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79 Ford Fairmont 302/Four Speed


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I'm such a sap for a four speed.  In the late 70s the stick in an American car was almost made of unobtainium.   I thought this was kinda neat.

 

https://inlandempire.craigslist.org/cto/d/fontana-classic-79-ford-fairmont/7298184515.html

 

1979 Ford Fairmont. All original, had been in garage. With only 87,000 miles. Factory 302 with a 4 speed manual transmission. Second owner. In excellent shape, runs good just pass smog test.

033021-1979-Ford-Fairmont-Futura-1.jpg

033021-1979-Ford-Fairmont-Futura-4.jpg

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15 minutes ago, Aaron65 said:

Look at those seats!  If anyone's been looking for a stock Fairmont, this is your chance...nice car!

 

I think it is a pretty neat car and if it was 10 years ago I would have bought it for one of my kids to drive to school.  But is there such a thing as someone looking for a Fairmont?

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My first new car was a Fairmont. Parts were almost dropping off of it as I drove it out of the dealership. It would have been considered a terrible car if only there hadn't been so much domestic competition for that distinction at the time.

Sure, it's a 302. Instead of the 88 HP four, you got maybe 120-140 HP?

But it is a nice, clean example, and I always liked the upholstery. I had a couch at the time that almost matched.. 

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It’s not a give away price but when you’re looking at newer cars to own and drive this one stands out.  At one time almost every old common car like Chevys and Fords were not considered worthy of preserving.  This one is a good find as a two door V8 stick. The 70s cars were all over the place in quality as I know firsthand from owning them when new.

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I had a '78 two door Zephyr, which was essentially the same thing as a Fairmont Futura (stylized roof ala '56 Crown Victoria.) Before I go further, some people on this forum seem to take offense at the frank opinions expressed in the "not mine" forum, but I personally see the honest assessments of cars (that are not owned by the people posting) as a way for potential buyers to benefit from the experience of others in a critical context. So it's in that spirit that I say the Zephyr I owned probably had the worst build and design quality of any newer car I've ever purchased. I can't exactly remember when I bought it in the 80's, but it had low mileage and looked in relatively new condition. Opening the hood on that thing gave me the feeling that Ford was going back to a Model T or Model A philosophy of car building: manufacture an unsophisticated form of transportation that's built as simply and inexpensively as possible. Mine was an inline 6 with an auto trans.

 

It shimmied at certain highway speeds and you could hear the road noise big time. Deficient power that could only be acceptable in a car during the national 55 mph interstate speed limit era of the '70's and '80's.  I'm not sure it could even do 85 mph, but maybe it could...downhill. A non-car friend of mine who owned an '80's Honda of some sort was amazed by the low quality of my car. He accompanied me on a road trip to Canada in the thing, and while he largely held his tongue about my car's deficiencies, he was conspicuously unimpressed. I remember driving my dad back from a surgical procedure in that car and the bouncy harsh ride gave him pain every time we hit a bump or hole (I think he had a hard time believing I was genuinely trying to avoid them.)

 

On the other hand, a lot of people made these cars into some very serious hot rods back in the 1990's and later. Their rudimentary construction made them light weight. That being said, I personally believe that the Futura/Zephyr was about as bad as it got for the American car industry in my lifetime. Maybe Vegas and Pintos were worse. Not many others, though.

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3 hours ago, supercub said:

I would start the worse car list with Chevette.

 

That could be a good debate: which was the worst Chevy...Chevette or Vega? I actually think the Chevette had a few redeeming qualities.

 

Anyway, one thing I can say about the Ford Fairmont Futura and Mercury Zephyr - they weren't unattractive for the types of cars they were. At a time when Detroit tried to make up for uninspiring cars by making them big,  ornate and glitzy, the Futura had relatively clean styling. Also, I just could've had a bad one...or one that was more bad than the others. I did buy it used.

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And for comparison an Australian 1979 Ford Fairmont 

  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Fairmont_(Australia)

https://www.carsales.com.au/ford/fairmont/price/1979/ghia-222109/

https://www.shannons.com.au/club/enthusiasts/whitelightning85/garage/1979-ford-fairmont-ghia/

https://www.carsales.com.au/cars/ford/fairmont/ (some very optimistic sellers!)

 

In AU the Fairmont was an upmarket version of the Falcon.

Most would have been 250ci straight 6 (made in AU) with auto

Options for 351V8 or 302V8 (unsure what was offered)

1979 was when to body style changed a lot from XC to XD

I had a 1979 XC Falcon station-wagon as work car for a while

Edited by 1939_Buick (see edit history)
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12 hours ago, George Smolinski said:

Just for the nuts of it, I checked NADA. They don't list a 4 speed as an option, and the high retail is under $2000.

 

Agree with the valuation.

My Fairmont was a 4 cylinder with a factory 4 speed, and you needed every one of those gears to get it going. 

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NADA is typically worthless for collector cars.   I don't disagree that a Fairmont in general is a POS,  but I think a nice clean California car with a factory 302/four speed is a pretty neat.   Definitely worth more than 2k all day long.    Great car for a kid to learn a stick on.

 

If that four speed is not factory,  then ignore everything I said.

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3 hours ago, alsancle said:

NADA is typically worthless for collector cars.   I don't disagree that a Fairmont in general is a POS,  but I think a nice clean California car with a factory 302/four speed is a pretty neat.   Definitely worth more than 2k all day long.    Great car for a kid to learn a stick on.

 

If that four speed is not factory,  then ignore everything I said.

I think this is the Futura model, and the four-speed was standard with the 302.

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I think it’s neat but not nearly 8K neat. A good friend in hs in 87 bought a K car new. Very similar and anemic. Great for delivering pizza. Not so good for picking up girls.

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1 hour ago, deaddds said:

I think it’s neat but not nearly 8K neat. A good friend in hs in 87 bought a K car new. Very similar and anemic. Great for delivering pizza. Not so good for picking up girls.

The hot girls that were around when that car was new are in their 60s now and would probably enjoy cruising around in it today.

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So recent posts on these message board have a '71 Lincoln for $5500, a '62 Buick Wildcat for $16000 and Ford for $8000.  For grins and giggles which one would you choose?

 

Yes the Buick may or may not belong on this list but I threw it in there as a wildcard....

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On 3/31/2021 at 7:38 AM, Aaron65 said:

If anyone's been looking for a stock Fairmont, this is your chance...nice car!

 

A member of our AACA region has the same model,

though a Mercury and with the usual automatic transmission.

Here is a picture I took of it at the 2008 Hershey meet:

 

 

800758-R1-09-15.jpg

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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16 hours ago, deac said:

So recent posts on these message board have a '71 Lincoln for $5500, a '62 Buick Wildcat for $16000 and Ford for $8000.  For grins and giggles which one would you choose?

 

Yes the Buick may or may not belong on this list but I threw it in there as a wildcard....

 

I would choose that Fairmont.

Real cruisers have three pedals.

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1 minute ago, JACK M said:

 

I would choose that Fairmont.

Real cruisers have three pedals.

 

When I was in HS there were two groups of guys.  Those that had 4 speeds and then everybody that didn't matter.   That has been tattooed in to my brain.

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16 hours ago, deac said:

So recent posts on these message board have a '71 Lincoln for $5500, a '62 Buick Wildcat for $16000 and Ford for $8000.  For grins and giggles which one would you choose?

 

Yes the Buick may or may not belong on this list but I threw it in there as a wildcard....

I’m going for the Lincoln all day. I’m admittedly biased, but I also think it’s the best value. I was around when the Fairmont was new, and I relate to some of the earlier comments about build quality and performance. 
 

- John

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