By on January 3, 2017

1981 Ford Granada in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The first-generation Ford Granada was based on the aging platform that debuted with the 1960 Falcon, and we have seen this ’77, this ’79, and this ’79 so far in the Junkyard Find series. For the 1981 model year, the Granada moved to the Fox Platform, and very few were sold for the two short years of the Fox Granada.

Here’s a rare ’81 sedan that I found recently in a Denver-area self-service wrecking yard.

1981 Ford Granada in Colorado junkyard, L badge - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

L was the base trim level in 1981, and the MSRP on a four-door L sedan was $6,633. That’s about $17,500 in inflation-adjusted 2016 dollars, so this car was very affordable.

1981 Ford Granada in Colorado junkyard, engine - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The real cheapskates opted for the “Pinto” 2300 four-cylinder engine, but this car has the optional 200-cubic-inch straight-six, good for 88 horsepower. Fortunately, this car weighed only 2,750 pounds, or a bit less than a 2017 Honda Civic. It was slow, but not quite as slow as the depressing power numbers might suggest.

1981 Ford Granada in Colorado junkyard, front seats - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

How about a nice pink-and-beige interior, made from the finest velour and vinyl (that was available for cheap in Michigan)?

1981 Ford Granada in Colorado junkyard, RH rear view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Sometimes it’s hard to say why a particular car ended up in a place like this. Not this time!

1981 Ford Granada in Colorado junkyard, dealership emblem - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

It’s completely rust-free, as one would expect from a car sold in bone-dry New Mexico and driven in nearly-as-bone-dry Colorado. It would have been sleeperific fun (and easy) to take this car and apply all the standard go-fast tricks used by the Fox Mustang guys, as just about all the mechanical stuff interchanges between the various Foxes.

38 different inspectors examine every … single … car. Note the 1958-style theme music in this ad.

This dealership promotional video shows you everything you need to know about the Fox Granada.

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97 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1981 Ford Granada L, Beige Fox-Body Edition...”


  • avatar
    OldManPants

    Loved Fords of this era like this and the Panther LTDs.

    Lovely, squareish 3-boxes with tall greenhouses and low hoods, as clean and simple a design as back in the early ’60s.

    The sensible shoes of American cars. Dare I say Volvonian?

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      It’s been said Volvo and Ford influenced each other a bit back then, it’s what gave us stuff like the 4 Cylinder Fairmont, and the goofy Volvo 262.

      Heck, if you had a 16v redblock you could swap the heads onto a turbo “Pinto engine”. Do that and stick a Ford 5.0 into the Volvo.

      • 0 avatar
        OldManPants

        “the goofy Volvo 262”

        Wiki says its vinyl roof was an attempt to channel the Mk IVs that the Ford crew brought over in the ’70s.

        I guess not all Swedes are practical or restrained.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          Nope, with the 262 they took a 240 coupe, sliced off a bit of headroom, and stuck the infamous PRV in the engine bay. Swedes liked (and still do) big Detroit boats.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    More of Senior’s car in the small town where I was working back in 1979 – 80,

    Speaking of shoes, the braking dynamics of this old-school platform weren’t exactly top notch. Crappy, under inflated tires may have been what doomed this one, if it spun out on a slick road.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    Neat find. These were not common at a all, but man down the road had one as a company car. Dad kind of liked them, especially the wagon, but it wasn’t in our budget at the time.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I must say that interiors held up pretty well barring some plastic discoloration. Foxes felt light to drive yes, just don’t jack it with the door open.

  • avatar
    CaptainObvious

    I learned to drive on a 78 Fairmont with the 88 hp six. Yes, it was slow, but not too bad. I do remember that the car handled fairly well and felt very light.

    Regarding the Granada moving to the Fox platform – I wonder who would buy a Granada L when a nicely equipped Fairmont probably cost less – and was essentially the same car.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      Heh! I learned to drive stick on my brother’s 1978 Mercury Zephyr ES with the 2.3L 4 cylinder. That car was a much better driver than my folks 1974 Mercury Montego…

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Back in the spring of 1981, my mother’s tired 1974 Mercury Montego was giving up the ghost. We went to the local Ford dealer to look at an Escort, but got steered to a 4 cylinder Mustang Ghia. IIRC, they were priced closely and the Fox platform was a known quantity. The new FWD Escort was not.

    While waiting for some paperwork to be completed, I wandered into the showroom, to pass the time. There was a brand new Granada in the showroom and as I looked at the side of it, I noticed several obvious runs in the paint. I pointed this out to one of the sales staff nearby and the man went into full denial mode.

    This was back when Ford was using slogans such as “Quality is Job One” in their advertising. For a (back then) expensive Fairmont, this and several other apparent assembly issues (crooked trim inside and out) was unacceptable. Truly, they would have been unacceptable on a cheap Fairmont.

    This gen of Granada was not very common and the examples I remembered seeing (back when I worked on a Ford dealer’s lot, 1982-1983) were not inexpensive. I think they were trying to push the car up-market, but the market resisted. Maybe because the Fairmont was still being sold alongside the Granada and there wasn’t enough distinction. Regardless, a neat find.

    • 0 avatar
      CaptainObvious

      Regarding that “Quality is Job One” slogan:

      My parent’s Fairmont was mechanically very reliable.

      Unfortunately during the first winter they had it, they found out that the windshield and windows would freeze up on the inside. You couldn’t see out! The defroster would only help a little – but clearly (no pun intended) this was not right.
      The dealer couldn’t fix it – so the car was sent to the regional manager for evaluation – and eventually even they gave up trying to fix it.
      My father traded it on on a Nissan Stanza, and took a financial bath to get rid of it. He never bought a Ford again.

      • 0 avatar
        Fred

        A common story and one that that the domestics are still struggling to regain that lost market share.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        My brother’s 1978 Zephyr had a string of issues, but the worst one was the lousy EPA enforced emissions equipment. The carb never seemed to work correctly, either pouring in too much fuel or starving the engine. It ran poorly when cold, and had detonation when warm.

        He took it to the dealer many times and while under warranty, they replaced the carb twice, re-set the timing, retarded the distributor and probably some other things I’m forgetting from almost 40 years ago now.

        Once it was out of warranty the dealer told him too bad and sent him on his way. He held on to the car for several more years as he did not like car payments.

        Another customer lost, but not to the Japanese, but to AMC. His 1984 Eagle served him well for 17 years!

    • 0 avatar
      RedRocket

      Most Fairmonts produced were taxicab-plain with cheap seating and upholstery, and very little sound deadening. I remember test-driving one in the rain and you could hear the drops falling on the roof like a bell ringing. Presumably the Granada version had a bit more sound control and you can see that even the base model had better seats than the Fairmont.

      I think the problem with this model was that it was still too much like a Fairmont to justify the higher price. When Ford changed the greenhouse design and restyled it to sell as the LTDII it did much better in the marketplace.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        The LTD II was not a Fox platform car, it was an earlier “personal luxury” car.

        The Fox LTD (not LTD II, just LTD) didn’t sell all that well, and come 1986 when the Taurus debuted, nobody noticed it quietly slipping out mid year.

        • 0 avatar
          Superdessucke

          Kind of too bad because Ford got on the right track with the ’85 LTD LX, which was basically a Mustang GT with the LTD body. Unfortunately, they only offered it with the AOD and 165 HP EFI combo, not the hot 5-speed and 210 HP Holly carburetor combo.

      • 0 avatar
        NOSLucasWiringSmoke

        Worse than this, Ford also made the 1980-82 Thunderbird off this platform and put all kinds of kitsch on it to justify the price. They also offered it with the 200-cid engine as a “credit option” instead of the Windsor (maybe the 3.8 V-6 was available in ’82). It bombed in the marketplace. My parents bought a late-model used ’81, it was probably the worst car they ever had, constantly eating its power steering pumps and alternators. My father unloaded it after far less time than he usually kept his cars.

        The ’83 T-bird was still fairly Fox-y underneath, but they at least invested in the body and interior and offered more power than the “lunchbox” sedans as an option.

        • 0 avatar
          thunderjet

          The 83-88 Thunderbirds and Cougars are all Fox underneath. Like any Fox car the chassis components interchange between other Fox cars.

          As with any Fox it’s pretty much chassis length and sheet metal that differentiate the cars from each other. Put a 1981 and 1988 Thunderbird on a lift and they will look the same from the underside…

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          Have written it before and will again. My ’78 T-Bird, bought new was the worst vehicle that I have ever owned. I believe that it tried to kill me multiple times.

          Nevertheless I still admire its styling and interior.

          Just wish that the darned thing actually worked reliably. And got at least bad gas mileage.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            351? 400? 460?

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Don’t gimme no Buick
            Son you must take my word
            If there’s a God in heaven
            He’s got a Silver Thunderbird

            You can keep your Eldorados
            And the foreign cars absurd
            Me I want to go down
            In a Silver Thunderbird

      • 0 avatar
        la834

        I recall the Fairmost being one of the plainest cars I ever saw. There were three levels of interior trim available that weren’t tied to any traditional trim levels – they were just separate options. The base interior had a spindly steering wheel that looked like it was straight off an arcade racing video game, doors that had body-color metal tops and bottoms surrounding a flat plastic center panel, rubber floor covering instead of carpet, and utterly featureless bench seats. Even the middle level was very plain, although that at least got you fully-covered door panels. The top level looked like what most base cars looked like, finally giving you nice materials, some scupturing in the seats, and a few bits of brightwork and woodgrain.

        The Fox Granada, even in the base “L” trim seen here, was much more plush inside. The front seats were right out of the Thunderbird.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          It had 400 cubic inches. The 460 was not available after the downsizing after 1976. Can’t imagine how bad the performance would be with a 351 or with the 302.

          Still to this day like the looks of the car and the interior, at least from the front split 60/40 velour seats.

          Just spent too much time sitting in them waiting for a tow truck.

          And the fact that the vacuum actuated front headlight covers would often pop open when parked overnight, causing me to wonder if I had left the lights on.

        • 0 avatar
          Higheriq

          The Fairmont and the original Chrysler K-Cars qualify for “plainest car in history” award.

      • 0 avatar
        thattruthguy

        The Fox Granada tanked because the new car market was dead in 1980 and 1981. The Fox LTD was selling into a hot market.

    • 0 avatar
      JustPassinThru

      My only exposure to Foxes was as taxicabs, for the small cab company I worked at, 1983.

      The GM was a Ford guy. We had Falcon-Granadas, all…and when the old Granola was discontinued, we got Fox Fairmonts. And…ONE…oddity…we had one Fox Granada.

      The Grenades were bulletproof, with their 250 6s, CruiseOMatic, and Hertz-specified equipment. The AM radio, which came with the Hertz equipment when bought off their lot, would be pulled. Open hole. I liked being able to reach in and yank the speedo cable, since I paid a lease based on mileage put on the cab.

      The Foxes were much nicer to drive, but while newer, they weren’t holding up so well. And that one pretty Grenada Fox? Falling apart. Quality was Job Gone, that day…

      The cabs ranged in age from 1978 to 1982. It showed the decline of Ford as a serious car company, and why the Taurus program arrived JUST in TIME…

    • 0 avatar
      TrstnBrtt89

      I saw a video on youtube a few months ago – I can’t for the life of me remember the name of it but it was from a Miami based news station in the mid-1970s and they were reviewing then new cars – Chrysler New Yorker, Cadillac Eldorado even a BMW 2002 and and what they pointed out the most were defects in the fit and finish, or things that just straight up didn’t work (the New Yorker was the worst, the driver applied the brakes and the digital clock and instrument cluster went out). A few years after in late 1979 they did a few stories on the factories from the big 3 in Michigan and all the new technology and “quality control” they were going to start for the 1980s and it is just mortifying.. I couldn’t imagine buying a brand new car and finding streaky paint, or water that leaked into the car, or missing interior panel gaps but cars then were shipped and sold brand new like that… totally blew my mind

      • 0 avatar
        JustPassinThru

        You have no idea how bad it was.

        In 1974, my old man bought two new cars – a Maverick and a Gran Torino, both sedans. He’d gone the bit with a Rambler, a Jeep Wagoneer, and had had Chevrolets as company cars…so after a disastrous bout with a 1957 Ford that rusted out in four years, he was going back.

        THE…FIRST…RAINSTORM…the pockets in the trunk, where the rear-quarter panels would meet up with the bottom of the trunk, where the gas tanks raised the trunk floor…both cars, those areas filled with rainwater. NO attempts at sealing the weatherstripping worked. Finally he just took a punch and hammered drain holes in those areas – not through the outer sheet metal, but the inner layer.

        The Gran Torino was worn out quickly, too fast to rust…traded in five years later, 110,000 miles. Remarkable for its time. But the Maverick did what Malaise Era Fords did best – it dissolved into a hideous pile of iron oxide in its habitual parking space.

        We had just about gotten to the Golden Age of Automobiles, before this wonderful government started battering the car companies once more with fantasy fuel-mileage stipulations. I mean, really…my Toyota truck has 240,000 miles on it and is in fine shape.

        So government is once-again going to destabilize product.

      • 0 avatar
        la834

        Here’s the aforementioned road test of a ’79 Chrysler New Yorker Fifth Avenue Edition, complete with leaky windows, dash lights that go out when you step on the brake, and emergency flashers that wont stay on.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Always hate to see a trusty steed put to rest this way. Obviously a well maintained and well loved vehicle. And it appears that it even adequately protected its inhabitants in the end.

    I did not see an odometer reading, Did Murilee get one?

    An honest vehicle, large enough to handle the majority of their driving requirements. And generally priced within the reach of the average family,

    Sure the driving dynamics were abysmal. As was the fit and trim. However I personally wish that automakers would see fit to returning to a similar philosophy regarding simplicity of design.

    There is a Fairmont wagon of this era that visits my neighbourhood an a semi-regular basis. No rust and also a well maintained interior.

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      It probably had a five digit odometer; so we could not tell if it had turned over 100,000 miles.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        If I remember correctly on the D3 vehicles with 5 digit odometers, once they ‘turned over’ one of the digits was permanently just off kilter so that if you knew what you were looking for, you could recognize that it was now into 6 digits worth of wear.

        • 0 avatar
          la834

          I’ve long wondered why six-digit (plus tenths) odometers didn’t become commonplace until well after cars became reliable enough to routinely clock over 100,000 miles.

  • avatar
    jmo

    I wonder what a modern driver would think of a car with 88 bhp? This thing could get its doors blown off by a Prius towing a boat.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      I don’t know about where y’all are from, but I can tell you the doofuses driving around my town at 5-10 under the limit while drifting hither and yon within their lane probably would find it overpowered.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      I learned to drive stick on my brother’s 78 Mercury Zephyr (Fairmont clone). I think it had all of 85 HP, but was pretty light.

      I remember it as being frustrating, really. Merging onto the freeway took some strategic planning as well as revving the sh!t out of the less than willing Lima motor. Later, I owned a 250 ci six cylinder Ford Maverick, which was a bit heavier than the Zephyr, but produced about the same amount of power. That was even more frustrating largely because that car got roughly the same fuel mileage as my 1969 Ford Torino with 390!

      If these smog (or malaise) cars had the transmissions we have today with 9 speeds and fancy torque converters, etc., they would have been more livable. But with torque-less motors and all of three (or four) speeds to choose from, it was a whole lot less than fun.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        the “Thriftpower” six was hobbled by its integrally-cast intake manifold. just a total wheezer.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        I had a 1979 Fairmont sedan in base trim with little other than power steering, automatic and the 200 six. I had to richen the carb jet up a bit and bump up the timing to get anything resembling zip out of the thing but then it drank gas like a V8 barely cracking 20 even on the highway.

        My grandfather had a 1980 Fairmont wagon with the same drivetrain combo but it was more loaded up with deluxe interior, A/C, roof rack, full power and it was a total snail often requiring foot to the floor just to get it up hills. That car was a full 300 LBS heavier than my 1979 sedan and had more emissions crap on it too including a smog pump. If ordering one of these back in the day I wouldn’t even think of buying one without the V8 option.

        • 0 avatar
          JustPassinThru

          If you were buying a Grenade “back in the day” you were probably remembering back in the days past of THOSE days…pre-emissions days, when an engine would go when you stepped on it. Even with a single-barrel Autolite carb.

          You wouldn’t know how pathetically choked that engine was, compared to your 1964 Fairlane, until you lived with it a few weeks.

          Been there, done that. My old man had a 1974 Maverick with the 250. Having lived with pre-smog Ford 250s, he figured the engine would be up to his needs.

          He was wrong. Even with power nothing, it was an anemic performer.

  • avatar
    Fred

    My brother was t-boned in his 1970s Pontiac GrandPrix by one of these. The lady fell asleep and ran a red light about about 50 mph. He hurt his back and Pont had a big dent in the rear quarter panel behind the door. The Granada lady complained about a sore neck, but that turned out to be a scam. The Granada was a mess. Even parts that didn’t get hit fell off.

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    The number decal on the upper left corner of the windshield is interesting–it would indicate that this car went through an insurance auction. Why would someone insure an ordinary 26-year-old car (with no blue-book value to speak of)?

    • 0 avatar
      Hydromatic

      Because most states now require mandatory insurance? That’d be my guess.

    • 0 avatar
      scrappy17

      Dear Sir, 1981 was 36 years ago, not 26.

      May be it had classic car insurance?

    • 0 avatar

      It’s a rear hit, which means the other driver was probably at fault. It was probably covered by the liability insurance of the driver who hit him.

      • 0 avatar
        namesakeone

        Thank you, everyone; You’re right about this being a 36 year old car. I am sure the driver had insurance, but cannot see why it would have collision coverage on a car that, even with classic status, would not be worth much more than about $2500. And I live in a no-fault state; would the other driver’s coverage pay for collision damage?

        Thanks for any and all input on this.

        • 0 avatar
          thattruthguy

          Collision coverage depends on state law. In my state, this accident probably would be judged the fault of the other driver, who would be liable for damage. The other driver’s insurance automatically covers the other driver’s liability at least up to the state minimum coverage, or whatever additional coverage the other driver buys.

          In this case, the other driver’s insurance company cuts a check for the value of the car and sends it to auction.

        • 0 avatar

          I don’t know if no-fault applies to property damage. I know NJ used to have no fault for medical, but property damage was still covered as normal liability.

    • 0 avatar
      davew833

      It was sold through Copart salvage auction on 2/3/15. The consignor was CSAA which sells AAA insurance. Odometer read 40574 which means it’s probably flipped over once. The est. retail value was $1485.

      https://www.copart.com/lot/29156694/

  • avatar
    mr.cranky

    It reminds me an awful lot of a Fairmont from the side.

    I know someone who actually drove one of these. Pretty clean-sheet design.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      They’re basically a nicer Fairmont. They’re still a step above the first-gen Granada.

      • 0 avatar
        namesakeone

        I remember hearing that the doors bolt on (if not perfectly interchange, with the interior and exterior trim).

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        Even as an 11 year old I wasn’t even remotely fooled when these replaced the old body style Granada and could easily tell they were tarted up Fairmonts. They even shared the same 2.3 L-4 and 200 six engines for the most part. Finding a 255 equipped version was super rare and I did see a few with the 3.8 Essex motor in 1982.

        These cars fixed four issues I had with my Fairmont. The first was excessive road noise. With more sound insulation and thicker carpet they were quieter riding. The next thing was the trunk where the gas tank was re-shaped to make it deeper and less shallow. The next was the vibrating dash issue. My 1979 and grandpa’s 1980 had the dash vibrate at a steady 55 mph because Ford neglected to put a proper brace behind that dash and the vibration was a resonant frequency coming through as a result. The last thing were the seats which sucked in my 1979. These Granada’s were not only nicer materials but were more pleasant to sit in for a period of time.

  • avatar
    DevilsRotary86

    Somewhere in my town there is a lady who drives a green Fox body Granada in near perfect condition.

    Some people just love their cars.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Around the time these were new, I was dating a gal from New Mexico whose parents owned one. Theirs was a little nicer (not an L), and it wasn’t terrible. I actually rode through Raton Pass on snow packed I-25 in it.

    Look at those two vacuum switches screwed into the heater hose fitting, with all the vacuum hoses coming off of them. What a nightmare.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    sleeperific fun:
    I really wish silly ideas like this didn’t tempt me into hours of wistful scheming.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Woulda, shoulda, coulda had a V8. :-)

      Actually the project would be the most “fun” if you already had say Grandma’s Mercury Zephyr and a rusty Fox Mustang GT with a good engine and transmission.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        The 1981 Granada and Cougar were offered with the 115 HP 255 V8 but very few ere so equipped. For 1982 the 255 was replaced with the then new Essex 3.8 V6 with 112 hp as the top engine offering.

        • 0 avatar
          tonycd

          Poncho, is that a typo? Did they really get only 112 horses out of the 3.8 V6? Wow.

          Great fun to hear these reminiscences. There’s something about these cars that speaks to me in a way the original, horribly bloated “looks like a Mercedes-Benz” Granada emphatically does not. The Fox seems like an honest car. (Although my brother honestly wasn’t thrilled when rodents chewed up the underhood area of his Fairmont wagon.)

          • 0 avatar
            NOSLucasWiringSmoke

            112 hp sounds about right for a carbureted Essex 3.8. The carbureted GM 3.8 V-6s (there were a couple, the 231-cid 90-deg Buick, and Chevy also had one that was 229-cid) only had about 110 hp, and went into cars as big as B-bodies (the slightly larger 4.1 V-6 was rated at 125 and went into C-bodies and Cadillac Fleetwoods!).

            ISTR reading road tests of early-80s A/G-bodies with the 3.8 and 3-speed automatic; they did 0-60 in about 17-18 seconds. These Fox Fords may have been slightly lighter and thus could accelerate a little quicker, but that was balanced by their generally being flimsier.

            I call that “pre-horsepower-race” performance, just about able to keep up with a 1953 Chevy with the “Blue Flame” six and Powerglide (but give me the ’53 Chevy anyday). This is why 0-60 in about 11-12 seconds in a bone-stock basic V-8 ’55 Chevy was such a big deal back then, and also one reason why I’ll never refer to the late ’70s and early ’80s as “the good old days”.

          • 0 avatar
            geozinger

            Yes, the laughably low HP ratings were a function of Detroit’s unwillingness to shift to fuel injection. We had all kinds of weird carburetors back then. Mopar had the Lean Burn system, Ford had Variable Venturi carbs, and I think there was some electronically-kludged Rochester carb for the GM cars. To put it in a nutshell, they were all sh!t.

            Even when the D3 finally got the message that these jury-rigged carbs were never going to meet the FE and emissions demands, they still went to systems that looked very similar, throttle body fuel injection. Things got better, but not until we got to port fuel injection.

            Until the mid-80’s fuel economy, drivability and service intervals were just horrible, really.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @geozinger…

            (Having an apoplectic fit thinking of GM non-performance V8s in the 1982 to 1991 time frame and the lack of fuel injection)

            BTW it was an E-QuadraJUNK, I mean jet. Disgruntled Oldsmobile owner here.

          • 0 avatar
            Felix Hoenikker

            I can attest to the suckiness of the 70s domestic cars with carburetors. My first new car was a 1975 Opel Manta equipped with the Bosch electronic fuel injection. It was a rocket compared to anything with double the displacement domestic or Japanese at the time. Plus, it was not affected by either ambient temperature or altitude. It was a shame that the competition only took another decade to catch up, and only due to emission regs. I lost a lot of respect for both domestic and Japanese marques during those years.

      • 0 avatar
        05lgt

        My dream has lot’s of new suspension parts, the biggest motor I can fit (I once had a nicely built 351C that lifted the fronts and ran in the 10’s with around this weight…) Need a cage to run that hard now, … I’d go more road race with it. Low mounted engine with a dry sump, modern(ish) port fuel injection, stiffen the chassis some and balance the roll couple for nice neutral handling and upgrade the heck out of the brakes. A silly looking beige grandma Granada that’s sitting slightly low on slightly too wide tires on steelies that might be shaking a little from big cam…

        Makes me giggle just thinking of the stupid fun I could have.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    I rented one of these in the early 1980s and it was pretty much forgettable. However, I was surprised to discover that the exterior C-pillar was mostly a plastic panel.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    It just an upscale Fairmont. While the interiors are not the current style, they are much nicer than you get now in cars in the same price class.

    • 0 avatar
      NOSLucasWiringSmoke

      Most mass-market cars these days seem to me like they have upholstery and carpet that was made out of recycled plastic bottles with minimal processing. I’ve been in two-year-old Hondas where wear surfaces like centre armrests were already starting to look threadbare after 40,000 km. The carpet floormats in my upper-level 2014 Accord feel ridiculously cheap. Even the leather you get in mainstream cars today definitely does not feel anything like as smooth and soft as what you got back in the day when it was a more rarified option, even as recently as the ’90s.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Yep, the carpet in new Hondas is best covered with some sort of full liner, e.g. WeatherTech FloorLiners or the Husky equivalent.

        Next car, I’ll vinyl-wrap some of the surfaces, just so I don’t have conniptions every time someone drums their nails on the door armrest.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    I learned to drive a manual on my dad’s 1980 Ford Fairmont 4-cylinder. I’d say it gave us pretty good service. However, reading the commentary here brings back memory.

    My dad bought it new before I could drive. Before we took delivery, I asked my dad to ask them to give us touch-up paint, because there were was one big paint gouge in the rear quarter, and other blemishes.

    The tacky “F” hood emblem, which I hated, was crooked.

    When my dad went to get snow tires for the rear axle for the winter of 1980-81, the rear wheels would not come off. Good thing he never got a flat. The dealer replaced the axle under warranty. By the time it came in, my dad decided the car drove well enough with regular tires, so the Fairmont never got snows (our other car, a Pontiac Ventura (Nova) did).

    Some winters the 4-cylinder ran well, others it had a fast idle.

    Ours had a occasional squeak/buzz coming from the dashboard.

    Still, over 80k miles and 6 years, it proved to be a decent car. Never left my dad (or eventually me) stranded. As I recall, the electronic ignition module had to be replaced, as did the water pump (or PS pump), one clutch, and 1 front brake caliper needed to be rebuilt. Not too bad by 70/80s standards.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    A restored Granada wagon sounds like a nice way to completely waste some money.

  • avatar
    la834

    What exactly are those black things in front of the center armrest? I recall a new law took effect in 1981 that prohibited center seating surfaces (front or rear) if a seat belt wasn’t fitted, and as a result several Ford and GM cars sprouted little plastic consoles in the middle of their bench seats. A few years later they began installing seatbelts so they could put padding in the center again. I’m not sure if that law is still in effect.

    • 0 avatar
      thattruthguy

      The standard Fox Granada front seat was a full bench with belts for three positions. The MVSS had required a belt for every seating position since 1968, and manufacturers complied with three belts on bench seats, whether straight or split (including Chrysler’s “mother in law” seat on cars with buckets and column shift).

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      la834, in this vehicle’s case, being that it’s a lesser-equipped model, those black compartments were designed for cassette tape or other “knicknack” storage. On cars equipped with power seats, the controls would have been located there. Power seats were rare on Granadas, but on contemporary Fox-body LTD’s and Marquises thus equipped, you would have seen the power seat controls there. I believe bustleback four-door Continentals also had this setup.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    the price may have been affordable, but back then interest rates were crazy high. certificates of deposit back then were paying 10%

  • avatar
    skor

    Murilee, make fun all you want of first gen American Granadas, but they were cousins to first gen Mustangs and they provided thousands of cheap front disc transplants for drum brake equipped Stangs. The first gen Granada also begat the Lincoln Versailles. For years the only practical way to get rear disc on a first gen Mustang was to find a Versailles and yank out the rear end and transplant it into a Mustang.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    This car is so plain and boxy you’d be forgiven for thinking it was from Grand Theft Auto III or something.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      It was kinda in Vice City.

      http://vignette3.wikia.nocookie.net/gtawiki/images/8/85/Police-GTAVC-front.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20090424181310

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        Those were LTDs!

        There was one place with a police station that always had a car unlocked and a jump over a river right next door, so I’d flip the sirens on, get a good head start, and jump the cop car over the river until it exploded or I got bored.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          The LTDs had the vestigial window in the C-pillar.

          I had forgotten about the four-door Cougar that was a sister car to this.

          I remember seeing the TV adverts for the 1980 T-Bird, and the keyless-entry with the buttons. (Pretty slick!)

  • avatar
    J_Kan

    Nice post. It brings the memories from the past.

    This was my first car, exact model year, exact color. We bought it used in 1992 from an older, first owner gentleman. It was a six cylinder 3.3 variant and had only 23K miles. Driving on Highway would return 20 mpg at 65 mph. Anything above 75 mpg, the mileage would drop to 12 mpg. Finally, in 1997, after the multiple repairs, we got rid of it with only 57,000 miles. Absolute piece of crap IMO. Comparing to it, Deawoo Lanos could be seen as the pinnacle of engineering and reliability.

  • avatar
    Higheriq

    To all of the stories of emissions-choked engines in the 80’s, and given that this is a Ford story, I’ll offer this:

    My dad, who was a mechanical engineer, could never determine why his 78 Ford LTD wagon didn’t have more power from the 400 inch 2 barrel V8, especially after he did some extensive “tinkering” with the the carb. His last resort was to yank the catalytic converter and replace it with a straight pipe (“to hell with unleaded gas” he said). Between the exhaust and the catalytic converter was a factory-installed restrictor plate which effectively limited the exhaust volume going into the cat. He thought he had found the holy grail when the car’s power significantly increased by tossing that restrictor plate into the trash.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    I think the Grenada’s were pretty decent for their time. Many of them lived well into the 90’s in my middle American hometown, which is pretty good for malaise era iron. When my dad was looking for my first car in ’92, we test drove a V8 powered Grenada in white with blue interior. I remember it being a bit of a creampuff but my dad thought the guy wanted to much money and he wouldn’t budge. My mother was also convinced that rear wheel drive meant my sure death in the 2-3 snows we had each year.

  • avatar
    nataliens

    how can i find out how to contact this yard?? that car has the part that we’ve been looking all over the country for!!

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      E-mail the author of this article, although be forewarned this vehicle may have already been disposed of, as often times Murilee profiles cars which he photographed several months before.

      Hope you get lucky, though.

  • avatar
    new2000car

    The ads were right on about the quality. I wonder how much more it cost to drive home in one of these as compared to a K car of the day? Notice how it was still running probably 30 years later? It lasted 3x as long as an Aries/Reliant would have.


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