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Thread: Ford Fairmont (North America) 1977-1983

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    Ford Fairmont (North America) 1977-1983

    The Ford Fairmont is a compact car that was produced by Ford from the 1978 to the 1983 model years. The successor of the Ford Maverick, the Fairmont was the third generation of compact sedans sold by Ford in North America; Lincoln-Mercury marketed the model line as the Mercury Zephyr. In contrast to Maverick, the Fairmont was a completely new design, no longer based upon the Ford Falcon.

    The inaugural model lines of the rear-wheel drive Ford Fox platform, the Fairmont and Zephyr formed the basis of twelve additional model lines for Ford and Lincoln-Mercury that would remain in production through the 1993 model year. In contrast to its predecessor, the Fairmont was offered in four different body configurations.

    Through its seven-year production across a single generation, the Fairmont/Zephyr was produced across multiple facilities across North America by Ford. The 100-millionth vehicle produced by Ford was a 1978 Fairmont Futura coupe assembled on 15 November 1977. As the use of front-wheel drive was expanded across its model lineup, Ford replaced the Fairmont with the Ford Tempo for the 1984 model year.

    Background and development
    In April 1973, the American EPA released its comprehensive list of fuel economy results. In October of the same year, the 1973 oil crisis started. At the time, Ford's North American product line included the subcompact Pinto and Mustang II, and the compact Maverick, but replacements for all of these models would soon be needed. At the same time, Ford of England's Cortina line was in need of refreshing, as was the Taunus model built by Ford of Germany.

    Changes were also happening at Ford's executive level, as William O. Bourke, ex-chairman of Ford of Europe and one-time managing director of Ford of Australia, was made executive vice president of North American Operations and Robert Alexander, previously with Ford of Europe as vice president in charge of car development, moved to same position in the States.

    Hal Sperlich was vice-president of Product Planning and Research at Ford. A proponent of downsizing, Sperlich conceived of a "World Car" that could be sold in both Europe and North America as a solution to the needs of the various divisions.

    In December 1973, Ford President Lee Iacocca formally approved development of the Fox platform. The name of the platform was borrowed from the Audi 80, sold in the US and Australia as the Audi Fox. Ford's European executives, many now back in the States, considered the 80 their class-leading subcompact competitor and made it the baseline reference for the new platform.

    Although the Fairmont would be the first Fox-based car to reach the market, development was guided by an anticipated sport coupe to be based on the new platform.

    Development started in early 1973 on both a short-wheel base version, to replace the Pinto/Cortina/Taunus lines, and a long-wheelbase version, that would become the Fairmont. By 1974, the difficulties faced in meeting the conflicting regulatory requirements in different markets and differing production methods used by the various divisions had killed the world car idea. In 1975, North American Automobile Operations took over development of the Fox platform from Sperlich's Product Planning and Research group.

    The first running Fox/Fairmont prototype was a modified Cortina with a MacPherson strut and torsion bar front suspension.

    A 1980 Fairmont station wagon converted to an electric vehicle by Electric Vehicles Associates Inc. and renamed the EVA Current Fare Wagon was evaluated by the US Department of Energy from March 1980 to November 1981.

    The Ford Fairmont was launched in August 1977 as a 1978 model. The name was first used by Ford in 1965 for the Australian Fairmont, an upscale trim level model of the Ford Falcon (XP), and had also been used in the South African market in 1969.

    Chassis specifications
    The Fairmont is based on the rear-wheel drive Ford Fox platform, using steel unibody construction. The independent front suspension comprised lower lateral arms, MacPherson struts, and helical-wound coil springs. In what Ford called a modified or hybrid MacPherson strut system, the coil springs were mounted separately from the struts rather than concentrically, being located between the lower arm and front cross-member. A front anti-roll bar was standard equipment. The rear suspension used a solid axle suspended on coil springs and vertically mounted dampers. The axle was located by four links; two lower trailing arms and two sharply angled upper control arms.

    The Fairmont has power-assisted brakes, with 10.0 inch vented front discs and 9.0 x 1.8 inch rear drums. Standard wheels and tires were 14x5.0 and DR78-14 respectively. Steering was by a rack and pinion system with 3.2 turns lock-to-lock.

    Powertrain
    For its entire production run, the standard engine for the Fairmont was a 140 cu in (2.3 L) inline-4 (shared with the Pinto). Initially producing 88 hp, following several revisions, output rose to 90 hp to 1983. The 2.3L engine was initially paired with a 3-speed manual (replaced by a 4-speed in 1979), with a 3-speed automatic offered as an option. For 1980 only, a 120 hp turbocharged version of the 2.3L engine (shared with the Mustang Cobra) was available in Fairmont sedans and coupes. Examples with the turbocharged engine were distinguished by a center-mounted hood "power bulge".

    As an option, a 200 cu in (3.3 L) inline-6 (shared with the Maverick and Granada) was offered from 1978 to 1983 model years. While offering less horsepower than the 2.3L inline-4, the 3.3L inline-6 produced significantly more torque. For 1978, the standard transmission was a 3-speed manual (replaced by a 4-speed for 1979); a 3-speed automatic was offered as an option.

    For 1978 to 1981 model years, the Fairmont was offered with two different Windsor V8 engines (shared with mid-size and full-size Ford vehicles). For 1978 and 1979, a 139 hp 302 cu in (4.9 L) V8 was offered, available with a 4-speed manual transmission for the 1979 model year only. It was replaced by a 115 hp 255 cu in (4.2 L) V8 for 1980 and 1981. The 255 engine was paired exclusively with a 3-speed automatic transmission.

    Body design
    The Fairmont debuted for 1978 with three body configurations; a two-door sedan, a four-door sedan, and a five-door station wagon. Late in the 1978 model year, a two-door coupe was introduced; named Futura, the name revived the sporty trim level used for the 1960s Ford Falcon.

    The Fairmont Futura was developed from a Fairmont-based Thunderbird design proposal from March 1976. The Futura was a two-door coupe distinguished by a model-specific roofline that featured a wrapover B-pillar similar to the 1977–1979 Ford Thunderbird but without opera windows. The rear fascia was also given its own wrap-around taillamp design. To further differentiate the Futura from the standard Fairmont, the coupe was fitted with the 4-headlight fascia from the Zephyr, and a cross-hatched grille was used in place of the standard eggcrate grille. For the 1980 model year Ford expanded the Futura nameplate to include a four-door sedan and added a Futura station wagon for 1981.

    For 1981, the exterior trim was revised with the addition of a slim molding strip along the side exterior panels; convenience equipment was also increased. For 1982, several model revisions were made. Ford moved the Fairmont station wagon to the Granada model line and the Futura trim became the sole trim, expanding it to the two-door sedan for the first time. Effectively, this standardized the four-headlight front fascia (of the Futura coupe and Mercury Zephyr).

    For 1983, Ford introduced an "S" model of the Fairmont Futura as a base trim. Sold only as a sedan and only with the 2.3L engine, the radio and right-hand mirror of the Futura S became options.

    Discontinuation
    During the early 1980s, Ford undertook a major revision of its product ranges. As Ford expanded its use of front-wheel drive vehicles into the compact and mid-size segment, the use of the rear-wheel drive Fox platform shifted away from family cars. After the 1983 model year, the Fairmont and Zephyr ended production. Released in 1983 (as early 1984 models), the front-wheel-drive Ford Tempo and Mercury Topaz succeeded the Fairmont and Zephyr.

    As Ford returned the Ford Blue Oval emblem to North American vehicles in 1983, the Fairmont was the sole model line to use "FORD" badging (as it was in the final year of its model cycle); the Thunderbird (which has its own emblem) never used it on the grille.

    Source: Wikipedia
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    Last edited by Man of Steel; 12-18-2020 at 01:27 PM.

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    Shared chassis detail with contemporary Mustangs and TBirds IIRC.
    A competitive drag car...
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    Never own more cars than you can keep charged batteries in...

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    Ford Fairmont (North America) #3

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    Ford Fairmont (North America) #4
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    Ford Fairmont (North America) #5
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    Ford Fairmont (North America) #6
    Last edited by Man of Steel; 12-18-2020 at 01:51 PM.

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    Ford Fairmont (North America) #7
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