Saturday, February 21, 2015

5k: The Real California Zephyr: 1978 Mercury Zephyr Z7 Coupe


The original California Zephyr was a passenger train with service between Emeryville and Chicago -- a 2500 mile trip that took about 50 hours to complete in 1950.  You could purchase a used train car and try to recreate that experience in your backyard, but a much easier way to get a Zephyr is to pickup a rust free CA blue plate Zephyr of the automotive variety.  Like this 1978 Mercury Zephyr Z7 Coupe offered for $3,400 in Van Nuys, CA via craigslist. Tip from K2.


The Mercury Zephyr (not to be confused with the British Ford Zephyr or pre-war V-12 Lincoln Zephyr) was produced as a sedan, coupe and the uniquely styled Z7 coupe.  The roof treament is allegedly an homage to the 1950s Crown Victoria, but looks to us like an El Camino with a truncated truck bed cover.  It is called a 'wrap around roof' but looks more like a gigantic ill conceived B-pillar or Subaru BRAT style vanity stripe. 



The Zephyr is powered by the well known Ford 302 (5.0 liter) engine and would have made 140 horsepower with stock smog legal carburetor and low compression.  Bump up the compression, add intake/cams/exhaust and the Windsor will make an honest 300 horsepower without breaking a sweat.


See another car with aesthetics that only a mother could love? tips@dailyturismo.com

11 comments:

  1. Is it "Reasons NOT to buy a brown or tan color car day?". Ha ha! I hate those colors... Interesting observations, DT.

    [img]http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/ce/Ford_Durango_Side.jpg[/img]

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  3. Oh my, yes! I like that baby Ranchero very much.

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    1. Cool, huh? You probably already know this, but the trucklet was the Ford Durango and though it never made it to regular production, about 100 were made. I believe the Durango has been featured here on DT previously.

      [img]http://cdn1.anunico-st.com/foto/2013/09/1979_ford_durango-523cd82f95e07d27d2000e3f9.jpg[/img]

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    2. Some sources report double that produced, somewhere around 200.

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  4. I'm a big Fairmont fan, but I was never too keen on the Z-7 coupe. Nevertheless, this is a nice clean example, for a very reasonable price. It there was a wagon in thi9s condition, at that price, I would be sorely tempted, even in California.

    I wore out a couple of Fairmont wagons as daily drivers back in the day, but now I think could keep one going pretty much forever. I don't think there ever was a car that was easier to wrench on.

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    1. What is your top pick on the Fox platform, Bobinott? Which model would you buy over all the others? The Fairmont again?

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    2. Good question. The wagons were so useful that they have a soft spot in the garage of my heart. I also owned a top-line 1982 four door sedan that was really nice to drive. Luxo interior with a sort of bucket/bench front seat, moon roof, upgraded suspension and better sound insulation. I really liked that car. Unfortunately Mrs. Bobinott had a disagreement with a light pole on an icy morning. Sigh....

      All of mine were 200 c.i. sixes. Not a fast motor, but you could do what you needed, even when heavily loaded. As reliable as a brick. Fairmonts were available with 4, 6, and 8 cylinder engines. Interestingly, in the real world, there was only a 2 mpg difference between each engine (28mpg, 26 mpg, 24 mpg Imperial)

      In fact, I had an amazing run with my Fairmonts. I bought my first used 1980 wagon for $2500 in 1984. Two years later, Mrs.Bobinott got hit and it was written off. The insurance gave me $2500. I used that to buy the 1982 four-door, for $2500. Three years later, Mrs. Bobinott had her moment with the light pole. The insurance gave me..... wait for it..... $2500. I then bought a 1979 wagon for $1500, and drove that for six more years before I let it go (in semi-sad state) for $300. That was the lowest operating cost period I have ever enjoyed.

      Oh, by the way, Mrs. Bobinott swore off Fairmonts after the light pole incident. Maybe that is why the 1979 lived to be a ripe old age.

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    3. I too have a weird soft spot for Fairmonts, a car that lives up to the first part of its name. My first car was a Fairmont Futura in the same body style as this Zypher. I had the four cylinder and four speed, which made my little home town seem bigger because it took so long to get anywhere.
      If I was going to do the Fairmont thing again I'd go for the two door "box top" body style. These are the perfect junk yard hot rods with every imaginable engine, transmission, interior, and exterior appointments you can image just a tetanus shot away at the local U-Pull-It.

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    4. Ooh, yeah. 2-door Fairmont "boxtop" is like a dorkier, but somehow better-proportioned, notchback Fox Mustang. And of course it is directly related. I'd get down on our previously featured car below, ideally with a 5.0L Coyote / 6-spd manual swap.

      http://www.dailyturismo.com/2013/07/1k-perfect-combo-of-rare-and-average.html

      [img]http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ThO6U4a38dY/UfQ2C4YDwFI/AAAAAAAAJjY/z4RuTdy-BCc/s640/Fairmont_1.jpg[/img]

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