The Ford Fairmont was a modest compact car that was produced by the Ford Motor Company from 1978 until 1983. The Fairmont was a relatively no-nonsense vehicle that offered efficient packaging and good interior room and cargo space for a vehicle of its size. The Fairmont is not to be confused with the Australian-made vehicle of the same name, produced solely for the Australian market in right-hand drive.
The Fairmont offered a well-rounded selection of powertrains. Most base models received a 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine that produced 88 horsepower at 4800 rpm and 118 pound feet of torque. Some models received a 3.3-liter Thriftmaster" 6-cylinder engine that produced 85 horsepower at 3600 rpm and 154 pound feet of torque. Select models were available with a 5-liter V8 that produced nearly 140 horsepower at 3600 rpm and 250 pound feet of torque. The 5-liter V8 and its variants were used in a number of other vehicles, including the Mustang and Ford F-Series pickup trucks. Transmission choices included a 3-speed automatic transmission and a 4-speed manual transmission.
Released for the U.S. market for 1978, the Fairmont was the first vehicle built on Ford's "Fox" platform. The platform would later be used to underpin other vehicles, including the Ford Mustang and Thunderbird. The Fairmont's crisp design bore some passing resemblance to the Volvo 240. The Fairmont also received MacPherson struts and rack-and-pinion steering, giving it better handling than most of its American contemporaries. The Fairmont wagon was discontinued in 1982 in favor of the then-new Granada wagon, which reused the rear section and liftgate of the Fairmont wagon. The coupe and sedan were finally discontinued in 1983, and replaced by the front-wheel drive Ford Tempo for 1984.
The Fairmont was available as a two-door coupe, four-door sedan and five-door wagon. Options for the Fairmont included a tilt steering wheel, trip odometer, upgraded seat fabrics, vinyl roof and a stereo with cassette. The Futura coupe featured quad headlights, as opposed to the dual headlights used on other Fairmonts. After 1981, all Fairmonts would receive the quad headlight treatment. The Fairmont also featured a European Sport Sedan package, with a black cowl grille, rear window louvers, blacked-out mirror covers and a rear stabilizer bar added onto the suspension for improved handling. The Ghia represented the most luxurious package for the Fairmont, with velour seats and trim, body accent stripes and deluxe wire wheel covers.
The affordability of the Fairmont helped cultivate its appeal among prospective compact car buyers with the base model going for over $3,500 in 1978. The Fairmont's fuel efficiency was also appreciated by frugal car buyers the 2.3-liter engine achieved a combined 25 miles per gallon combined. The 3.3-liter achieved a more modest 18 miles per gallon combined, while the 5-liter V8 achieved less than 15 miles per gallon combined.
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