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Instant Collection: One 1978 and Two 1980 Ford Fairmonts

“Ford Fairmont Enthusiasts”—assuming that there’s more than one out there—are invited not just to buy a car but start a collection with three cars for what auctioneers call “one money.” That amount is $5000, and it gets you three complete and running Ford Fairmonts, a 1980 wagon and coupes from 1978 and 1980. They’re offered here on craigslist, and currently reside in Spokane, Washington. Thanks to Matt H for this interesting tip.

The Fairmont was offered as a compact in an era when that still meant a decent-sized car. The overall length was about 195 inches and the width 71 inches. That’s about a foot longer than today’s favorite compact, the Honda Civic. Built on the Fox platform, which also was the backbone for the Mustang and a number of other Ford and Mercury offerings, the Fairmont came in four body styles—coupe, wagon, two-door sedan, and four-door sedan. The marque was offered for six model years, from 1978-83, and came standard with a 2.3-liter inline four-cylinder engine. In 1980 only, that engine could be had with an optional turbocharger. Other engines offered over the run included a variety of 6- and 8-cylinder mills. The Fairmont had a corporate sibling called the Mercury Zephyr.

There’s no word about particular powertrains in this case, though there is a picture of what looks like an inline four-cylinder amongst the photos of what’s in the  shed. The seller also mentions, since we’re on that, a trove of parts and accessories that come with the car, including transmissions, rear ends, interior parts up to seats, and exterior trim like grilles.

So if you decide that scene where you live needs a Fairmont or two represented, what do you do with these cars? The seller suggests restoring them to like-new condition or making them daily drivers with some repair (you’ll want some more specifics on that, so you don’t end up with a trio of non-functional rides). The wagon appears in great shape and ready to drive, so that’s your parts-hauler, especially with this many spares to shuttle around. Then, I’d zero right in on the orange coupe, which appears from the limited photographic evidence presented to be the more attractive of the pair of two-doors. No word on how many miles it has—the only indication in the ad is an aggregate 250,000 for the trio. (Safe to guess, perhaps, that if any one of these was a low-mileage car, that would be called out.) Anyway, restore the orange one as a down-sized version of a personal luxury car, and drive it. At this price, why not just go crazy and have fun? Maybe the more enterprising can figure out a way to option it as your version of the Futura sub-model. Or, if you’re in a locale that allows it, drop a 302 in it and see how fast you can head down the strip. No matter what you do, you’ve got the makings of car show domination in the “am I the only one with one of these again?” category.




  1. Cadmanls Member

    Got one now and getting a case of Florida rot already replaced the doors. Went to Alabama for them. A bunch of used mustang parts helped me assemble. Yeah 302 roller 5 speed, 355 gear set in an 8.8 rear and drive shaft from an LSC. Air blows cold too. My beater, runs decent.

    Like 27
    • Car Nut Tacoma

      Lovely looking car. I had a neighbour when I was a boy who had a Ford Fairmont wagon. I remember theirs being white on the outside and red on the inside. I cannot remember what the car was used for, whether it was a family car or something else.

  2. angliagt angliagt Member

    I had a ’78 black Fairmont wagon with the 6 cylinder/auto.
    I put TRX wheels on it,which (I think) looked great,& lowered it
    a little bit & filled up the wheel wells.
    When I got hit by a drunk driver who ran a stop sign,they
    totaled it.It was hit on the driver’s side rear door.I considered
    filling in the rear doors,& making it a 2 door panel delivery.
    Thought that these would make a “Fairmont GT” wagon –
    just switch everything over from a wrecked Mustang GT.The
    Mustang front end bolt right up.

    Like 10
  3. Eric

    Spent a few years as a kid riding around in the back seat (and cargo area) of a Fairmont wagon. Back then I had no idea my mom was actually driving around in a “Mustang wagon”!

    Like 9
  4. chrlsful

    yup ‘fox’ started w/granade-a thru ’04 stang. Runnng gear swaps, not all trim tho (my ’85 LTD is having trim problems). I think fairmont (even above zepher) may have the most production numbers? Surpassing individual stang year (or generations)?
    BTW: the valve cover / intake log pic is ofan i6 – verbage below mentions a 4. The nxt model (LTD/Marquis, not panther platforme) had i4, i6, v6, v8 – carb, cfi, or modern style fuel injector – 3 transmission changes. Goin thru SOME changes then. ;- )

    Like 2
  5. Ed H

    Josh here you go!

    Like 1
  6. Big C

    Bob Glidden set NHRA records in his Fairmont. I think he had a V-8 in his that was a tad larger than 302 ci!

    Like 4
  7. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    These with the T-Bird-esque roof treatment were kind of sporty-looking. Given their Fox roots, lots of potential to do this or that. I’ve seen some restomodded which looked cool.

    Like 6
  8. Jim Trook

    I worked at a Ford dealership at a time when these were new & at the risk of disagreement with someone, I doubt all three cars were worth the asking price, even new. Had plenty of experience with these things & while they weren’t particularly troublesome, they also weren’t particularly satisfactory either. There were so many better cars available at the time.

    Like 7
    • Norbert Beard

      I also worked for a Ford dealer in Seattle in 1977-1979 and they sold a ton of these. I had a 78 Futura and liked it. It ran exactly 50k when the tranny burned to a cinder. POS C3 transmission. I paid $ 5,200 new with an employee discount. I took the car (with a rebuilt tranny) to the Chrysler dealer across from AAMCO and bought anew Cordoba. I was given $ 4000.00 trade in allowance on that Futura so I felt pretty good.

      Like 1
    • Bill Potts

      I owned a 1973 Futura sedan W) a six. I took great care of it,and the engine died at 120,000 miles. It was the last Ford and American car that I bought.

      Like 1
  9. Steve Clinton

    He wanted to collect something that was cheap to purchase and would be worth a bunch down the road.
    Well, he was half right.

  10. Jay McCarthy

    That wagon is begging to be turned into a Gasser

    Like 4
  11. Mike B

    Meh cars in their day & haven’t improved with age. I liked them even less after having to drive one as a rental for a week. A Maverick without the style.
    (Sorry guys, so many more interesting cars to consider.)

    Like 1
  12. James Petropulos

    Never see a Ford Fairmont in my area ( L A Harbor area ).
    Still see Falcons and early Mustangs occasionally. The Fairmonts weren’t bad looking, they just weren’t the best cars Ford produced. And no convertibles either.

    Like 2
  13. Scott Smithson

    All ready gone….

    Like 2
  14. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    My ex and I had a red station wagon, we bought used in the early 90s. We both hated that car. I think I drove it only once. It was a “bridge” car, something to get around in until we got what we wanted. Sold it to a couple of ladies for $100.
    I felt guilty about that. I would have given it to them for free

    Like 2
  15. Emel

    Ugly car in a mostly ugly era of American cars. This is where america started losing a huge share of the auto market. All traced to the Ford Fairmont ! lol

    Like 1
  16. chuck

    I had a 1980 Fairmont wagon. Basic transportation. What my son and I remember is how cold the vinyl seats were on cold (Ohio) winter mornings, LOL.

    Like 1
  17. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    My in-laws had one for several years. Straight six automatic, a routine family car for its time. It served them well. The only real problem was the silver paint lasted only a few years. That was a common problem with silvers and grays and metallic blues of the era. They had the local small town body man repaint it in a soft non-metallic gray.

    Like 1
  18. Brad460 Member

    My dad had one and brother currently has 2. One has a 255 v8 and the other one a pretty decent 429. is pretty fun!

  19. Wayne

    Note to Brian Kennedy, These 2 doors are not sedans. (although they did produce them) These are considered (by Ford) as sports coupes. These are the same roof as the T-Bird of that year(s) These are also the basis for the Ford Durango. And yes, the engine picture is of a 200 6 cylinder not a 4 cylinder (2.3) All Fox Body stuff transfers over so all the Mustang goodies will bolt on EXCEPT drive shafts, sub-frame connectors and exhaust pipes because of the additional 5.5″ of wheel base. One of these sports coupes with all the trick Mustang suspension goodies and a 5.0 would make for a very nice daily driver for not a huge amount of money. Too bad they are gone, because I may have pulled the trigger on these. (but I would have to sleep in them as the other half would not have thought it was funny)

    • Brian Kennedy Staff

      There’s no place in the article where I name them sedans. bk

      Like 1
  20. Bob Washburne

    I have the 250-i6 from a ’78m Fairmont Futura…in my ’65 Econoline pickup.

  21. Kirk

    No one has mentioned 3.8 v6? I had a bunch of these at one time, the Ltd ll, a zephyr a couple capri’s and they all had the 3.8 v6. Maybe it’s a more a Canadian version but anyway I hated them at first they all sounded like someone dumped a bag of marbles in them when you’d back off the throttle a bit when revved up but then they gained a lot of respect because they actually made pretty good power and were indestructible . Same goes for the transmission and rear ends . We were picking these cars up for next to nothing so just for fun we would test the boundaries and it was surprisingly impressive. I had an 83 capri with the 3.8 that I’d put into neutral at 30-40 mph put the pedal to the floor and then into reverse on a regular basis to do some fancy acrobatic driving and never broke any thing doing it . . Eventually the floor and roof started to tear apart but the drivetrain was bullet proof. Never seen a 3.8 motor blow up either and we tried. They would only rev to certain rpm and no higher but would do it all day long

  22. Chris

    My grandparents had an ’82 maroon Fairmont that used to shake side to side when you turned it off. Probably not so funny for them, but for a six year old kid, it was hilarious. Pretty sure it was a broken motor mount, but the car wasn’t very old. It was so long ago, I really don’t know. My only other memory of that car was burning the hell out of my skin on the vinyl seats in summer.

    Like 1
  23. Big C

    1978 Car and Driver, Car of the Year. I remember them raving about the Fairmont.

    • Beel

      Pinto engine. I wasn’t impressed at the time, nor am I now. Yet a salesman told me, “there’s a buyer for every car.”

  24. chrlsful

    ck oe specs, fun cars – awesome when modded (true street / track car). Family Daily w/some o0OPh

  25. Wayne

    Kirk, The 3.8 with proper care will run forever. BUT once it has overheated (usually by blowing a coolant hose) the engine is junk. The aluminum heads warp and coolant gets to the engine bearings. (which just destroys the bearings in short order) My Uncle had a later 3.8 Mercury Fox body car with a ton of miles. I told him to keep track of the coolant and change all the hoses as he was in the 225K mileage range. I warned him that once overheated it would be time to get rid of it. At around 275K he blew a hose and overheated the engine. He remembered the get rid of it part, but not the change the hoses part.

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