View Full Version : 1978–1983 Mercury Zephyr

Valentine One Radar Detector

09-04-2009, 07:27 AM
Historically, a Mercury was always “more than a Ford—but less than a Lincoln.” Until, that is, the 1978 Zephyr appeared.

This car was at its best a slightly warmed-over Ford—a Fairmont, to be precise. And the Fairmont was about as plain as it was possible to get, the automotive equivalent of a spinster librarian. The latter-day Zephyr was about as exciting, too, from its NASA motor pool in-line six-cylinder engine, boxy styling, plastic egg-crate grille to its “driver’s ed–grade” vinyl interior.

The suggestion that this car could claim any spiritual link to the classic V-12 Zephyrs of the pre-World War II–era is akin to equating Night Train to a fine cabernet. Poor old Edsel Ford must have been spinning at redline in his grave when the Zephyr nameplate he spent so much love developing thirty years earlier was affixed to this Fox-bodied staple of demolition derbies and shopping mall security guard details.

Ford brought forth the Fairmont/Zephyr twins in 1978 to replace the aging Ford Maverick and its twin, the Mercury Comet. As before, both coupe and sedan bodystyles were available; Ford’s version was called the Futura, and Mercury’s sad-sack cousin, the Zephyr Z-7. (A wagon version was also available.)

Despite their plain as oatmeal appearance, the cars actually sold pretty well. But that was more a consequence of the fact that after a decade of ever-more-awful cars, the American public had probably grown accustomed to such automotive dreck—in the same way an inmate learns to appreciate his daily crust of stale bread.

But like a persistent case of tuberculosis, the Zephyr just won’t go away. The “Fox” body architecture that bowed way back in 1978 is still in use today on 2004-model Ford vehicles, most notably the current generation Mustang.

09-04-2009, 09:08 PM
My college car was a 1981 Mercury Zephyr.

The inline-six had it's cylinders carbon-up when I drove it to California -- a $120 repair I could barely afford.

The plastic steering wheel delaminated in the sun. The rear seat fabric disintegrated as well.

Yes, it was bad. But it served it's purpose.

Also, I don't think the new Mustang uses the Fox platform any more.

Chip H.

Disco Man
09-07-2009, 11:48 AM

Yes you are correct the current Mustang is not a Fox bodied Mustang. The Fox bodied Mustang was the 1979 - 1993 Mustang. The 1994 Mustang carried over the Fox body Mustang's drivetrain but other than that the 1994 Mustang was completely new through and through.