How Ford Works

Ford Crown Victoria, Ford Granada and Ford Fairmont

Ford produced "Detroit-style" luxury cars throughout the 1980s with models such as this 1983 Ford LTD Crown Victoria.

Another constant of Ford's 1980s fleet was the full-size 1979-vintage LTD, which continued beyond 1990 with just minor yearly alterations to equipment, styling and engines.

The changes are easy to chart: standard four-speed overdrive automatic transmission and 255-cid V-8, a new uplevel series reviving the Crown Victoria name (1980); no more 351 option (1982); standard 302 V-8 with throttle-body fuel injection for all models renamed LTD Crown Victoria (1983); sequential multiport injection for 150 horsepower (versus 140), premium LX series added (1986); two-door coupe canceled, "aero" front and rear styling for remaining four-door sedan and Country Squire wagon (1988); standard driver-side air bag, new-style dash, and revised equipment (1990).

Despite the year-to-year sameness, many buyers still craved big, Detroit-style luxury, and the fact that fewer such cars were available as gas became cheaper again only worked in the Crown Vic's favor. Though sales fluctuated, this line was good for an annual average of well over 118,000 -- considerably more in some years. As late as 1990, Crown Vic did a healthy 74,000. By that point, though, the cars themselves were sourced ­mainly from Canada.

While Fairmont continued carrying Ford's banner in the compact segment, two derivatives served as the division's midsize warriors. First was a new 1981 Granada, basically the two- and four-door Fairmont sedans with a square eggcrate grille, bulkier sheetmetal, and somewhat plusher appointments. Fairmont wagons transferred to this line for '82. This Granada sold respectably: about 120,000 a year. Engines were the same as Fairmont's: standard 2.3-liter four, optional 200-cid six, and "fuel crisis" 255 V-8 (the last eliminated after '81).

For 1983, Granada was transformed into a "small" LTD -- as opposed to the "big" LTD Crown Victoria. This was also an uptown Fairmont, restyled with a sloped nose, airier "six-light" greenhouse, and modestly lipped trunklid.

Along with that year's new Thunderbird, it announced Ford's turn to "aero" styling. By 1984, Granada engines were initially carried over along with a new 232-cid V-6. By 1985, only the four, V-6, and an optional 165-bhp 302 V-8 were fielded, the last reserved for a semi-sporting LX sedan that sold just 3260 copies. Undoubtedly helped by image rub-off from its big sister, the little LTD sold a lot better than Granada: nearly 156,000 for '83 and over 200,000 in 1984 and '85 -- Ford's second-best-seller after Escort.

Fairmont, meantime, finished its run in 1983 after few interim changes from '78. Two sedans, plain and fancy wagons, and a smart "basket-handle-roof" coupe reviving the Futura name were offered through 1981 (after which the wagons became Granadas). Engines were the usual Fox assortment: 2.3-liter four, 200-cid straight six, and small-block V-8s (302 cid for 1978-79, 255 cid for 1980-81).

Sales tapered off along with the economy, dropping from the first-year high of nearly 461,000 to less than 81,000 by 1983. Still, that was a fine showing in a turbulent period. The Fairmont had more than done its job.

For more on the amazing Ford, old and new, see:

  • Ford New Car Reviews and Prices
  • Ford Used Car Reviews and Prices