At $3,200, Could This 1986 Ford Tempo LX Be An Upbeat Buy?

Illustration for article titled At $3,200, Could This 1986 Ford Tempo LX Be An Upbeat Buy?
Photo: Craigslist
Nice Price Or No DiceIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

Described as an actual “Little Old Lady’s Car,” today’s Nice Price or No Dice Ford Tempo is an incredibly low-mileage time capsule of ’80s awesomeness. What might you pay for such an unfiltered Reagan-era driving experience?

There’s this old saying that goes something along the lines of “you can tell the men from the boys by the price of their toys.” I don’t know about that, but I do know that the ability to afford expensive toys is a hallmark of the wealthy and is something that does tend to separate the Richie Riches from the rest of us schmoes.

The revenge that we get, however, is in seeing the values on some of those toys drop precipitously, demonstrating that even the well-to-do sometimes get their comeuppance, even if it’s by way of comparatively minor financial setbacks.

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An added benefit of this process is that some of those formerly exclusive toys become cheap enough that they fall into a range affordable by regular folk. That was much the case with yesterday’s 2006 Maserati GranSport Spyder. This formerly six-figure car asked a mere $25,000, and that was with just 19,000 miles under its belt. While that’s a lot of depreciation, the car itself — well, mostly its finicky and expensive to maintain transmission — called even that amount into question. In the end, the naysayers won out and the Maserati fell in a narrow but decisive 55 percent No Dice loss.

Have I ever mentioned to you that I once ate blue cheese ice cream? No? OK, now that you’ve re-swallowed that little bit of vomit, allow me to quell your revulsion. It was, in fact, one of the best things I have ever tasted. The blue cheese flavor came forward as bright and unctuous and played perfectly against the dish’s creamy decadence. It proved to a surprising and special taste experience.

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Photo: Craigslist

I bring this up as prologue simply to note that today’s 1986 Ford Tempo is nothing like blue cheese ice cream. As the middle child — the Jan Brady, so to speak — of Ford’s 1980s sedan lineup, the Tempo is better described as “plain vanilla ice cream.” Single scoop, store brand, eaten with a flat wooden spork.

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That’s not to say there isn’t value here. In fact, this Tempo is a remarkable vista into the automotive world of the 1980s. You don’t often see cars like this any more, and while this car is not likely to be a particularly inspiring drive, nor something whose value will skyrocket over time, it is unusual enough that it should find a home somewhere.

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Photo: Craigslist
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Ford released the Tempo in 1984 as the second product in the company’s U.S. aerodynamic renaissance. The car followed the curvy 1983 Thunderbird and preceded the 1985 Taurus, the latter car being the ultimate expression of Ford’s new super slippery design mantra.

The bodywork featured semi-flush side glass, heavily canted windshield and back glass and, after two years on the market and a change to the federal headlight standards, flush lens covers for its peepers.

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Photo: Craigslist

This ’86 Tempo features those lamps, along with red paint and gray plastic trim that all looks to be in incredible shape for its age and the car’s station in life. The ad claims that the car is being offered from the estate of an older woman who bought it new and then used it sparingly over the years for occasional jaunts around town. That has resulted in the car exhibiting a mere 13,200 miles and presenting an appreciably under-used appearance.

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Not everything lasts forever and, as the car hasn’t actually been driven since 2013, the ad notes that elements such as the water pump, as well as parts of the fuel system have been refreshed or rebuilt to bring it all up to snuff.

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Photo: Craigslist
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Those parts are all connected to a fuel-injected 2.3-liter inline-four. Now, that’s not the SOHC Lima four that you’re most likely imagining. The Tempo, and the later Taurus, received an OHV four that was derived from Ford’s long-serving 200 CID Falcon Six. In the Tempo, that engine made a modest 98 horsepower. That parsimonious corral is fed through a three-speed automatic transmission and powers the front wheels.

The transmission is actuated via a console-mounted shifter with Ford’s evergreen T-handle lever. The cabin around that looks complete, but also as though it could stand a deep cleaning to remove the years of disuse. It would also benefit from a new dash cap as cracks mar the present topper. That’s likely going to be next to impossible to find, so one of those carpet toupees might have to stand in.

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Photo: Craigslist

There are a small number of other age-related issues affecting the car’s aesthetics, but overall it’s in laudably good shape. It also carries current tags and a clean title so it’s ready for a new owner to jump in.

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This brings up two questions. The first is: Who is that potential buyer? The second is: Should that person pay $3,200 for the opportunity to buy it?

What do you think, would that hypothetical Tempo lover get a good deal for this car at that $3,200 price? Or, is there no way, no matter how nicely it’s preserved, that any Tempo could be worth that much?

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You decide!

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Boston, Massachusetts, Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to five-on-the-floor for the hookup!

Help me out with NPOND. Hit me up at rob@jalopnik.com and send me a fixed-price tip. Remember to include your Kinja handle.

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.

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DISCUSSION

Growing up, my neighbor had one. ND for free. Part of it was the car that was the most generic of the 80s Generic Ford campaign and proof that Ford was still behind when it came to “Qulity is Job #1" (actual spelling from the front page of the owners manual. Another was the type of owner this thing attracted. My neighbors assumed you just got in a car and drove. They ran it out of gas regularly because they didn’t think to add any. When it broke down at something like 30k miles, they hadn’t done the first oil change.

HOWEVER... If I had a car casting company, I would snatch this thing up in a heart beat. Mid 80s is a big thing with major show after major show being based on the 80s.   This car is perfect as is for sitting in the back of typical street shots and with some interior refurbishment, it would be great for scenes while being towed around.  Just don’t make it run.  It would kill the soul of any budding Jalop on the set.