Ford Fairmont Meets El Camino as a Durango
You might think of the Ford Fairmont as one of Ford’s snoozers from the 1970s and 1980s, but there is one model that still can create a little excitement: the Ford Durango. No, this is not the precursor to the bold and beautiful Dodge Durango; rather, it is a close cousin to the Chevy El Camino. The Ford Fairmont Durango was a special edition car/truck like the El Camino and the Ford Ranchero.
In the early 1980s, Ford brought some two-door Fairmonts to National Coach Corporation and they changed the body by adding a cargo bed after removing nearly everything from behind the B-pillar including the rear seat, trunk, and rear body panels. Ford changed the name from Fairmont to Durango. In 1981 and 1982, these were sold with a 200 cubic-inch inline six engine.
While the majority of Ford Fairmont models have little to no collectability, the Durango does have a following. There were no more than 350 Ford Fairmont Durango conversions completed between ‘81 and ‘82, which makes them hard to find today. Interestingly, after the original National Coach models were released, some Ford Fairmont owners decided to make a trucklet on their own. This has created a discrepancy between the collectible National Coach models and the homemade versions.
There are only two ways to distinguish and original, factory Durango, from a homemade model. The first is model year, which should only be 1981 and 1982. The second clue is the tailgate. The National Coach models’ tailgates would actually open. Each real Durango has a little extra padding at the rear to make room for the fiberglass tailgate.
The Durango had stiff competition from the Chevy El Camino, simply because the El Camino had a more substantial engine. There was also something about the El Camino that the Ford Fairmont Durango did not quite have, even though the 1981 and 1982 El Camino was no longer based on the Chevelle, but on the Malibu instead.