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1978 Ford Fairmont Futura. 2jz/4l80
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Index:
Due to the size of this thread, and given the fact that the car has been “done” multiple times over the last couple of years, I’ve decided to create an index to keep each section of the build separated. Since it has been built, certain stages of the car will appear more done than other parts due to me not wanting to talk about the stuff that’s no longer on the car,...so this may skip around a bit.
  1. Introduction, and “ The plan".
  2. Body/Chassis.
  3. Suspension/Steering/Brakes.
  4. Body work, Engine bay smoothing, Body mods.
  5. Interior design.
  6. Engine.
  7. Trans.
  8. Rear.
  9. Misc stuff.
As I complete each section, ( who knows how many hours/days that’ll take), I’ll create a link to that part of the build, so that anybody that wants to get to it can get there w/o having to wade through dozens of pages of blather. Given that I am still doing stuff to the car, what may have been current when you looked at it last could have changed, so check back often.
Thanks.
 

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1978 Ford Fairmont Futura. 2jz/4l80
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7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
THE PLAN:

I've had about 6 of these cars over the last 20 years. They have ranged from bone stock slug, to a 496bbf powered drag car running mid 9 second 1/4 miles.
Each time I had one, I gradually made the changes to each car (or tried to) to deal with some of the less attractive features on the car that came as a result of the time. Whether it was the federal government's requirement for the mfg's to install those hideous shock absorbing bumpers, or Fords cheap assed solutions to some of the design elements, I had a plan to fix all of those on this car. I had a build plan that originally called for 450whp, and more importantly be completely street driveable. Picking out a drivetrain that would be unique meant that no current domestic engine would work. Every freakin combo has already been done to death. Whether it be LS, SBF, mod-motor, or Coyote, everytime you turned around, there was the exact same thing only a few cars down the row at any given car show/cruise-in.
At the time, I didn't know exactly what that'd be, but suffice it to say that while it still has been done before...it hasn't been done so many times that I'd have to worry about there being more than one like it at any event I went to.
( A pretty lofty goal).
The body was gonna have to be modified, and something done about the dumb-assed looking bumpers. I Had a concept for the interior floating around in my head for years, but I needed a platform to try it out on. Since a Fairmont is about the farthest thing from collectable...I figured I certainly couldn't hurt it, if the plan didn't quite work out.
Since a Fairmont is the original Fox platform, it also allowed me to use whatever later model parts from whatever later model Mustang that I chose to get them from. So, that meant suspension, steering, and brakes could all be upgraded using factory available parts out of a salvage yard.

With that rough sketch in my head, I got online in the summer of 2013, and bought what was to become the project car that I nick named the Gila Monster. The car came from the Gila River Valley in Southern Arizona, so that only seemed fitting.
It cost 1000.00.It was yellow, it ran, was rust free, with no body damage, but 35 years in the desert southwest had taken its toll on the interior, and just about every other plastic part on the car, including the tail lights.

So, permanently replacing them also became part of the plan too.

This is how the car arrived when the carrier delivered it 7.5 years ago.

615023

This is how it ended up.
615024

This thread will be how it got from there, to here.
 

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THE PLAN:

I've had about 6 of these cars over the last 20 years. They have ranged from bone stock slug, to a 496bbf powered drag car running mid 9 second 1/4 miles.
Each time I had one, I gradually made the changes to each car (or tried to) to deal with some of the less attractive features on the car that came as a result of the time. Whether it was the federal government's requirement for the mfg's to install those hideous shock absorbing bumpers, or Fords cheap assed solutions to some of the design elements, I had a plan to fix all of those on this car. I had a build plan that originally called for 450whp, and more importantly be completely street driveable. Picking out a drivetrain that would be unique meant that no current domestic engine would work. Every freakin combo has already been done to death. Whether it be LS, SBF, mod-motor, or Coyote, everytime you turned around, there was the exact same thing only a few cars down the row at any given car show/cruise-in.
At the time, I didn't know exactly what that'd be, but suffice it to say that while it still has been done before...it hasn't been done so many times that I'd have to worry about there being more than one like it at any event I went to.
( A pretty lofty goal).
The body was gonna have to be modified, and something done about the dumb-assed looking bumpers. I Had a concept for the interior floating around in my head for years, but I needed a platform to try it out on. Since a Fairmont is about the farthest thing from collectable...I figured I certainly couldn't hurt it, if the plan didn't quite work out.
Since a Fairmont is the original Fox platform, it also allowed me to use whatever later model parts from whatever later model Mustang that I chose to get them from. So, that meant suspension, steering, and brakes could all be upgraded using factory available parts out of a salvage yard.

With that rough sketch in my head, I got online in the summer of 2013, and bought what was to become the project car that I nick named the Gila Monster. The car came from the Gila River Valley in Southern Arizona, so that only seemed fitting.
It cost 1000.00.It was yellow, it ran, was rust free, with no body damage, but 35 years in the desert southwest had taken its toll on the interior, and just about every other plastic part on the car, including the tail lights.

So, permanently replacing them also became part of the plan too.

This is how the car arrived when the carrier delivered it 7.5 years ago.

View attachment 615023
This is how it ended up.
View attachment 615024
This thread will be how it got from there, to here.
Wow, you did a good job on upgrading this classic vehicle. It looks different because of its color.
 

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More for Less Racer
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20,545 Posts
I had a '80 Mercury Zephyr Z7 with that same body, the semi-fastback...back in 1987-89.. Only difference was the grill and tailights. Mine was just a back and forth to work car, 2.3L OHC/4-speed manual weezer.

You've built a great looking uncommon car (y)
Love your narrowed and tucked bumpers.
You could change the grill to the Mercury version to really go with your "Cyclone" theme.It's like 50 vertical 1/8" wide bars....a hand fab'd aluminum bar version would be killer black anodized in the front of yours.
Just an idea.....

That thing must rip rip with that drivetrain combo!!. Turbo I assume?
 

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1978 Ford Fairmont Futura. 2jz/4l80
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7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I had a '80 Mercury Zephyr Z7 with that same body, the semi-fastback...back in 1987-89.. Only difference was the grill and tailights. Mine was just a back and forth to work car, 2.3L OHC/4-speed manual weezer.

You've built a great looking uncommon car (y)
Love your narrowed and tucked bumpers.
You could change the grill to the Mercury version to really go with your "Cyclone" theme.It's like 50 vertical 1/8" wide bars....a hand fab'd aluminum bar version would be killer black anodized in the front of yours.
Just an idea.....

That thing must rip rip with that drivetrain combo!!. Turbo I assume?
Yes, it is a 600 hp combination at the boost level i’m at.( 23 psi)
 

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1978 Ford Fairmont Futura. 2jz/4l80
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7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Body/Chassis:

This part was by far the most extensive part of the build.
The first thing I needed to do was get the bottom as clean as I could.
Wheel Tire Car Vehicle Hood


Fox platform cars benefit greatly from tying the subframes together, I started with home made SF connectors that incorporated a second “jacking rail” welded to the pinch rail at the bottom of the rocker.
615034

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Had the rust blasted off of the scrap bars that I built the connectors out of, painted them silver, ground off the points where i intended to weld them in ( rosette welds through the floor, and along the pinch rail, and along the length of the subframes.) And burned them in.

Next...came the minitub. I planned for a 17x315, and as they come, the stock wheel tub wasn’t gonna cut it.
So I cut it...out.
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615041

615042


I needed to move the wheel tub inboard 1.250”. Doing that requires that you change out the factory shock/spring mount. Fox vehicles use a coil spring mounted to the lower control arm, and that would negate the gains cutting the wheel tub gave me. So, planning to use a coil over, and wanting them spread as far apart as possible, ( because “ street-car”). Putting the suspension points out as far as possible would allow for a better handling car, and that required I cut a tunnel into the frame rail on the outside for the C/O to sit in. I also drilled out all of the factory spot welds for the upper spring mount.
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615043

The car came with a weak 7.5 rear, and I planned to put a narrowed 8.8 back in place, and that’s what is in the pic, only i haven’t narrowed it at this juncture. I planned to use the factory mount points for the control arms though, so the shock mount was fabricated, and welded to the back of the lower control arm mount.
615044

The inside frame rail had to be reinforced because of how deep the tunnel protruded..
* 10.....i found out I can only attach 10 pics per post.
 

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1978 Ford Fairmont Futura. 2jz/4l80
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7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
This is the really hard part when trying to update a build thread that has actually already happened...trying to wade through the thousands of pictures..
And rather than talk about what was..It just makes sense that I talk about what is.

The factory four link was only a short term mod. even though I upgraded the lower and upper arms, and reinforced the mount points...I always planned for a torque arm rear. This is current...A home made panhard bar an mount system, and a home made torque arm that follows a GM style T/A mount style...

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615160



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It needs to be said that I'm cheap, or that I'm "purchase challenged". I will not buy something that I can build most of the time,...But when I cannot buy it, and I gotta build it, I'll jump right in..This is my Torque Arm...Modeled after what you find under a mid 90's F body.



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Problem is, when you decide that you want a torque arm design that supposed to fit a Camaro, You have to make it fit the fox platform. That required making this frame that surrounded the center section to support the mount tabs

615163
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I've driven the car with this system about 5 hundred miles now...It works flawlessly..I'm caling it a keeper.
 
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