Welcome to another edition of Hooniverse Wagon Wednesday. The last Wagon Wednesday posting featured vehicles that I called The Worst Wagons Ever Produced. The reason why I took GM to task on those wagons was the fact that Ford was producing what amounted to a pretty good mid-sized wagon, with none of the shortcuts GM did. Presenting the 1978 to 1986 Ford (and Mercury) Fox Bodied Wagons.
In 1978, Ford introduced a vehicle on a brand new platform that was dubbed the American Volvo by the enthusiast press of the day. The Fairmont line was offered as a two and four-door sedan, a roomy wagon, and later on as a personal two-door coupe. Along with a new platform, these cars were offered with a myriad or engine choices, from a 2.3L Four, to a 3.3L Six, 4.2L and 5.0L V-8s, and later on a 2.3L Turbocharged four cylinder.
The Mercury Zephyr was a virtual clone of the Fairmont sold by Lincoln-Mercury dealers. The major difference between the brands was the grill treatment, quad headlamps instead of dual, and the tail light texture. Everything else you could get on the Ford was available as a Mercury.
In 1982, the Fairmont wagon was rebadged as a Ford Granada, which was marketed as a bit more upscale to the buying public. The face of the Granada was more formal, and the trim used on the interiors was a significant upgrade (at least for 1982). The engines were also shared between the Fairmont and the Granada except the 5.0L V-8 was no longer offered.
The same thing happened over at the Mercury Division, but instead of continuing on with the Monarch nameplate, The Cougar name was applied. This was not the first time Cougar was used on a Sedan or a Wagon, and it didn’t help sales. By 1983, the Cougar name was once again used on a Personal Luxury Car where it belonged.
With the tepid reception of the Cougar and Granada models, you would think that the series would be history. However they received new life with a tasteful face lift, and a new name, the LTD. All of the engines available on the Fairmont were included in the LTD family, along with the re-introduced 5.0L V-8 which gained fuel injection by this time. However, the 3.8L Essex V-6 was by far the most popular engine choice, and also gained fuel injection by this time.
Over at LM Dealers, the Marquis replaced the Cougar as the mid-sized sedan and wagon offering. Both of these revised Fox Bodied vehicles set sales records during the 1984 and 1985 selling seasons, often placing in the top ten of vehicle sales. And why not? When these cars were sold, they were among the most reliable Ford products to be offered in a generation. They were roomy, quiet, and were better handling cars than many other domestic sedans and wagons at that time.
They were the predecessor to the best selling Taurus and Sable models introduced in the Spring of 1986. The LTD and the Marquis were actually selling right alongside their new stablemates for the 1986 model year, but were gradually phased out when the demand for the new models began outstripping supply.
So, what would you give to have a roomy, reliable, rear-drive wagon like these Fox Bodied Wagons? They were unpretentious (unless you went with the Fake Wood, Wire Wheels, and Velour Upholstery), theoretically available with standard transmissions, available with four – six – or eight cylinder engines, had actual opening rear windows on the doors, and were the last vehicles to offer true vent windows (remember them?). Which model would you choose? The Ford Fairmont, The Mercury Zephyr, The Ford Granada, The Mercury Cougar, The Ford LTD, or the Mercury Marquis? Let me know….