Rare Rides: The 1981 Ford Durango is Neither a Dodge nor an El Camino
Long before Dodge would apply the Durango name to its midsize SUV offering, Ford used it on a very limited production pickup as it considered a replacement for the Ranchero.
Come and check out a beige, two-tone, Ford [s]Fairmont Futura Hack-job[/s] Durango pickup.
Ford’s Ranchero started the sedan-based pickup segment in the United States, but was at the end of its life as the LTD II and its variants wrapped up for the 1979 model year. General Motors still produced its Ranchero competitor, the El Camino. Now in its fifth generation, the more modern El Camino was finding sales success ever since an updated (and downsized) model debuted for 1978. Ford needed to take action, maybe.
Not wanting to commit to a full production model, Ford started a joint venture with National Coach Works in Los Angeles, which is in western America.
Between 1979 and 1982, National Coach Works took Ford Fairmont Futura two-door sedans and converted them into the Durango you see before you. Production in Los Angeles was leisurely, and estimates say only 212 Durangos left the factory. All came equipped with Ford’s Thriftpower 3.3-liter inline-six engine, coupled to a three-speed automatic.
Removing the rear half of a regular Fairmont Futura coupe, a fiberglass bed and new rear window was installed. As part of the hastily modified nature of the Durango, all rear lighting and the license plate became a part of the tailgate. Because of this, the Durango included documentation warning against driving with the tailgate down, lest a driver incur an accident or roadside police stop.
Compared to other examples of the Ford Durango, this one (presently for sale in Texas) is decked out in a more broughamy, luxurious trim. Two-tone paint, whitewall tires, dressy wheel covers, and a sunroof are all part of the package.
The interior features an abundance of wood trim (carved by middle school shop students, from the looks of things). Ultimately, the Durango project didn’t really pan out, and the pickup never became an official part of Ford’s lineup. Pushed to the “little project” corner of the room, the Durango is often forgotten.
With 71,000 miles on the odometer, the dealer is asking $10,995. That seems like a big ask, especially given the condition shown in some of the photos. But the Durango is unequivocally a very rare vehicle, and one with different options than most. Even a Google Images search doesn’t really understand the inquiry. “You mean the Dodge Durango, right?”
A confused internet — all a part of a good Rare Rides.
[Images via seller]
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- Sckid213 I actually do agree that most Nissans are ultimately junk. (I also think many BMWs are also). I was talking challenging the 3 in terms of driving dynamics. Agree all were failures in sales.
- THX1136 More accurately said, we are seeing exponential growth in the manufacturing capabilities in this market. Unless, of course, all those vehicles are sold with customers waiting until more a produced so they can buy. Indeed, there are certainly more EVs being purchased now than back in 2016. Is demand outstripping manufacturing? Maybe or maybe not. I sincerely don't know which is why I ask.
- ToolGuy The page here (linked in the writeup) is ridiculously stupid https://www.tyreextinguishers.com/how-to-spot-an-suvLike, seriously stupid, e.g., A) Not sure that particular Volvo is killing the planet as quickly as some other vehicles we might choose. B) A Juke is "huge"??? C) The last picture shows a RAV4 Hybrid?