Strange Survivor: 28k Mile 1992 Ford Tempo GL

Although labeling it as a classic might be stretching the friendship a bit, this 1992 Ford Tempo GL rates as something different right now, and has the potential to be something a bit special in years to come if it is cared for correctly. You will find the Tempo located in Canton, Georgia, and listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set a BIN of $5,990 for the Atlantic Blue Ford.

Okay, I’m happy to admit that this Tempo doesn’t fit the mold of a classic car, but it does manage to stand out. Why? Think about your day-to-day travels, and try to remember the last time that you saw a 1992 Tempo that was as clean as this one. I’ve talked in the past about how some cars have tended to be “disposable.” and the Tempo would have to be one of those cars. They were produced in significant numbers, their role was as mundane and basic transport for families, and when they had reached the end of their useful life, off they went to the scrap-yard. This Tempo has managed to avoid that fate, and with a mere 28,708 miles on its odometer, it should have plenty of life left in it yet. The Atlantic Blue paint looks really clean, and there are no obvious signs of dings or dents. The underside of the car looks spotlessly clean, while the original alloy wheels look to be free of staining and curb strike. So far then, things look to be pretty positive.

The interior of the Tempo looks to be in good condition, but the photos give the impression of discoloring where there actually isn’t any. There is some very minor wear on the driver’s seat, which is not that unusual. The rest of the interior trim is pretty impressive, with no signs of tears or stains anywhere. Equipment levels are also quite good for a family car from the 1990s. You get air conditioning, a six-way power driver’s seat, power windows, power locks, a power trunk release, cruise control, power mirrors, a tilt wheel, and a very nice AM/FM radio/cassette player.

Power for the Tempo comes from a 2.3-liter fuel-injected 4-cylinder engine, producing 96hp. This power is sent to the front wheels via a 3-speed automatic transmission, while power steering should remove any tendencies for torque-steer to find its way back to the steering wheel. The transmission is the biggest disappointment for me, as being a 3-speed, it would tend to strangle the car’s performance. A 5-speed manual was also available, and I suspect that this would provide a more enjoyable driving experience. The good news here is that with the low odometer reading, the Tempo is far from worn out, and the owner says that the car runs and drives well, and feels very tight on the road.

The Tempo isn’t a real classic at present, but it has the potential to be an interesting car in the future if it is well cared for. This one is priced higher than you would normally expect for a Tempo from this particular year. Its advantage, and thus its price, is due to the fact that not only is it a low-mileage example, but it is also nicely equipped. It will be interesting to see if anyone is interested in hitting the BIN button on the Tempo.


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  1. Arthell64 Member

    The Ford tempo help sell a lot of Honda’s and Toyota’s.

    Like 21
  2. KSwheatfarmer

    Had a 5-speed Topaz,one of the best cars I’ve ever owned.

    Like 27
    • Miguel

      The 5 sped made these cars just a little more tolerable.

      The automatic was awful.

      Like 4
      • Schmelinck Wardfordplough III

        Yes. My parents had the auto 4 door Topaz and and a friend had a 2 door Tempo coupe with a 5 speed around the same time. The 5 speed Tempo seemed like a totally different car. Not only did the the 5 speed feel faster but being able to disconnect that rattly unbalanced engine from the rest of drive train often was a big plus.

        Like 2
    • MarveH

      Hey, me too, it was a 1992 bought off the lot new. 5-speed, two door; never a problem, close to 40 MPG highway, and comfortable. It served me very well. I traded it for a Tracer LTS, much more fun with the Mazda 1.8 and 5-speed.

      Like 3
    • Steve Payne

      I knew a guy who had a 1993 5 speed with the 3.0L V6 out of the Taurus. That car would fly with the manual transmission and the V6!

      Like 1
  3. Cadmanls Member

    6K for a very boring used Tempo, really? What did I miss?

    Like 5
    • Miguel

      They probably didn’t get that much for it when the rental company sold it when it was 2 years old.

      Like 3
  4. Chebby Staff

    Have you ever driven one of these? They are pure automotive sadness. Cars for people who don’t like cars.

    Like 18
    • Superdessucke

      Had a girlfriend back in the day with this exact same car in this exact same color. You are absolutely correct. Even she hated it.

      Like 4
  5. Rex Kahrs Member

    We had a ’92 Taurus, and it was a great car.

    I recall when the Taurus came out (86?) it looked like a spaceship in those days. So rounded and weird looking, really out-there styling. Then maybe 10 years later I saw an original Taurus in the Ford Museum in Dearborn, and it seemed so normal to my eyes, even kinda “classic” in a way. Funny what time can do.

    Like 10
  6. JammerX19

    I had an ’89 AWD model. What a rolling turd that was! Oh, the AWD was fantastic in the winter, but if you dared use it even once, you were destined to have to replace the U-joints in the rear axles come spring time. And if you weren’t Johnny on the spot with that repair, you could expect to be replacing the rear wheel bearings as well, and wouldn’t you know they were double bearings that nobody ever had in stock.

    On top of that, the car practically ate electronic ignition modules. I must have put six in that car. And they’d blow at really inopportune moments like when you stop at the turnpike gate to get your ticket.

    Also fun was the time the heater core let go and somehow atomized coolant sprayed all through the car and wound up on the inside of the windows and it could not be scrubbed off. I used every window trick in the book but the windows were always slightly cloudy and slimy to the touch afterward.

    Finally, you could be guaranteed to have to do a brake job on that car every eight months or so. Seemed like I was buying those pads and rotors in bulk.

    Like 10
    • XMA0891

      Oh, the memories… I had that same heater core phenomenon occur with mine. Worse was that twice under hard acceleration, my Tempo out-and-out died – Very dangerous. I don’t remember the root-cause of that.

      Like 1
    • FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

      My ex had the Mercury equivalent, the “Mystique” or as I called it, the “Mistake.” What a piece of crap that was. Absolutely gutless with an automatic. The transmission went on it while we were coming back from our vacation and had to be totally rebuilt. Six months later, the engine let go. I put her into a turbo PT Cruiser that was a great car and lots of fun to drive.

      I wouldn’t want this Tempo for free.

      Like 1
      • Rixx56 Member

        The Merc version was a Topaz. The Mystique and Ford Contour came later.
        Not that anyone truly cares!!
        (Mistake & Detour)

      • Schmelinck Wardfordplough III

        The mercury equivalent was the Topaz, not the Mystique. The Mystique was a totally different car.

        Like 1
      • BobCh

        Mystique was later on the mercury was the Topaz

        Like 5
    • Fred W

      When I got married in ’90 I inherited an ’89 Tempo (knew better myself but the wife wasn’t too car savvy). A few years later I insisted we sell it, had no problems but wasn’t willing to take a chance with a Tempo over 75K miles or so. We moved over to Toyota / Honda and never looked back.

      Like 1
  7. Shermanator

    This looks exactly like our school’s old drivers’ ed car. Imagine packing five people in this, two who were linebackers for the football team, and trying to get up to highway speed. We ended up using a rental car a lot since the Tempo ended up spending so much time in the shop. I’d rather have a “classic” Pinto at this price.

    Like 1
    • Miguel

      This would be equal to a Maverick. The Escort took over for the Pinto, and in 1992 the Escort, at least the GT, was a really good car.

      Like 2
      • Shermanator

        True, but I wasn’t equating the Tempo to the Pinto, just stating my preference. The Escort GTs were nice when new.

  8. Joe

    If only it were a two door!

    Like 4
    • sir mike

      I have a 93 2dr since 95….the 2drs drive better that the 4drs for some reason.

  9. Shingo

    Any car with those abominable, motorized seat belts shouldn’t be remotely considered a “classic.”

    Like 5
    • Schmelinck Wardfordplough III

      How about a mint black wide body SHP Starion TSI…that’s a pretty nice car with motorized belts I’d call a classic

  10. brianashe

    A friend had one just like this in college. 4-cylinder and automatic. It was just as anemic as you’d imagine. (Bonus: bad belt squeal, so if you floored it, all you got was noise.) Every time we got in, someone would quote the line from the Beastie Boys song and say “Slow and low, that is the Tempo.” It wasn’t lower than stock, but it was definitely slow.

    Like 1
  11. Don Mikel

    I like this car as a economy driver.The only thing these Tempos lacked was and automatic overdrive transmission.

    Like 2
  12. Mark

    I like it. But then I bought a similarly colored Mercury Topaz in 2012 with 68,000 miles.

    Car fax report was clean 2 previous owners. Sold new in Dodge City Ks.

    Sat on the new car lot 9 months before being sold new

    Like 1
  13. CRMACH1

    Has the 7th seal of the apocalypse been open?? I never thought I would read a forum about a “classic” 4dr Tempo.

  14. Schmelinck Wardfordplough III

    Wow, so nice, what a total “P” magnet, if you know what I mean.

    And by “P”, I mean Parts…

  15. David R

    Earl Scheib blue.

    Like 1
  16. Schmelinck Wardfordplough III

    Wait…it’s got fuel injection and cruise? Hang on a minute now…

  17. Comet

    For whatever reason, I love these time capsule odd balls.

    Like 6
  18. BobCh

    I dont know Something about these I like. I had a 89 Topaz LTS and drove it for over 110K miles before trading it. Never had any problems with it. Yes $6K is high but you cant get much for that price.

    Like 2
  19. CCFisher

    Truly yawn-inducing. 1992 was the first year for the 3.0 V6, which could be had with a 5-speed. Pity the person who ordered this one didn’t go that route.

    Like 2
  20. Dave

    I resurrected one of these (1989 model) with 45k miles 5 years ago, and it would have never occurred to me to ask that crack pipe price or to even list it on BF. It only needed a sending unit, FPR, and battery nearly 10 years of sitting. But beyond that, these cars are dangerously sluggish, shaky, leak everything, hard to work on, engine/trans mounts and AC clutch made out of glass, and have no legroom. I’m 5ft10in and I had trouble getting in and out of it. It got 21mpg with a tailwind downhill after a full tune up. Within a few months of each other, and without warning, both front signal lights fell off on the interstate. Later, the lens fell off of one of the headlights at highway speed. My dad — the cheapest old man on the planet — took it over and still putters around in it, but he complains about it non-stop. This is a $1500 car tops.

    Like 2
  21. kevin

    Worked at Hertz when these were bread and butter rental cars. They were pretty reliable for all the abuse they got. On a few occasions would find one mixed with a Topaz, as in a Topaz grille, trunk, steering wheel was put on a Tempo at the factory. This was during the Ford “Quality is Job 1” mantra. Very boring cars though.

    Like 1
  22. art

    Had this exact color and year Tempo, as what we used to call them, a “State Crate”…State issued vehicle assigned to state employees. Boring perhaps and say what you will about style or lack there of, but I got more than 89K trouble free miles and 100% reliable service from that car before I was upgraded to a new Ford Taurus. No performance car but the seats were fairly comfortable. The one huge annoyance was the mouse track shoulder belts, what a pain. I believe that I was the sole state employee who hand washed and waxed my state car ! That lowly but reliable Tempo looked like new when I turned it in. . Brings back memories.

    Like 4
  23. Bobch

    Like I said I owned a dark blue lts and it looked exactly like a small lincoln continental

    Like 1
  24. RG in PDX

    Shame on Ford. How this one survived is beyond amazing.

    • gearjammer63

      Shame on Ford??? Really?? Respectfully, the Tempo/Topaz sisters were the right car at the right price for millions of buyers over a 10-year period. You must be a GM man. Did GM really do any better with their family of front-drive J-body cars that spanned all divisions, from Chevy Cavalier to (trying not to bray laughter here) Cadillac Cimmaron?!?
      Let’s get real; almost ALL car companies make bread-and-butter cars for the masses who just need a set of wheels. Why should Ford be any different? GM should have left Cadillac out of the J-car family. At least give Ford a little credit for not adding a Lincoln version to the Tempo/Topaz sisterhood.

      Like 3
      • BobCh

        You are right my 1989 Topaz was very good over 100K miles. But can you say Lincoln Versailles / Ford Granada?

        Like 2
  25. djkenny

    It’s a Tempo. Thanks hear aren’t good cars. They never were. They aren’t Now. $2000 would be really stretching it. It’s going to need Work. Just like all those much better cars over 25 years old with under 50k so many Lust over.

    With $6000, go buy a early 2000’s Camry with 28k.

  26. davew833

    Say what you will about the reliability and quality of these, I always thought the design was very stylish and sophisticated, especially compared to the previous incarnation of the Tempo. The first one I ever saw was silver, which was really sharp. I drove a new one of these for a few months in 1988 and don’t remember any problems with it, but it was new after all.

    Like 3
  27. Bakyrdhero

    I remember my aunt bought a brand new Topaz in 1991. I was a kid so I can’t speak for the cars reliability or drive ability, but as a passenger it felt like a stylish ride. It was a champagne color and fully loaded. The push button climate control seemed like a modern touch after Fords previous, basic, slide lever controls.

    Like 1
  28. CanuckCarGuy

    I bought a Tempo coupe new in ’88…5 speed manual, decently equipped. As a young buyer the cost of insurance in Ontario was a huge factor, and this was one of the least expensive vehicles for me to insure. It served me well, over 100K miles and only replaced a fuel pump under warranty. I’ve had far more issues with the vehicles purchased after my Tempo – whether they were Japanese, German or North American.

    Like 2
    • Paul Hudson

      Yes I’d agree. It was not state of the art but a good overall car. The one repair I remember was the alternator which was very expensive and ironically made by Mitsubishi.

  29. TempoNick

    Look closely at the seat belt and the seats. That does not look like a car with only 28,000 miles on it.

  30. Bakyrdhero

    Call me crazy, but I’m thinking a new for 1990, Tempo based Lincoln Zephyr with a light bar grill and wrap around tail lamp bar might have been a sharp vehicle for the money.

    Like 1
  31. gearjammer63

    In 1998 I bought a well-used ’92 Mercury Topaz GS that was white with a chrome luggage rack on the trunk lid and polycast turbine wheels (this is where I have to correct you, Mr. Clark; those aren’t alloy wheels on the Tempo featured here. They are polycast, which is a soft plastic casting on a plain steel rim).

    It was a nice car with the same interior as the Tempo featured here, but mine was a 5-speed. The 3-speed automatic was a terrible transmission. At 60 mph with the automatic, the tach would be at 3000 rpm, and with the 5-speed it would be 2000, which resulted in far greater fuel economy. I drove my Topaz to North Carolina three times from eastern Ontario and the car performed flawlessly, delivering 32 mpg, or 500 miles per tankful. Any problems I had with it I could fix myself ( alternator, cooling fan PFE sensor) and I’m not a mechanic.

    I also liked the more formal roofline of the Topaz, giving it a profile resembling that of a Taurus-based Continental.

    Here’s how Consumer Reports Used-car Guide described the Tempo/Topaz sisters: “The quintessential rental-fleet vehicle; an unexciting utilitarian sedan that does everything adequately, and nothing very well.”

    Doesn’t that pretty much describe the bread-and-butter cars of other car makers as well?

    Like 2
  32. Paul Hudson

    I had a 1989 Tempo Company car, 1986 tempo 5 Speed that I bought Cheaply @ $600 in 1998 and my sister in law had a new 1986 Mercury Topaz 4 Dr special addition of some sort called a cat black or something like that. It had Two Tone Blue and Silver Paint and a luggage rack on the trunk a nice upgraded interior and a 5 Speed. I thought they were all pretty reliable and the right size for the time. I think the 2 Door’s looked like a small T-bird of the same vintage. Maybe even more like a scaled down Mark VII, especially the roof line.

    Like 1
    • Bobch

      Well I thought my 89 topaz looked like a small 89 lincoln continental

      Like 1
      • Bakyrdhero

        The upright C Pillar design definitely suggested Lincoln, along with the tail lights and front light bar.

  33. George Mattar

    One of the best engines Ford ever used. Made in Mexico. Certainly more reliable and much easier to work on than the Eco Junk you fools buy in your $50,000 plus F 150. I work at a Ford dealer. Rhes3 engines are complicated garbage. I got my daughter a used 91 Tempo in 2000. She drove it all through high school and college. She slid off an icy road in like 2002. We fixed it ourselves with used parts. I changed the oil, oil filter and fuel filter religiously and the fuel filter was incredibly easy to replace on that car and she drove until she graduated college in 2007. I drove it in the brutal Vermont winters for 2 years. It started on 25 below zero mornings and blasted wood stove like heat. It never failed to start. It never left her or I sit. I paid $1,200 for it and sold it for $650 in 2008. You clowns can criticize these cars all you want. Yeah they were nothing cars, but who gives a crap. Reliable, cheap and very good on gas. If I saw this on ebay, I would have been in the next plane to bring it home.

    Like 3
    • djkenny

      For $1200? Absolutely. Even $2500 if someone wants reconnect with the passed car they had. But not fir what these guys want. Camry Models with low miles from 2002 don’t sell for this much and those things are incredibly reliable as well as with air bags and other really desirable features. Easy to work on. $1200-2500.. why not.

      Like 2

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