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1980 Ford Fairmont Futura - Ford Mustang Engine - Futura-Stang
The body of a Fairmont Futura, the heart and soul of a Mustang.
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.
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.