One Owner Since ’84: 1983 Ford EXP

Ever find a car that reminds you of a Hot Wheels you once owned? Right down the color? Sure, you’d likely say, but rarely does the car in question look as nice as that die cast you cherished. Well, this very well preserved 1983 Ford EXP coupe here on craigslist does look as nice as what I kept in a miniature display case, and the seller claims it’s a real-deal survivor. He’s asking a mere $2,500.

These unusual Ford EXPs are very hard to find today, harder still to find one that’s been preserved like this one. The seller claims it has been in storage for many years and that it has only 66,000 original miles. The interior shows as well as the exterior, and thank goodness it has the manual transmission.  The dash is uncracked and the tan surfaces are still quite clean.

Outside, if those EXP graphics are original, then this has to be the only one left with them. These unusual coupes were largely Escort-based and were designed to give Ford a sporting two-door to attract the youthful consumer. It stuck around for more years than you’d expect, but that didn’t translate to an abundance of them still being on the road today. Scarcer still is its Mercury LN7 twin.

The EXP didn’t have gobs of power, despite its racy body. If you want a more sporting version, you’ll have to start searching for the proverbial needle in the haystack to find the EXP Turbo Coupe, which I can honestly say I’ve never even seen for sale in all my years writing for Barn Finds. This one looks like the car to buy if you must have the best EXP on the market, and the price seems quite reasonable for the privilege.

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Comments

  1. Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

    Nice car! Ultimately I’m glad this one isn’t closer…because I don’t need another car!

  2. Scot Douglas

    My dad had one this vintage and my mother had the bloated 88 version. The 82 was a 1.6L/ 4-speed and despite the low power, the car was light and handled great. The 88 had a 1.9 L / 5 speed and felt bloated and wallowed more than it handled.

  3. jimbunte jimbunte Member

    Isn’t this a…Fairmont?

    • Mr. TKD

      No. This was based on the Escort. Perhaps you’re thinking of the Fairmont Future?

      • Mr. TKD

        Future

      • Mr. TKD

        Spellcheck ***SMH*** Futura

  4. jaymes

    2 seat excort

  5. nessy

    I think it looks really neat. My friend still has the Mercury version of this car, the LN7. The main difference is the LN7 has a big bubble back rear window which was busted out by jerks a number of times over the years. That rear window stuck out so much that I guess it was just begging to be smashed in.

  6. Duane Boda

    I remember it as not being so funky looking

    and closer to resembling the small Mustang.

    Apparently I’m woefully mistaken. 🤔

  7. Sam

    Cool funky fun! Minilites or vintage bbs wheels would look good. A period Ford EXP ad claims 46 highway mpg.

    • Paul Hudson

      I had a 1983 Escort GT and I did actually see 50 MPG Several times. Remember the speed limit was 55 too.

      Like 1
    • Scot Douglas

      My father averaged 45 mpg on his highway commutes in the 82. :)

    • Henry Drake

      Agree. Ours got 45-50 MPG.
      Drove from San Antonio to Houston on $5 worth of gas.

  8. Doug Potts

    Here’s a link to MotorWeek’s test of the EXP turbo. https://youtu.be/vjEjsZ51ivU

    • AMXSTEVE

      WOW blast from the past.

    • CoolHluke

      Omg those trx tires turning to powder on camera during the braking stops..

  9. Emmy J

    My dad was on the development team. For at least one year it was available in metallic green, and the engineers called all the EXPs and LN7s painted that color “Kermits.”

    Like 1
    • Kevin W

      I used to toy with the idea of transforming one of these with a small V8 and conventional rear drive. Would’ve been a major project, but one hot little machine.

      • Mr. TKD

        Bob Glidden had one so configured.

        Like 1
  10. That Guy

    I always thought these cars were a four-wheeled camel. As the old saying goes, “A camel is a horse that was designed by a committee.”

    This wasn’t Ford’s finest hour. But it’s fun to see one today. I really can’t recall the last time I encountered one.

    • Kevin W

      The 80s weren’t anybody’s finest hour. It was by far the worst decade ever for the American Auto industry

  11. lawyer George

    I wonder how hard it would be to put the later more powerful turbo engine in this. The 84Doug turns us on to while improving the car’s performance appreciably ugly-fied the looks of this one. A friend of mine was anxiously awaiting the production of the EXP to “blow” the Preludes out of the water. He cried when it hit the market as a gutless turd. I do quite like this one, but one drive would have me cursing the lack of power.

  12. Paul

    WOW! I had this die cast car, too! Mine was grey, though. My kids just found it at my parents’ house.

  13. John Rumph

    I bought a used one for my son’s first car. It ran pretty well, but we discovered that due to a flaw in engineering, it was impossible to align the front end.

  14. Brian Raby

    I had a 1998 EXP for 4 years from 1993-97..had around 188,000 miles on it when a drunk driver smashed me and some others. I took care of it and it was a good little car.

    Like 1
  15. irocrobb

    I have not saw one on the road like this in over 20 years. Call me strange but I always liked the look of them. I have never driven one though but 2500 bucks seems really cheap to me.

  16. Jeremy Holmes

    I owned a few of these as a kid. Not great cars but you could buy them cheap

    Like 1
  17. T

    Boss at my first job had an ‘84 or ‘85, gray over gray with the manual trans. Gave it to me now and then to run errands for the company, then in ‘88 gave it to me for free. Of course by then it had over 150k, no paint to speak of and literally no clutch. Used it as partial trade the next day for another car, but part of me wished I’d kept and fixed it.

  18. LAB3

    Completely forgot about these, seems like a better than fair price to have something unique.

  19. Lee Clary

    I have the needle in the haystack, a 1984 EXP Turbo Coupe. Currently being restored. Rust free southern car. Had one new in 1985 and ready to step back in time.

    Like 1
  20. Dennis Archambeault

    I had one of these given to me well used. It met its death at a drive up pay phone. I’m making a call from the car and flames come shooting out the louvers in the hood. The coil and fuel pump we’re close enough to arc and catch fire.

  21. Reid Hall

    These were really cool new, and sporty,l just thinking about ,the one my first cousin had the other day. She had one very similar to one posted on the website someone else posted, it was white with black trim, and interior, and factory rally wheels. Yes the prices seem reasonable for these cars, but remember they don’t make these anymore ,so parts may be harder to find.

  22. Devin

    My first car was a 1982 EXP red/red with a sunroof, 1.6L H.O. engine, A/C (yes, that was still an option back then), and Cruise Control. I sold it in 1984 to get a fairly solid 1962 Austin Healey 3000 that I still have today (long story, but I had sold the Healey in ’86, but got it back in 1998).

    Sometimes I really regret getting rid of that EXP. It was very reliable and efficient, which certainly would’ve served me better as a teenager that had a job after school. It may not have been a real sports car, but it had air conditioning (vs. a boiler of a cabin like the Healey had pre-restoration) and I liked the body style. While I created a lot of memories in the Healey, and still create them today, especially with my now teenage son, I do look at these pictures with a certain fondness.

    Like 1
  23. VegasDude

    A coworker had one of these brand new.. Haven’t seen one in decades.. I love quirky cars.. I’d buy it !!

  24. Bob

    I’m looking to buy a Mercury LN7 or a Ford EXP that looks very close to the Mercury LN7 (probably would have to be an 82 or 83 EXP). Anyone have the contact info for the seller of the car shown here or any other similar car? Thanks very much.

    Like 1
  25. Bob

    Here is a photo of my 1983 Mercury LN7

    Like 1
  26. Al Haynes

    Yes I’d like to keep up with these cars, I’m thinking about Buying one of them, if I can find an Early one, a LN 7 most likely.

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