Filling The Ute Void: 1982 Ford Fairmont Durango – Sold!
As Ford worked to discontinue its rear-wheel-drive, body-on-frame, LTD-II based Ranchero after 1979, Ford realized their dealers would not be able to convince all of these buyers to switch to their new compact Ranger pickup. To fill the void, Ford commissioned National Coach Works to build a Ute based on the new Fox-Body Fairmont Futura. The custom coachbuilder only ended up making an estimated 212 units, one of which is currently listed for sale on Craigslist in Clarion, Pennsylvania with only a stated 42,000 original miles with an asking price of $8,000. Given the rarity of these custom body Utes, Hagerty Insurance currently does not list value estimates and a check of the NADA Guides Classic Car Online Valuation Tool for a Fairmont Futura confirms this private seller has his Durango priced well above the current “Low”, “Average”, and “High” retail value range of $500, $1,100, and $1,450, respectively. While not officially a production vehicle or a replacement for the Ranchero, Ford had LA-based National Coach Works custom design the Durango as a potential competitor to the downsized-for-1978 Chevrolet El Camino that could be sold through its dealers.
To produce the Durango, National Coach Works used the body of the Ford Fairmont Futura two-door coupe. Aft of the B-pillar, engineers removed the roof, trunk lid, and rear seat area. Behind the rear seats, the company added a flat-floor fiberglass cargo bed along with a bulkhead and a new rear window behind the two front seats. The rear fascia above the bumper was redesigned into a fold-down tailgate. As the tailgate included the license plate and tail lamps, National Coachworks had to produce the Durango with a disclaimer warning drivers from driving with the tailgate in the down position.
As the B-pillar design of the Fairmont Futura coupe lent itself to the conversion on an unofficial basis, there are several unique features to the Durango that identify it as a vehicle converted by National Coach. First, all production examples used Fairmont Futuras as starting points. Conversions by National Coach, which are the only versions with a functioning tailgate, feature a fiberglass filler panel between the cargo bed and the tailgate; the design of the panel stores the tailgate hinges when it is folded down. The Ford Durango was equipped only with a 200 cubic-inch inline six, the mid-range engine of the Fairmont line paired with a three-speed automatic transmission.
The look of the late seventies Fairmont Futura has aged well and the wide “B” pillar lends itself well to transitioning the front half of the car into a pickup bed. Unfortunately, the seller does not provide much information in their post, however, with only 42,000 original miles, the only blemish we can tell from the limited pictures provided is a split in the driver’s side seat cushion. Despite its rarity, the first thing we thought is how cool this rare truck would be with a 5.0L conversion. We’re not the only ones who think that way as YouTube features several V8 conversions of these Utes. Whatever you decide to do with this rare piece of Ford history, good luck with the purchase!
Here’s the seller’s limited description of this very rare Ute:
“Rare Ford Durango, 6 cyl, Automatic, power brakes, power steering, air, am/fm radio, 42,000 miles. Only 200 produced. Will consider a trade, truck, etc. 814-297-226three“
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