1981 Ford Durango: Best Worst OPC Ever?

June 22, 2013

28 comments
After production ended for the beloved Ranchero in 1979, Ford still needed something to compete against GM's El Camino. Solution? Send some Fairmont Futura coupes to be rebodied as pickups by the National Coach Corporation. Power came from the 200-ci "Thriftpower" six with 3-speed auto. Ford kept no records, but production is estimated at about 200 examples. And here is one of them.

I've never seen this one drive, but I've seen it parked at different points along the curb, so I know that it moves. Notice the Fairlane taillights integrated into the tailgate!

So what do you think?

1981 Ford Durango pickup.
1981 Ford Durango pickup.
1981 Ford Durango pickup badge.
1981 Ford Durango pickup.

28 comments:

joey said...

I've never heard of this. It must be more rare than a GMC Sprint even though you haven't added one yet.

joey said...

Very nice find Tony.

great white tiburon said...

I've seen a couple of these. probably the coolest version of the fairmont ever made although the coupe doesn't look too bad either. pretty cool find.

Ben Piff said...

I'd love to see what other OPCers vote as the worst of all time, but this is definitely in a class of its own. Bravo on a definite best of.

That's certainly the funniest wheelbase I've ever seen in a profile. Amazing amount of space in the back, but what the heck could this thing be rated at? That Durango typeface is way ahead of its time, and that two tone paint saves the day.

Felipe Olivani said...

Wow! Indeed a great one!

CarOli said...

There's one of these things near me in Grand Terrace, CA. I've always wondered how the tailgate folds down without breaking those huge taillights.

J+ said...

apparently my early morning comment didn't make it on.
While certainly not The King, hardly the worst OPC by any consideration. Very clean & most excellent wheels.
Just needs some curb-feelers, a chain-link plate frame, cheap tint and a few dashboard/mirror accessories and this thing would own the streets of 1980s Mexicali

Anonymous said...

Well, I think this is actually a pretty cool car. It's cool that it is clean and straight. I don't think it is ugly, by any stretch of the imagination.

Now, if it had been horribly neglected, modified in some 'orrible way, fitted with ugly wheels or allowed to fade and rust into oblivion, then, then it might be considered ugly, but not in its current condition. You've had lots of other ugly cars on the blog that are more memorable but i do really appreciate the motivation and thought that went into this blogpost. Wonderful work Tony.

Anonymous said...

I like it. Have not seen one before. Bonus points if it has a red crushed velour interior.

Anonymous said...

I am in love.

Jakob hartel - schwarz said...

The proportions are a bit weird but it it spells 'SINGLE AND ABLE' well enough.

Javier Rubén Matiauda Zarza said...

I love it!!

Tony Piff said...

okay, so.

i take it that you all appreciate the car but don't share my assessment of it as the best worst post ever.

thanks to the commenters for being polite, although i assure you politeness is not necessary.

here is what the car represents for me.

the whole point of this blog is to celebrate the honest, humble daily drivers of bygone decades. that includes a heavy emphasis on the "malaise era" 1970s and '80s.

while i respect the engineers and designers who toiled to develop desirable cars in the face of joy-killing emissions and safety regulations, the idea of adding "swag" to a ford fairmont is a stroke of marketing folly so transparent that it makes me wince.

in my opinion, the contrast of the half-executed truck bed serves only to highlight the iconic lameness of this entire chapter in automotive history.

hence, the best worst.

the fact that FoMoCo sent completed fairmonts to be un-done by National Coach Corporation (the least-cool name of any company that i can think of at the moment), along with the fact that they chose to do so few, adds a strange, unofficial flavor to the story.

it's truly rare, but i find myself struggling to articulate the significance of that word in this case.

the internet tells me that fairmonts of this era were often chopped into durango clones. this one's tailgate gives it away as the real deal. i'm glad i don't have to work through the psychological layers of a replica durango here.

if a durango owner ever reads this, i hope that my words don't sound unfair. while i can't fake any respect for this car, i do respect the care that the owner has shown for it. it's an amazing piece of history that deserves to be preserved. if this car showed up at a local cruise-in, i would walk right up, shake the owner's hand and listen to everything he had to say.

Anonymous said...

I see Oregon Plates. Where in Oregon? I live near Portland area.

Jay Wollenweber said...

Awesome find. I've loved these since I first found out about them. The Fairmont just looks right as a pickup and I have no idea why.

joey said...

"I've seen a couple of these"
- great white tiburon

What??

great white tiburon said...

@ joey ,they made more than a few. I saw one on the street one time, I was not aware if it was done by a custom shop or by an owner so I had to look it up and there were plenty of other pics of ones other people had on the net.

MBReally said...

Whoever drives this thing better have a mullet.

Andrew David Baron said...

This is fucking epic!

Justin said...

@MBReally-Don't forget listening to 80's glam/hair metal, lol.

Anonymous said...

Never saw one but like it!

Conan K. said...

I know there's the Dodge Durango. I never knew there was a Ford Durango too - interesting. Good job taking those pix :)

Anonymous said...

And there was a Chevy Durango. In the 1st Generation S10. National Coach went onto building triple axle limos, some with pools in them.

Grumpy Cat said...

Buy it here!
http://www.2040cars.com/Ford/Fairmont/1981-ford-fairmont-durango-355778/

Tony, since I hear your selling your HiLUx, I think you should buy this, if it is still for sale.

Tony Piff said...

oh, dear.

Grumpy Cat said...

Why not buy it?* One owner, original hupcaps (mot of the wheels have been changed), only 212 made, pickup bed for utility, and documented local ownership. You can haul your bike in the back! It has maximum utility! You can own one of the least produced cars ever! It is a real Durango based off the lights and tailgate, btw.

Grumpy said...

*Unless you wanted to be shunned by your friends and family.

Brian said...

I have a 1982 with 82000 miles all original.After a lot of research I found only 129 Durangos had been Built. Mine is very straight with all original of trim pieces and durango badging. It is For sale and very nice with originial two tone paint. If Intersted call me at 209-988-1777 I'm located in Modesto California