1981 Ford Fairmont futura 3.3 liter straight six


The last of the great Fords; a jewel of an automobile


With over 200,000 miles on it, of course the car had some problems.

The carburetor had to be rebuilt.

The alternator needed to be replaced.

At 290,000 miles, the head gasket blew, warping the head.

The starter needed replacing.

Even with all those problems, the car never left me stranded. At its worst, the carburetor still functioned (just barely) well enough to get me around.

When the head gasket blew, I was in northern California, and the car still, on 3 cylinders, got me all the way back to Portland, on the freeway, at 60 mph. After fixing the gasket, it was discovered that the head was badly warped; there was a large amount of water in the oil- but it still drove reliably and smoothly for another 20,000 miles, although I had to add oil regularly.

General Comments:

The previous owner drove drunk into a concrete embankment, head on, at 40 mph. The car not only survived, but had only a bent bumper.

It gets about 24 mpg highway, 16 or so city.

The downsides-

The long wheel base makes U-turns difficult, and the vinyl seats are not very comfortable. The ride is a bit bumpy.

This particular car was not maintained at all, but still lasted this long.

Safe, surprisingly peppy, and reliable, this car is a soldier.

It finally died, due to metal fatigue in the engine and transmission, but I loved it so much, I bought another Fairmont to replace it.

I'd recommend a Fairmont or Zephyr to anyone.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 13th October, 2005

14th Oct 2005, 12:16

I had one of these. A station wagon, back in high school. My friends loved it because it still had the factory 8-track player in it. I loved it because it had 175,000 miles and was only worth about $300. It wouldn't go over 50 mph, but I was saving up for a new, well, different anyway, car and wouldn't buy the new car until the Fairmont died.

Eventually, it would run no more and all I could do was junk it. I got about $150 for it, which was fitting, because that's how much I paid for the new set of tires I had just put on it the week before.

14th Oct 2005, 14:48

I have to agree with you. I owned an 82 Futura back in the mid 80's. It was silver/charcoal tu-tone with a red interior. It was loaded to the gills with accessories and looked just like a mini TBIRD. The 3.3 wasn't the fastest thing in the world, but the car was a total cruisemobile. Those cars are hard to come by here in South Florida, so enjoy your new one!

16th Jan 2011, 20:21

My son bought a 1981 Fairmont Futura when he was 16 (his first car) in 1988. He virtually ran the wheels off it. We had to replace the camshaft due to his running it low on oil. I eventually bought it from him, so he could buy another car. I also sold the Fairmont a couple years later, boy how I regret that. This was very good car, it was a 4 cyl. 4 spd. I am now looking for a car just like this, not many out there, but I am still looking.

1979 Ford Fairmont 3.3


This is the best and most economical car I have ever owned


Some minor rust in the wheel wells.

The air conditioning compressor needed to be replaced.

The clutch was replaced at 150,000 miles and the transmission rebuilt at 145,000 miles. This was actually just some normal wear and maintenance.

The seats have been redone and need to be redone again.

The ignition switch went at about 100,000 miles.

General Comments:

This car is fantastic and has never left me stranded.

It has a nice ride and the manual transmission feels great.

I've owned this car since 1985. It was a part of my wedding fleet, and I am constantly offered money for it.

I have recently decided to completely restore my Fairmont and can't wait for it to be completed.

The only part I am having trouble replicating is the interior red paint on the doors. There is no paint code listed on the vehicle for it and the local PPG store has no listing.

I paid $600.00 for this car and never regretted it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 21st May, 2004

22nd May 2004, 15:48

How cool... I had a 1982 Ford Fairmont Futura... a really nice car for the price. Is yours a base model or a Ghia? 2 door or 4 door? You may want to try to find a Futura donor for the interior. These models had vinyl all the way up to the windows, which would eliminate the need for the paint on the inside of the doors. Which engine do you have? As these cars were built on the Fox (Mustang) chassis, the mods are unlimited.

Good luck and keep us posted.