Mercedes Wanna Be: 1978 Ford Granada ESS

When Ford introduced the luxury compact Granada (and Mercury Monarch) in 1975 it was the right car at the right time. Even though its roots went back to the Falcons of the sixties, it was a fresh look for a compact Ford vehicle. You could see ads in the seventies comparing the Granada with the Cadillac Seville and Mercedes-Benz. In 1978, Ford introduced the Granada ESS to hopefully directly take on the Mercedes. Well, maybe they looked similar (see a comparison ad here). While the Mercedes was selling for around $20,000, you could get this ESS new for around $5,000. Probably few potential Mercedes buyers considered the ESS, but it was something a little different looking for the compact buyers. This is a 1978 Ford Granada ESS 2 door sedan for sale here on eBay in Clearwater, Florida.

This car is original with just over 32,000 miles. The white paint shines like new. The original window sticker is still with the car as well as original dealer key fobs. This Granada ESS has four new tires as well as new muffler and tailpipes. It appears to have been garaged all its life. The ESS model included wheel covers (very similar to a Mercedes), blackout trim, louvered rear side windows, heavy-duty suspension, blacked out grille, black rear panel, black side molding, and dual remote racing style mirrors.

Inside we find a very nice interior. There are no wear spots, rips, or stains. The air conditioning works fine as well as the factory AM/FM Stereo radio. The dash top is perfect with no cracks or fading. The carpeting is in good condition as well. The front seat is a Flight Bench seat with center armrest finished in Camel Kasman cloth and vinyl. The blackout theme carries inside with some black trim on the dash and a black steering wheel and steering column.

The engine in this Granada ESS is a 302 cubic inch V-8, which was the largest engine available in Granada by 1978. The seller says this car gets a lot of attention. The Buy it Now price is $9,500. So if your budget is $10,000 for a turn key car with nothing to do other than drive it home, this may be the car you’re looking for.

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    I’ve always liked these, not enough to pay $10g’s for one, tho. Clearly not a M-B, but for a US car, it had all the right stuff. Smaller size, plenty of power, nice interior, you know what? It’s still a nice car.

    25
    • Jerry Brentnell

      when I married my first wife she had one these it was a 3 day a week car you got to drive it 3 days and fix it the rest of the time ! pure junk! but she hit a tree with it and I scrapped it and bought her a real car dodge K car! she drove that for years no problems

      3
  2. Phinias

    Having had to drive one of these back in the day (we used them as news cars at a TV station I worked at), I can tell you that to a person we were all thrilled when we were rid of them. They were unreliable, handled poorly, ugly, and not very comfortable. The doors were huge. One of the doors actually FELL OFF in the station parking lot. They were terrible cars. We got new vehicles every 2-3 years, so they weren’t old when they were falling apart.

    9
    • KevinR

      I have found that it isn’t fair to condemn a vehicle based on how they perform in fleet use. Fleet drivers seem to go out of their way to be excessively hard on them and no one is concerned enough to take care of them like they would a privately owned car.

      Given the state of American cars of the period, these were pretty good. However they were basically appliances so I doubt you’re going to find many of them in decent condition.

      25
      • Fredayday

        Doesn’t matter if the vehicle got THOUSANDS of uses during its stay as a fleet vehicle, a door falling off is no excuse at all. American workers didn’t care about the products they were putting out at the time and getting paid insane amounts of money to build. What’s sad about it is that they’re still like this…

        4
      • Miguel

        KevinR, you absolutely should judge a vehicle on its fleet use.

        If a car can stand up to that abuse and keep going, it is a good car.

        If doors fall off, stay away from it.

        You will not hear stories like this about Crown Vics or Caprices which take fleet abuse like champs.

        Some cars were junk from day one, even though a few people got good ones, or they took really good care of them and got 100K out of them.

        3
      • PatrickM

        Fredayday, I agree. Hence, the increase in Japanese cars. More and better engineering and constructing (production). Being and original American, I would definitely love to see the return of caring about ones quality of work and less complaining about the job. Of course, that would include less”bossy” bosses.
        This car appears to be a good car. Looks great! Of course, there is always the question about the mechanicals. I would really like to have this one, but, the old story about money and place….

  3. Joshua Smith

    I had a Granada and I could not keep it going straight. It wandered all over the road and just refused to let me hold the wheel straight. You can have these cars.

    8
    • Howard A Member

      A lot of Fords in that time period had funky steering. I know what you mean, as they wore, they were all over the road. I think it was the steering box.

      5
      • CCFisher

        The suspension and steering linkage on these could be traced back to the Falcon, with modifications along the way. Power assist was added via a control valve and hydraulic slave cylinder that were external to the steering box. With so many joints in the steering linkage, the steering wasn’t precise when new, and slop increased quickly as the components aged. My ’68 Mustang has a similar setup, and it’s probably the worst aspect of the car.

        6
  4. Will

    A Granada was the last new car my Dad bought. I inherited it and drove it to high school in 78,79. I would love this car.

    11
  5. Mark

    Given all the issues the late 70’s Fords had, I have to say when I got to drive these when new, they were nice drivers and had the smooth tight ride of a much larger car. Would like to have the 4 speed version.

    13
  6. Dave Mika

    We have a customer with a crappy KIA that was made to mimic a ‘benz so we named it The Pretenz.

    14
  7. Coventrycat

    Nice.

    1
  8. Dave

    This reminded me of a Lincoln commercial spoof on SNL in which the car was smooth enough for a rabbi to perform a circumcision while driving on a bumpy road.

    19
  9. Racer417

    Mercedes neverbe 🙂

    4
    • PatrickM

      Right. Economy cars just don’t compare to luxury cars. Never have. Never will.

  10. Bob_in_TN Member

    I also always liked these. Yes I know they are essentially Brougham-ized Falcons, but for what they were and for the era they existed, I thought they were reasonably well done.

    I particularly liked them when equipped as follows; two-door, V-8, bucket seats, console, 4-speed transmission, sport steering wheel, styled steel wheels. To me, that made for a sharp looking car. I wonder if any so equipped survive today.

    We also had one in a fleet. This was a group of young oil field engineers, a group not known to be easy on vehicles. The car was nicer and better equipped compared to the other fleet vehicles, so it ended up being reserved for less-severe duty.

    This is a fine example. Thanks Bill for the write-up.

    7
  11. Thomas

    I had a 75 Granada. 302 V8 with buckets and a 4speed tranny. Drove that car forever. Loved it.

    13
  12. Todd Zuercher

    This has to be the best-preserved example of this edition left on the planet. I’ve never seen the decals on the rear quarter panels either.

    5
  13. Carstories Member

    I have always liked the Granada/Monarch twins. I like the look they offered. My mom had a Monarch and I have had two Granadas of my own.

    I wasn’t fortunate enough to have the V8 in either of ’em, but found the six to be plenty adequate for daily driving.

    To me the seats in these cars were superbly designed, and in cloth were some of the most comfortable I’ve ever sat in. Especially when they weren’t available with power features offering seventy seven different positions at the push of a single button like today’s vehicles.

    I would love to have this one… but sorry, not at ten grand.

    4
  14. local_sheriff

    Given this is a Malaise Era vehicle, it hasn’ a very bad look to it.Well, maybe not the best either,but I like it.Perhaps the most shocking thing about this example is how extremely well it presents, this vehicle obviously has been cared for! This interior is not only lounge chair quality, it seems brand-spanking new! I cannot say there’s anything about the car’s condition to criticize.

    At 10 grand there are plenty other (more?)interesting rides available.On the other hand I doubt there would be cleaner Granadas to be found…!

    4
  15. Fordguy1972

    I liked the Granada/Monarchs when they came out; nicely styled and the right size for the time. This ESS is about as clean an example as you will find, it’s a beauty. It checks all the right boxes; has only two doors, nicely optioned with a plush interior and a small block V8. While as-is it’s not exactly a powerhouse, the aftermarket offers a lot of options to turn the 302 into a better performer. While a stick would be nice, I think for this car the automatic transmission would be my choice.

    A beautiful example of the Ford Granada, I doubt you could find a better one. A low-mile survivor that apparently needs nothing and that will get a lot of attention wherever you go, including your local show-and-shine. If I wanted it, I might try to get it for less than the asking price.

    4
  16. Lance Platt

    A couple I knew who liked Ford bought a brand new fully loaded Granada. They let me drive it to show it off. Loved the formal boxy styling and the appointments as a passenger. But to echo another comment, the overassisted power steering had no road feel making the car hard to maneuver. I once owned a Pinto and a Bobcat and the rack and pinion steering on the subcompacts were far superior to the Granada for daily driving.

    1
  17. Jimmy

    My Dad bought a 78 Granada new Silver with Maroon vinyl top and interior. The whole family used it off and on until the mid 80’s. The only issue he had was the silver paint started flaking off after about a year and Ford repainted it under warranty. We loved that car.

    2
  18. Barry L Klotz

    I myself owned a 79 Granada. Loved it. It had the straight 250-6 cylinder. I put about 150miles a day maybe more. Never had any bad troubles with it . It got used in all kinds of weather conditions. Never missed a days usage. Sure do miss it. Thanks, Barry

    1
  19. PRA4SNW Member

    To the right person, this is the one to get.

    It’s like my desire to own a late ’90s Riviera. They are really just used cars. But if I ever buy one, I want one like this, and will have most likely have to pay up to own it.

    • Bob_in_TN Member

      Like many classic car buffs, I have my mental list of cars I’d like to own. Most are popular, collectible models…. but some are not. Those which are less collectible are thus typically now quite rare, with one in good condition being hard to find. Much like this Granada ESS. So when one shows up, it might come with a price tag which is ‘higher’ than what most people think is appropriate. But, it might be the only one out there. And, who cares what you paid for it? It’s you that you should please, not everyone else.

      So, I hope you find that 90’s Riviera.

      1
  20. T.Kent

    I convinced my Dad to buy one of these in the mid-80s: ‘78 Ghia four-door with full power accessories and the 302. The car, even by the low standards of the late seventies and mid eighties, was horrible. Painfully slow, gas-guzzling, and the 302 liked to cut off while you were driving. It almost killed my Dad one day when it lost power in the middle of a curve and an inattentive driver rear-ended him. No thanks.

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