By on May 5, 2011


The Malaise Era of American automotive history refers to the period of model-year 1973 through model-year 1983; it takes its name from the commonly accepted shorthand name for President Jimmy Carter’s notorious “Crisis of Confidence” speech of July 15, 1979 (interestingly, Carter did not use the word “Malaise” in his speech).

 

Carter dared to suggest that Americans couldn’t always have everything they wanted, cheap, and for this— plus his reluctance to turn the residents of Tehran into clicks on a Geiger counter after a bunch of beardo Islamo-loons took advantage of the power vacuum resulting from the CIA’s man losing control of our oil-soaked real estate and taking US embassy personnel hostage— conventional American wisdom regards him as The Worst President Of All Time, Except For Maybe That Guy That Did The Teapot Dome Thing. The idea that things were always going to get worse took root in America sometime between Walter Cronkite revealing himself as a paid agent of Vo Nguyen Giap and a Georgia preacher getting whacked by some asshole while supporting a bunch of Memphis trash collectors; the inflation resulting from the Vietnam War’s endless kidney-shots to the federal government’s budget (and Nixon’s resulting desperation moves) coupled with the Saudis finally figuring out that they were the pushermen feeding the West’s oil jones and that witholding the sweet black horse gave them power, and Southern Californians getting sick of several hundred “shelter in place” Stage 1 Smog Alerts per year meant that, by the early 1970s, the era of cheap horsepower, chrome-and-Naugahyde-slathered luxury, and general automotive optimism was deader’n Jimi Hendrix. The muscle cars of the late 1960s were essentially marketing creations— their symbolism as mighty-fisted avengers of perceived slights against the American Way Of Life came later, during the period of Southeast Asian Conflict historical revisionism that got rolling in the mid-1980s, and if you think there’s a link between the auction value of the ’70 Chevelle SS 454 and the level of certainty of the Silent Majority that we were stabbed in the back by the media in Vietnam, you’re right— and the once-vaunted quality of Chrysler, Lincoln, and Cadillac had already begun its long drop off a cliff long before the insurance companies, the NHTSA, and the State of California ended the cheap-horsepower-and-chrome party. At this point, I think it’s time to cue up the Merle Haggard; Merle expresses the “rolling downhill like a snowball headed for hell” sense of the country’s direction at that time better (and in way fewer words) than I ever could.
So, the Malaise Era: I’m defining its span as the 1973-1983 model years and defining its origins with such certitude because I invented the term during my first few months at Jalopnik, as a semi-ironic reference to Jimmy’s speech and the general sense that the future would suck permeating the formative years of my generation. When Eddie Alterman dropped it in a New York Times piece, its usage really took off. Hey, no problem— it’s my gift to the car-writing world— but it’s still exasperating when I get a bunch of static about how 1972 has always been considered to be the first year of the Malaise Era (because of the gross-versus-net horsepower changeover) or that the Malaise Era ended in 1981 (when Ronald Reagan took office and erased those shameful memories of helicopters on the embassy roof and a Dilantin-addled Orange County lawyer trying to rat-fuck the already helplessly disorganized opposition. I invented the term and I say it extends from the year of 5 MPH crash bumpers to the year the Fox Mustang became properly quick, and that’s that!

No vehicle better sums up the pluses and minuses of Malaise Era Detroit machinery to me— yes, there were pluses— than the 1979 Ford Granada that my parents bought in 1980 from Hertz. It served as my dad’s daily driver for a year or two, until he upgraded to a new Bonneville, and then it became the unloved “extra car,” driven only when the A-list car was in the shop or doled out to the teenage offspring to ensure humiliation at the hands of their Celica-driving peers. I took my first driver’s-license test in this car— dubbed “The Ramada” by my well-traveled salesman dad— and drove it whenever I couldn’t fire up a single one of my wretched personal fleet (including, at one point, a $50 ’69 Corona, a $113 ’67 GTO, and the world’s most terrible ’58 Beetle; you can see the Competition Orange ’68 Mercury Cyclone that succeeded these cars in the photo above). In many ways, the Ramada was a truly miserable car to drive; I struggle to come up with an adjective that does justice to its 250-cubic-inch six-banger’s performance. Dreary? Lackluster? Punitive?

Not many cars are so underpowered as to be genuinely unsafe, but the Ramada makes the list (the dual-control ’78 Rabbit Diesel in which I took my driver-training classes in 1982 is the only car that beats the six-cylinder ’79 Granada in my personal Dangerously Underpowered Cars Hall of Fame voting). From a standing start, you’d mash on the gas and the car would hesitate for a second or two, seemingly gathering its thoughts, and then there’d be this grooooooaaan sound from under the hood and the car would ooze forward. No amount of water or bleach on the rear tires could make it perform any sort of a burnout— hey, I was a teenager in a street-racing town in which only revving big-blocks could drown out the incessant Randy Rhoads solos and low-flying A7s— and even the most vicious, C4-annihilating neutral-drop couldn’t get more than a pathetic chirp out of the Ramada’s tires. This wouldn’t have been so bad if the car had sipped gas through a cocktail straw, what with fuel prices being pretty brutal in the early 1980s, but the Ramada gulped the stuff like a Delta 88 towing a cement truck uphill with three flat tires and five pulled plug wires. As I recall, it never managed to top 20 MPG in super-stingy highway driving (cue the enraged comments from readers whose Granadas habitually knocked off 38 MPG with the air-conditioning on), and nobody in my family wanted to know what its city mileage really was (cue the enraged comments from readers whose Granadas beat Honda Insights in city fuel economy).

At this point, I ought to break out the curb weight and horsepower figures, but I’m writing this while sweating out a 10-hour flight delay at Shadow Government World HQ and don’t have access to my reference library; I’m going to guess at a curb weight of 3,400 pounds and a horsepower rating of 92 (I checked later: turns out it’s 3,098 pounds and 97 horses).
The Ramada, as my family’s much-abused extra car, ended up as the “Phone Police Enforcermobile” in this 1984 Super 8 production I did for my first college scriptwriting class (the lack of a sound-enabled camera hampered the dialogue somewhat). My ’68 Cyclone and a buddy’s ska’d-out ’56 Bel Air also have cameos, but the Ramada is the star.

Thing is, the Ramada was ugly and slow and uncomfortable and leaked in the rain and wandered all over the highway and sucked gas, but it always ran. Well, to be more accurate, it could always be made to run, with enough coaxing and maybe 20 minutes of tinkering. Jump the starter relay with a screwdriver, or maybe hose down the carb with starter fluid. Some medium-grade hassle that got you pissed and dirty but always ended up with the 250 reluctantly coughing to life. The “automatic” parking brake release was vacuum-operated, and the driver would sometimes need to stick his or her head under the dash and suck on a vacuum line to disengage the brake. What really endeared it to my parents, however, was its crashing ability. More precisely, they loved its ability to get into non-injury wrecks with insured drivers who were always at fault, coupled with my ability to beat the thing back into some semblance of shape with junkyard parts and blue rattle-can spray paint. I wrecked it twice (once when a dude with a parked Farrah Fawcett-era Cougar popped his ten-foot-long driver’s door open as I drove by his parking spot; the Ramada tore the door completely off the Mercury, while sacrificing its grille and right fender in the process), each of my two sisters wrecked it twice apiece, and each of my sisters’ boyfriends wrecked it. The most dramatic wreck was a T-bone incident in which the driver of a Sedan de Ville passed out after a few too many gin rickeys at The 19th Hole and plowed into the Ramada. Each time, the insurance company kicked down at least five times the cost of the parts I needed from U-Pull-It to put the car back together, and I honed my sledgehammer-and-come-along bodywork skills. I think I went through four Granada and Monarch grilles, three hoods, and at least seven doors. I replaced every light on the car at least once, affixed the radiator using hundreds of zip ties, and bought Bondo in the extra-large economy-size buckets.
In a way, the Granada was emblematic of Malaise Era America: it lived in the past, suffered from a vast array of problems— many of its own making— and faced widespread scorn, but it just kept plowing ahead and got the job done. Ford’s marketers sank to a new, humiliating low with their claim that the Granada was just like the Mercedes-Benz W123. What’s next, putting lederhosen on the Statue of Liberty?
It’s too bad that the Coup’s “Me And Jesus The Pimp In A ’79 Granada Last Night” didn’t come out in 1980; Ford might have made the car into a favorite with the under-30 crowd.

The Granada’s chassis design can be traced back to the Falcons and Fairlanes of the early 1960s, and well before that time if you want to get really nit-picky. Obsolete before Eisenhower left the Oval Office, the Granada’s suspension was fairly sturdy and very cheap to manufacture. By the time Ford made a Fox Platform Granada in the early 1980s, the Granada name had become synonymous with “Malaise Rental Car Misery” and buyers avoided it all costs. While Ford may resurrect the Galaxie or even Maverick names from the grave, we can be sure that North Americans will never, ever have the opportunity to buy a new Granada (though it might be a different story in Europe).

What happened to my family’s Granada? Well, after so many wrecks and resulting amateur repairs, all the tape-measure alignments and chain-and-telephone-pole frame-straightening in the world couldn’t disguise the fact that the Ramada crabbed like a sumbitch, facing about 20 degrees away from its actual direction of travel, and the amount of time required to get it to start got past the half-hour mark at times. My mom eventually traded the car for a replacement door for her daily-driver Midget (yes, even a British Leyland product was more dependable than the Granada), and the Ramada was gone. Hmmm… maybe it was two Midget doors. Ramada, can’t say I miss you… but I respected you.

 

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133 Comments on “What About the Malaise Era? More Specifically, What About This 1979 Ford Granada?...”


  • avatar
    PickupMan

    Good grief…a 1979 snot-green Granada was my first car. You couldn’t be more right, Murilee, about it’s many faults.

    Gutless, adorned with the best plasti-chrome Detroit could source, it was the perfect ‘birth control’ car in the parent’s eyes. The deer who committed suicide by jumping in front of it one winter night did me a huge favor posthumously.

    • 0 avatar

      A family member had one. It was left by the side of the road in a high crime location….nuff said.

      You really needed to find the Lincoln Versailles version of this….I knew a guy who had one, and it looked like a six year old in a real suit a size too big…..

      Really funny….the Cimmaron wasn’t the first gussied up fake luxo car, but no one cares about Lincoln the same way.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    I remember Ford ads back in the day that dared to compare the Granada to a Mercedes SEL…..can’t effin’ believe I wrote that….

    • 0 avatar
      erik_t

      Well, I can compare a dog turd to a 747. The 747 is faster than the dog turd, smells better, costs more, flies higher and longer, and is not made of excrement.

      Comparison made.

      Now I wouldn’t say they were *similar*…

    • 0 avatar
      cfclark

      To paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen: I knew the W123. The W123 was a friend of mine. Ford Granada, you are no W123.

      • 0 avatar
        benzaholic

        BTW, the Benz in the commercial (a 280SE) is a W116, not a W123. The W116s were even more hand-made, making the comparison that much more ludicrous.

      • 0 avatar
        cfclark

        Having not sat through watching the commercial again (though I vaguely recall them on the air), I hadn’t realized that the object of comparison was a W116, which is, as benzaholic points out, just laughable.

        Didn’t Chrysler also compare one of its K-Car derivatives with an MB model, in the early-to-mid-’80s? (I want to say Dodge 600ES.)

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      I was about 16 when those Granada v Mercedes ads came out, and I thought it was the most pathetic ad campaign I was ever likely to see. 30 years later, I still rate it number one on the loser chart.

      Props to PickupMan for “birth control car”. I hope you built a shrine to the deer that martyred himself to free you from Granadadom.

      • 0 avatar
        gottacook

        I remember those ads too. One thing not made clear here is that when the Granada was introduced, the ads showed the Granada and Mercedes side by side; that is, the whole point was that the Granada sort of looked like the Merc – as though that should be sufficient, even if true. Pathetic.

        Thanks for the explanation of the “Malaise era” as encompassing more than just the Carter administration, as some commenters to past posts have seemed to think. I remember the whole thing including the introduction of the huge (front) bumpers in fall ’72 and gas lines in fall ’73. (Carter was the first president I was old enough to vote for; in 1980 I may have voted for Anderson instead.)

        I sometimes wonder whether the bloated, ill-manufactured 1971-76 GM full-size cars, if not for the “energy crisis” of 1973-74, would have given way to even larger, more space-wasteful designs if gas had remained cheap in the U.S.

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        Yes, I think I was around ten when those ads came out and I still have vivid memories of them. They showed a series of close-up comparisons: Mercedes wheel cover, Granada wheel cover; Mercedes hood ornament, Granada hood ornament, and so on.

        Even as a child I could see how utterly ridiculous it was to make such a comparison, as though the hood ornament and wheel cover designs meant anything (on either car)!

        This was the same era, as I recall, of the diamond cutting and record-player-playing in the back seat of a Lincoln on a cobblestone street (with the accompanying massive body roll while turning edited out).

        All of that was a few years after Bill Cosby was Ford’s spokesman with the “Better Idea” (with a yellow light bulb) ad campaign which as I recall ran for a few years from the late 60s into the early 70s (I was really young then but still remember those ads, mostly in print in hand-me-down magazines I used to look through as a child).

  • avatar
    beach cruiser

    A most excellent automotive rant. The bit about the car facing 20 degrees away from its actual direction of travel had me spitting up my coffee while laughing out loud. A very nice piece of writing there Murilee. Of course it hits home because our next door neighbor at the time had one of these and in the end he actually ended up setting it on fire just for spite. No insurance fraud there, he just felt like doing it before we towed it to the junk yard. Cars really do inspire passion in some people.

    • 0 avatar
      seth1065

      I bought one of these for my girlfriend, after missing out on a 78 accord hb, this was what she could afford $600 in 1990 for a 79 pos she hated and still does until today, it went on fire while she was driving it to a wedding, she had to knock on someones doors dress up for a wedding and ask can I borrow your hose to put my Granada fire out. Last American car she has owned , not the big three fault but it scarred her for ever. 2 VW, an Aud, volvo wagon and a honda pilot later she mentioned it may be time for a new car , the pilot is 8 years old and when I mentioned maybe a Ford Fusion, she just says Granada and that ends that, hello Audi or Acura.

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    Don’t sugar-coat it; tell us how you really feel about the late 70s and early 80s.

    I enjoyed that quite a bit more than anything else I’ve read on this site.

  • avatar
    obbop

    But, if my memory is correct, the propulsion unit WAS equipped with a gulp valve.

    If ye cab procure a gulp valve from the yard de la wreque grab it.

    Mount it upon a suitable display mount.

    Akin to the passing of the beloved 8-track audio cartridge the inevitable day of the last gulp valve upon the planet and its viewing at the Antiques Road Show will assuredly create immense curiosity and perhaps fame and fortune for the owner.

  • avatar
    Jeffer

    So I’m the odd man out here…I would love to find a nice, but cheap, 2 door Granada for a project. I’d ditch the original drive train, of course, and loose all the trim. I’d want the original round-headlight model though, so I guess that would be pre-mayonnaise era.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Kluttz

      I just spit and I wasn’t even drinking anything!!!
      Mayonnaise? I believe that’s what Granadas ran on. I had the dubious thrill of riding in my boss’s company Granada in the early 80′s. It had a vacuum leak, and all it did, as I remember from the 40 “punitive” miles I was prisoner, was hiss and moan. And move very slowly. Even at 55 it felt slow. Well, I guess that is slow, but I’m glad he didn’t drive any faster.

      And wouldn’t the round-headlight model, even though it looked better, be back even deeper into the mayonnaise era?

      I’m going to type two words here that are sure to evoke comments, and I’ll check back to see…Lincoln Versailles. Enough said. (Yes, I remember the Curbside Classic article.)

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    Yep, had one. I agree it ran well, i think it had a straight 6 in it – pulled like a frieght train unless there was even the suggestion of wet roads, then best to stay home. By the time I got it, it was an indeterminate color – sort of gray but that might have been undercoat. Owned by my mechanics mother, it was a good deal.
    I couldnt get rid of it fast enough.

  • avatar
    tced2

    And then there was the ultimate Granada – the Lincoln Versailles.

    My boss at the time had the Monarch. It had the gas filler in the center rear underneath a flimsy door. Virtually every one of the doors failed leaving the letters M-O….C-H. My boss called it his “NAR” car for the letters on the broken gas filler door.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Here’s a kinda creepy link…a Versailles in the Windows on the World restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center.

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/that_chrysler_guy/5204538501/

    • 0 avatar

      I thought I was the only one who noticed the chronic missing gas cap doors on those.

      • 0 avatar
        nrd515

        I was pumping gas for a living about the time the Monarchs were new and I don’t know how many of those insanely bad doors came apart when I opened them up. One guy kept on getting his fixed, and after a while, it was the only really new looking part on the car.

  • avatar
    Wheely

    I’m all for a little over-the-top writing, but damn, that 2nd paragraph following the Carter clip is sets a new level for contrived prose. With nine embedded links, no less. Does fling under “rant” bypass editing?

  • avatar
    econobiker

    A Blue CA Plate Granada- the future investment?

    Actually I had a friend whose father went through several of them from the early to late 1980s- two 4dr and then 1 2dr. Sure they were lame but they were cheap and parts abounded in the junkyards. He ended up pulling the v-8 from the last 2dr to install into a 1979(?) formerly 4cyl Turbo Fox SVO Mustang which he then used into the mid-1990s.

    I once saw a 2dr converted into a Granda-camino which actually looked half decent as the guy had left the original B pillar intact and added a new B pillar behind the front door to support the new behind seat wall and rear window.

    Funny thing was that all of the Granada’s which I encountered were white. Never ever any other color…

  • avatar
    Jack Baruth

    My father had a Mercury Monarch company car in 1975. He was hit by a drunk driver on New Year’s Eve and the Monarch was totaled. His company replaced it with a Granada. I considered this to be an affront slightly more egregious than the aforementioned Iranian embassy crisis.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    I guess you had to be a little older to understand why a president who says, in many more words: “We’re fucked. Deal with it.” is not considered a raging success.

    The interesting thing about cars from the malaise era is that they all sucked, not just the ones from Detroit (although, perhaps as a group, the Detroit ones sucked more). Cars I owned during that era, in order: 1973 Mazda RX-2 (exotic rotary engine was fast for its time, 20 mpg highway fuel economy for an econobox-sized car was not good); 1978 Honda Accord (just fine for the double-nickel speed limit era and didn’t use much fuel; not as comfortable as the Mazda); 1980 Audi 5000 diesel (brought failure to a whole new level; made the cars you complain about as being too slow (including the Rabbit Diesel) seem like AA fuel dragsters in comparison; did achieve 30 mpg highway). Most of the Detroit products of the era would refuse to start under various odd conditions, especially when it was not cold enough to trigger the thermostatically-controlled choke, but not fully warmed up); so they were worse.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    The Granada was a perfect car for the time and they made Ford a bunch of money. The fact that it was just a Falcon with a “formal” style body that was in demand during the malaise era made lots of $en$s.

    As far as defining the Malasie era the 5mph bumpers were fazed in during 73 and 74 with the 73s only needing a 5mph front bumper. As to the end using the Mustang GT as the signal of the end is a little off as it was the 82 that brought us the first time an engine of a specific displacement increased it’s HP. However I maintain that the Mustang GT only signaled the beginning of the end (I’m the one who pointed that out over at that “other site”). Many companies continued in their Malaise ways for quite a few more years GM in particular kept producing vehicles worthy of the Malaise tag well into the 80′s and some would say into the 90′s.

    The bigger question this article brings up though is what’s the deal with the N600 “sedan delivery” and do you have more pictures of it?

  • avatar
    JMII

    I was born in ’71 so I was too young to understand most of what the world was up to at the time. However my mother had the 2 door version and my grandmother had the 4 door versions of these horrible vehicles. Even back then I knew these things were huge boats. I remember the interior of grandma’s (pea green colored) peeling and chipping. I also remember me and my brother fighting in the back seat (no seat belts of course) because it was so HUGE you can practically play football in the back there. My mother’s G-ride (in boring fleet white) was wrecked by a drunk driver. I had forgot how ugly these cars were, thanks for ruining my lunch.

  • avatar
    MarcKyle64

    A Granada has taken up permanent residence in the parking lot of my nearest mechanic. It’s been there for at least three months and has only been moved once to a less accessible place further back in the pecking order. it’s been repainted that wretched silver pewter color at least once because the things just too shiny for a 32+ year old Ford left out in the elements.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    What memories! By a strange coincidence, a malaise-era Granada was the second-slowest (and probably the worst-overall) car that I’ve ever driven. For me the diesel Rabbit was also the slowest. In the Rabbit, I literally couldn’t maintain a highway speed in 5th gear against the wind. The rabbit did get almost 40 mpg in those days where, adjusted for inflation, gas was more expensive than it is today. (I recently drove a Chevrolet Cruze Eco that indicated 40.8 MPG for the test drive, and it’s a real car with comfortable seats, sound insulation, reasonable pep and lots of airbags. We’ve made lots of progress.)

    The thing I remember about the Granada was that the car considered your efforts at steering to be general suggestions which could be honored or not, or sort of, at the discretion of the car. The Granada that I drove belonged to my 80-year-old grandfather, and it always smelled slightly of urine.

    My favorite car of the early 80s was my mother’s Plymouth TC3. It got good gas mileage, was peppy for the time with a manual transmission and 2.2 liter engine, and you could lie down in the back hatch.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Good grief, MM, you summed up the era pretty well. Yes – the 1973 models where the pillarless hardtop died was where the malaise-era began. In 1975, shortly after I started working a real job, I planned on my very first new-car purchase. I looked at a Chevy LUV, Camaro, Impala, C-10 P/U and Nova, a Jeep CJ-5, an IH Scout, a Ford Bronco, and finally – a Ford Granada!

    What did I wind up buying? Believe-it-or-not, a Chevy C-20 pick-up truck! That was the last time I ever listened to a friend’s advice, too!

    The Ford Fairmont was a much better car when it came out.

    • 0 avatar
      gottacook

      Chrysler offered a pillarless New Yorker four-door hardtop, and Mercury a pillarless Marquis two-door hardtop, through the 1978 model year – perhaps there were other such survivors too.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        You’re correct – I should have said the beginning of the end, as there were survivors. Thing is, with some of the Fords and Chryslers, even though the “B” pillars were absent, the rear windows were fixed and wouldn’t roll down! The Chevy Caprice, Impala and other GM full-size cars still offered hardtop coupes for another year or two and 4-dr. H/T’s until the downsizing with the 1977 models.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    A Granada is fine. You know, as long as you swap in a 351V8, a C6 auto, Detroit Locker and heavy duty shock absorbers. Then they’re fine. Otherwise I’d rather be driving a V6 1989 Mustang.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Dan – no specific “Defiance, Ohio” exit off I-75! I suppose you need to get on U.S. 24 west at Findlay and use the map, follow signs or use GPS!

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        Ah yes, U.S. highways like that always remind me of the “pre-interstate” highway system. You could get on U.S. 24 in Defiance and end up where I lived in Detroit for two years post-college (known as Telegraph Road.)

        Well you could do that if you had 4 hours to kill. Interstate? You only need a little over two.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        Several years ago, I was traveling to Ft. Wayne on business and I got on old U.S. 30 at Delphos to Van Wert and actually saw a new “Burma Shave” series of signs! I remember them very well so long ago!

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @Zackman, re: Burma Shave signs: was that about three or four years ago? About that time, my wife and I took the ‘long’ road home to Northeast Ohio and wanted to visit some friends in Northwest Ohio, so we took US 30 across rather than our usual I-80/90 route. We both remarked about the signs, I had never actually seen them on the side of a road, only in pictures…

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        @Geo: The last time I traveled to Ft. Wayne was in 2002. The signs were westbound, along the “old U.S. 30″ which, of course, parallels newer U.S. 30 four-lane. If I remember, they weren’t far from the Van-Del Drive-In.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeffer

      Exactly what I would do, that or one of the many 300 “big six” motors I have kicking around!
      (oops, I meant to post under Dan’s first comment…)

    • 0 avatar

      That’s funny considering there is no such thing is a 1989 V6 Mustang.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        Good god, I had to look that up. I4 & V8 only? I thought the 2.5 Iron Duke Camaros were bad but at least there was a V6 option. (You must understand back in 1989 I was a diehard Oldsmobile and Pontiac man just like my Dad.)

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    There’s a pattern here…

    So many of these vehicles taken out by drunk drivers. An unusual forum in which to find evidence that alcohol does indeed reduce inhibitions.

  • avatar

    As a young soldier with no money I drove a puke-green 76 Granada for two years until it died on me. Had it towed to a Honda dealership and bought a new 89 Civic S right off the truck. Talk about a difference in cars. Loved the Civic..hated the Granada and all it stood for ie: I was dirt poor and couldn’t afford anything else.

  • avatar
    Steve65

    I had one of these for a while in the late 80s. White 4-door. I have very few enduring memories. It refused to go backwards once the transmission heated up. The rear axle had been replced with one from a junkyard, and we could never get the drums off. No clue what the brakes in there looked like, but it always stopped when I needed it to. I hated that car more than I find credible now in retrospect, and was thrilled when it blew the head gasket between #3 and #4 cylinders and I had my excuse to get rid of it. If I’m recalling by automotive timeline correctly, it was replaced by the first of my 3 Le Cars.

  • avatar
    nikita

    We called this thing the Ford “Granola”, often parked next to a Chevy “Shove-it”, another terrific car from that era.

  • avatar
    TR4

    Ah yes, the “precision size” Grandada! My favorite recollection is Ford’s advertising that it had “Hotchkiss rear suspension”. (sounded Teutonic perhaps?) In other words, a solid rear axle with open driveshaft and located by longitudinal leaf springs. Very bragworthy.

  • avatar
    CraigSu

    Ah, the Granada, I remember those days all too well. My father was given a pumpkin-orange one for a company car. I didn’t think it could get any worse until the Granada was replaced by a Chevy Citation (in a similar orange color) a few years later.

  • avatar
    Slow_Joe_Crow

    That was a truly epic tale of perseverance in the face of mediocrity, but the story I really want to know is the blue Civic with the homemade panel truck conversion facing the Midget.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I remember these cars, the faux Mercedes for folks who didn’t know or care. In the late 70′s I went to Germany, and lo and behold saw a real Granada. It blew away the American one and helped to ignite my lust for European Fords that I was never able to fulfill. Imagine my surprise when a new Granada was announced for 1981. Imagine my disappointment when the the new Granada was not the one I witnessed in Germany, but a Fairmont clone. Oh well…

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      In the didn’t know or care category: The worst Granada ad I ever saw was a print ad in something like Good Housekeeping or some such magazine. The picture is of an incredibly obviously Jewish middle aged woman (Miami lives!) smiling from ear to ear at the parking ticket she just got . . . . . . . . because the meter maid wrote her Granada up as a Cadillac!

      And that was the whole point of the ad: Buy a Granada and you can fool your neighbors into thinking you just bought a Cadillac (Seville, I assume). No, that ad wasn’t a parody, it was serious.

  • avatar
    anchke

    I bought one of those, needing a sedan for a young family and being strapped for cash. My toddler daughter, on an extended trip, objected, “This car stinks!” I told her it was just a new car smell and, no matter what she said, we weren’t stopping for ice cream for another half hour. Whereupon she barfed mightily on the floor and repeated, “I told you this car stinks!”

    Another time while riding trough a mall parking lot with mom, she pointed out a spider crawling across the front seat. Whereupon mon jumped out of the moving car, neglecting to put it in P. Fortunately a passerby took care of the details before any harm was done.

    I got the car for cheap, and it was reliable though the straight six was mighty thirsty as I recall.

  • avatar
    Birddog

    Not to pick nits, BUT… The Mustang became properly quick in 1982 with the revival of the GT..

    Lucky for me I was only 6 years old in 79 and by time I was “in to” cars I had halfway decent pickings like the injected Mustangs, Turbo Tbirds, Grand Nationals, and Z28s..

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    We always referred to them as Grampanadas. While they were a truly wretched excuse of a vehicle IMO GM topped them by far with their X bodies.

    I remember selling Monarchs (arch always pronounced like in Archway) and the year before the intro of the Versailles they stopped building the Grand Monarch Ghia because except for the grill and decklid it was a Versailles.

    I also remember my dealership replacing the std. wheel covers with body color painted ones (like Mercedes used to have) and slapping a 250 LM badge on the decklid thinking it would attract Mercedes buyers. That’s how clueless the dealership’s management was about a buyer’s attraction to a Mercedes.

    Funny stuff, great article.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Those “Mercedes” clones sound like kitchy collectors items now. More fake and more cheesy than Velveeta.

      • 0 avatar
        mtymsi

        Literally all it consisted of were the body color painted wheel covers and the 250 LM chrome logo on the rear decklid in place of the factory Monarch badge. I thought it was hilarious at the time and still do. But the dealership’s management actually thought it would attract Mercedes buyers, that was the funniest part.

  • avatar
    DesmosDromos

    At least you had the sedan. I had to learn to drive in and then spend formative dating and driving years with a silver Granada station wagon. It was a pretty gutless motor, wasn’t it? I’m glad I didn’t know any better at the time.

    • 0 avatar
      mtymsi

      You’re talking about a later version than the one written about in this article as there was no station wagon model.

      I can’t remember but if you remember a Granada wagon Ford must have used the Granada nameplate on a later model.

    • 0 avatar

      There was indeed a 1982 Granada station wagon. Mine was the Medium Pewter Metallic paint with the red vinyl bucket seats up front. I can’t quite agree with the motor being gutless, but my dad had the foresight to order ours with the 232ci V6, not the 200ci I6. It wasn’t the most terrible car on the road, but it wasn’t too far off that mark. I had the car from 1993-1996, when she was finally scrapped. 4 out of the 6 bolts holding body to frame were either missing or hanging by the thinnest of sheet metal. Ah, ignorance was bliss. Even with all that, it is one of the 2 cars I really and truly miss.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    After waiting forever to get a driver’s license, the Jones generation, (born after 1955 until 1966), ended up sensing a pattern that would continue today – the Boomers sucked everything up and left their trash behind.

    So when it came to cars, they saw Gigit, the Beetles, and the Mod Squad get Pony Cars, and they ended up with 55 MPH, Pintos, Vegas, 5 MPH cow catcher bumpers, and a Pacer. You do this to a generation of young teen drivers and they just don’t ever forget, do they? Gas prices skyrocketed while their jobs at Burger King went for gas money instead of pot or Colt 45. This generation watched their older siblings get all environmental and groovy, right after their orgies with 6 MPG Dodge Chargers, AMXs, and GTOs.

    The Jones Generation didn’t get the Mustang – they got the Mustang II. They didn’t get the GTO – they got the Astra. They didn’t get Kennedy – they got Carter after Watergate sandbagged a presidency.

    The Malaise Era hits a generation that has since discovered that their 401Ks are gone, they paid hundreds of thousands more into Social Security than necessary, and the new Ryan Budget Plan cuts them out of their Golden Years so that we can somehow pay back our massive Federal debts when they die.

    That is why the Malaise Era exists. It was a “welcome to the adult world” wake up slam from reality, to a generation born a decade too late in every sense of the word. Being a young man at that era exposed this generation to a world of crappy automobiles that just seemed to rub it all in…

    Good things? By the time the Jones arrive in Seniorville, the Boomers will have made being a senior a sexy, Viagra-filled, bareback-riding self indulgent fling with other people’s money. But then, Washington will announce that the fun houses are closed and the Death Panels are open for business…

    Get ready you grumbling 40-somethings!

  • avatar
    KitaIkki

    The Granada was handsomely styled. Timeless. Still looks great today. I’d say the styling held up better than the Mercedes W116.

    • 0 avatar
      ehaase

      I agree. My father had a rental Granada Ghia in 1976 when his car was in the shop after an accident. The Granada was a very handsome car, and I would have no problem with Ford reviving the name. I like how Ford got so much use out of its platforms back then – using the Falcon platform for the 1960 through 1980 model years.

  • avatar
    obbop

    Baby Boomer bashing.

    The outcome when a post-Boomer invades the turf of one of the multitude of Baby Boomers who have been ignored by the mass media and politicos thus undetected by the herd of ill-educated knee-jerk spewing post-Boomers and who, with neither pension income or having made enough disposable income performing the “tasks USA citizens will not perform” during their decades of work and are forced to exist upon $5oo monthly Social Security and thus rely upon gleaning for edibles from dumpsters…. who defend their precious victuals source from interlopers.

    Grrrrrrrrr………

    Fully capable of intense defense partially due to training from the USA military.

    Now, get away from my dumpster.

    An Old Coot has little to nothing to lose.

    NOTE: Comment made in general, not to, at, etc. against any individual.

    Read previous addition that brought to mind a MULTITUDE of comments at MANY different message boards wherein post-Boomers blamed, accused etc. Boomers for a multitude of woes facing the USA lately.

    I view the ongoing negative trends I traced back to around 1972 or so as the outcome of general class warfare but the topic IS incredibly complex, kids.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Specifically, September, 1972!

    • 0 avatar
      VanillaDude

      the topic IS incredibly complex, kids

      No it isn’t. They are not called the “Me Generation” for nothing.

      • 0 avatar
        Roland

        VanillaDude, that was a terrific anti-Boomer rant you wrote above, and it was chicken soup for my malicious, middle-aged Gen X soul.

        But obbop makes a good point. There is the demographic issue, but there are also some pretty major class issues. I think nowadays we’re well past the point where many of us can quit pretending that we’re all just different styles of middle class.

    • 0 avatar
      DisTurbo

      My parents are ‘boomers. They just happen to be responsible, mature people who didn’t fall for the ‘free love’ BS of their hippy peers. They stayed in school, they worked damn hard against the odds, while their friends drank, screwed and pot-smoked themselves into a life of regret and brain damage. I am grateful to them.

  • avatar
    david42

    Murilee, we Ms. you!

  • avatar
    zeus01

    “…the dealership’s management actually thought it would attract Mercedes buyers, that was the funniest part.”

    I’m guessing those same dealers spent their evening prowling the discos wearing polyester shirts unbuttoned to the waist, ball-crusher tight pants with a salami stuffed down the front and a big-ass gold medallion hanging around their necks and nestled in their chest hairs— thinking THAT was the thing that was finally going to get them laid…

  • avatar
    skor

    First, that’s a fine piece of writing, I really enjoyed it.

    When I was 15, my father bought a brand new 1979 Granada 2 door with the ESS option(ESS stood for “European Sports Sedan…really).

    Except of the color, it looked almost exactly like this.
    http://0161fbb.netsolhost.com/Ford/79granadac.jpg

    Let’s begin with the good (yes, there were some good things about). It was a handsome car for it’s time and it wasn’t a land barge. I had a beautiful leather wrapped three spoke steering wheel.

    Now for the bad. It was as slow. I mean slow. The engine had a terminal case of the shakes. Just how the hell do you screw up a straight six? It sucked gas like it was designed by an Arab oil sheik. Turning on the AC was like kicking the car in the groin….I’ve never actually seen a car double up before or since.

    When my father went out to buy the car, I begged him not to get the straight 6. The 302 version wasn’t a hot-rod by any means, but it was acceptable and it got the same mileage as the 6!!!!

    The ad campaign, comparing it to a Mercedes was lame in the the extreme.

    To this day I can’t understand why Ford allowed the car to go into production with the world’s worst I6 ever. Back in 1979, Ford of Oz was producing a fine straight 6 with a very good…for its day….alloy cross-flow cylinder head.

    The best thing about the Granada is that they still turn up regularly at junk yards. That means cheap front disc conversions for your early Mustang or Falcon.

  • avatar
    ajla

    So, the Malaise Era: I’m defining its span as the 1973-1983 model years and defining its origins with such certitude because I invented the term…

    You should have gone with ’75-’83. Under your current definition, the SD455 is a Malaise engine.

  • avatar
    beken

    My buddy had a (affectionately named) Granade as a company car and it did make it from Vancouver BC to Calgary in 11 hours. Only stops we made were for chips and gas.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Back in the late 80′s I was and still am a Ford fan (Mustang, T-Bird, Cougar etc) So I considered buying one from a neighbor. A 2dr 302 w/ Auto on the floor w/most options. I decided to take a pass.

    Though in defense of these many of the fully optioned ones were ahead of their time, almost euro like w/4 wheel discs, posi etc. It’s a shame Ford did not upgrade all of the Granada/Monarch’s by making those features standard or just have it sold by Mercury as a mid-luxury car. The Versilles is another matter. Back in the late 80′s I used to see a 2dr Versilles conversion.

  • avatar
    newfdawg

    Great article; yes the cars of the 70′s really sucked. My dad bought
    a 1973 Pontiac Ventura II(a Chevy Nova with a restyled front end and
    different tail lights.) It’s performance was dismal and fuel economy
    was abysmal. After my father died I drove it briefly; the best mileage I was able to coax out of it was 13 mpg. Shortly thereafter I sold it and I was glad to see it go. In 1977 My mother bought a Buick Skylark-I have to take the blame for this as I was urging her to drive something smaller. To improve fuel economy it had a 2.29:1 final drive ratio, needless to say acceleration left something 6to be desired. Again, no tears were shed when she traded it off.

  • avatar

    I’m too young to remember this era (I was alive only during the end of it), but I have learned more about it from your posts (here and elsewhere) than anywhere else.

    Automotive-wise, I come to the same conclusion – the cars were pretty horrible back then, but they kept chugging along and kept the American auto industry alive. Bash the Mustang II all you want, but it kept the Mustang name alive long enough to ride the storm. Look at it now!

    And props to you for calling the fender mounted starter relay a relay instead of a solenoid like most people. /pedant

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    Granadas serve a very important purpose, disc brake donations for classic Mustangs. The great Granada brake swap, a much cheaper way to have disc brakes on your 1968 Mustang.

    • 0 avatar
      Billy Rockfish

      Actually, Lumbergh 21, it was the Lincoln Versailles that was the perfect 9″ rear end/rear disc brake swap for Mustangs. I do believe a handful of Mercury Monarchs and the Granada “ESS” (European Sports Sedan) had (optional) rear disc brakes.

      Lincoln Versailles was the first production car (1977) to offer clear-coat paint and halogen headlamps (in the U.S.).

      Versailles – the beginning of the end for Lincoln – now in 2011 a dead brand walking. If Ford was smart(er), they’d bring the Aussie Falcon, dress it up with the 2002 Continental Show (Concept) car styling queues and voila! A contender in competition with Mercedes E series, Audi A6′s, Bimmer 5 series and Cadillac CTS’s.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Any of the 3 will give you the spindles needed to do a front disc brake conversion to your older Mustang. Yes the Versailles is the one you want if you want to put a disc brake 9″ in your Mustang and no it wasn’t available from the factory in any Granada or Monarch.

      • 0 avatar
        roger628

        http://lincolnversailles.com/Granada/1977%20Granada%2011.htm

        I beg to differ-Check out the brochure

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Just because it made in a brochure that was printed before the models started rolling off the line doesn’t mean it made it into production. I’ve never seen one and you won’t find a listing in any parts books of the day for rear disc brake parts except for the Lincoln version.

      • 0 avatar
        roger628

        http://lincolnversailles.com/Granada/MT0775_01.htm
        How about a road test of one so equipped?

        Or how about the ’76 Grand Monarch?
        http://lincolnversailles.com/Monarch/1976%20Monarch%2002.htm

        http://lincolnversailles.com/Monarch/1977%20Monarch%2012.htm
        Or the ’77 Monarch?

        Of course all this is eroneous and you’re right.

        These brakes were offered from mid-75 to ’77 and they ARE very rare-hence not often seen. I myself have never seen one.

        Rear discs were also offered on 76-78 LTDs , Marquis and full size Lincolns. I personally have seen one, on a 1977 Mercury wagon that a customer brought in for service at a garage I worked in in 1988. This option also included a Hydro-Boost setup.
        The owner related to me that at the time he ordered the car late in the model year,
        he wanted a trailer tow package. The dealer told him there would be wait of several weeks and that he would also have to take the disc brake option.

  • avatar
    Billy Rockfish

    Deja Vu! My Grandma (God Rest Her Soul) in Missouri, back in ’76 bought a new 4 door Ford Granada. A ’76 sedan – tan – with tan vinyl seats. Went OK as hers had the 302 2bbl V-8 and a three speed stick on the floor. Bought it that way so they could tow it behind their AVCO (Mopar 440 powered) motor home. With stick, they’d disconnect the battery, unlock the steering column, throw it in neutral and it would go where they and the AVCO would go.

    I drove it during my summer visits as a teenager (I flew in from California) and do remember the back seat being large enough for some “fun” with a good looking small town Missouri girl.

    As with some other posters, their Granada was totalled by a drunk, undocumented worker down in San Antonio who t-boned the Granada while it was being towed by my Grandfolks. Said drunk in Texas ran a red light; Grandma and Step-Grandpa cleared the intersection with the AVCO but the Granada, being towed was caught in the drunk’s crosshairs. Whammo.

    Yes – being of driving age in the mid-late seventies, I remember the Ford commercials comparing it (Granada) to a contemporary Mercedes. Overall exterior dimensions were the only thing the two cars shared in common. I found those commercials laughable, but Ford wasn’t the only one guilty of this. I remember a 1978 newpaper print ad where Olds was comparing it’s Omega sedan with a 5 series BMW and a Volvo. The Olds was bragging about it’s “three speed floor shifted manaul transmission and it’s 4.2 litre six!” That’s the Chevy 250 which in 1978 California wheezed out a straining 100 net horsepower. Straight six “X” cars had more in common with 4×2 short bed Chevy/GMC trucks – not with a contemporary late 70s 5 series BMW or Volvo. With standard manual steering and brakes, Omega drove like a 4×2 base GM truck too. In fact, the trucks probably drove much better.

    BTW – I had a ’78 Buick Skylark with the 231 V-6. Ran like a top at 200 plus K. Had tranny re-built at 185K – transmision shop said it was the only “rubber band THM 200″ in existence that actually went more than 50K without a rebuild! Said Buick didn’t burn oil, but it sure leaked it! Come to think of it, mid 70s “X” body GM’s are similar in size to the Mercedes too . . . . .

  • avatar
    roger628

    My Driver’s Ed car was a 1975 Monarch 2 door with the 302. What I recall most about it was how it ran with the primitive emission controls. Sometimes on light acceration the engine would just cut-out momentariy, then resume wheezing. At the time my parents had a ’72 Comet 4dr LDO with a 302 that would have flat spanked it.
    In the fall of ’76, my dad wrecked his leased ’76 Elite. The dealer gave us a no-option ’76 2 door Granada that just happened to have the 351 in it. That one wasn’t too bad, it could actually lay rubber and seemed peppy enough for the times. Top speed ,110 indicated. Well he lightly wrecked that one too (bent rim, flat tire) while drunk so then they gave us a brand-new ’77 4dr with a 302 and AC. That one WAS a pathetic slug, with a really annoying off the line stumble when the engine was hot. Flooring it resulted in a lot of fan roar and not much forward progess. And the exhaust stunk of rotten eggs continually as something was wrong with the carb from new and it was running too rich. Then they finally fixing the borderline total Elite, which was never the same again but that 460 could at least give some semblance of a thrill.

  • avatar
    Shawnski

    These were very popular cars back in the day, and very much old hat by the Eighties. 2 of my brothers each had one. What they offered was the brilliance of perceived value via marketing chutzpah of Lee Iacocca. While they broke no new ground mechaniclly, they were however very comfortable and well made cars. The thick carpet and heavily padded seats were hallmarks of the Iococca way of bringing affordable luxury to the masses…since they were Fords of the Seventies, you can expect sloppy suspension, steering and weak engines. They also though retained Ford of the sixties solidity in the form of beautifully closing doors….unlike the rattle crash of a GM door of the 70′s. In retrospect they were straight forward cars that epitomized the Great American car of the Seventies; retain the envy of the world in sixties engineering (albeit water downed), combined with a plush comfort mantra. You can turn your nose up at these, but all in all a relatively compact, comfortable, stylish and safe car for not allot of dough.

  • avatar
    donkensler

    At last, I can rant about the worst car I ever owned, a ’75 Monarch Ghia. My dad bought it new in spring of ’75 and hated it so much he gave it to me when he bought a Dodge Aspen in ’76 (talk about out of the frying pan into the fire). It was blue, with white vinyl roof and blue interior, 302 V8/auto.

    Problems? Almost too numerous to mention:

    Really, really, slow (the 302 had all of 122 hp, as far as I can find). Terminal hesitation (foot on gas, engine feels like it’s about to stall, then after a couple of seconds decides to provide power). Driving this car, I didn’t dare try shooting gaps in traffic.

    Really terrible gas mileage. Best ever mileage of 18 mph was one tank when a friend of mine was driving on a really flat and straight stretch of I-90 in South Dakota at exactly 55 mph. Normal highway mileage when I was driving (more like 65-70 mph) was 16. In-town mileage when I was in college and grad school was 8-10 mpg, and when commuting after I got a real job, the mileage was around 12.

    Terrible trunk space; shallow, and the spare took up about half of the space. Three friends and I drove to Florida over Christmas break, and although we packed light (we were college students, so only needed some changes of underwear and shirts for the week), our clothes plus four sleeping bags and a tent meant we had to leave the spare tire at home and hope we didn’t have a flat.

    Insufficient rear-seat space for anyone over about 5’8″. In typical Ford 70′s style, the rear-seat cushion was shorter than normal, which gave the illusion of legroom when seen from the outside, but gave inadequate leg support for long trips.

    Really, really, soft suspension. With one person in the back, the rear suspension would bottom driving over railroad tracks. With two people plus luggage in the back, the suspension bottomed over gentle undulations on I-95 through Jacksonville, FL, on the Florida trip.

    Plastiwood everywhere in the interior, including the window sills. Silly looking vinyl ear muffs on the C-pillars that trapped dirt and wouldn’t release it, even scrubbing them with a fingernail brush. The aforementioned gas filler lid that broke constantly. I got it fixed the first time it broke, then the second time said the hell with it and began noticing every single Monarch and Granada Ghia had the same problem.

    The front u-joint blew up at about 25 months in service. It’s quite the experience hearing what sounds like an M80 going off next to your leg as you start to accelerate from a light, realize the car isn’t going anywhere, then get out and see the front end of the driveshaft on the ground. The alternator died at 27 mis. The transmission went up in a cloud of smoke at 36 mis.

    So let’s recap. Slow, awful mileage, engine that was incapable of running right, cramped, terrible trunk space, severe trim fails, unreliable. What’s not to like? As soon as I could afford to once I got a real job (at Ford, as fate would have it), I unloaded the poor thing in favor of a ’79 Mustang Turbo (which I was then able to unload for a management-lease ’83 Mustang GT before the turbo had a chance to grenade).

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    As I think about it in retrospect the Granada was one of many domestically produced vehicles in that era that allowed the Japanese to dominate the American market in the compact & midsize segments.

    I think the worst vehicles produced in that era were the GM X bodies.

  • avatar
    Ben Nevis

    The author’s misunderstanding of Viet Nam does not seem to influence her judgment about cars.

  • avatar
    M 1

    Ha… a car I’d hoped to never see again. My friend was given one in high school. Everything about it was awful. But apparently the engine was un-killable, perhaps because it simply didn’t make enough power to cause any damage. One summer day the water pump quietly died, and we drove it around for hours, wondering why it was getting so unbelievably hot.

    Then we saw the flames. But it kept running…

  • avatar
    bathtub gin

    Dad bought a ’78 with the strangled 302 and loved it for a few months. Of course, we were replacing a ’74 Pinto wagon, so it could have been only better by comparison. The paint started coming off it almost immediately, and eventually would come off on your hand. After a number of less-than-satisfactory dealership attempts to make it look decent, he had the whole thing re-painted on his dime at a body shop, silver this time. Needless to say, it was the last Ford he ever bought. Never had any trouble with the engine, but the rest of the car was a dog.

    By the time I was old enough to drive, it was the car of last resort/car Dad drove to work. He finally put it out of our misery with a Chevy S-10 in 1988, but strangely, he never owned another car for as long as he had the Granada.

  • avatar
    njhoon

    While I agree the Granadas were one of the most awful cars ever made. They will always have a soft spot in my heart. I neighborhood friends family had one. Red with a white vinyl top, red crushed velour interior. I got to second base with said friends older sister. Second base at Fourteen with a hot Sixteen year old was a huge deal.
    Also growing up in the land that rust forgot, you missed the pleasure of getting to drive one in the snow. Too slow to really hurt when you crashed but just good enough to have fun.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    While many like to keep dumping on the 70′s as the Malaise era, I can think of several garbage box 60′s cars that literally fell apart and rattled your innards after they reached 100K miles and many didn’t even reach that point. A buddies 1966 Rambler comes to mind that not only blew a head gasket, needed a motor and tranny replacement, had frame less door glass that rattled incessantly and had the worst seats for long distance drives. Then there were the Corvairs, the quirky and unreliable Tempest and sister Olds Cutlass cars with there Trophy shaker box L4 and mid mounted transmission, the utter gas hog land barge Lincolns and Caddys that managed to achieve gallons to the mile, stopping power was non existent with there crappy 4 wheel drum brakes that needed adjustment and replacement every year, electronic ignition wasn’t around yet so points needed constant replacement and adjustment and tuneup intervals were on a yearly basis in many cases, the steering wheel could be turned with a finger and most 60′s cars felt like they were all over the road, items like windshield squirter’s were an option, safety belts went around your waste leaving your upper body to slam in the dashboard and cars like the Beetle didn’t even have heat. talk about the primitive crap box era. Even with that said I do like the Chevelles, Novas and F-bodies of this era with there monster sized and powerful roaring V8 engines and the styling on many 60′s cars was very good and still look good today.

    As for the Granada, it was an OK car by the later 70′s and the 250 L6 was a reliable enough engine. The car had a pleasant enough ride but handling was soggy if you got the base suspension. My grandparents and some friends had Granadas of this time period and I remember them rusting out just like the 60′s cars did but they were never unreliable and junk. The 302 option provided enough power for the time and could be upgraded very easily.

  • avatar
    zeus01

    “…My grandparents and some friends had Granadas of this time period and I remember them rusting out just like the 60′s cars did…”

    This in spite of Ford’s highly-touted “Dura-guard System” which was introduced right around the same time Granadas were first introduced. The TV ads went something like this:

    “blah blah blah… about the same size as the Mercedes Benz 280… blah blah blah… runs on both types of gasoline: leaded and unleaded… blah blah blah… protected by the Ford Dura-guard System! blah blah blah…Granada: from the Ford family of fine products…”

  • avatar
    GiddyHitch

    I find it funny how many commenters have a deep personal connection with such a crappy car and I am certainly no exception. My mother drove a 1975 baby blue Granada coupe throughout my formative years and always wished that she had an Accord or Camry instead (the Granada was over 20 years by the time she got rid of it). That Granada turned me off of American cars for the next 15+ years. Well that and spending a summer working in manufacturing in Detroit.

  • avatar

    wow, god bless you mr. rosewater!

    i can still remember my mom’s ’75 granda coupe with the copper paint, pin stripes & white landau roof. one day after high scholl, while rushing to drop off my stoned friends and pick up my mother from work, the firestone 500 radials shredded. i was passing somebody doing about 45 in a residential area. i had to yank the tiller super hard to prevent the granada from spinning into the other car. steel belts were everywhere. changed the tire and went about my business. high school kids are like cats: nine lives.

    as crappy a car as it was, it always got us there. it cost $5k and we sold it about 7 years later for $900.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    It’s funny the things that you forget (and maybe should stay forgotten) until something suddenly triggers the lost memory like this article on the malaise era Granada.

    In this case it’s a friend’s mother’s Mercury Monarch, about a ’79 or so. My friend and I drove it to 14th street in D.C. to mess around with the hookers and this one trollop, wearing a fur coat and not much else, produced a brick and threw it at the Merc and then kicked the quarter panel with her high-heeled boot; don’t recall what motivated her to do that. Anyway, it was all great fun until we remembered the next day what had happened. When questioned about the damage by his mother, my friend said, “I dunno, musta happened in a parkin’ lot.”

  • avatar

    I owned one of these piles of excrement, and all I can say is, 20 minutes to get it to start? Really? I often had to pitch a tent by the thing and take naps while trying to get it start.

    This POS was the inspiration for my slogan for Ford–remember “Have you driven a Ford lately?” Mine was “Have you ridden the bus lately?”

    John

  • avatar
    Nick

    Jebus, has everyone nearly met their maker in one of these? My dad had one as a rental on some road trip or another. The ponderous performance lulled him to sleep and on a broad sweeper I remember crossing into the oncoming lanes and onto the gravel shoulder. Not even the sound of gravel getting kicked up under the car woke him up. My screaming did the job though.

    In all honesty, I hadn’t yet reached double digits age wise, and I remember sitting in the car as it wallowed about and thinking ‘What is WRONG with this car?’

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Quote: Not many cars are so underpowered as to be genuinely unsafe, but the Ramada makes the list (the dual-control ’78 Rabbit Diesel in which I took my driver-training classes in 1982 is the only car that beats the six-cylinder ’79 Granada in my personal Dangerously Underpowered Cars Hall of Fame voting). From a standing start, you’d mash on the gas and the car would hesitate for a second or two, seemingly gathering its thoughts, and then there’d be this grooooooaaan sound from under the hood and the car would ooze forward. No amount of water or bleach on the rear tires could make it perform any sort of a burnout— hey, I was a teenager in a street-racing town in which only revving big-blocks could drown out the incessant Randy Rhoads solos and low-flying A7s— and even the most vicious, C4-annihilating neutral-drop couldn’t get more than a pathetic chirp out of the Ramada’s tires.

    Sounds like the Ramada was either seriously out of tune or you had a partially plugged cat converter. In high school we drove my buddies 1980 everyday for 3 years with the same exact drive-train and it always started right up, ran smoothly and produced reasonable low and mid range torque. For sure not a quick car but hardly dangerously slow. Pedal to the metal would spin the rear tire a bit but not much else. That title would go to the VW and Mercedes diesels of the same era along with the full size GM C-body diesel sedans and some of the micro tiny engined Asian compacts with there terrible automatic trannys. The 250 Granadas along with the 250 Novas and 225 Slant sixes were all decent get the job done performers of the time that made good low end torque and carried said vehicle around through years of reliable service. It is often said that fuel mileage wasn’t much better than there V8 optional engines could provide but in a fuel crisis even one or two MPG was helpful.

  • avatar
    Polichinello

    I’m going to be the exception here. I had a ’76 two-door Granada I bought used in 1986. It was grey, with a 240[?] in-line six and a three-on-the-tree manual shift. It actually ran really well. I probably put about 50k miles on that car myself. It was a great first car.

    Of course, I would have rather had a brand new Mustang or Camaro, but I was paying for the car, and the Granada fit the bill really well, especially as I didn’t care about a ding or two on it from parking accidents in the Rio Grande Valley. The junkyards were also full of them at the time, so I could easily replace any trim that fell off. Otherwise, I had no real mechanical issues with the car.

  • avatar
    cwatwell

    I have a Dangerously Underpowered car that wrests away the second place crown on the ’79 Granada’s grill: a 1978 Mustang II Ghia with the 2.3L I-4 and three speed auto. As with the Granada, mashing the pedal only produced a loud, painful moan that pierced the ears like a stiletto. It was the sound that the cake made from the oven in that Laurel and Hardy short. BBWWWAHHHHHHHH! That sound could not be overcome by wind noise, as that kicked in 20 seconds later when the Deuce hit 40. You could only pass on a downhill with a 1/4 mile head start. Good thing it didn’t have A/C, otherwise I’m not sure it would have moved forward at all. I remember a friend of mine laughing hysterically as I demonstrated the Deuce’s “acceleration” across a major intersection, with me praying to make it to the other side before the light turned red. It ran until my brother wrecked it. His next car? An ’82 Granada. Poor kid.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    “you can see the Competition Orange ’68 Mercury Cyclone that succeeded these cars ”

    My parents had the same car when I was child. Fond memories of that car. Loved the color and the 390 4bbl under the hood.

    Remains one car I would love to own a restored version of. I envy you for actually owning one.

  • avatar

    How about that late 70′s Thunderbird? Huge outside, tiny inside, what a piece of crap!

  • avatar
    flameded

    I also had the 1975(or 6?)copper with white roof 302 auto.(Of course this was in 1991 when I got it for $50 donation.)
    It had 60,000 orig miles..and the only problem was some rust in the trunk, which I fixed with fiberglass.

    I remember the night I got it registered, it was holloween night in 1991…No exhaust…and 302 screamin and scaring lil’ trick or treaters as I’d downshift to “L” coming to a stop…good times.
    Mine ran great..til a few thousand miles of a 20 yr old beatin the pants off it nearly killed it.
    I sold it for $50.

  • avatar

    I call this era, the T-Top Era aka The Landau Roof Era, The Wire Wheel Era, The Opera Window Era, The Velour Upholstery Era, and so forth (feel free to jump in). I don’t remember much about the 1970s as I was pretty young but I do remember that everyone wanted a Monte Carlo/Regal/Cutlass Supreme/Grand Prix in the late 1970s and into the mid 1980s. We had a Navy Blue, 1986 Buick Regal Limited with crushed blue velour, wire wheels and the upgraded V6….now that was a car to aspire to back then. I always laugh at the ads for the Chrysler Cordoba and the Dodge Mirada with Ricardo Montalbon *may he rest in peace*

    While most cars of this era were junk (not to mention rust prone) I remember my sisters baby blue 1980 Ford Fairmont as being just as much a giant piece o junk as the Granada! The six was slow and the car was just devoid of anything resembling quality or style. The six would “diesel” for many minutes after being turned off! The lone shining star in my little small automotive world was when the silver 1980 Ford Fiesta pulled up next to the Fairmont and lit a little bit of passion in my soul. It was a tin can on wheels with tiny 12 inch wheels but it was cool (they raced them ya know) So, yeah I beat the piss out of that car every chance I had and it NEVER broke…ever….and finally, 25 years late we are FINALLY getting Euro Fords….and not a minute to soon.

  • avatar
    Jasper911

    Weeks later, he claims of a bright spot in Granadadom! In the mid ’80s, my brother’s dope dealer had a two door, 302, 4 speed Granada with Cragars, dual turbo muffler exhaust and some psychedelic colored dome light. All dressed in embassy gray with the pretty much obligatory matching half vinyl top, it was about as good as they could’ve gotten!

  • avatar
    Broo

    My grandpa had a ’77 Granada, 4 doors, dark green with a white vinyl top. We have a picture of little me sitting on the hood. You couldn’t do that on a modern car, the toddler would either slip down because the hood is too steep, or the hood would bend. On the rare occasions I see a Granada or Versailles, I think of my late grandfather.

  • avatar
    Igoaround940

    I myself had a different view of the Ford Granada/Mercury Monarch/Lincoln Versailles triplets. I first rode in my older brothers’ new, 1976 Mercury Monarch. It was a white, 2-door with white vinyl top and a ruby red interior. I remember it being very luxurious. My other brother bought a new, jade green 1980 4 door Granada in 1979. It was the base model with a green vinyl interior and was a rather nice car at that. I myself owned a red 1977 Ford Granada Ghia 2-door with a red vinyl top and the top of the line red velour interior with every option. These cars were quiet, comfortable and had the desirable (for the time), boulevard ride. We found them to be quite reliable with few problems aside from the usual distributor adjustments.

    I was in college and I spent so many great times on dates with my girl friends and had many deep conversations in that car. My fondest memories are sitting with the seats reclined looking out the sunroof up at the stars on a quiet summer night planning my life and dreaming those beautiful dreams you dream when you are young. While many of those dreams came true, some, sadly, did not. Nevertheless, it was a great time in my life. If I could afford the gasoline, I’d buy another Granada in a second and dream a little more.

    These cars were quiet,

  • avatar
    Igoaround940

    I myself had a different view of the Ford Granada/Mercury Monarch/Lincoln Versailles triplets. I first rode in my older brothers’ new, 1976 Mercury Monarch. It was a white, 2-door with white vinyl top and a ruby red interior. I remember it being very luxurious. My other brother bought a new, jade green 1980 4 door Granada in 1979. It was the base model with a green vinyl interior and was a rather nice car at that. I myself owned a red 1977 Ford Granada Ghia 2-door with a red vinyl top and the top of the line red velour interior with every option. These cars were quiet, comfortable and had the desirable (for the time), boulevard ride. We found them to be quite reliable with few problems aside from the usual distributor adjustments.

    I was in college and I spent so many great times on dates with my girl friends and had many deep conversations in that car. My fondest memories are sitting with the seats reclined looking out the sunroof up at the stars on a quiet summer night planning my life and dreaming those beautiful dreams you dream when you are young. While many of those dreams came true, some, sadly, did not. Nevertheless, it was a great time in my life.

    I have owned, Audis, Volvos, Toyotas and many other cars in my life but none felt quite as nice. These cars don’t make much sense now being relics of a time gone by but, if I could afford the gasoline, I’d buy another Granada in a second and dream a little more.

  • avatar
    JK43123

    I owned one of these piles of malaise in the 1980s…I used to brag I got 100 mpg–10 driving, 90 behind a tow truck.

    Promised myself I would never buy a Ford product again. Then the wife wanted a Grand Marquis….I hope I won’t live to regret it.

    John

  • avatar
    skor

    My father bought a new 2Dr Granada ESS(European Sport Sedan….I’m not kidding)in 1979.

    I begged him to get the 302, but my father wouldn’t hear of it. Dad was a firm believer in saving money, and he was convinced that the I6 would get better gas mile….he was very wrong. The 302 versions were not fast cars by any stretch, but at least they could get up to highway speeds before you ran out of on-ramp. As you pointed out, the I6 was slow….slow suicide…but the gas mileage was no better than the V8.

    I remember how the engine in my fathers had a terminal case of the shakes from day one. Numerous trips to the dealer never solved the problem.

    I also took my driving test in the Granada. I can still remember it well, the guy at the DMV looked at the car, looked at me, and rolled his eyes.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    You might want to break up that second paragraph a bit. Jesus my head hurts!

  • avatar
    MulletMobile79rs

    My first car was a 79 Grenade in 1986. It was from TX, had never even spent a winter up here (Michigan). Most cars of this era were already rusting in Michigan in 1986. The paint was peeling on the hood and roof from the TX sun, and a quarter panel was bashed in, but at the ripe age of 16, it was mine. I promptly traded my trusty Honda Trail 90 to a neighbor to fix the body and paint it. It looked like brand new, but man oh man, it ran like crap. It was a straight 6/auto/manual steering car.
    My high school auto shop teacher was never so confounded by a car in his life. We did everything to it, and it still ran like 5 plug wires were gone. We replaced the cat with a ‘test’ pipe, new plugs/wires, new guts in the distributor, rebuilt the carb, checked for vacuum leaks, checked compression, hooked it up to the 80s era sun-tach machine, nothing helped. We even check front end alignment to rule out excessive rolling resistance there!
    The expressway near my house had super long entrance ramps, and even then, by the time you had to merge, you were only going 45. Floor it, feather it, whatever, it made no difference. Over the next mile (no joke) you could get it up to 55. The slightest hill you lost 5-10 mph, you could kinda gain it back on the downside.
    I had at least a dozen mid 70s to early 80s cars in my youth, even some of the crappy ones people mentioned here, but nothing even came close to being a horrible as the Grenade. If we had cliffs around here I would have driven it off one.

  • avatar
    TrippXC70

    What a terrible car, and my experience was that it would NOT go. When I was in high school my Dad bought a ’78 Granada Ghia with the 302cid V8. Aside from the fakest looking wood-grain appliques and minimal instrumentation, I recall that the V8 had a habit of just cutting off at random. One day it cut out half-way in to a turn and was rear-ended badly enough to bend the backrest about 30 degrees. That car was NOT missed.

  • avatar
    cwatwell

    The author accurately described the acceleration of my brother’s 1976 Mustang II Ghia (as in GEE-ODD, this car is slow!) with the 2.3 liter four and the three-speed auto. Downshifting just increased the noise. I had no idea it was a shared Ford trait. The good news was that head-on collisions went way down because passing anyone required a mile-long 8 degree downhill grade. We also had a used Granada with the slant six that seemed like a rocket compared to the Mustangs.

    As for the crabbing, that was a standard feature on all mid-70s Novas and their variants. It was always entertaining to see the front and the back of the car go by at the same time.

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      Fords never were equipped with a “slant six”. That be Chrysler. US Ford cars used a straight six with an integral cast intake that had the internal dimensions of a worm hole. The US Ford I6 was definitely the wheeziest of the bunch.

  • avatar
    davew833

    My grandma, who was an executive with the local newspaper classified ads department, bought a ’75 Granada in about 1978. I was living in another state, but she called to tell me about it. Having seen the ads comparing the Granada to the Mercedes 116 (and being young and impressionable), I was actually rather excited. I hoped that hers was the better looking two-door ESS model. It wasn’t. When I finally got to see it, it was a silver 4-door with red velour (or was it vinyl?) interior and a vinyl top. I think I remember it had the “Ghia” badges too, whatever that meant, and imitation-wire-wheel hubcaps. I think it had the 302 V8. I don’t remember it being a particularly bad car. My mom liked to drive it because it was a classier ride than the ’71 International Travelall my dad had saddled her with. It lasted until ’84 when she traded it in on an ’82 Buick Regal wagon, the same year I got my driver’s license.

  • avatar
    pattech2000

    I had long suspected my step-brother of being crazy (and not in a fun way), but when he traded a ’74 T-Bird for a ’75 Granada I was convinced he was not only crazy but stupid as well. Yes, the T-Bird was a pig, but it was a posh pig whereas the Granada was just another ugly old car. My family then tried to force my step-brother’s mistake on me but I quickly bought a 1970 Mercedes 250C which I wished that I still owned today.

  • avatar

    I had a $50 1975 2-door coupe with the 250, rotten wheel wells that made the trunk get wet until I patched ‘em with about six cans of gooey fiberglass, and a trick carb–the car would stall when it was damp out, usually at a red light, and the only way to get it going was to jiggle the butterfly manually. I carried around a little wooden wedge and got so good at it that I could pop the hood, jump out, remove the air filter cover, stick the wedge in, start the car, retrieve the wedge, close the air filter, drop the hood, and get through before the light turned red again. Eventually, the vinyl top cracked and split–water got through and rotted the steel underneath until the thing leaked badly, so some friends and I cut off all the vinyl shards with box cutters. We’d thought to patch the holes, but it was so corroded we decided instead to fill all the holes with sliced up pieces of #5 plastic (cool whip containers and so forth) then cover the patches with bondo. Ultimately, we needed so much bondo that I decided to just cover the whole thing, using putty knives, with a thick coat that instead of sanding we just swirled into a fetching stucco pattern, which we spray-painted black, along with the grill, bumpers, and some of the trim. I drove it for six months like that, until some sorry bastard who didn’t like my “reunions” with his girlfriend/my ex-girlfriend dumped a couple of cans of radiator stop leak in the oil pan. Man, I hated that car.

  • avatar
    AllThumbs

    Wonderfully poignant story, and excellent comments all around.

    Jogged back the memory of the summer between my junior and senior year in high school (1978). I had a rotting ’67 Mustang convertible and wanted to replace it. For some reason, my dad had a line on a lightly used Granada and was strongly suggesting it (I doubt he had the birth control angle in mind, but who knows). I worked in a gas station and there was NO WAY IN HELL I was buying a Granada, of course. Ended up with something weirder for a Texas gas station attendant in some ways: a VW Scirocco. Good car. I sold it at the height of the ’79 gas crisis just before heading to college and made $1k profit.

    But, my goodness, y’all are right: The Granada is a virtual memory machine, isn’t it? I certainly recall the MB-Granada comparison ads, and that I saw them AFTER seeing a Granada and thinking, “WTF, the Granada is sneakily trying to look like a Mercedes!” Not so sneakily, it turned out. In the past fifteen years, I’ve owned a 1980 and a 1982 Mercedes, yet don’t think I’ve seen a Granada in that same time frame.


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