Ford Fairmont is First Produced
The Ford Fairmont was a North American compact car, produced between 1978 and 1983.
The 1978 Ford Fairmont was the first vehicle built on the Ford Fox platform, which would be the basis for a variety of other models, including the 1980 to 1988 Thunderbird, the 1981 to 1982 American Ford Granada, the 1979 to 2004 Mustang, and in 1982, the downsized Lincoln Continental. The Fairmont replaced the Ford Maverick, and at introduction was twinned with the equivalent Mercury Zephyr.
2-door and 4-door sedan, and 5-door wagon bodies appeared at introduction, joined slightly later by a specialty coupe with a different roofline known as the Futura, a name which had first appeared in the Ford Falcon line some 17 years before. The Fairmont Futura featured an unusual two-piece vinyl roof with an upswept central roof band, similar to that on the contemporary Thunderbird. The Fairmont was a stunning success for Ford, and the 1978 model set the record for production of a new model, eclipsing the record held by the 1965 Mustang. While it retained a conventional rear-wheel drive platform, the Fairmont was efficiently packaged and offered excellent passenger and cargo room for its size. Contemporary reviews uniformly praised the Fairmont and it was favorably compared with contemporary Volvo and BMW models. Rack-and-pinion steering gave the Fairmont much better handling and roadability than the Maverick models it replaced, and despite its roomy, midsized body, lightweight components were used which gave the Fairmont better fuel economy than the Maverick.
The Fairmont's front end differed from the Zephyr's at the time of introduction. While the Zephyr always had four headlights, the Fairmont got by with only two, with the exception of the Futura coupe. However, beginning in 1981, the entire Fairmont lineup received the four headlight treatment as well.
A wide variety of engines and transmissions were available, including a 2.3 L four-cylinder, 3.3 L (200 CID) six-cylinder, and 255 CID and 302 CID V8s. Transmissions ranged from a three- or four-speed manual, and the more commonly ordered three-speed automatic. A turbocharged four-cylinder carbureted 2.3 L from the Mustang was offered in 1979 and 1980. A few turbo four door automatic sedans were used for testing by the California Highway Patrol.
In 1981, a new Ford Granada was introduced on the same platform and wheelbase, at which time the Fairmont was positioned in more of a basic, entry level role. In 1982 the Fairmont wagon was dropped and replaced by a Granada wagon. For 1983, the Granada coupe was discontinued and the sedan and wagon were reskinned and rebadged as the Ford LTD, previously the name of Ford's full-size car, which was renamed the Crown Victoria. The Fairmont Futura coupe and four-door sedan (now also with the Futura name) continued through 1983, after which they were replaced by the front-wheel drive Ford Tempo for the 1984 model year.
In the United States, the Ford Fairmont was an all-new, rear wheel drive compact car introduced in the North American market for 1978 and sold through 1983.
The Fairmont was the first vehicle built off the Ford Fox platform, which would be the basis for numerous other models later, such as the 8th generation Thunderbird, the 1979-2004 Mustang, and in 1982, the downsized Lincoln Continental. The Fairmont generally replaced the Ford Granada and at introduction was twinned up with the equivalent Mercury Zephyr. (However, for 1981 and 1982, a Fox-based second-generation Granada was briefly produced.)
Standard coupe, sedan, and wagon bodies appeared at introduction, joined slightly later by a specialty coupe known as the Futura, a name which had first appeared in the Ford Falcon line 15 years before. The Fairmont Futura offered an unusual two-piece vinyl roof with an upswept central roof band, which was somewhat like that offered on the late-’70s Thunderbirds.
The Fairmont's front end differed from the Zephyr's own at the time of their introduction. While the Zephyr always had four headlights, the Fairmont got by with only two, with the exception of the Futura coupe. However, in later years, the Fairmont received the four-headlight treatment as well.
A wide variety of engines were available, including four, six, and V-8 configurations. The Futura briefly offered a turbocharged four.
The Fairmont earned good reviews and was successful, but as average vehicle sizes continued to shrink, Ford's marketers evidently decided the vehicle needed a more "upmarket" image to remain competitive. For 1984, the coupe was discontinued and the sedan and wagon were reskinned and rebadged as the Ford LTD, previously the name of Ford's full-size car. For that vehicle, the LTD Crown Victoria name was introduced. In place of the now defunct "downmarket" Fairmont, Ford introduced the Tempo in the 1984 model year.
Manufacturer Ford Motor Company
Assembly Claycomo, Missouri
St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada
Predecessor Ford Maverick
Successor Ford Tempo
Body style(s) 2-door coupe
4-door station wagon
Layout FR layout
Platform Ford Fox platform
Engine(s) 140 CID OHC I4
200 CID Thriftmaster Six I6
255 CID Windsor V8
302 CID Windsor V8
Transmission(s) 4-speed manual
3-speed C3 automatic
3-speed C4 automatic