Ed Hohenberg
December 8, 2006

Step By Step

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Mmfp_0701_01z 1980_ford_fairmont_futura Front
With the Futura option, the ultra-boxy Fairmont got the sleeker and sportier roof. It's still much boxier than a Mustang, but we have a soft spot for the shoebox types. Ten-hole Mustang wheels look completely natural on the Futura. Original paint still looks great 27 years later.
Mmfp_0701_02z 1980_ford_fairmont_futura RearMmfp_0701_03z 1980_ford_fairmont_futura Engine
The "engine from the future" is slightly warmed-over now. A B303 cam exists in an otherwise-stock '90 Mustang 5.0 powerplant. Exterior bolt-ons include a 73 mm C&L MAF and cold-air kit with K&N filter, a 65mm Accufab throttle body, a 31/44-inch phenolic spacer between the intakes, JBA shorty headers, and Taylor 9mm wires.
Mmfp_0701_04z 1980_ford_fairmont_futura Hood
Having a look under the factory hood, we see more weight savings. Notice the lack of bracing. This factory steel hood is as light as some 'glass stuff we've seen.

What if the Ford Fairmont Futura really was futuristic? What if, in 1980, the car was 10 years ahead of its time? Instead of a smogger inline-six, what if the '80 Fairmont Futura came with a fuel-injected 5.0 V-8, a T5 transmission, and an 8.8 rearend stuffed with a Traction-Lok, just like our favorite '87-'93 Fox Mustangs did?

If you're in your early twenties and driving the latest '06 or a '99-'04 GT, you may not know your beloved Mustang's roots can be traced back to the Fairmont. Long before the popular 225-horse 5.0 H.O. was stuffed between the rails, the Fox chassis was being stamped into slightly larger Fords and Mercs. Paul DuCroix of Winnipeg, Canada, has just such a beast in his funky Futura.

A longtime, die-hard Ford man, the 38-year-old Ford dealership parts-counter guru has been through a stable of Fairmonts, early Mustangs, and other early performance Fords, but of all the Fairmonts, this is his favorite, and rightly so.

The car was originally built as a "Franken-mont" by a gentleman in British Columbia, Canada, when the entire drivetrain from a '90 5.0 LX was transplanted into the Futura. Fox chassis being Fox chassis, it's amazing just how much Mustang you can add to a Fairmont. Besides the engine, trans, and 8.8 rear axle, the entire front K-member assembly was also bolted into the Futura, thereby inheriting the better brakes from the Mustang, too. The Mustang antisway bars improved the Futura's handling, and the complete LX exhaust system (with stainless tailpipes) bolted right in and looks completely natural. With the 10-hole "phone dial" wheels, the Fairmont had a whole new look. Dare we call it a Futura LX 5.0?

Jeff Matthews found the morphed Futura in British Columbia, and brought the car to Winnipeg a few years ago. Being a former Mustanger with a penchant for detail, the spotless, low-mileage, original-paint Futura very much appealed to him. Being a hot rodder, he couldn't leave it alone, so he slowly began to add more go-fast parts to the otherwise completely stock Mustang drivetrain.

Step By Step

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Mmfp_0701_05z 1980_ford_fairmont_futura Interior
THE interior is mostly stock and original, other than the Mustang steering wheel, the removal of all woodgrain, and the addition of necessary gauges. A T5 tranny is shifted by a Hurst shifter, with a custom "reversed" handle to get along with the bench seat.
Mmfp_0701_06z 1980_ford_fairmont_futura Bumper
Arguably, the most deceiving aspect of the Futura is the car's weight. You'd expect it to be heavier than the smaller Mustangs, but you'd be wrong. Curb weight (with the 5.0 drivetrain) is only 2,800 pounds. Factory weight savings are everywhere. Bumpers look a little dull to you? It's because they're aluminum, front and back. Can you say sleeper?
Mmfp_0701_07z 1980_ford_fairmont_futura Trunk
The factory trunk lid shows the same attention to weight savings. Note how all the bracing has been "swiss-cheesed" by the factory. You'd think these Futuras were meant for A/FX racing.

Jeff's mods included much needed 3.73 gears, and as a result, new tires were also soon needed. While the stock LX exhaust looked cool with the stainless tailpipes under the boxy Futura body, functionally it wasn't cutting it, so JBA shorty headers and a full custom 2.5-inch exhaust system were added, albeit with the loss of the cool LX tailpipes. The exhaust now exits the sides behind the rear tires, la the Fairmont. Jeff also upgraded the suspension by adding new springs, which gave the "sensible shoes" Fairmont a much more aggressive stance. Under the hood, he added a larger throttle body and mass air meter, March underdrive pulleys, a King Cobra clutch, and a B303 cam to liven things up.

When Paul obtained the car from Jeff in the spring of 2004, he also added some mods to make it his own. The interior was stripped of all the Fairmont woodgrain, giving it more of a performance look and less of the old-man's-car look. Auto Meter gauges monitor the critical variables, and a custom-made cowl induction hood was added.

Paul's Futura is truly a survivor of the mostly-extinct Fairmonts. It still has the original uphol-stery, paint, exterior chrome, and so on. The car is in excellent shape considering it's almost 30 years old. While not a daily driver for Paul, it does see regular street duty when the weather cooperates. With the Mustang innards, it acceler-ates, handles, and stops much better than a boxy car should, while still returning 26 mpg on the highway. It also fits the bill of sleeper, which is always cool.

Yet another important fact is the Futura's stellar performance, due in part to its surprisingly light weight. While you might expect the larger-than-Mustang Fairmont to bend the scales a bit more, you'd be dead wrong. The boxy car is a flyweight at only 2,800 pounds, including the Mustang organ transplants. You don't have to look far on the Futura to see the weight savings. From the aluminum bumpers to the lack of underhood bracing to the "swiss-cheesed" bracing in the trunk, the factory-engineered weight savings are everywhere. Apparently, Ford forgot these weight savings techniques on the later Mustangs, which somehow find places for almost 1,000 more pounds.

Although the car has yet to be raced, it will eventually find its way to a quarter-mile somewhere. In the meantime, Paul's goal is to continue with streetable mods in hopes of 300 rwhp. Never underestimate the power of what the future-or the Futura-will hold.