Cheap Winter Car? 1991 Ford Tempo AWD

If you like your winter vehicles to be a little (lot) on the unusual side, it doesn’t get much more unusual than this 1991 Ford Tempo AWD. As the $2,400 or offer price reinforces, just because a vehicle is rare doesn’t mean that it’s monetarily valuable. This rare AWD Tempo is listed on eBay in the Scottsbluff, Nebraska area – Mitchell, Nebraska to be exact.

The Ford Tempo and Mercury Topaz weren’t meant to be the most exciting cars but they were a nice alternative for those folks who just had to have a Ford product but didn’t want a slightly bigger and more posh Taurus or a Mercury Sable. This 1991 Tempo was made halfway through the second and last generation for the Tempo and its sister car, the Mercury Topaz. The sedans were redesigned in 1988 with a crisper look while the two-door cars were just updated a bit. This most likely isn’t a car that too many people aspire to own now, but I think that it’s fun to run across a decent looking example with AWD as they are very rare to see today in any condition.

The seller says that this AWD Tempo “runs and drives well show 93xxx miles.” That’s barely broken in, says the guy with 355,600 miles on his rusty AWD winter car. This Tempo is in much nicer condition than my winter car is, I don’t see any gaping rust holes, unlike on mine. They also say that it’s “a dry western car no major rust floors are great rockers etc great has dent in the left front fender.” Also, they mention that the windshield is cracked; bummer. Luckily, replacements are fairly inexpensive.

The interior looks pretty decent for a 27-year old car, but there are a few issues. There are a few cracks in the top of the dash, the front power windows aren’t currently working, and someone set a battery on the rear carpet, apparently for quite a while, maybe in the winter when it cracked or otherwise leaked. But, the seats look good, front and rear.

The AWD Tempo added about two-grand to the price back in 1991, not an insignificant amount, no wonder so few of them were sold which makes them super rare today. There weren’t many competitors, but Eagle, Subaru, and Toyota offered AWD cars in a similar price range to the Tempo/Topaz. Today, there are still a few manufacturers making AWD cars, as in non-SUVs/CUVs, which is nice to see. It’s the ultimate option for those of us who live where there is snow on the ground for several months out of every year. The engine in this Tempo is Ford’s 2.3L inline-four which would have had around 100 hp and 130 ft-lb of torque. What’s the best AWD/4WD car (not truck or SUV) that you’ve ever owned?


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  1. Frank

    These run forever! They made a diesel version but not sure if the diesel version had AWD.

  2. Carrman

    I had a ’90 and it was a Helluva car. Never let me down.

  3. Paul D Hudson

    I had a 1989 White Tempo company car. It was very nice and we took it over 200K miles. I remember seeing these on the lot when we bought mine. I actually like the Tempos and Topaz’s. They had a very nice interior for the time. The four cylinder they used was if I remember correctly were related to Ford’s 200/250 Sixes. The Tempo with the Vulcan V-6 was pretty fast. I had a 1985 Tempo with the 5 Speed standard that was a good cheap transportation car. My sister in law has a sharp looking Topaz from 1985 that has a special regional package but I can’t recall the name. It has special paint and a read trunk mounted luggage rack.

  4. Matt Member

    A friend of mine has one of these, he keeps offering it to me for $100..
    however, nothing power works, no gauges work (except temp.). Also, it has nearly 400,000 miles on it. would be a fun cheap car challenge car though…Still not worth my 100, as im a mopar guy..

  5. Miguel

    He wants $2400.00 for this. Does the 4WD option really make it worth $2000.00 more than a 2WD version?

    • DrinkinGasoline

      If Yer under the gun with 3+ inches of snow…..You’ll wished You spent that extra 2K……LOL. Hindsight is 20/20. :)

  6. Loco Mikado

    I have a 1990 Tempo with 96,000 miles now that I bought 10 years ago for $1,200.00. It is not AWD but is in better condition to this one with absolutely no rust. Runs great and is kept as a backup car. Thought about selling it a few times but for the $500-700 could get out of it, I just keep it because I know what I have.

    • DrinkinGasoline

      Smart man !

  7. wuzjeepnowsaab

    Looks like 1850 is the buy price so he must have revised it

  8. Neil

    Best AWD car I’ve ever had is a Dodge Magnum R/T. Fast, stylish and comfy.

    Other AWD are a Subaru DL wagon, Subaru DL sedan, Colt Vista wagon

  9. Wolfgang Gullich

    The only way this car gets more rare is if it had the unicorn nearly unobtanium combo of AWD, manual and the transverse mount inline 6

    • RichS

      The 6 wasn’t inline (no room for that between the shock towers) – it was the Vulcan 3.0 V6 and was only offered in FWD, starting in 1992. Last year for the AWD was 1991. The V6 was available with a 5 speed manual though. Back in the day we referred to them as Hillbilly Super Coupes (HSC was Fords marketing High Swirl Combustion for the 4 cylinders)

  10. Dantheman

    Is that 2.3 the Pinto/Mustang II engine of the 1970’s.
    I think that made its American debut as the 2.0 pinto engine then they straightened out the cam lubrication then bored it out.

    • Mike H. Mike H.

      No, the 2.3L HSC motor of the Tempo/Topaz models was really a different animal. The Pinto 2.3L was derived from the previous OHC 1600cc engine (later 2000cc), but the 2.3L HSC was a 4-cylinder derivative of the 200cid inline six. As a result, the HSC motor was of an OHV design and not OHC, and it featured a cast iron block and head. The 2.3L HSC was never used in anything but the Tempo/Topaz, and in 1986 a 2.5L derivative was developed as the base motor for the Taurus/Sable models.

      The HSC motors were never used in anything rear wheel drive, like the Pinto or Ranger. These are their own special motor, and they weren’t anything to get excited about.

  11. KSwheatfarmer

    Had the Topaz back in the day, with a 5 speed . It was a great little car , just not big enough for 3 kids. Traded ‘ up’ to the small Lincoln ,what a mess that one was. I’ll save that list of malfunctions for another day.

  12. CCFisher

    Make sure the AWD is still functioning. Once these got old, it became common to disable the AWD rather than repair rear CV joints and other AWD components.

  13. Joe Haska

    Me Too! Had one of these, for a Beater, for a couple of years. It was perfect, you couldn’t kill it, and it was like free, when compared to anything else.

  14. DrinkinGasoline

    We purchased a used 5 speed coupe with 85,000 miles on it for our youngest son for his first car. He drove it for well over 5 years taking immaculate care of it, only needing to replace an engine mount and regular maintenance.
    Well worth the 2K at the time for sure.
    To this day, he still drives manual trans vehicles.

  15. Maestro1 Member

    Agree with all of you. Someone jump on it. I have no room.

  16. Mark Evans

    Ex father in law had one with the 6 cylinder,no AWD. Felt like driving a snow plow when new. Seemed as if the 6 was too heavy for the car. 4 might be best in this.

  17. David Miraglia

    Worst Ford I ever owned and it was a 1987

  18. C5 Corvette

    I bought a new AWD tempo the 1st year they were available. The car rode very nice on the 14″ tires. The 1st winter it was great. During the spring I had to have the entire 4 wheel drive stuff replaced as the u-joints all rusted tight. Ford paid! the second year same thing. Ford paid. the 3rd year I was on my own so I had the rear wheel drive stuff removed. Still drove good , but traded it in on a Monte Carlo.


    Most of these comments make the first time that I have ever read anything positive about the Tempo.

    • Loco Mikado

      I think they are kind of like older Mopars, when you get a good one they are fine but when you get bad one not so good. Kind of a crapshoot.

    • Miguel

      Me too. I don’t see how anybody that had one could say anything nice about it.

      It had a crap engine, and that automatic transmission that clunked into second gear was terrible.

      Like 1
      • Aaron Beckman

        That was how most US made cars were in the 80’s. Hit n miss on build quality.
        They were struggling to compete with the well built, by comparison, Japanese cars of the time.
        I stumbled in this thread cause my grandfather had an 88 awd tempo back in the day. It was good from what I saw

    • Becky

      I had this exact car, it was a piece of sh*t. I can’t tell you how many times I had to replace U joints in it. Tranny died at 80,000 miles. Electrical system problems. Brakes seized on it constantly. I know I had $6,000 in it after less than 4 years. The AWD wasn’t bad but the car was so low that you still got stuck. I’m in the mountains of PA and we get dumped on here.

  20. John C

    I had an 85 Tempo not AWD but Hands down the best car I ever had in the snow. I actually crawled underneath it to make sure it wasn’t AWD. That car went anywhere. Bought it with a ton of miles. Previous owner put new bearings in it, that’s probably why it lasted so long. They are unicorns around here now. Can’t remember the last time I’ve seen one.

  21. Mark Rauschenfels

    Never forget one time in a blizzard here in Duluth MN, I was attempting to climb 4th Ave W in my 4×4 Ford pickup. If you know 4th Ave W, it’s steep! My truck finally couldn’t go any further; wheels just spinning, and one of these AWD Tempos goes flying by me up the hill. I was impressed! A few years later I bought a 1989 Pontiac 6000STE AWD. Absolutely the best winter car I’ve ever owned. Like driving on rails in the winter. Would still be driving it had the tin worm not won.

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