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  • An interesting read from the June, 1978 Popular Mechanics issue gives us a look at the thoughts of the day regarding the then-new Ford Fairmont and Mercury Zephyr pair. These first Fox platform cars were rear-wheel drive, compact class replacements for the phased-out Ford Maverick and Mercury Comet.

    Attractive looks and economical transportation were the driving force behind owners choosing an F/Z car when new. Fuel consumption was a significant issue for drivers in the late 70s and though many purchased a Fairmont or Zephyr due to high MPG expectations, it was also the most disappointing part of post-purchase reality. The generous EPA ratings did not match what drivers were experiencing and it was reflected in this poll.

    Strangely, despite being nearly identical, Zephyr owners were far more likely to give stellar marks to their particular model versus more critical Ford owners. Perhaps the perception of Mercury being a more premium brand influenced this curious reaction.

    Take a look at the data gathered by Popular Mechanics which covered over 1 million miles driven here:


    Comments 4 Comments
    1. RED 78''s Avatar
      RED 78' -
      I ordered the Zephyr back in 1978 because of 4 things.
      1. My other cars were Mercurys.
      2. I was able to get it for less than the dealers wanted for a Fairmont.
      3. 4-eyes VS. 2-eyes.
      and most important of all
      4. THE FINS!!!!!
    1. Andfab99's Avatar
      Andfab99 -
      I have a Fairmont but I do like the fins on the Zephyr.
    1. ZephyrEFI's Avatar
      ZephyrEFI -
      Fun read! Funny some of their gripes are the same as mine. The horn on the turn signal stalk was a stupid idea. What was with Ford experimenting with different weird places to put the horn? Rim blow, and so on. And also the super-shallow trunk. At least both of those things were addressed with later models. It's funny too to read people talking about how poorly cars in general were manufactured back then. That kind of thing would never hold up today!
    1. dburdyshaw's Avatar
      dburdyshaw -
      My best buddy's dad SWORE that a Mercury was always better than a Ford.

      It seems that many Mercury cars did have 4-eyes while their counterpart at Ford had 2-eyes (except for our Mustangs of course). I'm thinking about Grand Marquis versus LTD / Crown Victoria (for one example).
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