38,000 Miles: 1980 Ford Fairmont

Scotty GilbertsonBy Scotty Gilbertson

This car was owned by an 85-year old man who bought it new. Wait, he’s not 122 years old now, he was 48 years old when he bought it new in 1980! Whew.. It’s a 1980 Ford Fairmont and it’s on Craigslist with an asking price of $3,000. This car is in Mt. Bethel, Pennsylvania, and thanks to Pat L for sending in this one!

Are you looking at me? Don’t give me that sideways glance, you, you.. 1980 Fairmont! It’s funny how a person’s birth year can play a huge role in the vehicles that they like. If you grew up with vehicles from a certain era, it stands to reason that you will typically gravitate towards those vehicles. For folks who grew up in the late-70s and early-80s, and maybe got their driver’s licenses at that time, they remember cars like this 1980 Fairmont and maybe now they have some extra income and want to start a small collection of inexpensive cars that they grew up with. Whereas, folks from an earlier generation may hate these cars and think that they’re a big waste of time. That’s like saying that anyone who prefers a certain temperature or a certain type of food is wrong. It makes no sense to me when someone rallies against something so subjective, especially a car! We’re all car guys and gals, we’re supposed to like everything, aren’t we? If they burn dead-dinosaur-juice, and even when they sometimes use another method of propulsion, all vehicles are important to someone.

Soapbox dismounted; back to this love-it-or-hate-it Fairmont! The seller says that “cash talks” so if a person were in the market for a car like this, that’s a good thing, instant discount, ala-tv-reality-show-wad-of-$20-bills. You can see some of the small rust spots that the seller talks about, but this is most likely just a driver, it’ll never be restored so just keep those spots in check and enjoy this one as much as you can. NADA lists the value of a 1980 Ford Fairmont 2-door as being $1,620 on the high end, so you’ll want to haggle on this one.

It’s unfortunate that the seller mentions a rip in the driver’s side of the front seat, but that’s the only area of the seating compartment that they don’t show. The back seat looks like new as does the headliner. A 4-speed manual would have been a bit more fun here, but this is an automatic.

The engine looks like it could have a mere 38,000 miles on it, doesn’t it? It’s nice and tidy and pretty clean. Although, have the hood stops been painted light blue? The seller says that it’s a “6cyl 200 auto with power steering. new tires, runs good.” It’s more specifically Ford’s 200 cubic-inch inline-six with around 90 hp. What are your thoughts on this 1980 Ford Fairmont 2-door sedan?

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Comments

  1. Woodie Man

    The nadir of malaise automotive design. Funny how in looking back it doesnt seem so far from 48 to 85! Yikes!

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  2. daniel wright

    We had two of these, both wagons. One we bought new and another purchased in the 1990’s a mess of primer paint and bondo. We kids called it the death wagon. Guess which one ran the longest?

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  3. Chebby

    Cheap and awful. A 1960 car built in 1980.

    You could buy this and the matching 4-door turbo Fairmont from the other day, plus the Police package LTD, and then you could….shoot yourself.

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    • Blyndgesser

      The Fairmont was far more advanced than you’re giving it credit for. Rack and pinion steering and McPherson strut suspension were a real step up from the Maverick, which the Fairmont replaced. The Fairmont chassis served as the basis for the Fox-body Mustang that lasted well into the ’90s.

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      • rustylink

        having owned quite a few of both – Chebby’s right – this is just a gussied up Falcon.

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  4. Vin in NJ

    These were basically Mustangs with a box dropped on top of the frame. Some could be had with the 5.0 and a 4 speed trans. Real street sleepers.

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    • David H.

      Another way of looking at it is that Mustangs were shortened and evolved Fairmonts. The Fairmont was the first car on the Fox platform.

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      • Rocco Member

        what about the 1979 Fox Mustang?

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      • grant

        What about the ’79 Mustang? The Fox chassis Fairmont came out in 1978.

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      • Rocco Member

        Got’cha. Thanks for the update in my brain.

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  5. kschubes

    I have one. I installed a Turbo Coupe engine,trans,axle,and the T-Bird interior.I drive it daily with no problems. People actually give me thumbs up.lol.

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  6. Mr. TKD

    Get it cheap and make it a true street sleeper sweeper. They’ll never see you coming.

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  7. Paul Hudson

    My father was a minister and never had much income. In 1980 my brother bought him a new 1980 Ford Fairmont wagon. This was his first new car and he was 51 at the time. It was Cream colored with a tan vinyl interior. It had the 2.3 Four with a 4 speed stick. Bucket seats because of the stick shift. It was a very light car and did well with the four cylinder and stick. It wasn’t powerful but got 30 MPG on the road and 20-25 around the city. It shifted well and handled well too. He had a 1969 LTD before this. He had two more cars in his life after the Fairmont a 1988 and 1997 Taurus wagons. He loved all three cars. All had more than 150K when done with. The 1997 Taurus was totaled in an accident just two years ago when my son had an accident while learning to drive. He was not injured and all of the airbags worked as advertised even though the car at the time was 18 years old. He got out without a scratch. Not sure it would have ended as well with the Fairmont. I’d buy one though just for nostalgia sake. It really was a simple car like the old Falcons and Fairlanes.

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    • David H.

      I love the simplicity of them as well — stripped down, light and basic, like a Model T from the late 70s.

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  8. Luke Fitzgerald

    Not sure what to say – wouldn’t like to see it modded – but I wouldn’t want it either

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  9. SunbeamerStu

    48 years old.

    Buys a Fairmont. With 6 cylinders. And an automatic. Blue in, blue out.

    Exciting. Pass the remote.

    I sincerely hope this guy had something else to bring a little fun to his next 37 years.

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  10. Bill Terwilleger

    I had one, just can not remember what year it was… (a lot I don’t remember much about the 80’s..) but I do remember it was a “sergeants car” and it had some kinda of performance package (cough cough) I am hoping someone chimes in and tells me what year / model mine was. Lots of good memories in that car.

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    • SunbeamerStu

      That spiffy car looks like a Ford Futura.

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  11. patrick

    My mom had a Fairmont Futura with that same blue interior. I remember everything inside getting so hot in the summertime. You wouldn’t dare sit on those seats wearing shorts without spreading a towel over the seat first!

    Everything would rattle when driving on the highway. The automatic transmission eventually started slipping. The car was only 3 years old when it was traded in on a new Z28.

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  12. Dan

    Really, life is too short for something this grim. Ask the 48/85 year old guy.

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  13. Dave

    I can see a minister in a 1980 Fairmount wagon, dutifully on his way to the grocery store after the Sunday sermon….

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  14. Rock On

    @Patrick- you have a cool Mom buying a new Z28!!!

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  15. Mark Hoffman

    I went to work for a public library in 1980.. shortly before I arrived a 1980 Fairmont wagon with 6 and automatic arrived. It became my daily driver

    Original Firestone tires were almost indestructible. One tire was plugged/patched 7 times before they wore out.

    Ice cold air. Wrecked three times between 1984-1994. I left in 1987.

    Fourth wreck in 1994 totalled it. 147,000 miles. Everyone always bragged what a good job I did of breaking it in, and maintaining it while I worked there

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  16. Rustytech

    Future with a v8 and a/c (Yes) wagon maybe, 2 door sedan 4cyl with no a/c No thanks.

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  17. JW

    On another Ford forum I attend there is a guy running a 9 second 1980 Fairmont but I’m sure it’s no 6 banger. My dad always had Cadillacs / Lincolns / Mercurys, he loved big fancy cars well after he retired I stopped by my folks house and here sits a new 1980 Fairmont. I asked mom if one of my sisters was there NO your dad traded his Mercury in on that. I guess it’s a old man’s thing but not this old man, I would do the opposite.

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  18. Chris in WNC

    I prefer 1930s-60s cars but ANY low mileage original car is a great find.
    drive it and preserve it !

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  19. milotus

    We bought a ’78 Fairmont wagon,Black,
    with a Red interior,6 cylinder in 1981.That thing
    was indestructible – the perfect family car!We kept
    that car for over ten years (longest I’ve ever owned
    a dd),until it was totaled by a drunk driver.
    This was when the K cars came out,& I
    read where fleet owners bought the Fairmonts,
    because they were cheaper & easier to fix.
    Our Son’s Volvo 940 just got rear ended by a
    Dodge 4WD pickup,& will probably be totaled,& I think
    this would be the perfect car for him,as he’s not a car-
    person,& can break a rock in two.
    If it were in CA,I might buy it.

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  20. Wayne

    The picture is of a 1981 Fairmont Futura Coupe. I currently have one that Ford sent to the body company that made a Durango (Ranchero?) out of it. (212 built). I bought it minorly (is that a real word?) wrecked. It is in the process of getting all the Fox body Mustang handling and go fast parts. Along with an SVO nose. ( same basic doors without the indent for the mouldings. (Minor surgery on inner fenders and core support required) There was a 1980 (I think) on EBay last week for about $3,500. (Very nice condition)

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  21. David Miraglia

    I owned a Futura. Coupe. Great car for the everyday. Lasted three years before she died. Better than that crappy Tempo successor. The Fairmont I always considered to be the Dodge Dart of the 1980’s.

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  22. Ron G

    This is one of those cars that you never pay too much attention to because you see them everywhere for years, then one day you look around and they’re gone. I remember them everywhere in the late 80’s and very early 90’s as a little boy, then by the mid 90’s they vanished. Same thing with the 1st gen Taurus and the early GM-10/ W-body cars. All cars I never cared about when they were new, but I appreciate seeing still on the road now that many are long gone.

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  23. John

    These were actually pretty good little cars. With minimal upkeep, 150k was almost the norm. We had a gray one that came from the US Navy motor pool auction. My folks drove it to Alaska and back to Illinois several times. You could still see the shadow of the US Navy lettering on its side doors. But it never missed a beat.

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  24. RJ
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  25. RJ

    In the film ‘Edward Scissorhands’ there was what seemed like a Fairmont parked on every block of the sub division the characters lived in.

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  26. JamieB

    After a string of what were (by comparison) glorious cars–a 1968 Pontiac Tempest Custom (with the 350), 1971 Chevy Kingswood Estate wagon, 1973 and ’74 Pontiac LeMans Safari wagons (full-size wagons with a hatchback tailgate!)–my Dad bought a 1980 Ford Fairmont wagon as my Mom’s daily driver. I could not believe how cheap the interior plastics were, the awful vinyl seats with thin padding (our previous wagons had seats like sofas!), how tinny the doors sounded when you slammed them. The best thing about it was the AC. Even on the hottest days, it would cool the car interior down in a couple of minutes.

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  27. Alan (Michigan)

    My uncle brought a Fairmont home, after the family had had some interesting and nice mid-level cars.
    My aunt hated it. She called it the “Old Man’s Car”. Must have been something to do with the generic, boring/uninspired styling. They had it a while, so I guess it was probably reliable enough. But I still laugh at my aunt’s take. She never drove a car, but still liked to arrive in a higher style than this…..

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  28. Larry

    I bought a 1978 Fairmont Futura new. I loved the car. In 1984, I passed it on to my father, who drove it until he quit driving at age 90 in 2008.

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    • Mr. TKD

      What’s the story of the white Falcon in this pic?

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  29. Andrew Brown

    My dad had a 1980 wagon. First new car he ever bought. 4cyl stick no a.c. no console. Drove it 8 years and traded it on
    A 88 mustang (4cyl stick no a.c. see a pattern?) no real issues. I,had a 81 maybe 80 futura 6cyl auto.and my best friend had a zephyr wagon 6cyl auto. Never any real issues but the back plug would,foul out. Drove them both until we moved to newer cars. Wouldn’t die.

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  30. JoeBazots

    My little sis had one of these in kind of a rust red color as her first car. Served her well with minimal cost of ownership beyond normal maintenance. Some idiot ex-boyfriend ended up stealing it. Not sure what happened to it, but he went back to prison for stealing a forgettable, yet utterly dependable car. Great to see such a survivor. Hope it ends up at a good home. Were it to end up in my garage, would drive as is until it needed a new motor. Then, turn it into the sleeper everyone knows it could be.

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  31. johnj

    Someone said its like a ’60s car built in the ’80s , I agree and would build it like one. Kind of like a Chevy 2, a Dart, Falcon or even a Rambler American. I would add a set of Torque Thrust style wheels, Tear drop hood and a V8. Auto or 5 speed, you could do a 5.0 swap using a fox mustang motor/trans/rear. Plenty of wrecked mustangs out there. Ton of fox body stuff out there to make it stop and go. Drag or handling. You could build a cool hot rod out of this for less then it would cost to do the rust repair and paint and body work on one of its ’60s equivalents. And just have fun with it.

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  32. M/K

    steve mangante(?) from B-J and hot rod turned one of these into a gasser.

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  33. racer99

    Interesting base for a sleeper — as mentioned the Mustang stuff is a bolt-in. It’s beyond emissions testing here so you could go as wild as you want and the parts base is endless. Could be fun.

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  34. Greg A Yancey

    My company bought these in 1979 as company cars…basic 4 dr, 200 in six, automatic, etc…they were simply nice sturdy cars that handled surprisingly well thanks to the Fox chassis. I liked mine so much I bought it when they replaced them with Chevy Celebrities….then I bought 3 more of them just because you simply could not wear them out….I gave one to my daughter and one to my girlfriend and they drove them for years too. I retired mine at 294,000 miles by selling it to a trucking company for 400 bucks and they ran it for another 100k…maintenance was the key but they were surprisingly durable for their time.

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  35. Thomas Spelino

    Drove a cream yellow drivers ed car like this early 80s

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