In Greek mythology, Zephyr was the god of the West Wind. In today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe, we look at a Mercury Zephyr wagon, one of the first Fox-body cars. Let’s see if this low-mileage longroof comes with a price that doesn’t totally blow.
You often hear about a joyous occasion releasing your inner child, but what about something that releases your inner sensible adult? That was just the case with yesterday’s 1998 Buick Regal GS. Many of you claimed that the car was “not for you” but that you had a relative/older neighbor/overly stern parole officer who swore by cars of its ilk.
Sadly for the seller, their $5,500 asking price engendered swearing of another kind, and in the end, the Buick fell in a narrow but decisive 54 percent Crack Pipe loss.
That Buick channeled an era of American luxury that’s not really represented much anymore. It was the time of style over substance, of filigree and frippery. The thing of it is, the Buick only hinted at that game. This 1979 Mercury Zephyr, on the other hand, lives it.
I mean, come on, here you have fake wood trim on the inside and the outside. I think my favorite part of this Fox-body wagon is the little faux air vents in the front fenders which are also covered in wood grain. Hell, this car even has a stand-up hood ornament.
For something so old school in its presentation, it might impress you to learn that when new, it was a fairly cutting-edge design. The Zephyr and its Ford cousin the Fairmont debuted in 1978 and were the first cars to use the then-new Fox platform underpants. The cars took the place of the Maverick/Comet in the Ford family tree and aside from engines and transmissions, represented a clean-sheet design that adopted a lot of modern elements.
Those included wind-cheating side-view mirrors tucked into the corners of the front door windows and light-weight aluminum bumpers over steel backers that would slide under the body in the event of a low-speed collision. The body designs were new too, with an airy greenhouse topping a simple boxy body that had more than a hint of Ford’s European style. These were a clean break from the hip-happy Comets and baroque Monarchs that came before.
The all-new chassis featured rack and pinion steering and a unique MacPherson strut front end that housed the coil spring lower and inboard of the strut to allow space in the engine bay for a V8 engine. A live axle still lived in the back, but it too rode on coils rather than the Maverick’s leaves.
This Zephyr has that aforementioned V8, the legendary 302 CID Windsor, and here in smog-strangled 1979 that motor put out… 140 horsepower. Yes, yikes is the appropriate response. Look, it could be worse. In 1980 Ford ditched the 302 for a 255 cubic inch edition and that engine made less than 120 ponies. It was a sad time indeed.
This Zephyr doesn’t look sad, however. It looks pretty jaunty, in fact, what with its wood-grain siding, copious polished aluminum accents, and faux wire wheel covers. The paint looks a little dingy, and there’s some noticeable sun fading on the wood grain vinyl on the hatch, but other than that it all appears pretty solid. A four-headlamp nose with narrow bar grille indicates this is the fancy pants Zephyr, as do those funny side vents. Other than those bits this is pure Fairmont through and through.
The interior features a fabulous pair of bench seats, the leading one with a fold-down armrest. The vinyl upholstery looks to be in fine shape if a bit institutional. A reed-thin steering wheel fronts what is arguably the cheapest dashboard Ford could come up with at the time. Gauges in the two-dial cluster are limited to fuel and speedo and aligning with government regs at the time the latter only goes to 85. Adding insult to injury, the secondary gauge dial has markings as though additional needles should be in residence, but offers only idiot lights in their place.
There are some aftermarket switches on an under-dash panel and a loose wire that might be fun to figure out. Out back there’s a commodious load space but no third row as such a feature was never in the cards for the Zephyr. On the plus side, pretty much any upgrade you might consider for a Foxstang will fit in here, including a whole lot more horses for that 302.
The seller says there’s a mere 75K on the clock and that, while the A/C may need a charge (Freon, good luck with that) the car runs well enough to serve daily driver duty. In the ad, they do caution—twice mind you—that this is a 40-plus-year-old car and that it does show its age in places.
One of the places it could show its age is in your driveway. To do so, you’d need to pony up $2,750 as that’s the asking price. Let’s find out if that’s a good deal or not. What do you think, could this old-school wagon cart off that much modern-day cash? Or, is this a Zephyr with a price that blows it?
H/T to twowheelsev for the hookup!
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