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1980 Ford Fairmont - Multi-Purpose Box
Martin Pond transformed this less-famous Fox into a track-worthy sleeper for $10,000.
This bringing-home-baby story isn’t the pride-filled one you might expect.
An original-owner box-top Fairmont without an ounce of Bondo would bring a smile to the face of any who know what it is, wouldn’t you think? Nope, Martin Pond couldn’t be caught dead in it. He brought his son, Martin Jr., to drive it back for him.
It seems the car had been parked under a redwood tree longer than it had even been in existence. The factory silver paint looked more like battleship gray, with the outlines of fallen tree debris stained over every upward-facing surface. It wasn’t until an hour-long pressure-washer bath that Martin could really see what he bought.
Despite the years of neglect, the Fairmont proved to be the rust-free specimen he had been wanting. The two Martins spent the next weekend completely disassembling and readying it for paint at the elder’s shop. He took it to Alameda Collision for a better, brighter silver.
Magically, with no communication between the painter and the powdercoater, the bumpers and paint matched perfectly. The body kept its factory splendor, with the exception of a chin spoiler donated from a Volvo 240.
The factory 200ci six was one of the casualties in the paint prep phase. Martin Jr.’s Fox Mustang donated its well-built Windsor to be the Fairmont’s permanent powerplant. It started out as a ’69 351, now a 357, with an all-forged Eagle and Ross bottom-end and 11.5:1 compression. Cylinder pressure is bled off by a Crane 0.572/0.581-inch-lift, solid-roller bumpstick with 252/256 degrees of duration at 0.050-inch lift on a 110 centerline. More Crane goodies are up top with a set of Gold Race rockers on Edelbrock Victor Jr. cylinder heads.
People walk up to his car in the pits or at a car show and ask: “Why a Fairmont?
A 750-cfm Holley HP carburetor feeds the Vic Jr. intake under the obligatory K&N air cleaner. Behind all that is a Centerforce Dual-Friction clutch and TKO 600, rowed by a cleverly labeled Hurst shifter. All this work is a chore to do in a home-garage space, but it’s a cinch at a big well-lit commercial building with a lift.
It’s a good thing Martin has his own shop, Tidewater Tire. It is 22 years strong, specializing in fleet maintenance with a side-passion for muscle cars. Years ago it was a 50/50 mix of commercial and recreational builds, but the truth is the fleets pay the bills. The shop has always served host to the family’s personal projects, and the Fairmont is just one of many. Martin’s machines have spanned the gamut from vintage Chevy show cars to rough-around-the-edges sister-car wagons.
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The combination of an ’04 Cobra rack and pinion, Tokico struts, H&R Race springs, and Maximum Motorsports camber/caster plates and strut-tower brace keeps the front end tidy. Out back, the 8.8 is filled with 3.55 gears and a Powertrax locking-differential, and is articulated by Tokico shocks and H&R springs. Brake credit goes to Ford’s factory 13-inch Cobra front discs and 10-inch Aerostar drums in the rear.
The Fairmont caught our eye at the local Pleasanton, California, Goodguys autocross. Master builder and fearless driver Mike Maier is known for his driving skills in any car at the Goodguys autocross. His turn in Martin’s car only faired 0.02 seconds better on the clock, proving Martin a worthy driver himself. Consistent times are partially thanks to the 245/45-17 Dunlop Direzza D1 Star Spec tires on ’98 Cobra hoops. Martin bragged about them holding up through three seasons of racing—that is, until this photo shoot.
He is no stranger to the track or romping on his Ford. The Fairmont has seen the famous Laguna Seca road course, Thunder Hill Raceway Park’s road course, and both road and strip tracks at Sonoma Raceway (aka Infineon/Sears Point Raceway). The visits yielded impressive lap times and a quarter-mile e.t. of 12.63 seconds at 115 mph. Keep in mind each pass and each lap were on the same Dunlops he roasted away for us.
No doubt ’80 wasn’t known for its appealing interiors. The plaid seats with Tupperware-blue vinyl bits and matching carpet had to go. A pair of Corbeau buckets went in, along with everything else in black. To keep it safe and for a little cool factor, Martin has a polished fire extinguisher mounted inside the cab.
People walk up to his car in the pits or at a car show and ask: "Why a Fairmont?" Martin answers: “Because if this was a Mustang, you wouldn’t be here talking to me." The parts fit the same, but the price tag is lower. It’s difficult to get a Fox-body Mustang for $250.
At a glance, this is a clean restoration or possibly an untouched ’80s Fairmont. It’s unassuming unless you know what to look for or hear it start up. The one-year build with a total of $10,000 invested has proven to be a worthy track contender and street sleeper. So what’s next? Aside from a second Fairmont build, this one has a Silver State Classic in its future.