Ultimate Sleeper? 1979 Ford Fairmont Futura

The seller refers to this great-looking 1979 Ford Fairmont Futura as possibly the ultimate sleeper, and they may not be too far off. Maybe it’s not the ultimate, ultimate sleeper but with a 5.0L V8 and a 4-speed, it sure would be fun to own. They have it listed here on craigslist in fabulous Palm Springs, California and they’re asking $11,900. Let’s check it out.

It would be fun to know the different age groups who follow Barn Finds every day. Are you in your 40s? 50s? 20s? 80s? All of the above and everything in-between? Were you alive in 1979 when this car hit the streets? If so and you had a job and money and needed a wardrobe, did you have tight pants, a silk shirt with the top three buttons undone, and a big gold medallion hanging around your neck? I mean, if you were a male…

The Fairmont was made for a half-dozen years beginning in 1977 for the 1978 model year and they were produced until 1983 which was well past the time you had your silk shirt and tight pants on. Most likely, you had yellow or red parachute pants and a patchwork sweater. Ahh.. the 70s and 80s, ya gotta love those fashions. Mercury also had a version of this car called the Zephyr and they were both replaced by the Ford Tempo and Mercury Topaz, a very, very, very different design direction (think jellybean) than this crisp and good-looking Futura.

You can see a mismatched color on the gas door on the right quarter panel but other than that, I don’t really see any flaws inside or out. This is one nice-looking car. The body color band that wraps around and through the vinyl top is my kind of detail, I absolutely love that. There just aren’t details like that on modern vehicles anymore. The taillights are wicked huge and they might be the only design detail that I’d tweak a bit. Otherwise, I wouldn’t change a thing.

The interior is period-perfect with those plaid seat inserts both front and rear. As you expected, everything looks brand new inside. Yes, that’s a third pedal that you see and a floor shifter – this car has a 4-speed manual! The seller lists a business name where they have a few more photos which is where I got this one showing the trunk.

And, this engine photo is also off of that website. Here’s the big sleeper portion, a Ford Windsor 302 cubic-inch V8. Sadly, it only has 140 horsepower but come on, you’re a Barn Finds reader, you can kick some power into this engine in a weekend that would make it sing. Combined with that 4-speed, this really could be a sleeper. Have any of you owned a Futura? How about one with a 302 and 4-speed?


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  1. Moparman Member

    Maybe the third time will be the charm. This car was featured in March 2021 asking $8K; then in June 2021 on ebay, apparently not reaching the reserve, and now back on Barnfinds. Sharp unusual car, Good luck this time
    around!! :-)

    Like 31
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      My apologies to Adam for not checking first. Thanks for catching that, Moparman.

      Like 9
    • Jake8687 Member

      Thought it ooked familiar.

      Like 5
    • Ten50boy

      Even though it didn’t get sold from the other listings…. The seller, in his or her infinite wisdom hasincreased the price! That’s hysterical. I’m a Ford guy at heart. Owned a bunch of vintage Mustangs and Torinos. This may be a clean car with a manual…. But it ’s still a brown Futura with a 140hp motor. Not that it doesn’t have a cool factor to it, but definitely not $11k+ of cool factor. Maybe $6500 worth…. definitely $5500 worth. Anyway, whoever buys it….. if it actually sells this time…..that buyer will either have to stuff it away and horde it (praying to break even some day…. Really pray…. With the way they are now destroying our economy) or pay a decent amount to upgrade and update quite a few things to make it fun. Manual or not…. Low mileage, clean……. Well, yeah……eh, it’s still a brown Futura with a 140hp.

      Like 2
  2. Cadmanls Member

    Yeah had a zephyr, got this now. Been dependable. Was a six got a Mustang underneath now.

    Like 22
  3. Wayne

    The best thing about Fairmonts is that they are Fox body cars. So all the “trick” Mustang stuff bolts on. (except sub-frame connectors, because of the added 5.5″ wheel base.) (Also remember that all the sub-frames are the same EXCEPT the straight 6 cylinders. But the front sub-frame is an easy swap.) The tail lamps on these cars were obsolete in 1985 so you better not break one! (and replacements are impossible to find)
    Sorry, but it looks better in Durango mode. (Which is where the Durangos started life.)

    Like 1
  4. Mike61

    Had an Aunt from Chicago come stay w/ my Mother for a while back when I first graduated High School, she had the Mercury Zephyr I think is what it was called?? Had a 302 motor and would blister the right rear if coaxed to do so. If I remember correctly, Bob Glidden, NHRA Pro Stock Champion drove a Fairmont for a couple years when he was whoopin up on Grumpy Jenkins back in the day. Classic Ford -vs- Chevy matchup for many years. Guy could make quite a hotrod out of one of these.

    Like 7
  5. Pit Stop Pauly

    My college girlfriend had a red one with white vinyl roof and interior. Too bad it had the straight 6/automatic, but was still a nice driver. I have always found the Futura very attractive, the Fairmont sedans not so much. I would love to have it, just can’t afford it at this time.

    Like 8
  6. Vance

    My Mother needed a new car in the spring of 1980, my sister’s inlaw’s owned a small FLM dealership, and my Father was a Ford only man. We got Fairmont and Pinto brochures to take home. I was 17, and the Futura didn’t look bad with the right color, and a 5.0 and 4 spd it was great. My beloved parents were cheap, but I was allowed to pick the color and 3 options on ……..the Pinto. It did last 180k and I sold it for 500.00 6 years later. Maybe they weren’t as silly as I thought they were.

    Like 7
  7. Brian

    Dad had one as a demonstrator when he worked at the local Ford dealership – 1978 wagon that had a drive shaft vibration that would kick in about 60 miles an hour. Hey nicknamed it the Detroit Vibrator. It was actually a decent amount of fun to drive, especially compared to our 71 olds custom cruiser…

    Like 4
  8. Jake

    My first car was the 4 cylinder turbo version of this, with a sunroof and automatic. Same color combo too. Not too many fond memories of it, but nice to see this one pop up.

    Like 2
  9. Pete R.

    You know when I see a car like this first thing I do is I say “Would you look at this!”. You know what I mean?

    Like 7
    • Claudio

      Born in 1962, so i saw plenty of these in my young adult years , i found them fokin ugly then and find them fugly now …

      Like 5
      • Robert White

        I was born in 60 and I find them to be aptly characterized as putrid looking cars almost worse than an Edsel.


        Like 4
    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member


      Like 4
  10. angliagt angliagt Member

    I parted one of these out years ago – I got
    $50 for the rear light assembly.

    Like 4
  11. Stan

    The 3.7L V6 from a taurus or mustang w 6spd manual would be a nice driver.

  12. Steve Clinton

    Called the ‘Ultimate Sleeper’ because they are SOOO boring.

    Like 4

      More like a nightmare

  13. Robert White

    I had a clapped out 1979 Granada 302 automatic in the early 90s that had rust scabs, and mud, dirt, & dust all over it inside & out of it so it looked like thew worst pile of rusty crap anyone could possibly be unashamed enough to drive.

    One day nearing the end of the car’s life I happened across three young yuppies driving a brand new BMW at the stop lights. The three white male occupants of the BMW proceeded to laugh out loud at my 1979 Ford Granada whilst the driver of the Bimmer decided to blow my doors off at the stop light as soon as it turned green.

    As soon as the light turned green I stomped on the gas and pinned it to the floor for all I was worth. As we proceeded down the road after the light turned green we were neck in neck until about 45 miles per hour hit and then my 302 CID belched a huge massive plume of exhaust and carbon build up in my cyclinders, and my car advanced very quickly to leave the BMW and no longer smiling yuppie males in my dust & exhaust fumes as I was launched far ahead going about 60 miles per hour to see them languishing in my rear view mirror.

    God I love the Ford 302 CID automatic trans. Beats a Bimmer any day of the week.


    Like 23
    • S

      That’s a good story!

      Like 5
    • Ten50boy

      That must’ve been one neglected BMW.

      My sisters boyfriend in HS modified several Futuras and Zephyrs utilizing the growing, yet already vast Fox body aftermarket in the early 90’s. Yet, I still recall a day when he and I were also at a stop light…. Him in smoking his cigarette in his white t-shirt, with his hair slicked back, in wanna be greaser fashion. Me, in my dads 1988 Mazda 626 Turbo with AWS, wearing my Z Cavaricci’s and “wife beater t-shirt” (early 90’s NY folks)…. Him, no a/c…. Looking sweaty… Revving…smoking…. Wanting to race. Me, relaxing, thinking about how I’m going to pick up my girl, where she may want to go to dinner, changing radio stations, the a/c on…. Not a care in the world.

      I finally hear him scream to me…”let’s do this”. The light changes, he smashes the pedal to the floor, loud exhaust, smoke from the tires, leaving sideways in a spat of fury. Truly an impressive sight. I really was surprised. I was actually dumb founded. I never would’ve thought that I would see how well that beast launched….. from the rear view mirror of that 626 turbo with AWS. 😂🤣😅

      True story. Still retold. He spent that entire summer trying to race my dad….. mainly because he couldn’t catch my Camaro with the 383.

      Like 3
  14. Troy

    I would not go so far to call this a sleeper, my 2019 4cyl Volkswagen Tiguan is faster this model year was boged down with early smog crap so it robbed squirrels of power

    Like 2
  15. Troy s

    55 years of age, so of course I remember these even though I was in jr. high during ’79. Started to learn all the interesting numbers the prior year, you know, 427, 426, 440, 396,etc,etc…after my dad “rebuilt” the 390 in his Ford F250 using high performance parts. Strong runner despite the size of the pick up. Stoners, thats what they called us who had long hair and faded/torn jeans and listened to that ‘old crap’ before it became classic rock. No disco, that was a felony in our group, ha!
    My high school had Ford Fairmonts for driver training in the early eighties, so these were around for awhile.
    What makes this one special or interesting is the manual transmission and 302. I wasn’t even aware the V8 came with a four gear until I saw this one, I believe it was listed here before.? Potential 5.0 5 speed terror.

    Like 7
  16. Howie Mueler

    I hate to sound like a broken record (again) but come on, 24 photos and not one engine photo?

    Like 5
  17. S

    Although I am not a fan of Ford Fairmonts, this particular car has a certain level of appeal. For one, this is the best possible body style appearance wise. I like the paint color, but I also really like the plaid seats and the wood grain on the dash. This is a much nicer car than I expected. And it has the 302 and the 4 speed – both of which are quite unusual in one of these cars. The body reminds me of the 77 – 79 Thunderbird, but on a smaller scale. I assume that is what Ford had in mind when they designed these. I think it would have looked cooler without the upper door frames, but still looks OK. I definitely remember these being around as one of my teachers in grade school drove one. It was two tone black and silver with a red vinyl interior.

    Like 3
  18. Bunky

    Bought an ‘80 Futura brand new for $6150. Vinyl top like this one but root beer brown. Price included 4 speaker AM/FM stereo and “pin stripes”. 200 6 w/ 4 speed manual. 4th was overdrive. 28 mpg. Really liked that car.

    Like 5
  19. Karl

    My only hope is it stays sleeping!

    Like 1
  20. Robert White

    I forgot to mention how cold the vinyl seats are in the 79 Granada I had. Never in my life have I experienced such cold seats in a car in an Ottawa winter. Late 70s Fords had the worst vinyl seats ever. Ford is great for winter beaters if it’s a v-8 and old, but they are only good when the interior warms up.


    Like 2
    • chuck

      I had a 80 Fairmont wagon 30 years ago. My son mentioned recently how cold those seats were in winter!

      Like 1
  21. wcshook

    I had a very basic ’71 Ford Torino I had to put in the shop for transmission work. I rented or was given a Ford Fairmont to drive. I knew the Torino was basic, but the Fairmont was even worse. Later on, I thought I had died and gone to Heaven when I traded that Torino in on a demo ’76 Olds 88. GM’s since then, and been very satisfied.

    Like 1

    This one worked on the assembly line where this unit was built, I was a metal finisher/ welder/ solder grinder/ that huge post in the middle took a lot of lead to fill it and those who ground it smooth had to wear special protective gear on their head to keep from getting lead poisoning. They were well built vehicles for what they were and overall went unappreciated by the so called automobile gurus of the time !!

    Like 2
  23. Miminite

    I personally do not like this particular roof style. I’d love to have a plain 2 door sedan, but those are very hard to find. There was one on CL a few yrs ago out of Denver area with a 302 and C4 for reasonable money but I didn’t jump on it. Oh well. I like Fairmonts; they have a look about them that you like or don’t, not much in between And, as said above, they’re Fox platform so anything that fits in a Mustang fits here. Sleeper indeed!

    Like 4
  24. Karl

    100 percent agree!

  25. Mike Kraus

    Heater appears to be disconnected.

  26. Majik

    ~ I was 14 in ’79 and like Troy a stoner. A Fairmont was my High School driver’s education vehicle as well. White with a red interior. I’m guessing it had a six, since it was gutless. I’m not big on this body style, buts it’s much better than the jelly bean lookin’ cars produced these days. The rig I actually learned to drive in was a ’70 Jeep CJ5 with a 302 and 4-speed. Blew through a couple transmission poppin’ wheelies with it. ~S

    Like 1
  27. Mark Childers

    With all 120 mini-horses galloping to the 2.73:1 gear to launch this 2900 pounder in a stoplight street sprint, even without the four speed, it would indeed be the ultimate sleeper (as in snoozer)… But with an amped-up HO5.0 a decent 9″ gear, aftermarket GT suspension, four wheel disc brakes they make a terrific retro-cruiser that can actually get the front end up high enough to see daylight under the tires and dip into the 11s with the AC on full cold…

    Like 1
  28. CenturyTurboCoupe

    I have a 1980 Fairmont Futura with 2.3L turbo. One year only option in the Zeph and Fair line. This one reminds me of mine due to the same colour. I would grab this if it was north of the border. Mine being one of two known on the road up here, first $30,000US takes it home! $11,900 for this one…WOW!

  29. JC

    Whoever ordered it must have been desperately trying to hold on to the good old days… unusual car, but not my flavor.

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