Saturday, March 14, 2015

Back to the FUTURA

I walking way down through the Southern hinterlands of Marine Park Brooklyn in late Autumn when I ran across this forlorn beater:
"I'm still standing!" it seems to be saying long after the other guy was declared the victor. What we have here is a 1978-1979 Ford Fairmont Futura in the factory color Cream with a Dark Brown pinstripe. The Fairmont was the replacement for the Maverick as everyday economical transportation. The engine choices ranged from the inline-6 cylinder to the now-famous 5.0 V8 that made the '80s Mustang cool enough for Vanilla Ice to rap about it. Both the Fairmont and Mustang were built on the Fox Body platform which helped Ford sales remain robust while Chrysler flirted with bankruptcy.
There is a way to discern the exact year but the one clue is missing from this ride; in '78 the word FORD was written on the drivers side of the front of the hood, while in '79 it was on the passengers side. In an impressive display of cheapness all emblems of this era were plastic pieces glued on to the body rather than riveted so the fact that it's missing isn't surprising. 
A lower case f keeps this ride extra fancy. Any hood ornament still attached to a NYC ride decades after it was built is remarkable, but I'm guessing the understated look of this one helped it survive.
Oof. This thing has seen some heavy action! In these instances I think the repairs have hurt more than helped things. That putty color of the spray paint patching might have looked close to that Ford Cream on the side of the can, but in reality it makes this thing look sickly and leprous. 
The lines of this ride aren't bad actually. That forward-slanting basket handle pillar between the front and rear side windows mimic the roof treatment of the Thunderbird of this era. The front hubcap is original to '78-'79 but the rear one is a mystery item probably from the same aisle in an auto parts store where they sell Tasmanian Devil floor mats and scented trees for your mirror.
The future's looking grim from this angle folks. We've got a rare trifecta of homemade repairs on display here; snipped metal held on by tape, spray painted and covered with trim that's been screwed right on to the door. At this point I would rip the trim off and spray paint the entire thing one color, but then I wouldn't have sweet Hoopties for this blog now would I?
The interior is pretty basic with a vast bench seat and crank windows. The original owner did pony up for the am/fm radio (though they stopped short of ordering the 8-track player as it would've been below the station buttons). In a rare show of restraint I don't want to rag on the interior condition too much due to the handicap placard on the dash. This car is getting somebody where they need to go.
The exterior is open season though! 
I'm not quite sure what's going on with the missing corner piece but it looks like there's a plastic bag jammed into the space. Out of the 7 rectangles making up the drivers side taillight 3 survive intact. Again the repairs take on a dadaist approach; black tape, red tape, masking tape, and mysterious white smudging all combine to create the whole.
This corner looks remarkably intact and gives an idea of what this beast looked like before Meth. 
These mighty taillight lenses are close to the Thunderbird in scope, though the T-Bird had a reflector under the license plate to give the impression of being full-width. The reverse lens is just breaking down from age.
It's amazing how crinkled the chrome wheel trim has gotten while remaining on the car. Whitewall tires though people!
Between the pinstripes as they head over the roof is this little section of "Color-Keyed Body Accent Lines" (as they are described in the Ford literature). They do nothing but convey futurism.
In one of the quirkiest offshoots ever there was an El Camino-like pickup truck version of the Futura named the Durango. The roofline ended where the rear pinstripe is. Production numbers were very low and are up to debate today, with a range of 80 to 350 built at the factory. The reasons production numbers are so mysterious is that aftermarket coach builders also made many conversions out of standard Futuras. Should you somehow encounter a Durango in the wild you can discern the genuine article from a fake due to the presence of a mini tailgate that incorporated the taillights. The conversions had the taillights intact with no tailgate; you had to reach down over the lights into the bed. 
We will leave this faithful little warhorse at this point to hold down its corner of Brooklyn. I don't know if I'm dying to ever own one of these but I do know that parts are widely available for everything should I find a deal on one someday. True to form Fords sister company Mercury made their own  version of the Fairmont called the Zephyr (with the Futura body style being called the Z7). The ultimate in collectibility (besides a Durango) would be a Zephyr Z7 with the V8, bucket seats, and a 4 speed manual transmission. Good luck finding one though!  

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