 4 cylinder Tempo with 3 speed auto from Enterprise Car Rental Sales.

    A buddy and I took it out on the section of 287 in NJ between Pasippany and Montville, where the highway ended due to legal fights at the time.

    So at midnight, there are not many (any) cars on that section of highway. Perfect to test top end and a common strip kids would drag.

    As we entered the road an 88 Trans Am was on our tail. It was on!

    Foot to the floor, the car reached about 90, and was confused, down shifting between 2nd and 3rd, tacking out rpms each shift down and back.

    The Trans Am kept accelerating, coasting behind, then accelerating ahead again, basically saying “wanna go?”

    The road ended at an awkward lane drop and right turn at a light. The Trans Am pulled up in the oncoming lane and rolled down the window.

    He said “Dude, what was that? You wanna go, back the other way?”

    I responded “Dude, we *were* going and that’s all I got!” We both laughed real hard.

    I never been so embarrassed by a car in my life. My sister, whom I shared this high school commuter with, and I named it “Birth Control”. Be seen in that car and you’re not getting laid.

    • Cory Stigall

      You should be embarrassed for trying to out race a Trans Am in a 2.3 liter 4 cylinder. How fast did you expect it to go. The car itself it’s at fault for your embarrassment

  21. Mimo

    Everybody had or knew someone who had a Tempo or A Topaz. The scary thing is they sold millions and I see a handful a year..Southern Ontario. They are almost as scarce as Pony’s.

  22. jonnyA

    “I would rather have an AWD Tempo with a 5-speed than a two-door sport Tempo with an automatic….”
    Id rather have none of them. My dad had a 1991 GL sedan and I HATED it. I’d intentionally rev it to redline every chance I got, would pop over curbs, and generally drive it like I stole it. No matter how hard I tried, it kept coming back for more. And more. And more. He finally sold it after my mom, brother, and I brow beat him to death over buying that car.
    I was 16 at the time BTW.

    • Will

      Yep. That is how my Children treatef my Crown vic. 16 year olds suck.

  23. Cory Stigall

    I was so honored when all my car groups tagged me in post that my car was featured in Barn Finds. I loved the review and the honest opinion of the writer. As for all of the negative comments that my car is crap and especially the one regarding my equality sticker…no one needs your negativity. Also, to the writer, here is a better picture of my interior. I believe I’ve even decided to keep the car.

    • BOP Guy Member

      Cory, it’s a solid car. Don’t pay attention to the haters that type before they think. And keep the sticker in the window!! Be proud and strong 💪

  24. David Miraglia

    worst car I ever owned. Drop it in the trash compactor

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Ok, I’ll come back with my 1986 Sport 5-speed was one of the best I’ve ever owned. Bullet-proof, comfortable and dare I say stylish for the time. It was our first new car, and I will always remember him (he was named “Leopold”…can you guess why?) fondly.

  25. Steve

    My first car was a 71 el camino and when i started going to jr. College (1990) i worked part time as well and lived at home. This meant i had to drive around 60 miles round trip. I didnt want to sell the EC so i bought a guys escort projects and made one car out of two. It got good mileage but was too weak so when i came across a red 86 tempo (GL?) 2dr. with a five speed, i sold the escort to my older brother (to save wear on his 87 monte carlo ss aerocoupe) for the same $800 as the tempo (dirty trick, huh?) Later i hit a deer with it and needed a header panel headlights and fender. Found another 86 2 dr white 5 spd. (GLX i think, it had aluminum wheels) with a bad engine (ran it out of coolant) for $200. Swapped the parts i needed and wheels onto the red car. Later found a wrecked 87 or 88 in the wrecking yard with a good front clip and engine. Still had the white glx so i bought the parts i needed for $300, fixed it and sold the red one to my cousin for $500. She put over 200k on it when the clutch went out. They sold it for scrap. I think it was also burning oil at a pretty good rate by that time. I sold the white one around 97 when i bought some land and needed a pickup. I got $1800 for it! OK to be honest, i got so much because of the alpine stereo (CD player!) , rockford fosgate amps and cerwin vega speakers. I got it all used as i worked at a stereo repair shop by that time.

    • Steve

      Btw, i didnt have any trouble with the ladies at the time. Even had a live in gf (cute, 5 ft tall 100 lbs small up top but nice caboose) while driving one . They liked that it was clean, fairly new, had ac and didnt break down. Due to no car payment, i could afford to take them out and show them a good time (which resulted in me having a good time later, if you catch my drift.) i guess it depends on what kind of girls you are trying to attract. I generally went after the “mid level” ladies, cute, not necessarily gorgeous, not high maintenance. Too much drama from the ones who thought they were “all that”. 😁

  26. Bryce

    Put in an eagle 5.7 crate hemi from mopar

  27. Karyn

    My mom bought one of these, brand new. It was our family’s only car for years. My brother driver it when he turned 18. Then, it became mine, when I turned 18.

    Granted, mine was a manual. I LOVED this car. I mean really loved it. I cried like a baby when I had to let her go.

    But, let me tell you, was it ever fun to drive. That thing would stick to the road like glue.

    And, man, did I love the reactions.

    “There is no such thing as a V6 Tempo.” *Opens hood* “Holy s***!”

    “Why would you modify a Tempo?” “I didn’t. It’s stock.” “Whaaat?”

    She never stopped running. Had to have the transmission rebuilt. Two kids learning to drive stick on it, and one of them (my brother) was especially hard on it.

    I think it’s charm was how unexpected everything about it was. It was a rare version of the Tempo. No one really new about it unless they owned one, or knew someone who did.

    Sadly, after an accident, the frame had been slightly bent. Over the years, the doors pulled away and let rain water soak into the floor boards. They rusted away, and, at the time, I couldn’t afford the cost of the repair. (It’s a uni-body car. You can’t just replace the floor boards.)

    If I had the money then, I would have sunk every last dime into it, and it would’ve been worth it.

    Anyways. That’s my Tempo story.

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