Fox Body Ranchero: 1981 Ford Durango – SOLD!
June 22, 2021 Update – we confirmed the seller of this Durango “Classifind” deleted their listing, so we’re now able to call this one “SOLD!” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call Rudy directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.
June 4, 2021 Update – The seller needed to replace their expiring Craigslist ad and while doing so, elected to keep their recently lowered price of $10,00 in play.
May 31, 2021 Update – We just confirmed the seller of this rare Fox Body-based UTE just lowered their asking price by $1,500 to an even ten thousand.
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 originally listed in May 2021 on Craigslist in DeSoto, Missouri (St. Louis) reported being a rust-free California car with an asking price of $11,500. Given the rarity of these custom body Utes, none of our usual sources 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 “High” retail value range of $1,300. 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. 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.
Here’s the seller’s one-sentence description:
“Yes, that’s right a FORD DURANGO.
The Ford Durango is a two-passenger coupe utility sold in limited production by Ford Motor Company between the 1979 and 1982 model years. The vehicle was the result of a joint venture between Ford and National Coach Works, located in Los Angeles, California.
Exact number produced believed to be somewhere around 250.
This is a California car, no rust.
These were built on the Fox body mustang platform so fox body driveline will bolt right in.
This car is really straight.
200 cubic inch straight six
A/c is there compressor is bad
Runs and drives great
Aftermarket stereo not hooked up dont know if it works.
Be the only one to own one of these rare and unusual cars
Paint is diver quality with nick and chips. 2 small dents in roof by windshield.
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