Could $6,999 For This Amazingly Clean 1988 Ford Tempo AWD Be Music To Your Ears?

Photo: AutoTrader
Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

It is unlikely you will find a cleaner example of Ford’s ‘80s AWD sedan than today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Tempo at any price. The question is, should you go looking at all?

So I’ve decided that I desperately want one of those life-like infant dolls like the one in the new Apple TV show, Servant. I mean, think of the fun you could have freaking people out by doing all sorts of risky shenanigans with a fake nurseling strapped to your chest in a Babybjörn. I’m thinking; hang gliding, freeway motorcycle wheelies, or visiting strip clubs.


Of course, to really pull off the illusion I’m going to need a family car and few cars will say upper-scale wannabe soccer dad quite as well as did yesterday’s 2009 Audi Q7 TDI. With its three-row seating, I could have a whole herd of fake babies to tote around. Not only that, but at a mere $8,750, fully 71 percent of you felt it would be a bargain as well, giving the big Audi a solid Nice Price win.

Babies love music—even fake babies—and in music ‘tempo’ refers to the speed of the piece. In the automotive world, ‘Tempo’ means a mid-size Ford from the ‘80s and ‘90s, and that’s a series that you’ve most likely cast to the netherworlds of your long-term memory.

If your recollection of the Tempo, on the whole, is as hazy as I expect then the fact that the model offered an AWD edition is probably something that’s been completely cast aside, most likely to make room for a list of top Pokemons or something.


Here we have an AWD Tempo, a 1988 LX to be exact, and this is a car that would make for a pretty sweet Radwood entrant. Arrive at that fete of ‘80s and ‘90s iron and every show goer there will do that goofy dog head cant as they try and process both its amazingly clean appearance and just what the eff it is.


Ford introduced the Tempo in 1984, nominally in replacement of the Fairmont in their lineup. The new front-drivers were substantially smaller than their predecessors, a factor allowing the earlier cars to be carried over as the LTD. The Tempo, and its Mercury cousin, the Topaz, sported clean ‘jelly bean’ styling aped from the aero-designed Thunderbird and as preview of the Taurus that would hit the market a year later.

This AWD sedan represents from the Tempo’s second generation and while the coupe carried on with few significant changes, the sedan got a whole new greenhouse. It’s a little less attractive in my book, but what are you going to do?


The drivetrain here is pretty milquetoast. The engine is a 2.3-litre fuel injected four, but not the expected Lima OHC unit that Ford had been fitting to their small cars for years. Instead, Ford made the odd choice to create an OHV four that was 2/3s of their 200 CID straight-six. Now, it should be noted that Ford’s OHV sixes are some of the sturdiest engines on the planet. The HSC four must have absorbed some of that, right?


Anyway, the four puts out about 100 horsepower and that gets routed through a three-speed automatic and part-time AWD the latter activated via a ceiling-mounted rocker switch. There’s no center diff on these cars so the AWD is for short-term use only, sort of like the blower on Mad Max’s Falcon GT.


The car overall is in amazing condition for its age and pedigree. There’s a mere 17,921 miles on the clock which indicates that either it was parked in hermetically-sealed storage space and then forgotten for decades, or it was one of those proverbial little old lady cars that were only used to go to church on Sunday and not one that got sung about by the Beach Boys.

The paint is a metallic light grey over which has been applied a silver appliqué on the lower door panels. That also has ALL WHEEL DRIVE written somewhat awkwardly on the back doors. Premium wheels, which aren’t actually alloys but steel with painted rubber moldings underpin.


The interior is awash in color coordination although the red floor mats do clash with the overall blue theme something fierce. The seats are Kansas flat and cloth-covered and everything in here save for the manic mouse seat belts is manual. The only issue appears to be some wear on the HVAC buttons.


The engine bay presents equally nicely, with everything in place and appreciably tidy. The ad notes an accident-free history and a clean title. It says that the mileage is believed to be accurate, claiming a discrepancy on the CarFax report to be a clerical error, whatever that could be.


The price tag for this dealer-offered time capsule is $6,999 and I defy you to find another 1988 Tempo AWD on the market, much less one that’s this nice. In fact, save for the occasional Foxstang or F-series, you’re unlikely to see many Fords from this era on the road at all. That makes this a unique opportunity for any fan of the brand. The question for you is whether or not it’s a $6,999 opportunity.

You decide!


AutoTrader out of Longmont, CO, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to Dane Bodiford for the hookup!

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About the author

Rob Emslie

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