Amazing Survivor: 1979 Ford Fairmont With 45k Miles!

The seller has advertised this Ford Fairmont Sedan as a 1979 model, but I believe that he might be mistaken on this. Decoding the VIN supplied in the listing indicates that it is actually a 1980 model. That doesn’t make a massive difference to most areas of the car, but it does mean that its engine would be pumping out some handy extra horses when compared to the previous year. It is a one-owner classic looking for a new home, so the Fairmont has been advertised here on eBay. It is located in Sarasota, Florida, and while the bidding has reached $5,100, the reserve hasn’t been met.

The Fairmont is finished in Dark Brown with a Tan vinyl top. It has spent the life in the custody of one elderly owner but has recently come onto the market after they passed away. It appears that the owner treated the car with plenty of respect because it presents superbly. The paint shines beautifully, with no evidence of any scratches or chips. The panels are laser straight, while the vinyl top is in as-new condition. There is no evidence of any rust, and the fact that it has spent its life garage-kept in Florida has helped it remain clean and rust-free. The seller says that the floors are sound and that there is no evidence of corrosion anywhere on the vehicle. The chrome and trim are in excellent order, and there are no apparent problems with the glass. However, I will sound one note of caution at this point. The photo of the engine bay reveals one slight quirk. It appears that there might be some form of repair work on the inner fender behind the battery. It has the appearance of some form of accident repair and would seem to justify an in-person inspection to ensure that all is okay.

If the exterior condition is impressive, the interior provides more of the same for potential buyers. It is upholstered in a combination of Tan cloth and vinyl, and its condition is close to faultless. The upholstery on the seats is free from wear and marks, and there’s no wear on the wheel. The door trims and dash are perfect, with the woodgrain highlights showing no evidence of wear or fading. The carpet and sill plate on the driver’s side shows some minor scuffing, but the interior’s overall state would seem to support the seller’s claim about mileage. The interior isn’t loaded with luxury features, but air conditioning, an AM/FM radio, and a tilt wheel should all help to make life pleasant on the move.

Lifting the hood reveals the 3.3-liter six-cylinder engine that is backed by a 3-speed automatic transmission. The Fairmont also comes equipped with power steering and power brakes. This six is not the most powerful on the block, but if this is a 1980 model, as I suspect, it did receive a useful power boost over the previous year. The 1979 version pumped out 85hp, while this figure jumped to 91hp for the 1980 model year. This increase knocked a full half-second off the ¼ mile ET, but the journey still took a leisurely 20.1 seconds. The seller says that there are no mechanical issues or maladies with the Fairmont. It is said to run and drive nicely, with no leaks or strange noises. He also says that the car has a genuine 45,610 miles on its odometer but doesn’t indicate whether he holds evidence to confirm this claim. This photo also gives you a chance to see the area that I raised questions about earlier. It looks like some form of repair to me, but I’ll be interested to know what our readers think.

Taken at face value, this Ford Fairmont is a great looking car that would seem to have a lot to offer its next owner. A few questions would need to be answered surrounding its actual model year and potential prior accident damage, but the seller does appear to be approachable. If you are interested, it is a car worth enquiring about. If everything proves to be above board, it would make a great and practical classic to park in your driveway. What do you think?

Fast Finds


  1. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    A nice example of a once-common everyman family car. If you see one today, it will usually be a clapped-out driver on its last legs. It’s good to see one which has been preserved.

    No it’s not a muscle car, it has too many doors, it’s boxy and plain, it’s brown, it’s underpowered, etc. But for some nostalgia, it will be a car the right owner will enjoy. The grandkids would have a blast as you take them to the park then for ice cream.

    By the way, if nothing else, take a look at the clear, well-composed pics.

    Like 21
  2. Mark

    I worked for a governmental agency that had a 1980 Fairmont wagon. It arrived shortly after I did. I was the main driver for the first 10,000 miles. Ice cold air. Firestone tires. The right rear picked up 7 punctures before it wore out. Hit hard by a drunk driver in 1984 while parked. Body shop put it on a frame machine and rode like new.

    I left in 1987. The car was still going strong. Fourth wreck totaled it with 147,000 miles. Everyone credits me with breaking it in well when new. 200 six cylinder and automatic.

    Like 13
  3. Sam61

    Pictures one and two look like staging for a Linn Burton/Burt Weinman Ford commercial.

    Good old channel 9 WGN Chicago local commercials…usually on Sunday’s during really old Sherlock Holmes or Charlie Chan movies.

    Oh…nice car.

    Like 20

      Yes, good ol’ Channel 9, WGN … Bert Weinman Ford, Jack Brickhouse and the Cubs, and “Tomczak, Tomczak, Tomczak Dodge” …

      Like 2
  4. Jcs

    It should be noted that she appears to be equipped with A/C. The vast majority of these econocars were not.

    Like 3
    • FrontRunner

      Had a couple of these back in the day. The cooling system is weak. If your on the highway you can run the a/c. get into town and you better kill the air or you’ll overheat the car on a hot day. which is generally when I want to use the A/C.
      Being built on the Fox platform they handle alright. The gutless 6 cylinder will keep you from getting too many speeding tickets. These cars will take tons of abuse and keep rolling.

      Like 2
      • 347Mustang

        I live in Central Florida, Summers 100 at times, mine would cool the car down fine, 38 degrees coming out the vents in dead summer setting in park. . My co workers at Ford were amazed. Never a overheating issue, I think yours must have had a cooling issue as mine worked great for years. It did take a bit to cool down as the blower motor didn’t have a very high setting but once it cooled down your glasses would fog up as you got out! Bullet proof car for sure.

      • JoeNYWF64

        Can i assume then that the overheating applied to ALL Ford models with the same strait 6 those years, including the Mustang?!
        & did you mean that the hot light would come on & you had to pull over or at least turn off the a/c & turn on the heater?
        Or perhaps you installed an aftermkt temp gage?
        I don’t think any Ford strait 6’s back then came with a factory temp gage(except maybe on trucks) & even if they did, there would be no numbers on the gage.

  5. Mike

    A malaise era 4 door in brown. Can’t get any more boring. As exciting as cream corn.

    Like 17
  6. Bhowe Member

    I like it a lot more than another chevelle or other common as a bellybutton muscle cars

    Like 25
  7. Car Nut Tacoma

    Nice looking car. I remember cars like this Fairmont. I had a neighbour when I was a boy who had one. His was a station wagon.

    Like 2
    • Jim G

      My dad had 2 of thesel: ’78 and ’80. The former was totaled after being t-boned by a stop light blower. Fortunately dad wasn’t hurt. Yes they were slow but dependable; easy to fix and handled well.

      Like 1
  8. angliagt angliagt Member

    ’78’s had clear front turn signal lenses.We had a ’78 wagon,
    black with a red interior.Probably the most reliable car we ever
    owned.I put Mustang TRX wheels/tires on it,which lowered it,&
    gave it a better look.
    I bought it used in ’81.It came from Portland,Oregon,& when
    I pulled the strips of the roof rack to wax it,found volcanic ash from
    Mount ST Helens under it.

    Like 11
  9. Joshua

    In 1989 I purchased a 1979 wagon at an auction for $300 dollars it had air and an 8 track player. It was one of the most reliable cars I have ever owned. It was light blue and looked like it should have a baby seat in the back. (I was 20) I
    got t-boned by a drunk father of the bride and his other daughter who had a learners permit. It was a nice car why’ll it lasted.

    Like 4
  10. Daniel Wright

    We had two Fairmont wagons. One the kids called the Deathmobile. That car was a mess of rust, dents, spray paint and bondo….Yet it continued to run for at least two owners after us.

    Like 5
  11. Free Mint

    I was offered a a free 78 two Fairmont six banger ugly yellow and ran.

    One year ago. I passed on it and it was donated to a trade school.

    This is the K car equivalents in looks.

    I guess one can say..

    It has a great personality.
    The trunk space is nice.
    The windshield wipers are efficient
    The tires hold air great.

    Good luck on sale

    Its good to have the bon pedigrees saved for the future.

    Like 1
  12. Howard A Member

    Giving Adam the benefit of living down under, us Yanks don’t call these motors by their metric equivalent, this is the tried and true 200 ci motor. These cars were created for one purpose. It was moms grocery gettin’, dentist a visitin’, church on Sunday, school on Monday cars. The 200 is a bit thin for 6 people with the a/c on, but a more dependable horse, you couldn’t find. They weren’t highway cars, and had no business on the open road, yet many, I bet, did so. These cars did all those mundane chores, often neglected for years, and begrudgingly, still got us to those places, as much as we wished it would break down. Pretty rare find, for a car most of us would never look at then.

    Like 6
    • Daniel Wright

      One of our Fairmont wagons went on a few long distance road trips. Fast was not needed, one thing I remember about the car was that 55 was outlined in bright orange on the speedometer. Anyone remember the nation wide 55 MPH limit?

      Like 4
      • 370zpp

        Sammy Hagar remembers.

        Like 17
      • Howard A Member

        Hi Daniel, do I ever. The 55mph speed limit ( 1973-1986) proved little. Death rates decreased because of safety improvements, and fuel savings was minimal. Radar detectors had their moment in the sun. You’re right, and my point all along, these cars were designed for 55 mph in mind, and were adequate, but today, with speed limits in the 70 mph range, be pushing this and vehicles like it, a bit hard.

  13. Rob Paczkowske

    The repair area looks like maybe… the battery leaked or burst maybe… rusting out or damaging that area so something welded in or rust converter primer of some sort.

    Like 1
  14. John

    I, too, had one of these during my Govt career. It was bullet-proof (well not in today’s vernacular), boring, uncomfortable, slow, and very economical. It’s A/C would freeze your right arm. If it was the least bit humid, the windshield would fog up on the outside. The wipers could be heard two counties away.

    But, for all it’s short-comings, I still loved the little car. I tried to buy it when it came up for replacement. Turned out it was not possible. It got replaced by a Chevrolet Corsica. That car made me miss the Fairmont even more.

    Like 7
  15. Tom MacKay

    I worked for Ford dealers when these were new cars. Hardly any warranty claims with the Fairmont?Zepher cars and they were one terrific auto mobile. As for the quarter mile time, who cares? I keep my vehicles for a long time and you could not wear these cars out. The cars built today have nothing over these Fairmont’s. Whish Ford built cars like this today.

    Like 3
  16. Joe C

    I had the 78 2 dr coupe with the 5.0L and functioning rear window louvers as my “winter” car… although being RWD it was just as awful in the snow as my 88 Fox body convertible but at least you could load up the trunk with sand and blocks. Nice looking copy from the era… although that bronze Futura from last week is still making me want to go west to CA.

    Like 1

      Bought the 4dr auto 5.0l with 2.73 Rear
      new. Same colors, same trim package. Great in the snow and would embarrass contemporary Trans Ams. Sold in 92.

  17. Joe

    If like to have it and drop a 390 with a four speed in it. I’d hack up the rear end and weld the back doors shut and paint it red with raised white letter tires. Then I wouldn’t be embarrassed to drive it. 😉

  18. Gibson

    Too bad it dont got a 302….with that and a bottle of whip cream you can put em to sleep

  19. Jost

    One of those cars that I would not of looked once let alone twice when new, but now.. in this condition I would love to have and leave it just as it is. Simply take care of it and with that 200ci 6, its so easy and so very reliable. Good find for a good old car. I hope that it is kept just as it is. Maybe the fact that its a four door will prevent someone from doing another LS or Coyote sway.

    Like 3
  20. Ron H

    As far as the right inner fender, my 78 had a vacuum reservoir canister mounted in there. That canister was basically a tomato juice can and would rust out in no time (especially in south Texas, and I suspect Florida as well). I had to twice remove that inner fender to replace that stupid tomato juice can.

    Like 1
  21. Tom W

    Had several of these as fleet cars at a former employer. No power, indifferent handling, cheap interior appointments, but the air conditioning worked. Two had rear ends lock up on the highway, making for some I intense moments. Overall basic, boring and if not for the rear ends locking up, totally forgettable.

    Like 1
    • Superdessucke

      So forgettable that this will get about four times the comments of a 1970 Chevelle SS LOL!

      Like 4
  22. Karl

    I had a friend give me a ride in one just like this but it was kind of a cream/tan color and the vinyl on the seats had a really odd looking pattern to it. I will say it got us where I needed to be but 30 years later what I remember most was it had once of the cheapest looking and feeling interior I ever remember seeing and it started as soon as I closed the door!

  23. John Oliveri

    We ran a Private car service in NY in the 80s and 90s running these cars exclusively, they were cheap to buy at auction, you could buy a motor and transmission from the junkyard 500.00, very basic unibody cars, if the hit them in the front too hard just part it out, Earl Schieb white,150.00, the 2 way radios cost more than the cars

    Like 1
  24. Chris

    Took driver’s ed in one of these in the early ’80s. I faintly remember the horn actually being on the blinker stalk! Fun times…

    Like 1
  25. Chris Londish Member

    Very different to an Australian Fairmont we were running the Australian designed six with the Honda designed crossflow head and single barrel Stromberg carby, but this is a nice car go well with a Aussie Barra six

    Like 1
  26. ChiTownJeff

    I worked for a cab company in Oak Park IL about the time these cars were new. They were good cars to use as taxis. They got much better mileage than the Plymouth Belvideres that they replaced and were much better handling as well. They were better at space utilization than the Belvideres in terms of how much luggage would fit in the trunk.

  27. DON

    I remember when these came out thinking they were the ugliest cars on the road ! We used to say they were designed with a straight edge and a pencil and the only round parts on the car were the tires and steering wheel .
    These were just everyday transportation and weren’t meant to be saved, so its nice to know there are still some survivors out there . I still wouldn’t own one, but I’d sure walk past a row of Mustangs or Chevelles to check it out at a car show !

  28. Bunky

    Bought an ‘80 Fairmont Futura new. $6150 out the door with 4 speaker stereo and pinstripes. About $300 more than the base Toyota Tercel. Got 28mpg. 200 6 with a manual 4 speed. 4th was overdrive. Peppy to drive. Room for 5. Great car.

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Notify me of new comments via email. Or subscribe without commenting.