Auction Car of the Week: 1981 Ford Durango
We're as shocked as you are that we're actually posting something Fairmont-based as an Auction Car of the Week, but COME ON, a Ranchero-ish 1981 Ford Durango sold through Ford dealers in the 1980s? That's COOL! The Ford Durango was a joint venture between Ford Motor Company and National Coach Corporation in Los Angeles. Ford would ship new 1981 and 1982 Ford Fairmont Futura two-door coupes to National Coach's facility, where the Sawzalls would come out in force.
The roof was removed behind the B-pillar, as was the entire trunk and rear seat area. The bed unit is constructed of fiberglass, and was inserted behind the front seats. There's no seam on the bedside, because the cargo box uses the original Futura sheetmetal along the sides. For an aftermarket conversion, it's pretty neat work.
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Ford then shipped the cars to Ford dealers, where they were sold with a full Ford warranty. Between 80 and 350 Durangos were built in total. It is hard to exactly nail down that number. There are probably as many bootleg conversions running around as actual production Durangos, but there are a couple of easy ways to determine whether what you're looking at was actually a National Coach Corporation conversion or not:
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1. This is a 1981, which indicates that it was one of the years that National Coach was actually producing Durangos.
2. In this head-on rear view, you can see the functional tailgate, and the three-inch filler panel that the hinges recess into. That's a National Coach design, and it's indicative that this is an actual Durango.
The condition here isn't awful, but spending close to $8,000 on a Fairmont is a stretch. The interior looks pretty decent, and the bed doesn't look like it was hauling 30 years worth of cinder blocks. It's a New Mexico car, so the paint is sun-faded on the hood.
About the worst you can say about it is that all of these car/truck hybrids had Ford's antique 200-cu.in. six cylinder as the only engine available.
We're not generally fans of engine swaps, but if there was ever a vehicle crying out in desperation for a 5.0-liter conversion, this is it. Fairmonts and Mustangs share the same Fox chassis, so a 5.0 swap is about as easy as you're ever going to find in a Ford.
Because modern cars are so expensive, complex and have to comply with so many federal safety mandates, you don't see conversions like this very often anymore. With a current bid of $5,2oo, and 82 watchers keeping an eye on it, we wouldn't be surprised to see this one sell for the "Buy It Now" price.