Euro Style? 1978 Ford Granada ESS

It’s a bit of a punchline how far Ford went to pitch its mid-70s Granada as a Mercedes competitor—not just a competitor, even, but something of a knock-off. Perhaps the most gutsy of these efforts was the 1978-80 ESS package; that’s ESS for “European Sport Sedan.” Here’s a rare chance for us to assess just how European the Granada ESS was. This near-immaculate ’78 ESS coupe can be found here on eBay out of Morganton, North Carolina with a buy-it-now price of $8,500 or best offer.

That custard yellow is certainly evocative of a ’70s Mercedes! Another Benz-aping ESS feature, color-keyed wheel covers, have been replaced on this car by a set of aggressive mags with beefy white-letter tires that say muscle more than Mercedes. The opera window styling of the Granada coupe—accentuated on the ESS by a set of louvered covers—is less convincing; that’s pure Dearborn baroque right there.

This interior is veering dangerously close to being the same color as the exterior, but I guess it’s more beige than yellow. Again, the steering wheel has more of an American muscle look, but in this case it’s an original part of the ESS package. So is the floor console, but that’s got to be a replacement—the original would have been the same color as the rest of the interior. The front seat headrests feint at the cat-ear shape of contemporary Mercedes (and BMW, and Audi) headrests, although not as convincingly as those pictured in the ESS ads.

There’s nothing at all Euro about this minimally informative instrument panel, but it does show off this car’s almost certainly original 66,000-mile odometer reading. This is a moderately nicely equipped Granada—power windows and A/C, but only an AM radio—in super nice condition, and with a lot of original documentation included. Just don’t be fooled by the California license plates shown on the car; while it did start out there, its most recent owner lived in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee (no, it wasn’t Dolly), and those plates are much older than the car anyway. Of more interest is what’s below the plates: a super clean, rust-free underside.

Under the hood is the venerable 302 V8, likely pumping out just 133 horsepower in this original California car (49-state versions made six more). If this doesn’t seem like a very Euro-style powerplant, well, those ’70s Benzes rocked an only slightly smaller 4.5-liter V8, but theirs were fuel injected and produced considerably more power—so call it a wash.

The European comparisons were always kind of silly anyway—only drawing attention to the fact that there was an actual, European-designed and -built Granada in Ford’s international portfolio—so it’s probably best to consider this rare and interesting ESS on its own merits. By that standard, this coupe marries American style and engineering with a smattering of more-tasteful-than-usual-for-the-period touches and tops it all off by being in remarkably good condition. The only quibble is the price, which is at the top of the market for a Granada. Even the seller acknowledges that they’re “really not sure of its true value;” in that case, NADA is your friend, and it tells us that “High Retail” for a ’78 Granada coupe with a V8 and A/C is $2,069. Armed with that knowledge, how much do you think this coupe’s rarity and condition—and Euro style—add to the equation?

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Comments

  1. Fred w.

    NADA sounds a bit low, even for a Granada. I remember liking the way my parents ’75 Ghia with 302 cornered, so I would imagine this special model is even better. My value guess would be $4500 tops.

  2. AUTOVISA

    Cheap blue floor mats in a tan interior of a “classic” car? really? $8,500? really?
    I’m agree with #Fred w. $4,500 tops

    • Nathan Avots-Smith Member

      Ha! That brown console bugged me so much I don’t think I even noticed the blue mats! Easier fix, anyway.

  3. Oldog4tz Oldog Member

    I built these in the late 70s, and the line workers weren’t impressed. Lots of Maverick (and even old falcon) parts, and build quality was uneven, to say the least. Management and the union were frequently openly hostile to each other, and many on the line simply didn’t give a fig.

    Like 1
    • Rube Goldberg Member

      Ford wasn’t the only one!

  4. tasker

    I personally love it! amazing condition but seems high….My buddy had a 78 2 door Monarch with the 302 and a 3 spd on the floor….if that car could talk? I’d probably still be locked up!

  5. Donald De Gryse

    To your comments about …The European comparisons were always kind of silly anyway—only drawing attention to the fact that there was an actual, European-designed and -built Granada in Ford’s international portfolio..it had NO choice to be called ESS, eventhough it is totally American, imagine if it were called American Sport Sedan what the acronym would be…

  6. Jim Clark

    Very Nice Shape! I’m sure their reasoning for their pricing is the classic “well find another one” line, but you would actually have to want to find another one. Rare does not necessarily mean desirable.

    Like 1
  7. OIL SLICK

    I never in my life thought i would be saying this about a Grandadada but this is a nice looking car. To bad it has that anemic motor in it.

    btw they will never get $8500

    • Jerry Brentnell

      my wife had one of these heaps when I first met her, I got sucked into changing the drivers door hinges and then the transmission took a crap! she smoked and set the front seat on fire! that ended the marriage and the pile of ford junk! as I refused to fix the thing!

      Like 1
  8. BRAKTRCR

    I like it now, and I liked them new, and I’m a Chevy guy. The Price seems ok to me, yes , where you going to find another . A lot of newer model cars with 66k miles will cost $8500 as well, so why not something unique?

  9. john m

    yESS! Always thought the comparison was fun, but these look better as the years pile on. Finding one in this condition is a rarity for sure.

  10. KO

    I like it a lot. My grandfather passed away in 1979 before he even got the pink slip on his brand new Granada. The car was left to my parents, they promptly traded it and some cash for the red Ford Sunliner convertible from Happy Days. It came with photos of the cast in the car. Pretty cool stuff as a kid. I had dreams of this being my first car when I was old enough to drive. My parents sold it before that time came.

  11. Metoo

    I like the car, but the wheels are a bit much. In the article main photo they make the vehicle look unbalanced and distorted somehow.

    To quote as great Godfather movie line, “Leave the gun, take the canolli” . In this case, Leave the wheels, take the Grenada.

  12. Madmatt

    My dad owned several Granadas and Monarchs,
    years ago.They were nice cars,but interiors went bad
    really fast in Ca heat/sun.This is the nicest one that ive seen
    in a long time.I even like the”period”wheels much more than the stock wheel covers.Price is quite high though,but who knows…,
    maybe 10 years from now they will be worth a lot more?
    I like the “butter cup”yellow,makes this look sorta elegant.

  13. gary

    What. No 8-track? I’ll have to pass on this one.

  14. Rube Goldberg Member

    Back in ’78, we didn’t even look at these cars. Today, it really looks sharp. I realize the irony of calling this a “European” type, but it was a selling gimmick, as not many Americans in the 70’s knew what a European car was like, this as close as they got, and it worked, kind of ( until those same buyers actually bought a European sedan) It looks good even today and WAS a deal. At $8,500, it’s not that neat.

    Like 1
  15. Charles G. Van De Sampel

    My parents had the 78 Monarch. What a total piece of crap. Step on the gas and the engine would rattle like a bag of marbles in a plastic Folgers coffee container and pull up. While on the road it may have had a decent ride, but the engine torqued so bad at the lights, that it actually went through three engine and two tranny mounts within two years. I eventually talked my dad into letting me install solid engine mounts with safety cables. A year later, a drunk T-boned it while my mother was behind the wheel.

  16. Beatnik Bedouin

    These were called ‘Precision-sized’, as they were supposed to compete with Mercedes Benz W-Klasse taxi cabs. It took me ages to stop laughing at the comparison at the time.

    My father leased a metallic dog-poo brown ’75 Monarch Ghia four-door (302/C4) that he must have put some 250K trouble-free miles. I uprated the shocks and tires once it was out of warranty and I hate to admit it, it was actually a pleasant car to drive. He ended up giving it to my uncle (his older brother) who drove it for years.

    I remember my girlfriend and I going out to look at Granada’s when they were released – I often scoped out cars for my folks. This was the first year for catalytic converters and the young salesmen went to great lengths explaining the new emissions-reduction system, claiming that it “handles all emissions.” When I asked him if that included nocturnal emissions, he answered, “I told you, it handles all emissions…” It was all my girlfriend could do to stop herself from bursting out in hysterical laughter..!

    The old man said it was the Mercury was best car he’d ever owned, and he’d owned some pretty nice cars – and some total junk!

    I’d probably go for an earlier V8/stick coupe if I had the space and motivation.

    Like 1
    • Adam T45 Staff

      That’s hilarious. I gave you a thumbs up because you gave me my laugh for the day with your story about emissions. Thanks for that!

    • Marty G

      That nocturnal emissions story is exactly why I visit the Barn Finds site daily. Thank you, Beatnik Bedouin, for a dose of hilarity!

  17. Bruce Jackson

    To BRAKTRCR,

    AS a Chevy fan, I wonder if your attraction to the Granada was that the front end is reminiscent of some Monte Carlo’s…that comment aside, I like the condition that this one is in, but akin to some of the comments above, there are other places (vehicles) where I would put that $8,500…

    Like 1
    • BRAKTRCR

      You could be right Bruce, but I think the front end looks more Mopar, than Monte Carlo, at least to me. Kind of like a Cordoba maybe? Not sure.
      That being said, I’m not snobbish with my main affection to GM. If a car has nice lines, it has nice lines, no matter who makes it.

  18. Chebby Staff

    The perfect oddball collector car. Something that on paper I would never want, but with its combination of color, options and clean condition is really appealing. You can dial a 302 in however you like. Wheels seem a bit large but I like the look, maybe lower it 1-2″? Agreed, $4,500 would be a nice price.

  19. Karo

    Officially the exterior was called “Cream” and the interior “Camel.” The ESS originally came with color-keyed wheel covers standard.

    • Pat A

      This would make a pretty good little drag racer, but not at that price. 2 door, & that wide sail panel should make the body pretty stiff. Gut it, roll cage, big motor-Whee!

    • Pat A

      Looks like a camel creamed on it.

  20. Kenny

    Yeah, $4500 out the door, no higher. it’s cute but lose the deep dish wheels and add some smaller tires, maybe even a set of period correct whitewalls and a set of chrome smoothies.

  21. Maestro1

    I’d pass on the wheels and go back to the originals. I know the back story on these cars, and yes, they were poorly built but those I know about were reliable and lasted for quite sometime. This is a buy at $5000.00.

    • FordGuy1972 Fordguy1972 Member

      I agree with Maestro1; the wheels are nice for what they are but the original colored hubcaps would look much better. ’70s styling was pretty awful. I mean really, look at the whole package; the thought that comes to mind when you look at the square body and the square glasshouse is a brick on a brick. Too many corners! I like the interior, very comfortable looking buckets and everybody likes a center console. Anemic performance from the little 302 is a turn-off unless you’re a “Driving Miss Daisy” type. I suppose the new owner could boost performance but this car should be left as the time capsule it is.

      Consensus is $4,500 tops, that seems fair unless you are willing to take a chance and pay more to bag it, store it and resurrect it 20-30 years from now. An original car that is 60-70 years old, looking like that, would be something.

  22. John Gall

    Do you have to reach THRU or AROUND the steering wheel to adjust the radio? Wow.

  23. Adam T45 Staff

    There was actually a very good reason why Ford, both in the US and here in Australia, were fixated with the European theme with their cars and option packs. At that point in time Ford of Europe was the single most successful and profitable branch of the Ford empire. They were hoping that some of that success would rub off onto their local offerings in the US and Australia if they (loosely) tied them to a European theme.

    Here in Australia they introduced the Ford Falcon XD in 1979. Amongst its range it included a variation called the Fairmont Ghia ESP (pictured). The ESP stood for European Sports Pack. This included a number of cosmetic items including premium interior trim with comprehensive instrumentation, Scheel sports seats, premium sound system and air con as standard. Suspension was also upgraded with Bilstein shocks, alloy wheels and lower ride height. I have always wanted a Fairmont ESP. I’d be interested in knowing what our American readers think of the Australian offering from the same era.

    Like 1
    • John T

      Thanks for sharing, Adam T45. This looks like the European version of the Ford Granada available in Western Europe including the UK and Ireland. It was infinitely better than the American Granada, Just like comparing the wonderful European Ford Escort to the anemic American Ford Escort during the 1980’s.

      Like 1
      • Beatnik Bedouin

        Having driving both, Adam T45, the Aussie car was much better than it’s American counterpart. Actually, the AusFord is a much more refined car in its specifications.

        BTW, it’s nice that you’ve posted a pic of a NZ car, judging by the number plate. The Globe wheels really look right at home on it, eh?

        Like 1
    • Mike Reese

      That would look pretty good on American shores right NOW, especially compared to the weird styling from Toyota, Nissan ..

      Like 1
    • james boyd

      I can’t speak for all american gearheads, but i’ve always been jealous of our down under mates. I love the Falcon.

      Like 1
    • chrlsful

      I like the lrg mid ’70s Holden 4 WD waggy for looks’n durability (use). Any of the ford x-flows. While USA went bent8 for muscle Oz went upgrades to the i6 and the (XY) 250 2V – XC (intro of cross-flow) thru to XD (intro of alu head) up to the Barra are fantastic. It is just too big for the mid sized vehicles I seek…

  24. Suttree

    Scarce enough to be desirable. Unremarkable enough to modify it to suit the next owner. As in hot rod the engine to 1969 specs.

  25. Hotshot

    I love your Falcons. I was in Australian in 1982. I had a 4 door Falcon rental for about 6 months. I wanted to bring it home with me. It handled great and seem to be well made. The 6 cylinder had a Yamaha designed head on it. I think it would have walked all over the 302 V8 in the states at that time. To me it was not European and not American. A pure Australia design. Kind of a cross between the two. What does a good 1982 Falcon cost today with either a 6 or V8?

    • Beatnik Bedouin

      Hotshot, Ak Miller was given a Ford ‘Willow-head’ engine that he put on propane, turbocharged and then shoehorned into a Mustang II.

      A guy who used to service my company’s vehicles in Bell Gardens was a childhood friend of Ak and was doing some work on it at the time. As he knew that I’d been to Australia and NZ (where I now live) he thought he’d shock me by showing me what was under the silver Mustang’s hood – well, it worked! It was a pretty cool swap.

    • Adam T45 Staff

      Hotshot, the values are going up as Ford ceased manufacturing in Australia in October 2016. Having said that, it is possible to buy a solid car in need of a little TLC from about $3000. From there the sky is the limit. Check the one out on the link below. This is about as close to perfect as you’ll ever find. If I had the money it would be in my garage!

      https://www.gumtree.com.au/s-ad/carss-park/cars-vans-utes/1983-ford-fairmont-xe-ghia-hermitage-grey-3-speed-automatic-sedan/1172764469

    • chrlsful

      ’82/4 falcon (XE) is not made here (USA). Priced now @1380 – 4070 (I think that’s USA dollars). Ship me a GL – its a 5 speed w/the 200ci/3.3L it’s alu head/crossflow motor – I’ll give ya 3K$ plus the shippin costs. (just add aol.com to my name to post me).

      We stopped makin Falcons (3rd gen ’65/’70) in 1970 (wagon, sedan, coup, ranchero) introducing the fox platform (Granada then Fairmont which had the stang thru ’93, the last 7 yrs which wuz the only fox).

  26. KevinR

    I like it much more now than I did when they were new. 14″ Magnum 500s were available on a lot of Granadas and Monarchs, I’d probably swap out the aftermarket wheels on this one for a set of 15″ 500s and a set of Michelins (if the correct size is available). With a performance oriented set of shocks and good tires, these cars aren’t bad handlers.

  27. That Guy

    In the 80’s a coworker drove a Granada he had inherited from his parents. He called it “the Grenade.” Sounded about right.

  28. Mike Russell

    I agree with everyone on here. $4500 would be a pretty fair price. I also would prefer period correct wheels on this beauty.

  29. C5 Corvette

    I bought a used low mileage Granada for 1,800.00. it had a factory 3 speed with overdrive on the floor and real nice factory 5 spoke rims. I liked it. got good gas mileage and I flat-towed other cars with it. furthest tow was from WV to Buffalo NY. No problems at all.

  30. BOP Guy Member

    HA !! I haven’t seen one of these in a long time. My Dad has always been a car nut, and likes to buy a year-old car every 3 years or so. Anyway, he showed up at home with a Granada ESS just like this one, one year old, as a gift for my Mom. With the “Mercedes” styling, he figured she’d love it! She has always had a bit of a lead foot (probably where I get it from!) and that Granada didn’t last long before it was in the shop. Within a year it was gone. Interesting find.

  31. Blyndgesser

    A Ford Granddad, with genuine European style. Eastern European, that is

    Like 1
  32. chad

    3.3 i6 hopped up, or the 5 oh.
    I even heard there wuz a wagon B4 they stopped (’83?).

  33. Mark

    Just for info:
    Ford Granada was design in Germany to compete wirlth with Mercedes 123 body
    I have posters from German Ford Studio

    • AUTOVISA

      Send some pictures of that posters will be nice to take a look at them.

  34. Tommy Fridlund

    I`m in the process of buing a 1979 Granada/Monarch here in Sweden,it has a bench seat and shifter is on the column.V 8.Good condition but the transmission is bad.Yellow paint and yellow interior.The seller want`s 2000 usd.Buy or not?

  35. jimmy

    I owned one of these. But mine as a manual 4. when the 1982 mustang GT hit the floor, they car mags raved about how fast it was with the 302 and how you didnt have to put in 4th until you were doing 125mph and it did about 145mph.. which was a lot of car at the time. It was actually the same package as the granada with a slightly smaller car clutch instead of truck clutch and lacked the super rear-end. I called it the ultimate sleeper, it looked agressive with owl tires. But it was still a granada – but with v8 and 4 speed manual.. very rare in the late 70s gas crunch. it would certainly smoke the likes of the pokey firebird and camaros at the time.. and no it was not rated at 133 plus 6 hp – it was rated at 187. but it felt more like 300 to me – in comparison to todays cars. it had posi-traction and could easily melt off 60s or 50s. with your foot on the brake. all 187 was at the tires with nothign lost in the tranny – it easily out-ran my neighbors 76 6.9 liter TA. and my other neighbors risky business version 928 porche. though it was close. it felt much faster than my 90 mustang GT rated at 225. I would say it ran 0-60 right at 6.5 ish. but between 75- 125 OMG.. it was the wind. It felt perfect and nothing of domestic sedan. it had a engine tone inside the car – that i have to experience better in a world class GT car.. my father owned a 90 lotus esprit – so, yeah. I pay 50k today for one in good condition, without the california crap and with a manual. and the original hubs..

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