Take note of any Ford Fairmont or Mercury Zephyr with that weird, JC Whitney-looking hood bulge on it…it means that there’s a good chance the 2.3L turbocharged four-banger was shoved underhood instead of the more typical six-cylinder. When the Fox body appeared, Ford was trying to go all-in on the turbo-four’s future as a performance mill. Looking at the absolutely dismal ratings of the 1979 302 and the 1980-81 4.2L V8, the four was easily able to hold it’s own…so long as it was in one piece. For a punchy daily, it was about as good as good got in 1980. As a performance mill, it had two things going wrong for it: you had to rev the hell out of the engine to get the turbo to do anything, and because this is a turn-of-the-1980s turbocharged mill, they broke. A lot. Early turbocharger tech had a long way to go.
Now, to focus on our Rough Start candidate: a 1980 Ford Fairmont Futura. The sleek coupe version of the Fairmont, with the funky “baskethandle” B-pillar, has become a pretty hot commodity in the LS-swapped Ford market. Having a little bit of length over a standard Fox Mustang is a good thing, right? It would be tempting to gut the Lima four out and jam in the first V8 within reach, but when the heaviest version still falls under 3,000 pounds curb weight, maybe a junkyard takeout EcoBoost four is a solid way to go. You can keep the daily drivability and still learn to love the power that 140 cubic inches can actually provide you. The EcoBoost-swapped Mustang we showed you a week or so ago demonstrates just what could be in store.
$3,150 might be a touch steep for a Fairmont, but it does look clean and in one piece. Very little should be needed to drive it immediately. But to make it faster than it’s 18-second quarter-mile time should be in stock form, you will have to get creative.