Junkyard Find: 1992 Ford Tempo GL

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1992 ford tempo gl

To gather the photographs for the Junkyard Find series, I do a lot of walking around self-service wrecking yards, and mostly I’m just tuning out the common cars as background noise. You know, the 15-to-20-year-old Detroit stuff that won’t have any collector value until almost all are gone (as happened with the Pinto and Vega). The chaff. Right now, the Taurus/Sable is king of the Ford sections of these yards (I counted 188 of them in a 300-car section in a California yard not long ago), but you also see large numbers of Tempos and Topazes. Once I decided to pay attention to the lowly Tempo, I was surprised by the number of not-particularly-trashed examples I found at my local yard. Today, and just today, let’s pay attention to one of the most common vehicles in American self-serve junkyards today: the Tempo.

Though I got some anguished comments from the Jalopnik reader “Ford_Tempo_Fanatic” when I demolished a free Tempo Judgemobile at a LeMons race, to most of us the Tempo remains invisible. They’re not terribly uncommon on the street, though the last few years have been rough on surviving Tempos.

The Tempo was built from the 1984 through 1994 model years, before being replaced by the Mondeo-based Contour. Yes, Contours are also common junkyard finds.

The era of screaming all-red car interiors seems to have peaked in the early 1990s. Detroit was a little late to the red interior party, but made up for the lateness with even redder reds than the Japanese used in the middle 1980s.

The Tempo got the job done and sold in large quantities, but was looking quite outdated by the time this one was built. Did it begin its career as a rental?

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  • MissMay MissMay on Jun 13, 2012

    My beige 1992 Ford Tempo GL has less than 75k miles on it. It runs great and the body is in excellent condition; the only things I have had trouble with are the seat belt motor on the driver's side and both window motors on the passenger side. I replaced the front one but have let the back window remain shut. The seat belt release also does not work on either side, which can be a pain in the ass, but I deal with it. I have no idea what kind of work was done on the car before I became its owner. Yes, the car is boring, but I only need to get from A to B. I've been told these things are real p.o.s. so I'm trying to stay up to date on the car's maintenance. Really, I just worry about the transmission. I noticed as soon as I got it that it shifts hard, especially for an automatic. Some people have said "Oh, it could just be a hard shifter!" I can deal with that, so long as the transmission isn't stressed. Then, other people say I should have the "bands in my transmission tightened"? I honestly don't know anything about transmissions with bands. I guess the best thing I can do is research

  • Jim Mccalb Jim Mccalb on Jun 11, 2018

    I was just wondering if anyone has ever put in a new water pump on these Tempos. I have a Tempo and I hear the best way is to remove the passenger side mount and raise the engine a couple few inches. Any comments to this?

  • Alan I blame COVID, the chip shortage, container shortage and the war in Ukraine. This aggression is evident in normal daily driving of late.
  • Alan $10 000 is a bit rich for a vehicle that most likely been flogged all its life, plus it's a VW. Lots of electrical gremlins live in them.
  • Alan Mitsubishi, Hino and Izuzu trucks are quite common in Australia. Another factor that needs to be taken into account are the cheap Chinese trucks and vans that are entering the market in Australia and becoming more popular as reliability improves, with huge warranties. Businesses want the cheapest logistics. Plumbers, concreters, builders buy many of these in their lightest versions, around 2.5 tonne payload. Hino/Toyota could use the cheaper competitor in Mitsubishi as a competitor against the Chinese. You don't see too many of the Japanese/Asian trucks in the rural areas.
  • 2ACL I think it's a good choice. The E89 didn't get respect due to its all-around focus when new, but it's aged well, and the N52/6HP combo is probably more fun and capable than it's given credit for.
  • Wjtinfwb I can hear the ticking from here...