Thursday, July 16, 2015

One Ogre: 1989 Ford Tempo AWD

By Gianni --  The Ford Tempo / Mercury Topaz was the Jack Telnack designed compact-sized successor to the Ford Fairmont / Mercury Zephyr.   The Tempo / Topaz twins were produced from 1983 to 1994 in both 2 door coupe and 4 door sedan versions.   The twins were mainly wrong wheel drive, however an AWD version was available with selectable AWD and the 2.3 L HSO (High Specific Output) inline 4 producing a magical 100 HP.    With all that going for it, it no wonder that there aren’t more one owner Tempo’s and Topaz’s littering Craigslist or eBay.  Find this formerly one owner 1989 Ford Tempo AWD here on eBay classified ads for $5,990 in Canton, GA by a dealer.
The first photo in the ad shows the car under a cover and the write up says the previous owner kept it covered in a garage.  I think it was kept covered for other reasons – kinda like wearing a paper bag on your head (or at least I’d want to when driving around in it).
Just in case you forgot this gem was powered by the 100 hp HSO 2.3L, Ford graciously cast a reminder on the valve cover.

Not only is this car painted a wonderful AARP white, foretelling the new millennium’s most popular car color, you also get a beige interior complete with mouse-up-the-door-pillar seat belts.  At this point, they are probably safer than a Takata airbag.  All kidding aside, the interior looks pristine. The underneath looks clean too, ready to take to your local cars & coffee and wow the crowd with your 80’s survivor.

See better reminder of the bland side of the 80’s?  tips@dailyturismo.com


Big thanks to Gianni for writing this feature. 

30 comments:

  1. Another depression-mobile. Nice one!

    [img]http://i.imgur.com/1DCsMvP.jpg[/img]

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    1. Your posting made me laugh out loud. Thanks K2!

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  2. My grandmother had one that was almost identical except light blue with a dark blue interior.

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  3. The Tempo/Topaz drove like ass, I'm recalling that the chassis was basically Escort stretched in directions it really didn't want to stretch which did some funny things to suspension geometry.

    They were cheap, reasonably durable and could actually accommodate adults in the back seat, something Ford more or less forgot in their next couple efforts in that segment.

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    1. My dad was an engineer on this project; I remember him saying that the Tempo/Topaz was pretty much designed to go about 50,000 miles and not much more. This strategy did not work out well for Ford, long-term.

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    2. Ford's early FWD automatics seemed to last just about as long as the clearcoat on the paint and the carpet around the bases of the front seats, so you had a perfect storm of fail at just about the point they'd depreciated beyond economical repair.

      Still, there were quite a few of them around here until recently, though as they aged the butt sagged and the nose went up and the paint peeled off and I don't want to know what the interior looked like by that point. I once knew a couple guys who made a decent amount of side money rebuilding Dodge minivan/K-car slushaxles for cheap, I'm guessing there must have been a few of those in the Ford world as well.

      The Fleet Econoline White on this one was a single-stage paint, so clearcoat failure won't be a problem on this one.

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    3. EmmyJ - very interesting, and thanks for the insider info!

      Too bad to hear that confirmed, as I always kind of liked the clean aero styling of the 2nd-gen Tempo like the one on this page. They could've been a nice 3/4-scale Taurus which, I'd wager, would have meant we'd still be seeing plenty of them on the road, like late '80s / early '90s Hondas & Toyotas (at least in CA anyway).

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    4. I'm sure someone out there has a Vulcan-powered 5-speed Tempo for you.

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  4. Saw one of these on the road a couple weeks ago and what struck me was how you would see one on every corner in the 80's/90's, and virtually none of them now. Not sure about the "reasonably durable" label.

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  5. I was the fleet manager at the no. 5 car dealer in the U.S. at this time, and I can't tell you how many of these (NOT the AWDs) we shipped over to Taiwan and Hong Kong, we eventually were using the Honda carship (like a starship) to ship them over. It's not that the Chinese loved them, it's that they hated the MIT (Made in Taiwan) Fords and Mazdas worse. That lasted until the Marysville plant started really cranking out Accords, all of a sudden our business dried up.

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    1. Probably not Hong Kong. As an American living in Hong Kong, I have found that Hong Kong does not (nor has ever) allowed left hand drive vehicles to be registered. The whole British colony legacy thing...

      Now the vehicles could have been shipped onto China which prohibits right hand drive vehicles

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    3. Ah, but in HK you do, or at least did, occasionally see one of the rarest vehicles extant: the right-hand-drive '96 Ford Taurus. Yes, they really did build them, and Ford tried to replace the Australian Falcon with it, a move that got them an even louder and more aggressively shaken middle finger than when they tried to replace the US Mustang with the Probe.

      Shame there's really only three 'American' cars left in the world, one's made by Fiat in Canada, and the other two are made by Ford and GM in Australia, and the latter two are going away. Okay, the recent RWD Cadillacs get honorable mention.

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  6. I think I would rather have that 6 door caddie in the background.

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    1. Take a look at the dealer's other cars. Seems to specialize in low mileage, one owner oddball stuff.

      One owner, 83K mile '87 Chrysler New Yorker, anyone?

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    2. Oh God. Is he looking for nonogenarian buyers who are longing to relive their seventies?

      There's a whole generation of Detroit hardware that went through my life as rental cars in that era, that mostly confirmed my desire to avoid ownership of domestic product.

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    3. I love that 'Max wagon, though the D-pillars look a little odd to me. 27K miles...sheesh. You ain't kiddin'.

      [img]http://i.imgur.com/ev85CYG.jpg?1[/img]

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    4. I'm wondering if the Roadmaster hearse they have for sale is used to transport the people they buy from on their last car ride...

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    5. Or possibly, for something like that '87 New Yorker, the buyers.

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    6. It's like he bought up the entire parking lot of an assisted - living facility. Complete with the "final transport" vehicle. Bizarre.

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    7. I've been following the dealer on ebay for about a year now.

      Aside from the assorted oddball geezer cars, he specializes in pre-1991 subaru's and cargo vans, especially liking the old chevy ones with the diesels.

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    8. fueltruck - or he runs around to care homes slipping his business card into families' hands, which frankly sounds like an exceptionally smart line of business.

      You've got the thirty-years-under-dust project cars, the cars-that-haven't-moved-since-great-grandma-passed, and a bunch of old cruft that may ('81 Mustang) or may not ('87 New Yorker) be starting to get interesting now.

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  7. Yeah, that Maxima's kinda nice. He seems to have a thing for the oddballs. Love that '71 Bug, and it's probably worth close to what he's asking.

    The '81 Mustang, on the other hand...thanks, but even if I'm doing a 5.0 or 351W conversion I'm going to look for an '87-93.

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  8. I met a gal that worked for Hertz rent a car she said the Topaz was always coming back on the hook some kinda fuel pump pick up problem or pump failures they tried to rent other cars to people going out of town.so they could complete there trip.

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  9. What no Volvo lovers wanting this guy's 760 with the PRV V-6 better known as the DMC-12 motor !

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    1. As one of the several Volvo fanatics here on DT, that car did catch my eye. I just picked the Maxima because it interested me slightly more. The 780 is really a heck of nice car. If I had to be nit-picky (and who cares, really) it looks like the tint has gone all Prince and the Purple Rain.

      [img]http://i.imgur.com/2EnUHst.jpg?1[/img]

      Is it just me or does this image make you slightly queasy too?

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  11. Someone gave me a FWD Coupe version of this with 60k miles on it. The bright red velour interior looked like I had stepped straight into 1989. Everything square inch the interior was red. The lights on the dash would go out as you were driving along but if you hit it just so they would blink back on. It leaked oil to the extent that it would coat tail gaiters hood and windshield quite nicely. I attempted to fix this by resealing the oil pan but lo and behold a hard coolant line ran from the radiator -underneath- it and to the water pump mounted high at the back of the engine. Said water pump had a cover with many hundreds of bolts accessible by feel alone. In addition to this the oil pan was trapped by the cover between the block and the transaxle so if you wanted to get it out you either hacksawed that cover in half or took the engine out. Or burned the whole thing to the ground in a rage. Brand new engine mounts let the drivetrain assembly shift approximately 4-6". I sold it for a wallet crippling 600$. Interestingly the front suspension is pretty much identical to the Audi urS6 that my friend was driving at the time to his eternal horror.

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  12. Could a turbo 2.3 be put in there?

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