By on October 19, 2012

Thanks to rental-car companies, the Granada was once seen in great numbers on American roads. The Granada remained a fairly common sight well into the 1990s, but they’re just about all gone now. We saw this Crusher-bound ’77 Granada Ghia in California last month, and I found today’s Junkyard Find in a nearby East Bay wrecking yard on the same trip.
One thing about junkyard Granadas (and Monarchs) is that the front brake parts always get grabbed by the first person to spot the car. That’s because everyone knows that Mustang guys will pay good money for these bolt-on-to-1960s-Mustangs parts.
The original purchaser of this car (probably Hertz) splurged and bought the optional AM radio. I still have vivid memories of frustrated spinning of tuning knobs on this type of radio, from driving my parents’ “extra car” Granada as a yoot; it was always a challenge to find something good on AM in the early 1980s. About as good as you were going to get was maybe Joan Jett, Blondie, or Ace Frehley. Still, it could have been worse— plenty of cars back then came with zero audio system.
Yes, the 250-cubic-inch six was as gutless as it looks.
Cruise control was a fairly uncommon option in 1979, so maybe this Granada didn’t start its career as a rental. In this era, cruise-control systems used a big vacuum motor to control the throttle and weren’t particularly steady.
One good thing about cars from the darkest days of the Malaise Era— and 1979 was about as dark as it got— was that designers weren’t afraid to use vivid interior colors. This interior is a symphony in brown and red vinyl and faux woodgrain.

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85 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1979 Ford Granada...”


  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Wretched cars. If people nowadays complain about high beltlines, this POS was the precursor of that trend. Sitting in it was like sitting in a bathtub, and I’m 6’3″.

    My Dad had a brand-new 1977 Granada Ghia. It was a lemon.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Yep, another entry in the American Cavalcade of Garbage. On the other hand, cars like this transformed mass-market postwar cars of the 1950-70ish period from old cars into into “classics”.

      • 0 avatar
        Pig_Iron

        I don’t know about that. They sold like hotcakes where I lived. I knew a family the even had one with stick. I never heard anyone complain about them. They were know to be dull driving, but no worse than their competition.

        I remember them running for so long, I couldn’t believe they were still on the road. And they sure didn’t corrode like some Fords just a few years before. If I remember right, they were one of the last of the Ford Falcon/Fairlaine/Pinto unibody platform. And that was a pretty stretchy and modular one.

        It had highs and lows like the Mustang and the Mustang II. Even though the Granada wasn’t my cup of tea, it seemed pretty successful. Oh, one more thing, the Maverick/Granada was a favorite yard vehicle at local wrecking yards.

        I remember them torch cutting a couple of holes in the deck lid, dropping in a pair oxy-acetyl tanks and bombing around the yard to collect parts. They were very bouncy as they were gunned through the rutted paths…

  • avatar
    rpol35

    Glad you found my Mercedes, I was wondering what had happened to it.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    A Granada was one of the cars on my list when car shopping for my very first new-car purchase in 1975…along with a Bronco, a Jeep CJ5, a Chevy pickup, a Camaro and a Chevy LUV.

    The Chevy C-20 Fleetside pickup won…only to be sold two years to the day later!

    On the way to Sharonville, OH from where I live a few miles north, there’s a brown Granada of uncertain year that has been sitting for a l-o-n-g time in front of a body shop. Seems to be in reasonable shape, too.

    The Fairmont turned out to be the car the Granada should have been, IMHO.

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    A question for the Ford historians. Did Ghia of Italy have anything to do with this or the Mustang II, or was it just an alternative to Brougham?

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      I’m not a Ford historian, but Ford owned Ghia (or a significant part) in the 70′s.

    • 0 avatar
      ranwhenparked

      What tced2 said,

      Ford bought a controlling stake in Ghia 1970. Three years later in 1973, they bought all remaining shares and merged their existing Italian design studio (in Bruino, just south of Turin) under the Ghia umbrella. From that point on, the name was theirs to do with as they like, including using it as a trim level on this rolling crapfest.

      Ghia still exists as basically the name on the building of Ford’s Italian studios and remains as a trim level on some Fords in some markets, where the name wasn’t as badly devalued.

  • avatar
    iainthornton

    That is a nice Cadillac!

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Vacuum-based anything is evil; I’m glad to see as much of that as possible go away. Say what you will about engine- and body-computers, at least they work 99.9% of the time.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      Ever driven a car with vacuum operated windshield wipers? They’re really fun. When you stomp on the gas (as in, say, going up a big hill), the wipers stop because there isn’t enough engine vacuum to work them.

      In US cars, at least, I think these were pretty much gone by 1960. IIRC, my dad’s ’57 Chevy had vacuum operated wipers.

      The good ol’ daze!

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        My ’63 T-Bird runs the wipers off the power steering pump. Gotta love 60′s innovation!

      • 0 avatar
        autojim

        Ford of the mid-to-late ’50s with vacuum wipers had a secondary vacuum pump atop the fuel pump, the idea being that said pump would keep the wipers running well, even at full throttle.

        Get one set up properly without any worn-out/cracked/brittle hoses a good diaphragm in the pump, and a good rotary piston seal in the motor, and they actually work pretty well.

        I’ve completely lost track of the number of ’55-’57 Thunderbird vacuum wiper motors I’ve rebuilt over the years.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      My ’06 Wrangler still has vacuum cruise and HVAC controls. If you know how to use a Mighty-Vac it’s very easy to diagnose. I prefer the vacuum HVAC controls to all the elctronic actuators quite frankly.

      • 0 avatar
        Moparman426W

        Agreed, Wheeljack.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        Vacuum operated things are wonderful ~ they’re silent and when the system is properly designed , there’s a reserve tank and check valve so nothing slows down nor stops when you ascend hills etc.

        I never took the vacuum wipers out of my old 1949 Chevy 3100 Shop Truck and they worked *perfectly* ~ of course , unlike most , I kept the valves in proper adjustment and the ignition timing spot on at all times , those two things are crucial .

        I never did find the need for the optional Dual Action fuel pump.

        My 28 year old Mercedes’ vacuum central locking ,trunk release and HVAC all work perfectly , silently too .

        -Nate

      • 0 avatar
        Moparman426W

        Nate, some of the comments crack me up. What do these guys think a power brake booster is? It’s a giant vacuum pump, and they are generally one of the most long lived components on a vehicle. Rarely does one go bad, they normally outlast the vehicle. And the comments about cruise control were funny, they were generally reliable, only had about half a dozen major parts and were stupid easy to troubleshoot and fix. The basic design of cruise control units didn’t change much before the onset of drive by wire throttles.

  • avatar
    crtfour

    Wow I wonder how long and on how many vehicles Ford used that steering wheel design? I think I recall that wheel even in the F-150′s.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    This looks almost identical to my friend’s 1980 Granada that he had in high school back in 1989 with the 97 HP 250 L6 and automatic. That car was nearly mint with eat off clean seats, door panels and carpets and ran like a watch. But it was slow as sin with 0-60 in 15.8 seconds, got hot as hell inside with those vinyl seats and no AC and the sound system, which consisted of Am/FM radio, sounded cheap. It was extremely reliable but didn’t seem to have as much room inside as the folks 1979 Fairmont and fuel mileage was around 20 overall. Hardly a noteworthy car but far from the worst we have driven.

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    Twin air freshners. Did it smell that bad, or was it the victim of multiple repos?

    • 0 avatar

      Usually the last thing the owner of a car does, just before selling to a junkyard, is add some air fresheners in the hopes that prospective non-junkyard buyers won’t notice the not-so-pleasant scent of urine/mildew/antifreeze on the carpets.

  • avatar
    zbnutcase

    I had one of these, a ’75, in the early mid ’80s. What a POS. Pretty sad when the front spindles are the most valuable parts. Used a pair to put front disc brakes on a friends ’70 Maverick

  • avatar
    Ted Grant

    Ditto on the vacuum wipers. My buddy had a 68 Ambassador SST with vacuum wipers and complained about being stuck in the rain at a drive-in. He had to keep the motor running to see the movie…Good times…

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Obviously a guy with priorities out of waack. God rarely hands one such a delightful combo to be squandered (this all turns on the assumption that he went to the drive in in the company of a young lady.)

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Vacuum hoses also were incorrectly connected by less competent mechanics.
    I remember, fresh from college in 1978, looking to purchase my very first vehicle at an used auto dealer.
    Inspecting the engine bay of one car, I found a vacuum hose whose loose end had been plugged with a screw, and which had a small note attached:
    “If you know where this hose goes, please plug it, as I don’t.”

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    Brings back memories. That thing wasn’t a rental. It was pretty loaded, tilt steering, cruise, front buckets. It was certainly better than the always broken door hinges on the 2 door and the wrecked bench seat that’s so typical Ford.

  • avatar
    Maintainer

    “Power By Ford” on the VC is pretty funny. I remember that plant and if there was any power to be had it was probably all in the car next to you.

    • 0 avatar

      When I freshened up the 200 in our 24 Hours of Lemons Fairmont I made a point to put quotes around the word “Power” when I repainted the valve cover.

    • 0 avatar
      Maintainer

      That’s Bad A%%! Correcting Ford’s oversight.

    • 0 avatar
      Aqua225

      Was the 250CID I6 capable of being boosted? Just curious how strong the block is, if there are a gazillion of those motors sitting around, waiting to be ripped out.

      • 0 avatar

        Yes, they only have about 8:1 compression, but a 7 main bearing crank. Turbo versions are out there putting out more than 300hp, but it requires a lot of work because you are still stuck with just a 1 3/4″ hole to push all your fuel and air thru in the intake (which is cast integral with the cylinder head). Drilling out the log intake for fuel injection is the best idea for making that kind of power.

      • 0 avatar
        Moparman426W

        Given adequate journal size a 4 main bearing crank is stronger because it has less twists and turns, although a 7 main design makes for a smoother running engine. Most Ford guys that want to build a straight 6 don’t mess with the 250, they go with the 300 truck motor. Besides being much more robust it also has 50 more cubes, a 4 inch bore and a separate intake manifold. They have been known to put out nearly 500 horses and equal amounts of torque naturally aspirated.

  • avatar
    TheDward

    As the owner of a third gen Sable, I’m disturbed by this Granada’s next door neighbors.

  • avatar
    JMII

    My grandmother had a similar Granada, it was the first automatic car I got to drive. I was shocked that after putting it drive the car took off on its own almost taking out a mailbox in the process. I had only driven manual cars before and thus had no idea you needed to keep your foot on the brake to ensure an automatic vehicle stayed put.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    I own a 72 Imperial and a 78 New Yorker Brougham and the cruise control units on both cars work pretty much the same as on modern cars. When going down long grades they may pick up 1 or 2 mph, just like most modern vehicles do.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      We had a 1985 Dodge Lancer ES Turbo with a 3-speed automatic and a digital dashboard. During its brief life, the combination of an approximate drivetrain and a digital speedometer showed that cruise control speeds wavered by about 10 mph and crept up over time. Much of the time we were on 29 North in Virginia, which is defined by rolling hills that serve as speed traps, which the Dodge’s cruise control wasn’t good enough to foil. Our 1988 BMW 5-speed, on the other hand, seemed like it applied a brake directly to the speedometer needle. It wouldn’t move perceptibly unless you tried to make it climb an 8% grade in 5th gear at 45 mph.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        My experience is that cruise control works more accurately on manual transmission cars. My theory was that it’s because a given RPM in a given gear is always the same speed. That’s not necessarily the case for an automatic, even with the aggressively locking torque converters we have these days.

        Could also be my sample. My MT cars are newer than the beater automatics I drove back in the day.

    • 0 avatar

      I had an ’81 Bonneville that had an innovative cruise-control system: the moment you hit the button to activate the cruise control, the throttle would get pinned to the floor and stay there until you lost your nerve (this took a while with a Malaise 301 engine) and deactivated the system.

  • avatar
    Angus McClure

    Seems to me that we can badmouth anything made in this era with justification. I think they should all have borne the legend “designed by the EPA and Congress”. Something needed to be done and it took the manufacturers a while to catch up to the mandated requirements.

    I believe you could have ordered the Granada, Maverick, or Fairmont with the three speed stick and the six and had a dependable car. I say that because of friends that did. I owned both Nova and Chevelle with that same type drivetrain and they would not break or fail to start. The cruise control etc were breaking new ground.

    It has taken a spell for me to have faith in many of the improvements that the manufacturers have made because of the early (frequently failing) efforts. We are all, at least in part, products of our environment which means time frame in many ways. My ex-MIL beat the tar out of one of these like a rented mule and it survived her.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Congress and the EPA did not create incompetence and cronyism in the US auto industry, but they did expose it.

      • 0 avatar
        Angus McClure

        We actually do not disagree. However, it was more than exposure. They stimulated it. I suspect the big three were in a frenzy figuring out how to avoid exposure to liability or government fines when they came up with some of the things that they did.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        The technology was not quite there yet, but it would never have been there if left to Detroit. The materials used and the design capability of the time could have been better than what was used. Had Detroit actually accepted the “assignment” and tried to make it as good as possible, there would have been quite a bit less malaise in the Malaise Era.

        Truth be told, if you were mechanically inclined, it was pretty damn easy to wake up most any engine from that period. Changing the cam, the ignition, and carb was a great start. Even with the primitive cat left in place for inspections you could make a lot more power than the factory came up with…

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    In 1979 I cross-shopped a Granada coupe with a 302 and a Malibu coupe with a 305. The Malibu seemed leagues ahead in engineering and design. Typically for Ford, the Granada was quieter. Got the Malibu and drove it for 17 years.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      G-body Malibus are still sought after in the hot rodder community as well. The Granada? As already mentioned, only popular as an organ donor.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      This Granada, which debuted for the 1975 model year, was a restyled version of the Maverick which, in turn, was a restyled version of the old Falcon.

      The 1978 Chevrolet Malibu came out three years later and was an entirely new car. It should have been more advanced in engineering and design than the Granada.

      • 0 avatar
        NewsLynne

        I was just thinking about how much better looking my 79 Malibu was compared to the Granada. However, having driven both, they share the same aerodynamics as a barn moving sideways in a windstorm.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Ahh the Grenader. My Catholic nun great aunt drove one in pristine shape for the better part of 30 years. Immaculate conception white with technicolor dreamcoat blue interior.

    As a collector of vintage malaise iron, I kinda wish I was able to scoop it. Kinda.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I’ve said it before, but someone went and paid their hard earned money for this car. It was shiny and new, someones “new toy” as it were. Someone was proud to own that thing at some point in its life. Now it sits in a junkyard, one of the worst cars ever made, waiting to be shredded and shipped to China, to return as a toaster.

    The “styling” of the Granada echos that ride too. Big and shiny up front with the upright grill and chrome bumper. Followed by a fairly indifferent middle. But the rear end has ZERO life to it at all. Looks like the designers, exhausted by the rest of the car (or Fords lack of money) said “Well, just slap some tail-lights on it and call it a day”

  • avatar
    autojim

    I’ll take the odds on this car having been someone’s grandmother’s/grandfather’s car that didn’t sell at the estate sale and was sold for scrap instead of bothering to list it on the local Craigslist or on eBay. It’s not beat-up, really. Doesn’t have a bunch of local band stickers plastered all over its backside. Just an old car with no resale that nobody wanted anymore. Kinda sad, really, even if it is one of the most pedestrian cars of its time. May its parts find good homes before it goes to The Crusher.

    Oh, and as the curator of a ’65 Mustang, I’ll agree that the front spindles/brakes probably disappeared within seconds of the car hitting the yard…

  • avatar

    I graduated high school in ’79 and some days it feels like yesterday – hell, I still remember my locker combination – 4-44-14. But when I come across a car like this at the junkyard I think, “Wow, look at that antique” And then I turn my ahead away from the mirror and see the old car too.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Snicker .

    I hated these when new but , they were durable as anvils .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    Always thought the front end restyle on this year’s model was even uglier than the earlier Granada . To me , the overdone boxy look didn’t work well with square headlights, any more than they did when they restyled the front end of the similiar era Cordoba .

  • avatar
    Light Rail Tycoon

    Was it Boots’’79 Granada?

  • avatar
    RatherhaveaBuick

    A Ford Granada was Preisdent Obama’s first car.

    “I have to confess; my first car was my grandfather’s car, which was a Ford Granada.”

    In a speech to the AAA he said:

    “The Granada was not the peak of Detroit engineering. It rattled and it shook. And I don’t think the girls were particularly impressed when I came to pick them up in a Ford Granada. You know what? It moved, and so I have fond memories of the fact that it got me to where I needed to go. That’s about all I can say about the Ford Granada.”

  • avatar
    willbodine

    Ugh. The Granada and the Mercury twin Monarch were announced in the car books as nothing short of the automotive second coming. Check out Road & track and Motor Trend fall ’74 issues. Pages and pages of breathless chatter reprinted I suppose as originally written by Ford. So imagine my shock when I rented one early in 76. It had a 302 but was seriously underpowered. I remember also how crudely the suspension “crashed” over the most minor road blemish. The platform was basically the original Falcon. Hardly cutting edge, even in 1960. All it had going for it as far as I could tell was fairly decent chair-height seating provided by the high profile. Good riddence!

  • avatar
    ajla

    I have two Ford Granada ads framed in my house. Both compare the Ford to a Mercedes.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    These cars shared the same basic suspension as the older mustang/cougar. What made the ride soft and road noise low was the soft spring rates and thick, hollow bushings. Pretty much all aftermarket handling goodies made for the mustang/cougar will bolt onto these, from springs to bushings to sway bars. But the thing about them is that not many ford guys are interested in this body style, but I have seen a few earlier Granadas with round headlights modified.

  • avatar
    Power6

    I love how they were using fake woodgrain on surfaces that couldn’t practically have been incorporated into this class of production car. That way you have no doubt its fake and don’t bother to touch it. My ’83 Park Avenue was loaded with stuff. My Lexus has real wood, and the parts have to be very simple to make it work on a fancy Camry.

    This is the height of the “fake trim era” or perhaps just before it, fake stitches on vinyl, fake wood printing, chromed plastic…

    • 0 avatar
      ranwhenparked

      Improbable fake wood was all the rage back then. Answering machines, dorm refrigerators, window air conditioners, portable TVs, VCRs, Ataris, etc. were all covered in the stuff – as if it made any sense at all that such appliances would ever be crafted out of real wood.

      • 0 avatar
        Power6

        I think the emulation was not so much real wood construction as much as wood veneer decoration. I guess that is the evolution though, real wood, veneer, then aw heck just print some woodgrain pattern on plastic…

        This also gives way to the impossible “silver woodgrain” in the sporty models, which are them later dispensed with in the 80s for graphic patterns…

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Robert;
    Your guess about the EGR valve sounds right.
    Unfortunately, it has been so long, that I don’t even remember the make of the vehicle..

  • avatar

    Blondie’s pre-1980 albums were fantastic. In my neck of the woods, tuning something that hip in on AM would have been a miracle. All we could get were old country & western, someone reading stories from the newspaper, and Paul Harvey.

  • avatar
    wavespy

    I love that it had cruise control, but an AM radio.

  • avatar
    neilljuilfs

    I came across a 1976 Granada with around 125K miles. It ran great until it was parked 3 years ago, and in immaculate condition. Any idea of value once I get it running?
    Neill in Eugene, OR

    • 0 avatar

      They are worthless. Get it running and it will still only be worth between the scrap value of the metal and whatever you can sell the front spindles & disc brakes for to someone with a Mustang or a Falcon.


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