By on September 14, 2012

I took my first driver’s-license test in a 1979 Ford Granada, and so I always notice Granadas (and Monarchs) when I see them on the street (very rarely) and in the junkyard (slightly more frequently).
The Granada Ghia was the version with the top trim level, using the name of Ford-purchased Carrozzeria Ghia. Since you could also buy a Fiesta Ghia, there was a certain amount of 70s-style designer-label brand-cheapening involved.
This car has the 302-cubic-inch V8 instead of the standard, miserably low-powered 250 L6. The V8 Granadas weren’t quick, but they managed to avoid being dangerously slow.
Riding as a passenger in my parents’ Granada, I would get a little bit freaked out by the Faces of Tormented Souls In Hell™ pattern on the faux woodgrain interior panels.
Like every Granada that shows up in a junkyard, this one had its front brake components yanked immediately. That’s because the Granada is a member of the same chassis family that produced the 1964-73 Mustang, which means that Granada brakes can be used as a bolt-on disc upgrade for old Mustangs.
I collect old car clocks, but I’ve learned that exactly zero percent of these mechanical digital Ford clocks of the 1980s are in working condition.

You don’t see many cultural references to the Granada, but here’s about the only reference I can find in popular culture.

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51 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1977 Ford Granada Ghia...”

  • avatar

    A relative has one of these. It may have the award for the single worst car owned by my extended family. This includes two malaise era GM products… I think it was left on the side of the road at some point ….

    I later worked with a guy who had the Lincoln version of this. He loved it to death and kept it super shiny. I always thought it looked like a ten year old girl playing dress up with mom’s makeup and clothes…and mom was a rundown Vegas hooker.

    Not even collectable in an ironic way.

    • 0 avatar

      Ah the Lincoln Versailles (pronounced Ver-SAILS in Kentucky). The harbinger of what not to do with your luxury car division; festoon a crap car from your working-man division with geegaws, opera lights, Landau roof and the biggest Lincoln Cross-hair hood ornament yet seen by the American public. Then charge 30% more for this polished turd and Voila! Water down your image and choke on your own petard.

      The irony of it all was GM made hay on the Versailles Potemkin village image and yet, not five years later hoisted it’s most memorable failure, the Cadillac Cimarron, using the same formula.

      • 0 avatar
        gator marco

        The Versailles were equiped with a V8 and rear disk brakes. Many Mustang hot rodders took out the rear ends of junked Versailles in order to get a bolt-in ready rear disk brake upgrade that could handle V8 power.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        Wander west of Cincinnati on US 50 and you’ll drive through “Ver-SAILS” Indiana, too. LOL.

      • 0 avatar

        @gator, the rear-end notwithstanding, the Versailles was a shoddy attempt at selling a Ford under the blanket of Lincoln. There were many people who ripped the wood-grain and leather seats out of the Cimarron for their Cavaliers, but that doesn’t make that car any less an embarrassment for GM.

      • 0 avatar

        I can vouch for the Versailles to Mustang rear axle graft. I had a boss who performed this operation on an otherwise original ’67-68 Shelby Mustang. The punchline: He through the original rear end in the shop’s dumpster. Ouch!

  • avatar

    I truly miss automotive heraldry. I remember the days when every car had it’s own crest or coat of arms. Sadly, I don’t see that ever making a return.

    As a fun quiz of the day, what is the latest model car you can think of to feature a crypto-heraldic crest that was unique to that model?

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Easily one of the top 10 poster children for the malaise era. Are there Granada collector clubs?

  • avatar

    I thought that rust photo was from the Mars rover in thumbnail form. I like all sort of crap cars … but not these.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    I remember vividly an add campaign which ran in Sports Illustrated which actually dared to compare these to the C class Mercedes Benz of the time.

    The textbood definition of clueless chutzpah….

  • avatar

    It’s amazing when I think back of how incredibly popular the Granadas were when new .

    Some years ago a freind found a Ghia Coupe abandoned along side The Pearblossom Hghway in Llano , Ca. , it was a 6 Banger but had every concieveable option and low miles , after it sat untouched for two months , he towed it home and followed my simple Lien Sale directions , tuned and waxed it up and then drove the hell out of it for several years before some one offered him $2,500 for it .

    I too dislked these when new but they were reliable if plodding Gocery Getters for many Suburbanites .

    I love your junkyard finds ! I spend much time in Pick-A-Part my ownself but carry tools , not cameras .

  • avatar
    Buster Brew

    The Granada William Devane drove in “Marathon Man” sticks in my head. Whenever that car was in a scene, shenanigans were afoot.

  • avatar

    I believe wiki has it that underneath that “Mercedes” Granada lurks the 1960 Falcon.

    Seems Ford was obsessed with “designer” editions. Even the Maverick had a Ghia.

    They needed a “Velveeta” edition. Pure cheez.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    I am simply astonished that this vehicle still has the plastic gas cap decorative lid. This was usually the first thing to fall off of these wretched things. I remember they were attached by a metallic contraption similar to an orthodontic retainer.

    My dad had one of these, a loaded 1977. It was a piece of crap.

    • 0 avatar

      Good catch on the gas cap, my favorite piece of malaise era bad design. Invariably within the lifetime of ownership, said owner would easily lose the cap, and would shove an oily rag deep into the socket, thereby turning their car into a rolling Molotov cocktail. Charming.

  • avatar

    My ex MIL beat the crap out of one of these in Long Island. I have always thought any car that could stand up to that was tough. The long two lane blacktops here in Texas would be so gentle in comparison that it would last forever. The lack of salt would mean it would still have a good body.

    I may be lucky that I didn’t buy one. I would probably still be driving it.

  • avatar

    Bought one for my girlfriend at the time, a white 79 v6 I think one because I missed out on a 78 Honda Accord,and she needed a car asap, what a mistake, car went on fire the day of my brothers wedding while my gf was driving it, she had to ask get out knock on some strangers door and use their hose to put it out while dressed big 3 and yes she married me and reminds me often of the POS Ford I get her.

  • avatar

    Pic mix-up?

    I’m pretty sure that pic of the cumn and wheel and pine tree air freshener is not from the car in the article.

    Afaik, the granarch of this area had a Saginaw style column that had the tilt lever incorporated into the turn-signal lever. The column shown comes from a ford product made 5-10 years later.

  • avatar

    My driver ed teacher has a manual steering 80’s Horizon, which I had to parallel park between a 911 and an S Class in downtown Birmingham, MI. Nothing like a little additional stress…

  • avatar

    Lost out on a 78 Accord? Sold before you got to the seller? If you were looking for the Accord in ’78, there was probably a small waiting list, that was a popular car from ’76-78 , and maybe later.

    In 1975, R&T did a similar evaluation of the new Seville, writing that while it was not a very good Mercedes, it was a very good Cadillac. They did their evaluation of the Granada compared to the small Mercedes sedan(200-230-250)and concluded that it was neither a substitute M-B or a good Ford.

    As for the conclusion here that the Ghia version Granada was slighted because Ford also offered a Ghia version Fiesta, I happen to have been a fan of the ’78-80 Fiesta in general. It was one of the best products offered then, in a period when a lot of junk was sold here. As used cars, I bought a total of five from ’83-86, two of which sold to friends, and preferred them to the Granada or Mustang II. I would have preferred a ’76-’77 Capri II Ghia, but couldn’t find one used.

  • avatar

    Murilee – Oddly enough I have a working 1977 Lincoln mechanical ‘digital’ clock which looks very similar… the only difference I can see is its clear plastic says ‘Cartier’ on the bottom.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    I seem to remember some stupid Granada ad involving a comparison with a Seville and a Granada with some dumbass ( as I recall wearing thick glasses appropriately ) in a new VW Rabbit yelling at the Granada owner to move his Cadillac and the Granada owner replies that it’s not a Caddy but a new Granada that ” costs the same as your VW ” . At the time a cousin had a Granada Ghia coupe in that dove grey color Ford did a lot back then that I drove a bit and went with a friend new car shopping . He went to look at the new Mercury version of the Fairmont – forget the model name – but was turned off by the cheezy interior and bought a Monarch coupe , which I also drove . The auto media of the era bitched about the lousy , numb steering and suspension , correctly I thought . And the woodtone I thought then photographed better than it looked in the flesh , where the plastic seemed really thin . His GF’s 4-year old kid somehow broke the glovebox door . Later it was totalled after he hit a large pothole ! A co-worker , married to a mobster , had a new Versailles I rode in a few times . She kept bragging about how expensive it was. It was loaded with a moonroof and the rest of it and the interior was a big cut above a Granada with very soft nice leather but these cars were scoffed at by everybody and were rarely seen even when new -definitely a bad idea for Lincoln.

  • avatar

    I took my driver’s test in my father’s ’79 Granada as well. Dad had the ESS (European Sport Sedan) version, two doors. It looked nice but had the 250 straight 6 which a complete slug. My father picked the 6 over the V-8 “to save gas” but the 6 used as much gas as the V-8 but the acceleration worse than a diesel…..getting on the highway was terrifying.

    Yes, the front brakes all disappear as soon as these things hit the bone-yard, not only do the brakes work on early mustangs, but on Falcons/Comets, Fairlanes and Mavericks and as well.

    The Lincoln Versailles was Ford’s answer to GM’s Seville. The Seville was built on Chevy Nova underpinnings, but GM did a much better job of hiding the fact than did Ford with the Versailles. Yup the Versailles has a narrowed 9 inch rear with disc brakes that is a virtual bolt in for early Mustangs. If a Versailles hits the bone-yard with it’s rear still intact, the yard owner will usually pull it before the rest of the car is set out.

  • avatar

    Here is a modern reference from “No Country for Old Men”

  • avatar

    My late grandpa bought one new in 1977. Dark green with a white vinyl top. He liked to go out for a ride, for no reason other than enjoy the drive and relax. I remember taking a few rides with him and grandma as a kid. I definitely remember this fake wood pattern. I have a picture of me in diapers sitting on the hood. Must have been around 1978. He kept the car until the late ’80s.

    That may not have been that great a car, but this model brings back fond memories for me.

  • avatar

    Ah, that woodgrain! My grandmother drove a ’78 LTD that had that same stuff, come to think of it, so does my Dad’s ’78 F150 that he still has. Tormented faces of hell is right! It freaked me out as a child.

  • avatar

    A relic from the era where Detroit just sort of gave up and went on an extended golf vacation and left the office on autopilot. Honestly, its sort of amazing that the company that built this car is the same one that has now given us the 2013 Fusion. Looking at the Granada, its a wonder they were able to stay in business through the 2013 model year.

    Of course, this was back when the Japanese were still more or less figuring out the midsize market. They were well on their way to having the compact and subcompact segments sewn up, but still needed work on the bigger stuff. Detroit was still complacent when it came to intermediates, and it shows.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    As I recall , originally when the Granada / Monarch were planned they were supposed to be replacements for the Maverick / Comet but after the early 70s gas crisis Ford decided to keep the Maverick and offer the Granada as the ” upscale ” compact . At the time Consumer Reports and the like panned these and other Ford products for having considerably worse mileage than even their GM/ Chrysler competition , as well as their subpar handling . Other car magazines of the era claimed it was more of a mini-LTD than a Benz competitor . But they sold well and for a while were one of the ten best selling cars in the US , of course so were other total POS cars too , like the Pinto and the Vega .

  • avatar

    Riding as a passenger in my parents’ Granada, I would get a little bit freaked out by the Faces of Tormented Souls In Hell™ pattern on the faux woodgrain interior panels.

    Good car for Catholics make them feel at home in church.

    Ghia mean’t vinyl roof & leather.

    I still remember the print ad for the Granada where an obviously (stereotyped) middle-aged NYC Jewish woman is absolutely besides herself with joy because the parking ticket for her Granada lists the car as a Cadillac.

    Wealthy Jewess in a caddy = 4 dents in each corner…

    The Nova Seville was quite a handsome lined car. Still doesn’t look too bad today. Just the grille & spokes that really date. The dash was ideal for LHD conversion. More reliable than an XJ but then anything was.

  • avatar

    That may be the only Grenada I’ve ever seen that isn’t green.

  • avatar

    The Granada/Versailles lines are the automotive equivalent of a brown plaid double knit polyester sport coat. Fashionable for a brief time, permanently ugly for the rest of time and short of torching them, indestructible. File this one under ‘economy of scale, level; Zombie.’

  • avatar

    Our elderly neighbor, Mr. Edwards had a blue 75 4 door Ghia just like this, loaded with pretty much everything except power windows and locks. It also had the undersized 250-6.
    Mr Edwards got into a minor accident with his Granada, he made a left hand turn in front of an oncoming car which resulted in a damged fender and minor damage to the front clip. The day the car was back from the body shop Mr. Edwards made a left turn in front of another car, resulting in about the same amount of damage as the first accident. Since he was 84 years old and that was his second accident within a matter of days he was required to take a driving test, which he flunked big time.
    He reluctantly gave up driving, but he held onto his car. I was 17 years old and had my license, so he would have me, my dad, or whoever happened to be around take him on his errands in the granada. No one could drive him in their own car, it had to be in his car.
    I remember when Road Test Magazine did an article on the Granada. They praised the smooth ride, quietness, comfort, etc. but they said that it felt like the steering wheel was connected to the front tires via rubber band. They weren’t exaggerating, that car had the slowest steering response of any car I can remember driving, probably about the same as some early 60’s cars with manual steering that I’ve driven.
    The engine was rated at something like 70 or 72 horsepower, and the rating was pretty accurate. With the ac on the car accelerated about the same as a chevette, probably about the only thing slower at the time was a beetle.
    Advancing the timing and other little tweaks didn’t do much for the smogged ford sixes like you could do with the V8’s. About the only thing that would have helped would have been aftermarket parts like from Clifford.

  • avatar

    One of my high school friends had a hand me down Granada that we all rode around in after school. What I remember most about that car was that the rear brakes would start to drag and the only fix Glen, the “proud owner” could come up with was to floor it in reverse and slam on the breaks. That would reset the pads. I can remember being out on the highway on the way to pick up some consumables and he would start yelling, “look for a parking lot, I got to reset the brakes.” What a sad car, but still much better than no car.

  • avatar

    I, too, have a soft spot for this era Seville. Funny that you should call
    it a Nova/Seville, I’ve heard that before, but unlike the Versailles/Granada
    , I’ve never confused this Seville for the then-current Nova, talk about ge
    tting lemonade from a lemon. Actor Betty White recently sold her mint green
    Seville that her late husband Allen Ludden gave her years ago, it’s pictur
    ed on youtube, search Betty White Seville . I saw really good photos of her
    car, and as you can imagine, it was mint(no pun intended).

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    “Looking at the Granada, its a wonder they were able to stay in business through the 2013 model year.”

    Oddly enough, the Granada/Monarch were huge hits in the mid-70’s as the broughaming of American took hold. A miniaturized LTD with all the features not previously available in a ‘compact’ car. Ford sold a gazillion of them despite the 15-year-old chassis. GM’s NOVA, while a better driving series of cars, couldn’t match the Granada’s sales.

    Where GM bitchslapped Ford was with the Seville…despite it’s humble (but massively massaged) NOVA underpinnings, it was undoubtedly a Cadillac…whereas the Versailles was undoubtedly a Granada.

    Ford has had several ‘savior’ cars over the years that kept the lights on at least until the next crisis….the ’49, the ’58 T-Bird, the Mustang, the Fairmont, the Taurus, the Explorer; I know I’m going to get sniper shot on this one but I feel the Mustang II and Granada were minor players as well…downsized choices that came along at a most fortunate time for Ford.

    Looking back, it is easy to see the cheesiness of these cars and weaknesses (stylized or not)…..but in the context of their times they were the schiznit. Keep in mind that at the same time the Monte Carlo and Cutlass Supreme coupe were huge sellers as well….but I could hardly imagine trying to pilot one of those through a mall parking lot into a space.

    • 0 avatar

      America in the 70’s was a pretty depressing place – aside from Disco and drugs, the country was dirty, trashy, and the fun of the 1960’s was replaced with the misery of the Vietnam, post-Vietnam, Nixonian, and the Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter misery makers. Not much was good in the 1970’s – you think these cars are bad, remember the interior decor from this era? Shag carpeting, orange kitchen counters, and odd appliance colors.

      • 0 avatar

        Both interior decor and proclivities for Broughamified cars existed to distract the populace from the present misery as well as the dystopian future that seemingly awaited them.

  • avatar

    Watching this Granada commercial brought back some memories:

    I vividly recall my father first viewing this commercial in 1977 and saying in disgust ” When that Ford is in the junkyard, that Mercedes will still be on the road!”

  • avatar

    Here is a link to a summary of 1975-80 advertisements that compared the Ford Granada to a Mercedes and a Cadillac:

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