Fairmontchero: 1981 Ford Durango

- in Cars

We’re as shocked as you are when we found that a Ranchero-ish 1981 Ford Durango was sold through Ford dealers in the 1980s? That’s COOL!

Ford Durango Brochure
The Ford Durango was a joint venture between Ford Motor Company and National Coach Corporation in Los Angeles. Ford would ship new 1981 and 1982 Ford Fairmont Futura two-door coupes to National Coach’s facility, where the Sawzalls would come out in force.


The roof was removed behind the B-pillar, as was the entire trunk and rear seat area. The bed unit is constructed of fiberglass, and was inserted behind the front seats.

1981 Ford Durango left side
There’s no seam on the bedside, because the cargo box uses the original Futura sheetmetal along the sides. For an aftermarket conversion, it’s pretty neat work.


1981 Ford Durango bed
Ford then shipped the cars to Ford dealers, where they were sold with a full Ford warranty. Between 200 and 250 Durangos were built in total (the most knowledgeable say 212). It is hard to exactly nail down that number.

1981 Ford Durango right side
There are probably as many bootleg conversions running around as actual production Durangos, but there are a couple of easy ways to determine whether what you’re looking at was actually a National Coach Corporation conversion or not:
– This is a 1981, which indicates that it was one of the years that National Coach was actually producing Durangos.
– In this head-on rear view, you can see the functional tailgate, and the three-inch filler panel that the hinges recess into. That’s a National Coach design, and it’s indicative that this is an actual Durango.




About the worst you can say about it is that all of these car/truck hybrids had Ford’s antique 200-cu.in. six cylinder as the only engine available. This Thriftpower inline-6, good for about 100 horsepower was mated to a 3-speed automatic transmission.

Thriftpower inline-6 motor in Ford Durango
>We’re not generally fans of engine swaps, but if there was ever a vehicle crying out in desperation for a 5.0-liter conversion, this is it. Fairmonts and Mustangs share the same Fox chassis, so a 5.0 swap is about as easy as you’re ever going to find in a Ford.


Ford Durango interior
Did you know that Ford tried this kind of conversion with the Mustang too?
Click here to learn more about Ford Mustero, Ranchero-ish Mustang pickup.
Mustang Pickup - 1966 Ford Mustero


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