By on October 5, 2016

 

tempo allegro. shutterstock user icon99

Chris writes:

I was wondering where to get advice for a free car I’m about to acquire …

The car in question: a 1991 Ford Tempo LX with a four-banger and automatic transmission — not exactly a racer or show car. My dad used it as a work beater for the last 13 years so he didn’t have to drive his garage queen Cadillac. Now that he’s about to retire, he no longer needs it and has decided to give it to me to do with as I please.

I don’t really want to get rid of it because it actually has a little sentimental value. It was mine before I gave it to my Dad (a trade for a newer car, really), and before that it was a present from my grandmother back when I was a broke college student in Gainesville. It was one of the last things she did for me before she passed away.

Condition wise, it looks like a 25-year-old car that’s been sitting out in the Florida sun its whole life. There’s no rust nor accident damage, but the paint is faded, the plastic bumper covers are dried out, and some of the rubber door trim is missing. The interior is all there but the dash is cracked and the headliner is long gone. It has low-ish mileage; about 105,000 miles that were carefully put on by my father who fits the old man driver stereotype perfectly. It runs and drives, but has a stalling issue that I believe is relatively minor since (when it isn’t stalling) it runs good and shifts smooth. I think the A/C would work with a recharge and the original tape deck needs replaced. It has new tires, a new battery, muffler, and plugs/wires. In other words, it’s not hopelessly gone but needs a bit of spit and polish to bring it back to how it was when I first got the car.

My wife and I already have decent newer cars, and I have an old BMW Z3 I use on the weekends. I have the space and tools, and was thinking about tinkering around and doing something fun with it. I’m just not exactly sure what that will be.

Would this be a fun autocross car, rat rod, or unusual restoration project (since most people don’t save these)? What should I do with this thing and where could I go for further inspiration/technical advice later on?

Sajeev answers:

Did you say “unusual restoration project?” Uh yeah, you’ve come to the right place.

TTAC debated the Ford Tempo‘s relevance. It’s a crude (better than K-cars or Iron-Duke GM products, if that matters) transition model from near-bankruptcy Ford to the Deming-embracing era vehicles that turned FoMoCo around. It wasn’t a perfect transition, as the 1984 Tempo was a plus-sized USA Escort that mimicked the then-revolutionary 1982 Ford Sierra (peep the greenhouses) instead of being a purer Sierra Coupe/Hatch/Wagon transplant. That said, I’d love a Mercury Topaz V6 five-speed LTS (sedan) or XR-5 (coupe) to go with TTAC’s own Sierra.

Embrace your inner Tempo fanatic, kick the Tempo up to Allegro.

Start small and fix the low-hanging fruit: new headliner (spend a bit more and get the correct blue/tan/red material from an NOS vendor), fresh paint, a snazzy CD/Bluetooth/USB stereo with the flush-mount kit (not the ugly stick-on one), add entry-level coaxial speakers, fix the A/C and rebuild the plastic plugs if you have power windows, etc.

Too bad about the new tires, as upgrading to 15 x 7-inch Mustang wheels makes for a beautifully stanced (so to speak) resto-modification, or the 16-inch Pony wheels, pictured above. Then upgrade to KYB dampers, and maybe the four-wheel discs from a Contour/Mystique/Cougar (which requires 16-inch wheels).

The Vulcan V6 is a labor-intensive drop-in swap available from a junkyard parts car Taurus/Sable (with the revised “big bore” plastic intake) and squeezes a few more ponies for cheap (E85 computer tune, Duratec V6 throttle body, etc.) or you can go nuts for stupid money. Poke around the Tempo/Topaz forum for more details and OOH NO DEY KILLED TEMPOTOPAZ.COM Y GOD Y?!?!!

— deep cleansing breath —

Everything I knew about resto-modding a Ford Tempo is gone. Now you have two options, and both require selling your (overrated) Z3: either LS4-FTW or create the SHOpaz’s brother.

You folks don’t know how long I’ve waited to SHOpaz up this blog.

[Photo Courtesy: Shutterstock user icon99]

Send your queries to [email protected]com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 

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131 Comments on “Piston Slap: Embracing the Tempo’s Inner Allegro?...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “I think the A/C would work with a recharge…”

    Famous last words. Don’t bother with the AC on R12 cars unless you’re prepared to spend. Nobody can diagnose the issue anymore, as they’ve all got R134 equipment which isn’t compatible. Even with an expensive R12 infusion, the dryer, lines, compressor, etc could all be shot (and likely are) after long-term disuse. This money will go down the drain, as an old Tempo will never be worth anything.

    OR, you can spend like $1800 and convert it to R134.

    I’d have a hard time bothering with this, even if it has sentimental value.

    Also, it’s funny the amount of work they put into distinguishing the more modern aero Tempo, from the stodgy and derpy looking Topaz with it’s formal lines and excess trim work. They’ve even got different glass at the back.

    I think the Escort/Tracer introduced at the time this model was going away were much better (and nicer looking) cars.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Yep, the early-’90s Escort/Tracer were darn nice little cars, thanks to the Mazda platform. I almost pulled the trigger on top of the line Tracer in ’93 with the Mazda twincam engine, but Mazda was giving better deals on the Protege. Had that one for 12 years and drove it until begged to be put out of its’ misery.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I cannot imagine the rust on a 12 year-old Protege in a salt area. Unless you’re in Canada where they use sand? Can’t recall if you’re Canadian, as I confuse you with Lou_BC all the time.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Mine had one very small patch as I recall, and I drove it in Missouri, Pennsylvania and Colorado.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @coryDL – We Canadians must all look alike in our Inuit Parkas ;)
          Is FreedMike Canadian? us liberals must look and sound alike too ;) (Cue Todd. LOL)

          Does anyone actually use salt anymore? De-icing chemicals tend to be worse than sodium chloride.

          About the only places in Canada that don’t have winter rust issues due to “salt” would probably be Victoria, Vancouver Island,and Sunshine Coast or a climate controlled garage.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          “Salt area” being the problem.

          One of my best friends has an ’00 Protege with nearly 200,000 miles which is just starting to get more problematic. Until now, it’s been rock-solid with the notable exception of needing a new automatic transmission at 90,000 miles. No rust despite a copious number of dents and dings. But it’s the Pacific Northwest.

    • 0 avatar
      zamoti

      For my old R12 cars I used Duracool. It’s essentially fancy butane, but for an old beater it’s just fine. Everybody likes to get their pantys in a twist about how you’ll go up in flames when you wreck, but if you wreck a Tempo bad enough to rupture the AC AND there are open flames, you’re probably already dead.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Much is risked for working A/C.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Reading that is making me break out in hives. Pressurized butane underhood? I think that makes reckless motorcycling look sane.

        • 0 avatar
          zamoti

          I put the stuff in my Volvo 960 and it worked great. Drove it that way for two years, sold it to a neighbor who drove it for two more, his kids drove it for another year before selling it down the line. No fatalities yet. It might find a way to flame out, but we also drive around with 10+ gallons of flammable liquid most days. I don’t have detailed stats handy, but I’m thinking the “death by butane fireball” category is probably pretty low in the list.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Unpressurized liquid gasoline under the back seat is vastly less risky than pressurized hydrocarbons underhood right next to all the hot bits.

            If you get in any wreck beyond a parking lot scrape, a car with that kind of refrigerant in it is pretty much bound to turn into a very hot fireball in instants.

          • 0 avatar
            Jagboi

            You forget that the gasoline under the hood next to the hot bits is pressurized.

            Propane is widely used as an industrial refrigerant in place of HFC’s. It’s advantages are that you use about 1/3 of it, i.e. 1 lb of propane/isobutane mix ( i.e. Duracool) can cool as effectively as 3 lbs of R134a. The other advantages are the system pressures are lower, typical values are 150 psi on the high side and R134a would be around 230 psi for similar performance. Lower pressures are lower stress on the hoses and less power is needed to compress the gas.

            As always the first step in any AC system is to fix the leak! Don’t just dump in more refrigerant hoping that it will stay in the system. Replace the O rings and make sure the system is sealed. Then charge it appropriately and enjoy cool air.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            Duracool claims that the release of its refrigerant would cause a 1 to 1.5 second flash, which would only be of concern if it occurs within the passenger compartment.

            “Have there been studies to determine the potential level of incidence, in terms of ignited automobile compartment leakage?

            Internationally respected risk assessors Arthur D. Little, in a detailed UK-based study, estimated the risk of an ignited refrigerant leak in the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle as being in the area of 3 in 10 million. Their findings, from a local perspective, mean that if every car in the USA (some 50 to 60 million vehicles) were to use a hydrocarbon refrigerant such an accident might occur once in every 50 years.

            What would the impact of and “incident level, once every 50 years” ignited automobile compartment leakage actually be?

            In terms of the “impact”, it is important to recognize that automobiles generally have 12-15 ounces of DURACOOL® refrigerant. If there were a full amount leak into an automobile compartment and it ignited, it would theoretically create a “flash” which would last 1-1.5 seconds.”

            They also claim that it takes a higher temperature to ignite their refrigerant than R-134a.

            duracool.com/Duracool/faqs.html

            Plenty of Canadians use Duracool and Red Tek refrigerants. You’ll probably hear about it if a serious incident ever occurs.

            To me, it seems like it’s banned in the U.S. and nowhere else – as far as I know – because of the influence of chemical company lobbyists.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        zamoti, to get the correct pressure vs. temperature curve, Duracool is probably a mixture of isobutane and propane. Isobutane is available as high-altitude camp stove fuel from stores like REI. Propane is available everywhere. If you have a wreck with a condenser leak, both can burn about as vigorously as a propane torch until the refrigerant/fuel is used up.

    • 0 avatar
      whitworth

      They have drop in replacements for R12 that work great. And even the original R12 cans are pretty affordable these days on Ebay, probably cost you $50 to have working AC.

      I wouldn’t convert to R134, I had one that I converted from R12 and it was just barely adequate AC. Probably fine in some parts of the country, but not where I live.

    • 0 avatar
      v8corvairpickup

      I cannot agree regarding the a/c. I don’t know what my mechanic did to my ’91 Prelude but I brought it to him this summer. The car hasn’t had working a/c and the car’s been in the family since 2011 (I stole it from my daughter in January 2015 and it has been my daily driver since). I think he purged it fixed some fitting and pumped in some R-134 and I have working a/c. It isn’t frigid but it cools me off well enough in the summer. All this for about $150. Well worth it!

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I would restore nothing. The car isn’t worth it.

    If you can fix the stalling and if you can convert or live without the A/C, then it might be worth using as your daily driver/ beater, but that’s about it.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I think no AC in Florida would be pretty rough. I wouldn’t even want to do it in Ohio.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Might be worth at least trying to recharge the A/C. If it doesn’t work, then the car was free to begin with, so whatever. If it doesn’t work, then you have a good beater, or you can sell it for a few bucks, and still come out kinda even. Worth a shot (pun intended).

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Given the model year, I would presume that the A/C would be an R12 system. R12 hasn’t been produced for ages.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          There are present-day alternatives like R12A which you can use, I know that much.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            If you want to violate federal law, go ahead.

            Otherwise, the car would require a conversion to 134a.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            If it’s illegal, Amazon shouldn’t sell it to me.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            It isn’t illegal to buy it.

            It’s illegal to use it in your car.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Well then what’s it for?! Not much aesthetic value in some cans of refrigerant.

            “And here’s my R12A collection!”

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            “Well then what’s it for?!”

            OMG.. silly car guys!

            R12 is incomparable for freeze-hardening sticky, gooey lumps like chewing gum, allowing it to be chipped off fibrous surfaces like carpets and upholstery!

            Didn’t any of you ever take Home Ec?

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            In home ec I cooked pizza rolls and donuts, where 50% of the class product was consumed by the gigantic teacher who -literally- had to sit on two chairs at her desk.

            (Circa 1999, she was driving a late ’70s LTD II in red over white.)

            Also, I sewed a stuffed basketball and got a B.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Something tells me the Feds ain’t coming for this guy’s Tempo, PCH.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Dysfunctional legal system in action.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            R12a is flammable. Turning a Tempo into a rolling bomb isn’t a bright idea, particularly when 134a conversion isn’t particularly difficult or expensive.

            The main gripe about 134a in an R12 system is that it doesn’t blow as cold. But that’s preferable to fire.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          While new virgin R12 hasn’t been available in the US for many years it is still available and the price is actually down significantly from the peak a few years after production and importation of it was outlawed.

          That said a quick and dirty conversion to R134a is the way to go. Add the cutout switch, adapters and maybe the drier then vacuum and fill it up. Adjust the clutch cycling pressure switch range down 3 psi or so. It will give good performance but it may need to be topped up every couple of years.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      This is spot on.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    well in FLA I think you need working AC, so do what you can, have any kids ? if so maybe help them learn to wrench on this thing, if not fix it up and find someone who needs a reliable cheap car and give it to them, Karma will thank you. Not sure what else to do with it really.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    And here’s a 91 Tempo with 56K miles, like new, and it’s still not worth the $3k they’re asking.

    http://louisville.craigslist.org/cto/5797524353.html

    • 0 avatar
      r129

      I kind of want to go buy that right now… says the guy with the 1996 Cutlass Supreme. Nah. But if it was a Tempo coupe with a manual, I think I might be on my way.

  • avatar
    Sobro

    Donate it to your nearest tech school with an auto shop.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I like this idea also.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      They are not going to want it, way too old to be relevant. My local HS received a bunch of cars from a local community college that runs a Ford Asset program. They were late 90’s at the oldest. It was quite sad to see the 1997 Grand Marquis with under 1000 mi on the clock and a perfect velour interior except for the spray painted the logo for the Ford Asset program. The gem of the bunch was a late 90’s Mustang convertible that had it’s leather seats spray painted as well. They also got a few old Escort 1.9’s on stands to start and run them.

      So about the only thing they would do with it is disassemble it before sending it to scrap.

      Right now the Seattle School district is trying hard to sell a 1998 Outback that was donated to one of their school’s auto shop program. They did nothing to the car but clean it up. Again just too old to be relevant. It was an insurance total and while totally driveable as is and fixable a 225k mile Outback isn’t worth slathering bondo on, even in Seattle. Note that school has an auto shop program, not an autobody program.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Personally I like the Vulcan 3.0 suggestion. Common as dirt and should be pretty cheap to acquire. The horsepower is nothing to write home about but it is torquey.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Too much work for too little return. Before, you had a Tempo of typical ’80s slowness. Now, you’ll still have a Tempo. It’ll be about as quick as a modern entry-level compact, but it’ll be a Tempo.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Vulcan 3.0s are cheap and plentiful but those are in Ranger or Taurus dress. The hard part would be to find the Tempaz specific bits like the mounting brackets, exhaust manifolds, wiring harness, throttle cable ect. So you are going to need 3.0 Tempaz donor car and they just weren’t that common to start off with.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        Yes, folks say this kind of thing frequently, not realizing just how hard it can be to find certain parts. It would be one thing if you were talking about a Cavalier that was plentiful in both 4 cylinder and V6 models; lots of donor cars out there. What was the production run of these Vulcan Tempazes? Two years, IIRC? It would make more sense to find a complete Vulcan Tempaz and use the 4 cylinder car as a donor car.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    You guys are _rough_ .

    He said he likes the car and it has sentimental value .

    Fixing the AC either way shouldn’t cost anywhere near $1,800 unless a shop does it and they won’t be as careful as the average DIY’er .

    Clean it up, re spray it and fix all the little things then just _enjoy_ the damned thing , sheesh .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar

      Yup, just run brake cleaner thru the good A/C bits.

      If the condenser is even remotely close to the size of the ones on Fox Bodies, it will cool well with R134.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        NO NO NO do not run brake cleaner through the AC system. There is flush for that and flushing is not indicated for a conversion to R134a.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        Sajeev, I don’t think any residual brake cleaner is going to be chemically compatible with PAG oil. I’ve successfully used isopentane (very flammable) and dry nitrogen to clean out the old mineral oil.

        • 0 avatar

          “Sajeev, I don’t think any residual brake cleaner is going to be chemically compatible with PAG oil.”

          It’s been 10+ years since I’ve made the switch to R134 on my Cougar, so I could be wrong, but I didn’t have any problems with the conversion.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        Back when I owned my 87 T-Bird the A/C was starting to have a slow leak. It became a yearly event having to add a can of R12 while repairing the occasional O-ring snap-lock fitting. I even installed those reinforced fitting clamps with allen screws. The NAPA store I would go to had a R12 substitute which worked fine. After a few years I needed a new hose and filter/dryer so I purchased a R134A conversion kit. The system worked fine until the I sold the car at 187k when the head gasket went south.

    • 0 avatar
      True_Blue

      Agreed.

      He says he’s getting it for free, and the sentimental value is high. Fix the little niggles and enjoy it for what it is.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        ! I wasn’t allowed to use this word : ” niggles ” .

        ? Can one really use aerosol _brake_cleaner_ to flush out an elderly AC system ? .

        My AC works were done back in my Dealer/Fleet Mechanic days , they were all new or nearly new vehicles so no goop sludging up the tubes, condensor, evaporator etc. .

        I always assumed I’d need to buy a fancy-schmancy ac flushing kit .

        -Nate

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Gotta love the bias going on here, if this were an old dried up Toyonda beater everyone would be shouting to restore it.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Depends on the Toyonda, you know?

      FX-16, Civic SI? Maybe.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s clearly when Sentimental Value has value.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      That’s a crap statement. Nobody would claim he should restore a dried up, high miles square body Corolla.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      The anti-Toyota crowd seems to reside on a different planet.

      I can’t think of anyone who would recommend restoring a 25-year old beat up Corolla sedan.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        That was a terrible anti-Toyota statement, I cant think of anyone that would in their sane mind recommend fixing up an old Corolla.

        Looks like I started a meme!

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          I can see that the border patrol failed to keep your space vehicle from landing on our planet.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Ooh me me me! Haha I would totally fix up a rust free AE90 body Corolla, or a prior gen square body. Super easy to work on, and at least for the AE90 (88-92) just about all the parts should still be available and cheap. These little things are beyond durable, and actually have very nicely finished interiors.

          Shame we didn’t get some of the truly opulent JDM variants though:

          @:29
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qMgMZSBmkE

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            Interesting :

            I think sentimental value is what it is ~ my Son took my old 1960 VW # 117 DeLuxe Sliding Sunshine Roof Beetle with it’s tiny 36hp engine and last year slit case ‘A’ series crashbox tranny and doesn’t fix it , won’t sell it either .

            I think it’s a worthless old pile having put a few hundred thousand hard miles on it , brought him home from the hospital in it and so on ~ I had it long before I met his Mother .

            every so often some one tells me it’s maybe worth $10,000.00 (?!? WTH) and i tell him to sell it and spend the lolly in his Wife or Daughter, he always gives me a look then says ” it’s _YOUR_ CAR Dad ” .

            I dunno , I could see up fixing an old ’72 lift back Toyota (?Celica?) but a hammered to death VW not so much .

            It’s all perspective I think .

            -Nate

  • avatar
    ajla

    Other than the AC, nothing you listed is particularly difficult to self-remedy and learning how to fix a vehicle’s HVAC is a nice skill to have. You seem to want to keep the car so I’d put a hard limit at $1000 and see how far that takes you (I’m guessing very far).

    A-body is still better though…

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Unless the family sentimentality is factor is overwhelming, I’d move this little sucka down the road and put the time / money into your Z3. And unless you’re able to derive satisfaction from the relentless understeer of overtorqued fwd cars, the hop-up / swap plans will be for naught.

    But whatever plan, go have fun.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Did you really just advise someone to spend money RESTORING a 91 Tempo? Sell the beast on craigslist for $500 and move on with life.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    Me personally I wouldn’t put much money in it. But if it has sentimental value then focus on the cosmetic fixes and modest upgrades like stereo that just make it a little more nice to keep going. Picking at the junkyard (recycled auto parts garden…) can probably yield some fun upgrades. I had a beater Protege, and I picked a few parts off other cars, especially interior bits, to make the most lux Protege one could have. That said, unless its a very simple bolt-on, I’d leave the mechanical alone and just leave it to chance.

  • avatar

    I think all the hate for a Ford Tempo with sentimental value is all the reason you need to restore one. And it could be anything, I’d do it to a Hyundai Excel if my Grandmother did that for me. Because those things are kinda awesome:

    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/vellum-venom-1986-hyundai-excel/

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Use it as a beater when the weather’s not too rough, until something big breaks. Then, take some good pictures and send it off to the great parking lot in the sky.

    It may have sentimental value, but it’s a Tempo.

  • avatar

    First, as the former owner of an ’90 model Tempo during high school, let me get my obligatory reaction to this entire post out of the way first. Then I’ll circle back with more meat.

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

    • 0 avatar

      She was tan, but had once, allegedly, been silver. Clumsy automatic seat-belts. AC that hadn’t worked since the car was four years old. By 1997, when I was in high school, mechanics had basically given up on that system. A few passing attempts at recharges ended in failure. The engine bay was always hungry for replacement sensors and other miscellaneous parts.

      No acceleration, though she did feel solid and was, at least, moderately quiet. She also wallowed a bit.

      I called her the “Dragon Wagon”, even though she was a sedan, because when I’d stop at an intersection *something* burning off inside would occasionally pop tufts of lovable white smoke/steam around the hood.

      I vividly remember following friends through Atlanta. I’m on the freeway, and I’m trying to keep up. The pedal is on the floor. Ole’ Dragon was telling me “Sorry, honey, this is my new top speed”.

      If you want to take all this on with your Tempo “project”, I must confess a dual reaction. On the one hand, while I respect you as a true car guy, I’d have to say the best parts you can find for this resto will not be found at the local pick-your-own, but at the psychiatrist.

      Don’t do it, man.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

    No surprise, mostly everyone, with Corey yelling the loudest, thinks its not worth the cost of tires.

    As if you didn’t know, I’m here to explain why they are wrong.

    Yes the Tempo was a stretched 1980s Escort, but it had the all-iron 2.3L I-4 instead of the trouble prone 1.9L Escort engine. The 2.3L is based off the old Inline-6, its extremely durable and can take a lot of abuse. This isn’t like a Toyota engine where you barely overheat it once and its toast.

    The 3.0L is also all iron and very durable. It gives the Tempo neck-snapping acceleration. From a stop, you don’t notice it as much when you floor it as you do when doing about 15-20 mph in a higher gear. You step on it then and just hold on to that steering wheel for dear life. It will astonish you how quickly it will bury that 85 mph speedometer. The SHO manual will bolt right up to the Vulcan if you use a Tempo specific flywheel. The SHO 3.0L block is the same architecture as the Vulcan.

    I put 15″ 2001 Cougar alloys on my 1992 LX. I’ve also put Focus and Contour SVT alloys on Tempos, but they required spacers. My 1991 GLS coupe with SVT wheels looked and drove great.

    The Tempo LX you have has more sound insulation, thicker carpet, fabric door panel inserts instead of vinyl and the same with the center armrest. The seats also have different padding which I found was a great upgrade over the GL. It was actually quite plush. I (and people I knew who had a low opinion of Tempos beforehand) found the LX to be incredibly comfortable, and when driven easy, it was very smooth. The ride is compliant without being soggy, and the noise level was great for an 80s/90s compact economy car.

    You can order new bumpers, they are reproduced. If you don’t want to do a V-6 swap yet, consider finding a junkyard Tempo GLS/Topaz XR5 or a 1990 and older Escort GT manual that will bolt right up to your low mileage HSC. It will have 3.73 final drive ratio to make the most of the engine and of the driving experience. Tempo L, GL, LX, Escort Pony and LX and Topaz LS and GS manuals have economy gearing which makes them great on gas but not as much fun.

    If you find a sport model in the junkyard, there are other things you can grab but the transaxle swap is fairly easy. Unlike a Taurus, you do do not need to drop the engine, only the transaxle itself. Drop it from the bottom, support the engine. BUY THE BRAKE PEDAL from a manual trans car, lol, the automatic brake pedal is larger. Had a buddy (founder of TempoTopaz.com) make that mistake when swapping a manual into his 1994 Topaz coupe.

    Remove the plastic intake between the airbox and the aluminum intake manifold. There is an air restrictor inside and you can cut it out.

    If the car stalls in hot weather when sitting in traffic, replace the TFI module located on the side if the distributor. Its $100 or less. If it does it regardless of temperature, have the induction system professionally cleaned (intake, injectors, MAF sensor, lubricate throttle linkage). There tends to be carbon build up especially if the car is ideling a lot or driven very easily for long periods (short in-town trips and the like).

    Get a rear stabilizer bar from a GLS/XR5/LTS or any V-6 car. Despite the warnings of Corey The Great, there is no reason to not charge the A/C and see if it works. All Ford’s switched to CFC-free A/C in 1994 including the Tempo, so you can source parts if need be. I had no issues getting the A/C worked on in my 1991 GLS, and that was only a few years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Being articulate is not the same as yelling.

      I do love how I’m more wrong than everyone else when saying the same thing though, because you decided long ago you dislike anything I say. Very refreshing.

      Just say “Here’s my opinion because,” not “Corey is wrong and wronger and here’s why.” It’s all the time, and it’s tired. Cut the personal attacks.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      When did Corey get an upgrade to “the Great”?

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Well, I think I’m really important obviously, and typing out opinions on a comment board is threatening. I said something negative about a Taurus wheel design once, and that was really all it took. I’ve committed treason, and now nothing I say could possibly make any sense or be reasonable.

        He should definitely spend at least $15,000 restoring this Tempo, and then donate it to the Guggenheim because it is art.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        Since I’m Canadian, our criminal code prevents me from using the term ” The Great One” for anyone other than Gretzky.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      “This isn’t like a Toyota engine where you barely overheat it once and its toast.”

      Toyota engines rarely die from overheating, if they did you wouldnt see them in Lotus’s, desert trucks, ratty old DRIFTERRRZZZ. They made maybe one or two engines with headgasket issues, thats it.

      Take it from me, the “Toyota Hater”.

      “You step on it then and just hold on to that steering wheel for dear life. It will astonish you how quickly it will bury that 85 mph speedometer”

      This might be the funniest thing I’ve read all day!

    • 0 avatar

      Oh, Lord. The CV joint issue. How could I forget the time my Tempo nearly killed me?

  • avatar
    whitworth

    I would fix what needs fixing and drive it. I wouldn’t do any sort of crazy restoration, but if it has sentimental value and it’s not a financial burden, I say keep it. The issues you listed are easily remedied by someone with a bit of mechanical know-how.

    I remember selling my grandmother’s car and if I could do it all over again, I would have kept it. I sold it for about what I go through in household bills every 2 weeks. Same with this Tempo, you’ll probably get something like $800 for it.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Yeah. I kinda liked my mom’s ’88 Tempo, it was a comfy little car. If having this to tool around in makes you happy, why not? I’d get the interior cleaned up and maybe think about paint, if you don’t mind burning a little cash. then just enjoy it for what it is, and what it was.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    There is a reason this is free. My .02.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Motor-vehicles are sentimental items to car guys. Sure, it isn’t a 69 Mach1 that will sell for a 1/4 million but how can you put a price on sentiment?

    I’d say play with it and fix what needs fixing. Be realistic about your skills and set price limits. It stops being fun when it turns into an obsessive blackhole on wheels draining your bank account.

    If we applied cold hard logic to automobiles, this site would not exist and we’d all be riding the bus.

  • avatar
    skor

    The Tempo never did anything real well. That said, it never did anything really badly. It was cheap, reliable for its day, and cheap to repair. It was the perfect rental car. If I found one in recently departed grandma’s garage, with 25K on the clock, I’d change the fluids, put new tires on it and drive it until it drops. Otherwise I would not spend any money on one of these cars.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Given the shape of the car and the possibility of the AC being dead, maybe you could make it into an autocross beater?

    Yes it would be terrible at autocross, even with mods any Honda will out do it. But still, it’d eat up less time and money than a full restoration and you’d have the only Tempo there.

    I wouldnt restore it myself, but I’d hate to see it just sit around.

  • avatar
    True_Blue

    The SHOpaz! I’m ecstatic to see someone remembers that. What a sleeper.

  • avatar
    LS1Fan

    There’s sentmental value, and then there’s pumping money into a car with zero stock performance potential.

    The OP would be better served buying a used E39 M5 ,restoring that, and scrapping the Tempo once the M5 was back on the road. Assuming the scrapyard is charitable enough to even take the Ford.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    Demolition Derby time.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    Rat Rod? Tempo?

    No, doesn’t work.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    Personally, I’d use it strictly as a beater until I had to put even a dollar in it to keep it running (other than the cost of gas) and then dump it. I’d hesitate to even pay for a quart of oil, much less dream about actually changing the oil & oil filter.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    I just want to know where they dug up a picture of a Tempo with 90s era 16″ pony wheels from the Mustang, blacked out window trim, and a lip spoiler on the trunk. It almost looks a tiny bit sporty!

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    You may not need it but there’s somebody out there who could really use a basic reliable set of wheels; even with faded paint and no AC.

    Emulate the generosity your grandmother and dad showed you and just give the car away to somebody who can use it. Maybe a hardworking young person just starting out, or maybe somebody older who is turning their life around?

    I would have been ecstatic to be given a running 25 year old economy car when I turned 16.

    If you don’t know anybody who fits this description I’m sure there is a local nonprofit that would be happy to point you to a good deserving candidate.

  • avatar
    True_Blue

    “Restoring the car” conjures images of rotisseries and hot-tanked bare blocks. I wouldn’t “restore” the car so much as I’d fix the mechanical issues and drive a fairly clean example of a practically extinct commuter.

  • avatar
    Lack Thereof

    A non-specific “stalling issue” on Fords of this era is almost always caused by a seized idle air control valve, and resultant extra-low idle speed.

    I have yet to encounter a pre-OBDII ford that did NOT need it replaced.

  • avatar
    scottcom36

    Two thoughts; my ex had an ’89 and once a year like clockwork a sensor would fail and need attention. Ran fine otherwise.
    And, I once saw a photo (danged if I can find it now) of a Tempo coupe that had been debadged, painted monochromatic white and given a ground effects package. Darned if it didn’t look like a Mustang. It was uncanny.

  • avatar
    donutguy

    I had an 88 Tempo with the 2.3/auto trans.

    I bought a set of second hand Mustang wheels and put hoosier slicks on them and autocrossed it. I installed Bilsteins and shortened the coils, and ran a straight pipe with no mufflers.

    I beat the crap out of that car for 9 years……buy the time I traded it in-it was used up.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Personally I’d take a Tempo GLS or Topaz XR5 preferably the coupe version. The fairly rare AWD version were only offered as a 4 door with the automatic transmission would also be fun ride.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I had a 1991 Topaz GL for four or five years starting in 1996. It was my mother’s last new car before she retired. Upon retirement she was gifted with a new 1996 Honda Accord and the Topaz was up for grabs. None of my siblings wanted it; I lived in Atlanta at the time and so I had little idea of what kind of maintenance issues my mother had with the car. Let’s just say it was a pile.

    For fun, I found a set of Escort GT wheels with Pirellis on them, mounted them on the Topaz and went freeway on and off ramp driving with it. While the turn in was a little better, the car was so bereft of power the only way to have fun on the ramps was to induce understeer and then apply parking brake to induce oversteer. The car was a little pig, really.

    Enough about my bad experiences with the car. From many accounts I have read, some folks have had exemplary service from their Tempazes, and others share my sentiments about them. That said, I agree with others on here, give it a light restoration and then either sell or donate the car to someone who needs one. It sounds like your hobby car is way better than this and apparently both you and your spouse have decent drivers. I get the nostalgia and sentimental value, but wouldn’t your grandmother be happier seeing you paying it forward?

  • avatar
    formula m

    This is a joke obviously. What person with any level of automotive interest would ask about restoring a used up Ford Tempo?
    Other than Johnny Taurus who is obviously out there when it comes to ford sedans

  • avatar
    Quentin

    I’d give this thing a Florida Viking funeral… Set it on fire, put it in drive, and let it self drive into the ocean. At least your last memory of it is something glorious rather than standing by the freeway waiting for a tow because you pissed away money following the unsound advice of deranged 80s Ford sedan fans.

  • avatar
    Erikstrawn

    Regarding the stalling, I would check for vacuum leaks. Spraying WD40 around the intake manifold and vacuum hoses and listening for the engine to rev up is effective, just be mindful that WD40 is flammable.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I find Tempos quite endearing actually, in the same way I find GM A-bodies, Corsicas, and Acclaims/Spirits solid unapologetically stodgy beaters. All of the above listed were staples of my Upstate NY highschool parking lot, and littered trailer parks in our area for years and years. I like how good the ground clearance is on all of them, perfect for the dirt back roads of rural NY. Cheap to wrench on, simple OHV motors that would take a lot of negligence and abuse. I remember helping my brother diagnose an acquaintance’s ’92 Tempo in highschool, it had an overheating issue and very poor power. My brother was stumped, but I just happened to notice that the exhaust tip had been bent basically shut by backing into a high curb. Wrenched it open with a pipe and presto, the 2.3 regained it’s former tractor-like glory.

    Now, given a choice between any of those and an early 90s Accord or Camry or even Corolla or Civic it’s no contest for me. But I would not poo-poo any of the above domestic options if I came across a nice example for the right price either.

  • avatar
    DougD

    I’ll speak from experience here. When we we replaced our Topaz with a minivan it was still a fully functional vehicle that was worthless on trade in. We figured we’d gotten our money’s worth out of it so we had it safetied and gave it away to folks we knew who needed cheap reliable transportation.

    Pay it forward man, I’m sure there’s a charity or individual in Florida who would be thrilled to receive a sun beaten Tempo with some life left in it.

  • avatar
    Shawnski

    I had a sharp looking ’86 Tempo GL Sport, with the 2.3 HO (good for 100 hp), and 5 speed, ohhhhh. I had it for two years and bought an ’88 Mustang GT. That was a long time ago, and while I still play with obsolete Fox body Mustangs (AutoX ’82GT ESP), find a charity that can flip the Tempo and take the right off.

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