Saturday, August 16, 2014

A 5.0 Mustang in disguise

I was strolling along in Williamsburg one morning when a wave of nostalgia came over me because of this ride:
A 1978 Ford Fairmont 2-door! This frumpy box is actually a Ford Mustang in disguise as they were both built on the Fox Body platform. This is literally the 5.0 Mustang that Vanilla Ice was rolling with in Ice Ice Baby dressed in street clothes. The color is Dark Jade Poly. Other than the wheels this thing looks bone-stock. 
Some seriously patriotic person owns this ride as you can see from the tiny American flag above the right headlight, and the three additional flags on the rear bumper. "Love it or leave it!" says Ford.
The nostalgia I experienced was due to the fact that this was our family car from about 1981-1984 (except ours was red). Those rear windows are fixed in place and can't be rolled down. The single oddest feature of the Fairmont though is the placement of the horn; you have to push the turn signal stalk in towards the steering column to honk it! Invariably this leads to the driver slamming the silent middle of the steering wheel during emergencies because that's where the horn is located in every other car that was built with one.
The plastic emblems were simply glued onto the body which results in smudges like the one above the left taillight once they inevitably fall off.
I like the boxy styling of these Carter-era rides. Just look at those massive taillight assemblies consisting of 7 rectangles in a large rectangular casing. Designers loved their rulers in 1978! The dual exhaust tells me that this Fairmont, like ours, is equipped with the classic 5.0 (302) V8. In dark green with stock hubcaps this would've been the ultimate sleeper in its day. You look like someone running errands for the family but can lay a strip 50 feet long.
This was the new economy car for Ford when it was built. It was advertised as "Fords better idea for an America in need of efficient cars". To get the gas mileage they were bragging about you had to get the woefully underpowered 4 cylinder base engine. 
Ford was all over the map in '78 with tons of offerings in every size, from the enormous LTD & Ford II, to the Fairmont-sized Granada, on down to the small Pinto and tiny Fiesta. Their "throw everything out there and see what sticks" approach worked much better than companies like Chrysler who were teetering on the brink of bankruptcy due to their exclusively large old designs. Today this Fairmont is a rarity that looks great and doesn't cost anything to buy and maintain. Hats off to the Brooklynite who rolls around in this sleeper in 2014!

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