Ford Tempo is First Produced
The Ford Tempo is a two-door coupe and four-door sedan car model that was produced by Ford Motor Company for model years 1984 to 1994.
It was a downsized successor to the boxy Ford Fairmont that introduced "jellybean" styling, and was replaced in 1994 by the Ford Contour. The Tempo was part of a rejuvenation by Ford to offer more environmentally friendly, fuel efficient, and more modern styled models to compete with the imports. While the car sold well, its innovation and aerodynamic design paved the way for the even more groundbreaking Ford Taurus. Its twin, the Mercury Topaz, is a slightly upscale variant of the Tempo sold through Ford's Lincoln-Mercury division.
The design and life of the Tempo began in the late 1970s as Ford was gearing to build towards a more ergonomic, more efficient, and more aerodynamic design philosophy. The new design philosophy rested in part due to aging vehicle platforms, and two oil embargoes which led to a rise in more fuel-efficient import vehicle sales. Taking note of this, Ford set out to revolutionize the automotive industry, and would later lay the groundwork for three revolutionary vehicles: The 1983 Thunderbird (and its counterpart the Mercury Cougar), the 1984 Tempo, and a car to be released in 1986, the Taurus. The Tempo would be based on a stretched version of the front wheel drive Ford CE14 platform used on the Ford Escort, but with a radical new body.
In December 1978, wind tunnel testing began on the Tempo, with more than 450 hours of testing resulting in more than 950 different design changes. As part of these changes, the Tempo and Topaz both featured a 60° windshield, matching that of the new Thunderbird and Cougar. Also new were the aircraft-inspired door frames, which originally appeared on the Thunderbird/Cougar. These door frames wrapped up over the edge of the roof, improved sealing, allowed for hidden drip rails, and cleaned up the A-pillar area of the car significantly. The rear track was also widened, creating more aerodynamic efficiency. The front grille was laid back more and the leading edge of the hood was tuned for aerodynamic cleanliness. Wheels were pushed out to the edges of the body, decreasing areas where air turbulence would be created. The rear of the cars were treated to just as many changes. The rear window was laid down at 60 degrees as well, and the trunk lid was raised higher than the side windows. This allowed the air to flow off the car more smoothly, and allowed for greater fuel efficiency. From the side view, this raised trunk created a wedge look to the car which was especially prominent on the two-door coupe versions.
All of these changes created a Coefficient of drag of .36 for the 2-door car (.37 for the 4-door), which was equal to the Cd of the new "Aero" Ford Thunderbird. The final design of the cars was reached so that the car looked good on every trim level, not just the top-of-the-line as some of the competition had done. When the Tempo was released in 1983 as a 1984 model, it became an instant hit, with more than 107,000 two-door models and more than 295,000 four-door models being sold in the first year alone. Initial advertising featured a Tempo sedan performing a loop on a stunt track. The commercials touted the Tempo as being "America's all new aerodynamic sedan" and listed features such as "the world's most advanced automotive computer" that claimed to have the ability to monitor up to seven vital engine functions, and noted the interior to be roomier in the rear seat than a Mercedes-Benz 300D. Other ads featured the slogan "Pick up the Tempo of your life!"
The first generation Tempo, released in 1983, was a stark contrast from the Fairmont that it replaced, although the car was shorter than the Fairmont, and equaled length to a Chevrolet Cavalier at the time. Both the front windshield and rear window were set at 60° angles, with the trunk of the car being placed higher than the side windows to allow for greater fuel efficiency and air flow. On the Tempo, a rear quarter window was present while the Topaz received a more formal C-pillar arrangement minus the window. The front of the car featured a set of two sealed-beam halogen headlamps recessed in chrome "buckets" and the grille in between the headlights featured four horizontally thin rails each swept back to allow for greater air flow into the engine compartment and over the hood. The Tempo shared much of its design language with the European Ford Sierra, launched one year prior. Standard on the first generation Tempo was a new 2.3 L HSC inline four-cylinder gasoline engine with a one-barrel carburetor, with an optional Mazda-built four-cylinder diesel engine. Mated to either of these engines were the choice of a four-speed IB4 or five-speed MTX-III manual transmission (which was the standard, and only option for the diesel engine variant), or the standard 3-speed FLC automatic with a floor-mounted shift lever. The instrument panel featured a new, easier to read gauge layout, with all switches and controls placed within easy reach of the driver. In 1985, the Tempo became the first production sedan to feature a driver's side airbag.
In 1986, the Tempo and the Topaz saw several moderate design changes which coincided with the release of the then-new and revolutionary 1986 Taurus. While generally the same car, the front and rear end styling was where the changes were most evident. The standard rectangular sealed-beam halogen headlamps were replaced with a new, plastic composite design which only required replacement of the bulb itself. These new headlights were flush-mounted to match the redesigned front corner lights and a freshly restyled grille, which also closely matched that of the Taurus (the Topaz received a pseudo-lightbar grille styled after the Sable). For the rear end, the trunk and taillights were slightly restyled, giving the car a sharper look. Replacing the carburetor on the 2.3 L four-cylinder engine was a new Central Fuel Injection (CFI) system (the carbureted version was still available in Canada until 1987). New was an optional "LX" luxury trim, and a sportier GLS, which was a performance-geared version featuring a performance-tuned HSO variant of the existing 2.3 L engine and a 5-speed MTX-III manual transmission. The GLS also featured a more defined ground effects package over the previous GLX offering. Other changes and improvements included the addition of automatically-retracting front seatbelt shoulder straps, and the addition of a new all-wheel drive model. The Tempo AWD included special badging, interior badges and (most notable) a three-inch-wide chrome strip running from front wheel to rear wheel, that read Tempo AWD (with 'All Wheel Drive' under the larger AWD writing).
Trim levels for the first generation Tempo are as follows:
L (entry level model)
GL (mid-level model)
LX (introduced in 1986 as the luxury model)
GLX (introduced in 1985 as the sport model)
From 1984 to 1985, there was also the Sport GL, which was more of a package for the GL then a separate trim level.
It was in late 1983 when the Ford Motor Company introduced Ford Tempo as a 1984 model. Going through a series of evolution, Ford Tempo found its way to the latest model of being a powerful, reliable, excellent in value and quality, and most of all, an affordable Ford product. There are great accessories and performance parts that were standard in these series such as AM/FM stereo, a digital electronic clock, a console-mounted cup-holder, a leather-wrapped shift knob, and de-misters.
One trim up, you then get a dual power mirrors, a polycase, 14-inch wheels with performance-all season tires, power locks, and upgraded cloth seat trim. Options include a driver's-side air bag and six-way power seat, air conditioning, and a rear-window defroster. Tempo comes in two 4-door series, GL and LX, and a 2-door Sport series. An All-Wheel Drive system came only on 4-door sedans. A 98-horsepower 4-cylinder engine went into GL and LX models, while GLS and All-Wheel Drive Tempos got a 100-horsepower rendition.
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