It seemed to be anticipating my arrival. Parked in the rear of the rain saturated hotel parking lot this old Ford looked quite at ease in all its delightful gray-scale glory.
Was this really a second generation North American Ford Granada? The Granada we’ve never covered? The Granada that is thoroughly overshadowed by it’s elder sibling? The Granada everyone seems to forget about? The Granada that seems nearly extinct?
It was all of these.
The youthfully conceited Lightning McQueen once said he could create feelings in others they themselves did not understand. For reasons thoroughly and profoundly inexplicable, this Granada stirs up a bunch of excitement within me. This excitement makes no sense whatsoever.
We all have our automotive predilections. Maybe this Granada is just a flirtatious distraction. It definitely was not any sort of anaphylactic reaction caused by an automotive allergy. My head hurts from trying to make sense of this. My excitement is both vexing and perplexing.
Let’s come back to this, shall we?
Undoubtedly we all know the original North American market 1975 Granada was based upon existing Ford architecture. The Granada was based on a platform that would ultimately live a life that was stupefyingly long in the automotive world.
The manner in which Ford was able to amortize this platform should have been a true source of pride for any number crunching Ford accountant.
For anyone who has been skipping class, the original North American Granada was based upon the 1960 Ford Falcon.
The first generation Granada could perhaps best be described as being like a bottle rocket. First year sales for 1975 blasted off to over 302,000. Model year 1976 made a bang, exploding to 549,000. Sales rapidly dropped back to earth, declining precipitously each year with only 90,000 being produced by 1980.
As the first generation Granada was starting to flame out, Ford reverted to form by raiding it’s platform closet and presto! The second generation Granada used the much newer Fox platform that sprang forth with the Fairmont in 1978.
Even better this Granada not only used a recycled platform, it elevated the family tradition of having underwhelming drivetrains to a new level. While a 75 horsepower straight six was no longer offered, much to the sadness of nobody, the engine choices for Round 2 were the embodiment of dull. The 351 (5.8 liter) V8 had left the factory building several years prior and wasn’t coming back. Even the 302 (5.0 liter) V8 had taken a sabbatical.
Anybody shopping for a Granada in 1981 had the unenviable choices of a wheezy 2.3 liter four, an anemic 3.3 liter straight-six, or the infamously putrid 255 cubic inch (4.2 liter) V8. For such a seemingly diverse choice of engines, there was only about a thirty horsepower spread.
This Granada has the distinction of being one of the few vehicles ever concurrently offered with a four, six, and eight cylinder engine. Of course this was the early 1980s when such things seemed to happen with a smidgen more frequency, especially with Ford’s Fox platform.
Then again it’s still happening at GM today as the current Silverado falls into this same category. GM has to do something to sell this unfortunate looking thing.
During the brief two year career of the second generation Granada, Ford positioned it as being between the Fairmont and the Panther based LTD. No doubt somebody at Ford thought this was a splendid idea.
With the advantage of nearly forty years of hindsight, this strategy smells like a cocktail of pragmatism, cynicism, and desperation.
The rub, and it wasn’t a small one, is the Granada utilized the exact same 105.5 inch wheelbase as the Fairmont despite having somewhat different sheetmetal. The sheetmetal differences of the Granada, primarily the roof, were sufficient to fool the less observant. But Ford didn’t go the full distance in making a true distinction as some sources state the Granada’s doors interchanged with the Fairmont.
A marginally different body for a car that was supposed to be at a higher pay grade. Did it pay off for Ford?
It was a gamble, a form of three-card monte on Ford’s part. Give the market something that looks different and isn’t boring like that old stodgy Fairmont while making it sound like the greatest new thing. Deception is an old art.
Like it’s offering of unenthusiastic engines, deception, too, was a Granada trademark. Making an ancient Falcon into an upscale compact was Granada’s original deception. The second generation simply carried on the family traditions.
Ford was in a pinch trying to compete with GM and Chrysler. GM’s front-drive X-cars were now on the scene as were the front-drive K-cars over at Chrysler. Ford needed to stay competitive using a rear-drive car in a market rapidly changing to front-wheel drive. The best method was to keep presenting something that looked and sounded new.
Ford would repeat the process for 1983 with the “baby” LTD which was also Fox based. It kept fighting the good fight until the Taurus finally came along for 1986.
It could be argued Ford’s gamble with the second generation Granada wasn’t exactly successful. With 120,000 Granada’s sold in both 1981 and 1982, it wasn’t setting the world on fire even with the generally depressed market during this time. Combined into this number is the Granada wagon introduced for 1982, making the wagon a one-year wonder. It was now the mid-sized Ford wagon as the Fairmont wagon had been terminated.
The only real difference was the front clip.
As an aside, over at Mercury the Granada equivalent was the Cougar, also available as a two- or four-door sedan. A wagon was also available for 1982, making it and the 1977 Cougar wagon both one-year oddities and the only Cougar wagons ever built.
Incidentally, a friend of my mother’s had a 1982 Cougar wagon, bought to replace a 1976 Impala sedan.
I’ve been lassoing and herding thoughts into writing about this Granada for about ten days, meaning there’s been ample time to think about my weird affections for this silver-ish chariot. At one point my thoughtful defense was how people can sometimes be highly enthralled with mediocrity, with my proof of concept being the success realized by any number of chain restaurants. Soon thereafter another, more solid realization began to coalesce.
As one who was about nine years old when this Granada was introduced, and being the car connoisseur I was even at that tender age, the modernity of this Granada’s appearance in relation to its predecessor was remarkable. The Granada’s modernity of appearance in relation to the 5,000 pound ’70s model Ford LTDs and ’71 to ’76 Chevrolet Impalas / Caprices (and other B-bodies) that cluttered the road in my home territory of Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois was also quite remarkable.
There is a variety of reasons this generation of Granada is memorable. In addition to their more modern look, they also weren’t the hot styling mess that was the Fox platform based 1980 to 1982 Thunderbird. The Granada presented a different persona than did the plain-jane Fairmonts that seemed to be the norm, although at the time I did not realize the commonality among these three (and the contemporary Mustang).
My only issue with this Granada is the wheelbase which visually presents itself as being a few inches too short. The practice of short wheelbases did seem to be an epidemic at Ford for a while.
When these were new(er), I only remember seeing one with any frequency. It was four-door sedan in the same shade of blue as the wagon seen several pictures up and it belonged to the grandparents of a classmate.
So that is why my heart skipped a beat upon finding this Granada. It presented itself in a mature and sophisticated manner without being off-putting. This Granada was also not commonly seen in my world, leading further to it’s level of appeal.
Ford’s Fox platform would ultimately be Ford’s second longest lasting platform ever, behind only the Panther.
With this Fox platform, also used by the Mustang for what seemed to be an eternity, our Granada can accommodate a tremendous number of upgrades in both suspension and engine. For me, some stiffer suspension bits along with larger wheels and an upgraded engine would make for an awesome interstate highway cruiser. While a Ford 460 (7.5 liter) V8 will fit between the front fenders, I’m thinking something with a little more finesse, something more fitting of the Granada persona….
Imagine this Granada with firmer suspension pieces and a Coyote 5.0. Or, perhaps more fittingly, combine the upgraded suspension with a 3.3 liter V6 from a current F-150. While both would be a challenge to retrofit, let’s not let such minor details ruin a good daydream.
While normally not one that advocates any sort of modification, in this case these would simply take something good and make it even better. Think of it as an enhancement.
I’d drive that combination anywhere.
Found May 2018
Sioux City, Iowa
1981 Mercury Cougar Two-Door Sedan by PN
1980 Granada by Carey Haubrick
I think Ford Australia did it better, ok I admit to local bias. General Motors Holden offered the second gen Torana an Australianised Opel in four,six and eight cylinders that began in 74/5 same with their Australianised Commodore range in 78/9, Ford Australia built prototype 2.0L four cylinder Falcons as a try at an economical version however in service the fours drank more fuel than the smaller 3.3 six so the idea was abandonned, how good on fuel was the NA four cylinder version, did it have a weight advantage over its Aussie cuzzy.
Local bias here as well, this time for the UK Granada. To me the US version is fussy and clunky, with awkward lines (C pillar especially), poor proportions and an ugly front end. Compare it to the 1981 UK Granada, with clean, confident lines and a handsome face. A car that any middle manager would be proud to have as a company car. And a pretty decent car as well, for the times.
I saw a bunch of these at a car show last weekend and the design has stood up very well – a car with real presence. Same can’t be said for its successor sadly.
I think one of FoMoCo’s biggest misses was failing to offer this car stateside. Imagine if Ford had done what GM did with the T-Car (Chevette) and built a lightly Americanized version of this Granada in the U.S. (to avoid F/X issues). It could have redefined Ford as much more international and competent, but between Iacocca and “Hank The Deuce” such vision was clearly stifled.
Well, both Ford and GM did this a few times: Ford Contour, Merkur Scorpio, Cadillac Catera. I think the Chevette came along at just the right time, and in the right place (price wise) but larger Euro-based cars just haven’t worked here. I think a Euro-Granada would have had the same fate.
I agree the later attempts at Euro products in America were flops (wrong cars, wrong times), but I think this European Granada could have worked for the following reasons:
1) Timing would have favored Ford just like it did for the Chevette–in the mid/late 1970s U.S. buyers were craving smaller cars, and this product could have been seen as a viable alternative to compact-segment imports that were making huge market share gains at the time.
2) The styling was clean and conservative, and the mechanicals were straightforward (RWD), so it wasn’t too shocking and “foreign”. It actually looked like an attractive modern Ford, albeit in sort of a “global” style. Unlike the Merkur, which used much more radical and polarizing European Ford design (suffering sales-wise as a result), the Granada would have fit in much better for the many American buyers seeking a “normal-looking” compact that didn’t look like a shrunken version of a big American car.
Keep in mind that until they were priced out of the market by unfavorable exchange rates, the European-developed Opels and Mercury Capris sold very well in the early 1970s, and the Granada would have been a logical continuation of that trend. It would have needed to be built in the U.S. to meet price targets, but otherwise would have been on target from a design and content standpoint.
Would it not have made more sense to build the XD Falcon Stateside instead, which looks similar to the European Granada, but is actually bigger than a Fairmont, and is without the IRS that would have added significant cost?
These cars look like a background vehicle in a crude old-school video game set in the 80s/90s, like GTA San Andreas. They’re not “bad” looking just incredibly generic/boxy, with slab sides and awkward proportions to the point that they look like a cheap computer generated image come to life (though as you say, not nearly as awkward as the horrendous T-bird variant). GM cars of this time like the Malibu and Caprice were similar in overall appearance BUT had nice details – gradually tapered hoods and trunks, perfectly proportioned overhangs/wheelbases, finely detailed angular front and rear fascias. These Fords, much like the Panthers above them, just looked like crude Chinese knock-offs. It’s no wonder they barely sold any. I wonder how many of the Squire wood-paneled station wagons exist in 2019? Maybe three or four in the entire world?
The 1983 “LTD” refresh did WONDERS for the looks of these. A great, balanced looking car for the pre-Taurus era. A perfect blend of boxy and “aero”, much better looking than the GM A-bodies or Chrysler K-cars of the time, and with the right powertrain, arguably a better car than a Cutlass Ciera or Dodge Aries/600. Even so, their shelf life was short, becoming instantly outdated in 1986.
I have to say that I agree 100% with your assessment and will add that my “problem” with this generation of the Granada is that the tiny amount spent to differentiate it from a Fairmont seems to have been spent on modifying the rear roofline (gotta make it more formal, and therefore more expensive looking than the Fairmont) and the front grille. Every other part of the car just shouts cheap, even the paint jobs that seemed to wash away in the rain.
Coincidentally, I saw one of these just yesterday, sitting behind a house near a busy 4 lane highway. That one wasn’t quite hiding(?) under a tree, but it was backed into its spot, almost like it was expecting to have someone come and pull it out of its spot.
Didn’t know that the wagons were 1 year only models. I would almost be tempted to find one, drop in a V8, and spend a ton of money on suspension upgrades.
You are spot-on, Max. These really do scream random GTA San Andreas car.
The LTD redesign was a huge improvement.
The details say 77 Cougar but the proportions say 81 Granada (which were very much appropriating these themes)
This is another car that surprised me. I thought these would sell well, if only because they were the most attractive cars being sold by the Ford Motor Company in 1981. I preferred the looks of these to the 83-86 LTD.
But those engines. Oof, Ford was not the place to go in 1981-82. It was a dark time.
I have never been inside of one of these, and wonder if they feel more like a Fairmont, or more like the LTD that followed them. Trying to smoosh a lineup into smaller sizes made for a real mess around that time. The traditional names and traditional size classes no longer made sense. If you had told someone in 1978 that soon the Fairmont, Granada and LTD would share the same body and wheelbase, you would have been considered nuts.
I had both!
The Fairmont had a firm seat that was comfortable and it had a low, airy interior – like a Volvo. The dash was also low. You had a feeling that you were sitting on the car, as much as in the car. It took a moment or two when first getting in to feel like you are “in” the car.
The Granada was a more cushioning, and lower feeling seat. It was a more expensive design and had adjustments. So everything around you felt like you were sitting a couple of inches lower in the car. Immediately comfortable. Yeah – like the LTD and Crown Victoria.
Jim, see my comments below about two of these cars I owned. We agree on the styling vs. that of its successor. IIRC the GL and GLX trim levels had more sound insulation and nicer appointments than the base L. My 1982, built at the Chicago assembly plant, was a good reflection of the effort to make quality “Job #1.” It did seem quieter and better assembled than friends’ Fairmounts at the time. I drove it for 85,000 miles with no squeaks or rattles developed and nothing needed other than minor repairs and service.
Rented one in Pittsburgh pa.5 adults plus luggage none of us lightweights and that car was dangerously slow
Put my foot to the floor turtle slow
I remember that the a/c would shut off under full throttle i guess to conserve horsepower
The tin cover over the Fairmount rear quarter window was an extra cheep touch
Let’s not forget the rubber and caps on the bumpers and the cheep plastic panel between the taillights
Reminds me of the VW Fox, which I believe had a snap on grill .
What a delightful find. The second-gen Granada is one of those forgotten “loser” cars that never sold as well as its contemporaries or its predecessor and seems to have faded from most people’s consciousness. If you suddenly started losing all your 1980s automotive industry knowledge, the 2G Granada would be one of the first cars you’d lose all memory of.
I’d forgotten these used the same wheelbase and doors (!) as the Fairmont, making its value proposition extremely shaky. I mean, sure, it had “fresher” styling than the ’78-vintage Fairmont but that didn’t mean it looked better. And I’m sure the interior was marginally nicer than the Fairmont and it probably (hopefully!) felt a little less “tinny”, as people often call the Fairmont. But this looks more like a Datsun Maxima than a Mercedes-Benz, and the 1G Granada’s ostentatious styling was what really got butts in seats besides that car’s trim dimensions and promise of good fuel economy.
My 60-something elementary school librarian had one in two tone blue. Therefore, no real fond memories of these cars for me and they weren’t everywhere like Fairmonts were.
A Fairmont Futura at least looked cool and the later LTD LX was cool. These were not cool.
A Coyote engine may be a challenging swap but imagine the possibilities of a 302 Windsor and a 5 speed.
Like this one? I found this ’82 Granada a few years ago… looks well-used, and still in (at least occasional) use. I probably should have stopped and taken more pictures, but I guess I figured I’d wait for the next two-tone Granada to stumble across my path…
I can relate very well to these Fox-body Granadas because I had some experience with one.
When I was very small (around 5.5 months old), my parents bought a lightly-used 1981 Granada L 4-door to serve as our family car. It was the first car they bought together, and since they had a new baby and other relatives to support in the household, it was all they could afford at that time.
Since I went through infancy and toddlerhood in the ’81 Granada, my memories of it are hazy at best, limited to washing it in our driveway at our modest home in Vermont. My father remembers it very well, however. Ours had the 200-cid inline-6 mated to a 3-speed auto. He said that with the a/c on full blast, and trying to go up a steep grade, that Granada was a complete dog. Dad also commented that my 1993 Volvo 240 (5-speed) could likely run rings around it.
Sister Appolonia at my high school had a metallic green one around 1990. It looked brand new and seemed like a very nice car.
As someone who has an affinity for dull and easily-forgotten cars, I 100% approve of this post! These Granadas still have me scratching my head — as in “Wait, did Ford really come up with a car they sold for only two years?”
A few years ago, I found one of these (see pic above replying to Lt Dan’s comment), and I have no idea why I didn’t stop to take more pictures. But now that you’ve written this, I’ll have to set my sights on finding a Cougar wagon.
If you find a Cougar wagon I’ll buy you a beer next time you are in JC.
Speaking of Cougar wagons, there is a guy here in town who is still driving his ’77 LTDII wagon. Like the Cougar, it was a one year wonder.
This Granada has the dubious distinction of the first terrible car I ever drove. Back in the Spring of 1982, my Pop had a business trip to San Francisco which coincided with a school break, so he added some time and turned it into a family trip. Hertz cursed us with an ’81 Granada rental car, white with a maroon “half” vinyl roof and red cloth inside. I don’t actually know if it had the 4 or the 6, but whatever it was, the car was utterly, terrifyingly anemic. Pop complained mightily about how awful the car was, even grumbling that he’d just take it back it was so bad. And I was allowed to see why.
Believe it or not, back in the day Louisiana granted driver’s licenses to 15-year-olds (I had my learner’s permit at 14 1/2–scary!), so I actually could legally drive. However, it was a rental and I’m sure Hertz would have forbidden it, but Pop didn’t care. We were in Napa Valley, it was pretty quiet with good roads and manageable traffic, and so he said “here, why don’t you drive this thing?!?”
Naturally I jumped at the opportunity without realizing how badly my Pop had set me up. I couldn’t fathom that anyone would produce a car that literally did nothing except roar when you stepped on the gas. It. Barely. Moved. Low speed, mid range, nothing. Merging onto a highway suddenly became terrifying. Entire driving patterns had to be rethought, such as going through an intersection after a stop sign–sure, oncoming traffic looks far away and there SHOULD be ample time to get across, but not when a car gasps and can barely ooze forward, painfully slowly, even with the accelerator pinned to the floor.
That Granada was simply wretched. Given a line-up filled with more bad cars than good ones, it’s a wonder FoMoCo avoided bankruptcy at the time (apparently it was very close).
I understand wretched. I drove a nearly new 80 Thunderbird when an aunt and uncle came for a visit. The 255/AOD combo was excruciating and the thing felt cheap and flimsy. I was never so satisfied with a 100k mile 71 Plymouth Scamp.
Interestingly, my 86 Fox Marquis wagon was night and day from that Thunderbird. It felt solid and the 3.8/3 speed C5 was a nice driving setup.
I had a summer internship in 1984 at a company that maintained a fleet of early 1980s Granadas and Fairmonts. The cars were mostly base models with few options beyond basics like power brakes and steering, automatic, and air conditioning (this was in Atlanta, after all). They were 2-4 years old at the time, well-cared for and had relatively low miles. I drove three of them and was stunned to find that the more expensive Granada was the worst of the lot, bog slow, under-damped and prone to body lean in sharp corners. The interior finish was marginally nicer, but the engine (don’t know whether it was a four or six) droned loudly at speeds above 50 mph. One of the Fairmonts was similarly slow, but handled much better and was fine for city driving and its vinyl lined interior was not any less comfortable than the scratchy cloth in the Granada. The most desirable car was the other Fairmont, which almost certainly had a V8, which made it the relative speed demon of the three, and nice cloth bucket seats; this car was always the first to be checked out, particularly if the driver was going out of town. Given this experience, I could see no advantage to buying a Granada/Cougar over a Fairmont/Zephyr, especially if the latter were midline or higher models. In the end, though, Ford made the right decision by consolidating the two lines with the introduction of the much nicer, better looking 1983 LTD, which addressed many of the most serious shortcomings of both cars.
Correction: The wagon body style was offered both years.
The available body styles for 1981 are shown above. No wagon.
And, within the first 65 seconds of the video, it says the Granada wagon is new for 1982….
That is a great review.
It brought back a lot of memories about why I like the car.
Being young at the time, I never had a fancy car before.
Thank you for find that!
Holy hell… the braking test is hilarious! The car bobs up and down like six or seven times on it’s BRAND NEW suspension after coming to a stop like a ship at sea. If springs were designed that soft on a 2019 car from the factory it would be immediately slapped on every “Do Not Buy” consumer warning list by reviewers for safety reasons. Truly a different time…
I remember, at the time, being aware that this Granada was just a gussied-up Fairmont, and I wondered to myself, “Why, Ford, why?”
As a lover of the Volvo 240, I thought the Fairmont was a brilliant American crib of the Volvo. Elegantly simple design, fabulous greenhouse, efficient use of space. European cars were highly desirable in the period, but currency fluctuations made them increasingly expensive. The Fairmont seemed to be the perfect answer to that problem.
Along came this Granada. It’s as though someone at Ford thought “The Fairmont isn’t Malaise-y enough! We must make it more so!” Except by 1981, malaise was dead and people had moved on. Apparently, the folks at Ford didn’t get the memo.
A car I totally forgot about. But then again, after my experience with my ’75, from the awful build quality to the supreme gutlessness of the 250 six, Granada’s were never on my radar screen. Only thing my car was good for was the front disc brake set up for a ’71 Maverick….
“At one point my thoughtful defense was how people can sometimes be highly enthralled with mediocrity, with my proof of concept being the success realized by any number of chain restaurants.”
Consistency. You’re going to get the exact same eggplant parmesan at the Olive Garden in Wichita as you would in Seattle. No surprises. Same with cars for most people, I think.
Perfectly replicated mediocrity, wherever you go. 🙂
I ate at Olive Garden once. Would. Never. Go. Back. But I did drive a Fox LTD rental and remember really liking it. Driving dynamics were quite good on some curvy roads in upstate New York, on a business trip, and decent power too (5.0?).
I wouldn’t say so much that the ’83 LTD was also Fox-based as that the ’83 LTD was a Granada with a sheetmetal makeover. It really was the same car.
It just occurred to me: this Granada is what my father would have bought if his cheap ways had loosened up a but a few years earlier. Instead he bought a stripper Zephyr, the same as a stripper Fairmont. But he finally relented and bought a Taurus in 1986, and there was no stripper version this time.
*Superb* article, Jason. The “why” of your fascination for this car was summed up perfectly (and echoed mine) in these words: “being the car connoisseur I was even at that tender age, the modernity of this Granada’s appearance in relation to its predecessor was remarkable.”
Bingo. And I’m again surprised these lasted just *two* model years.
I was in the first or second grade when family friends of ours, the Coopers, bought a two-door Granada of this generation. One of the first things that struck me (at the time, and this is before the aero-styled ’83 Thunderbird arrived) was that the front grille looked so rounded and wind-swept (especially compared to what had come before it) that it looked very ’80s-futuristic.
The rest of the car was merely an improvement over what it had replaced.
Looking at the greenhouse of the four-door compared to that of that dressy, dark-red Fairmont four-door in the brochure photo you used – total fail. The Fairmont looks so good in that iteration. It was going to be hard to improve on that, and even the ’83 LTD doesn’t look better to my eyes.
I always look forward to your musings.
Thanks for the compliment.
I’m like you on the Fairmont seen above – it looks great. However, I cannot think of a time when I’ve seen such a loaded Fairmont, even when they were new. In 1981 my dad was shopping for a commuter car and we stopped at the Ford dealer (really, his car shopping consisted of finding something at one of two Ford dealers, one of which happened to sell Chryslers; that’s cross-shopping, isn’t it?). Anyway, half the Fairmont inventory was of stripo examples, with several having manual transmissions. Most were in that wretched baby blue or hearing aid beige. None of them were anywhere near the red one above. That red one would be a great car for cruising around these days.
A friend was driving one of these one day at the swimming club. A look inside revealed that it had a manual transmission, which teenage me considered impressive in a mid-sized sedan. My friend let me take it for a spin. I’d been warned that it was slow, but nothing prepared me for the experience. Ironically, it may have actually been a level of refinement that made it seem so lethargic. I’d been in plenty of Beetles and four cylinder diesel Mercedes-Benzes that were surely no quicker. They always sounded like they were working so hard that the impression of some haste was created relative to that Granada. It was quiet, and it was smooth, and it simply didn’t accelerate perceptibly or maintain speed on hills. I think it was the four cylinder, but it could possibly have been the six.
There are numerous online examples of Coyote V8 swap into Fox-body Mustangs, which has the same engine compartment as Granada II. A Coyote swap shouldn’t be too difficult. Mustang suspension upgrades should fit as well. Would make a great “sleeper” performance sedan.
I probably have as much experience with these cars as anyone here. From a family member I inherited a new 1981 Granada L two-door with the 2.3/auto and 1,000 miles on the odo – at a time when I needed a new car. In order to get any equity out of that car I traded it in for a factory-ordered 1982 GL two-door with the 3.3/auto, a somewhat uniquely optioned model with vinyl bucket seats and floor shift, heavy-duty suspension, and the extended range (20 gallon) fuel tank. It was the anti-Brendan car, i.e., it did not fit my image or age and was chosen to be eminently practical and economical during a time when I was building a career and trying to be less interested in cars in order to devote resources to saving for retirement and European travel. The Granada did not disappoint in that regard, as it was very reliable and inexpensive to service and repair. Interestingly it was replaced with a 1985 300ZX Turbo with 5-speed ☺. The car later was sold to the aunt of a friend who drove it for many years until her passing. The color was medium pewter metallic, perhaps the same as Jason’s subject car minus the fade.
Yes, the car was underpowered but the 3.3 was a quiet, reliable engine with manageable torque at higher speeds. I chose it over the newly available (in 1982) 3.8 Essex V6 because it was tried and true. I believe some of the comments here regarding these cars that were loud and extremely underpowered were equipped with the 2.3 four. I drove the 1981 so equipped cross-country and it was raspy loud and snail-like in movement.
Jim Cavanaugh and I are in total agreement (and perhaps among the minority here) that the little LTD that replaced the Granada in 1983 is inferior in styling. It looks like a shoebox parading as an aero sedan (unlike the new T-Bird) whereas the Granada proudly wears its traditional shape. And those bumpers were the real deal.
Sometimes a car is just a way of getting from one place to another…
And the window sticker for your reading pleasure:
Thank you! The basic shape of this car is so much better proportioned than anything else being built by Ford at the time and the greenhouse is so, so much cleaner.
I can agree that some of the trim details could be improved, but this car should have received more respect than it did. Park one of these next to an early panther and look at the shapes.
Certain aspects of Granada gen-1 look more “modern” than the gen-2:
1) Higher belt line
2) Longer wheelbase / shorter overhangs
3) Side view mirrors separate from A-pillar
4) 5×4.5 wheel bolt pattern. No one makes mid-size or even compact sedans today with 4-lug wheels.
What I liked about this car was that it had everything I liked in an LTD without being the size of an LTD. It looked formal, overstuffed and silly – but – it was absolutely fantastic cruising highways. It just couldn’t be more comfortable.
It didn’t handle as well as the Fairmont Futura I had, but it didn’t float around and disconnect me from the world like the old Crown Victoria did either. It had a bit of a body lean on tight curves, but it had an engine strong enough to pull up steep mountain passes. It also go better gas mileage than a Crown Victoria.
The car itself is a compromise in every way. There is absolutely nothing memorable about it. It just did a very competent job with the right engine, and it didn’t do anything spectacularly right or wrong.
It was a good car!
I would have never bought the car. It was much too OLD for me, (a guy who just turned 21), but the new Chevy Citation I had literally fell apart around me within a 12 month time and I wasn’t in a position to complain about what the company was going to get me to replace it.
I was a bit taken aback when I found out what it was, and I got a lot of laughs from my buddies when they first saw it.
But I depended upon it 24/7, and it was more than adequate.
Ford engines during this era were really bad. Maybe the extra dollars allowed GM a little (not much) more development capital, but all Ford products around 1980 were almost undrivable. My current ’79 Mark V has a 400 cu. in. V8 with 158 HP! I remember driving a lot of Ford rentals and wondering if it was Albuquerque or the car…it was the car!
Excellent article and find Jason. Thank you.
As many knew at the time, the second generation North American based Ford Granada was based upon the Fairmont. I never associated it with the 1975 era Granada. So, I instead saw the 1981 Granada as a styling step backward. As I thought the window treatment on the Fairmont and later Fox-based LTD, with the windows in the C pillar, looked very modern and sporty. I thought the roof treatment on the 1981 Granada looking old-fashioned, and inspired by the full-sized 1979 LTD roof treatment.
I much preferred the exterior design of the Fox-based LTD.
I remember when the Gen2 Granada came out. At the time it seemed to me to be frumpy and overdone. When the Gen1 cars came out, I was just graduating from college in 1975 and I loved the Monarch. Until I drove it. Talk about underwhelming. Of course, I also fell in love with the Pacer until I drove it. I eventually bought a 76 Plymouth Arrow, which was an absolute ball to drive.
I seriously considered a Fairmont in 81, but after her Mustang II, my wife refused to have another Ford.
Been probably about 15-20 years since I can recall seeing one of these.
While I considered this Granada better looking than the Falcon based 1st gen and the ‘80-‘82 T-Bird, I preferred the Fairmont/Zephyr. I also liked the aero look of the ‘83-‘86 LTD/Marquis over the 2nd gen Granada. Ford was wise to dump the 2 door body style on ‘83-‘86 LTD, likely due to slow sales on 2 dr Granadas.
Excellent read! Am I the only one who sees a lot if European/Aussie Ford in the roofline and rear styling?
I drove a Granada with the 200 inline 6 as a cab. It had over 600 thousand miles on it with original engine and rear end. I think it was on second transmission from a junk yard. It ran well and had reasonable power. The 200 had somewhere along the way lost it’s catalytic converter and egr and air pump and spark delay valves and abouta mile of vacume lines. It was ok on gas but not enough to not opt for a V8 crown Vic. It had the baby Vic styling but was not as spacious. Seats were not as good and kind of firm. The car road hard but then again it had over 600 thousand on it. It was in my opinion a good looking car like a 5/8 LTD crown Vic. It certainly went the distance and survived being a cab for years,. Several wrecks, being shot at being beaten by a deranged senior citizen with a cane. But it was a compromise and one would be better off getting a crown Vic.
Incidentally I hated the baby LTD that replaced this. The awful styling, the awful 3.8 head gasket eating engine and back pain inducing seats. The should have kept the Granada in production.
I had never picked up on these cars being on a different platform than the first generation Granada—I thought they were just a facelift. Always more to learn, it seems …
For some reason, I’ve always had a soft spot for these square body fox cars. I agree that in stock form, this car is awfully slow and lacks seriously in both power and torque, but with a 2.3 Duratec, a five speed gearbox and a 4.10 rear end, that Granada would be an interesting restomod project.
I found this post years after the fact while doing some research after seeing one of these actually running (!) in Elmira, New York, and I’m going to comment anyway even though nobody will see it. I had two of these in my life. The first was a brown ’82 6-cylinder four-door with a beige vinyl top my parents bought new when I was 9 years old, and I learned to drive on that car seven years later. I remember my Dad telling people when he bought it that he thought the front end looked classy, like a Mercedes. My brother wound up wrecking it in, like, 1998.
The second was a blue ’81 two-door with the V8 engine that I bought for $800 the summer after I graduated high school in 1991 off a guy I knew from my grocery bagging job. You wouldn’t think it, but that car could fly. I don’t know how much it could fly, of course, because the speedometer only went up to 85, but I pinned it a lot on Kentucky’s Bluegrass Parkway between Lexington and Elizabethtown. It developed some weird mechanical issue while I was in college in Lexington where it hesitated to shift into gear, and the hesitation grew long and longer over time to eventually be about a half-hour. I’ve never known the mechanics of that; it would shift just fine once everything warmed up. I’d walk to the car in the student parking lot, turn it on, put the shifter into drive, put a big rock I kept in the back seat under the back wheel, walk back to the dorm to get my friends, walk back to the car and wait for it to finish shifting. I drove it to Chicago and back once like that.
These were horrible cars, but I’d love to take one for a spin.
I’m including a blurry picture I took of that car in about 1993.