Not a Misprint: '81 Ford Durango, For All Your Fox-Body Pickup Needs

The Ford fanatics among us might be aware of this very special Fox-body Fairmont variant, but it’s a rare bird nonetheless. And it’s for sale!

There were less than 200 of these built by National Coach Corporation, which hacked up a perfectly decent Fairmont Futura delivered from the factory and surgically enhanced the clean, timeless lines with a fiberglass pickup bed, including a tailgate that incorporated the sweet stock tailights. Ford intended the Durango to replace the venerable Torino-based Ranchero. As is probably obvious by the obscurity of the trucklet, that didn’t quite happen. Less than 200 were built. Considering the last Durango in recent memory was advertised for an eye-watering $24,000, this one seems like a steal at $8900! It’d be the perfect support vehicle for a LeMons team running any Reagan-era Ford.
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  1. engineerd Avatar

    I wonder why they didn't keep the Ranchero name? Oh, wait. It's Ford. They randomly switch out model names and then go back.
    Either way, this is actually appealing to my child-of-the-80s senses.

    1. Tanshanomi Avatar

      National Coach Corporation couldn't call it Ranchero®, Ford owned that.

      1. John Wilson Avatar
        John Wilson

        Didn't Ford commision Mational Coach Corporation to make them? My Durango has a FORD nameplate on the back. National Coach Corporation didn't own that, but they used it.

      2. lester N. Young Avatar
        lester N. Young

        National Coach Company made these for the Ford motor co. it is a FORD car. I have one it is number 61 of only 129 made this leter is from the national coach company. It is a 1981 Ford Durango.

        1. Guest Avatar

          Hello Lester
          I just bought a 81 Durango. Do you have documentation that only 129 were built?. I would really like to get a copy of that. I wonder how many are left on the road?

  2. BGW Avatar

    Funny how life works. My grandfather drove a '79 Fairmount, which he professed to love ('til he drove it into a ditch or something). He also spoke fondly of wanting an El Camino to haul tools for his handyman jobs.
    If only he'd known…

  3. joshuman Avatar

    I don't like the donks or those snack-themed paint jobs at all but the more I look at this car I start to see how it could all come together.
    <img src="; style="width: 400px; height: 400px; border: 0" alt="imgTag" />
    <img src="; style="width: 400px; border: 0" alt="imgTag" />

    1. Han_Solex Avatar


  4. CptSevere Avatar

    Aw, that's cute. I like it, I really do. Never seen one of these. It reminds me of the Falcon Ranchero, has the same proportions. It's a shame this never went into production. By now, they'd be dirt cheap and easily hot rodded with Mustang parts. Stangcheros would be the coolest ride going. Ford screwed the pooch by not building tons of these.

    1. Lowen Anderson Avatar
      Lowen Anderson

      Actually the torino was built on the falcon platform, and the faimont replaced the torino… stands to reason the similaraties

  5. superbadd75 Avatar

    The '80s were also when the El Camino had returned to a reasonable size, but with the unfortunate interior of malaise era GM. Compact pickups killed the E/C and Ranchero, but now it seems that maybe now it the prime time for a comeback. The Ranger and Colorado both appear to be circling the drain, and people are highly accepting of more carlike SUVs these days, so maybe a more carlike pickup is in order. My fear is that if they were to try again, that GM's version would mock the Ridgeline, using a CUV platform, or even worse would use an Ep.II platform, like everything else they're producing these days. As for Ford's version, they would likely use the upcoming unibody Explorer, and when it became popular, rebadge it as a Mercury and a Lincoln, differentiating the 3 with only grill and taillamp treatments, as well as slight interior upgrades.

  6. engineerd Avatar

    Interesting hypothesis, Mr. badd. You may be on to something with the buying public primed for a comeback of the El Camino and Ranchero.
    The El Camino would also be badgeneered to death and spread amongst GMC, Chevy, Buick and Cadillac. Why? No reason, other than Buick and Caddy dealers will want to sell them, too.
    The Ford Ranchero would also be sold as the Mercury Durango and Lincoln MKR.
    Chrysler, as usual, will sit on the sidelines waiting for something to strike their fancy while producing the PT Cruiser and Town and Country.

  7. LTDScott Avatar

    A very good friend of mine (and LeMons team mate) just bought one of these and is the process of restoring it. Very cool ride.

  8. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    A non-Mustang Fox body would make for a killer project car.

    1. Goingincirclez Avatar

      What you want is an Aero Thunderbird or Cougar, circa 1983-1988. Preferably 87-88.

  9. Tanshanomi Avatar

    Preach on, brother.

  10. Tanshanomi Avatar

    Given the B-pillar design on the Futura, how could this NOT have happened?

  11. Han_Solex Avatar

    Pics or it didn't happen!

  12. superbadd75 Avatar

    I don't know what's happening here, but somehow Engineerd's reply to my comment disappeared, so this may look like a comment referencing nothing, but I swear, it was there earlier. Whatever.
    Anyway, Mr. 'neerd, in reference to your comment that apparrently no longer exists, GMC would have the Sprint, and Buick could bring back (and ruin) the name "Wildcat". I personally think Cadillac would go a different direction and have the only RWD car/truck combo, building it on the Sigma platform that underpins the only Cadillac worth buying CTS, and they would refer to it as the CTS EXT.

  13. superbadd75 Avatar

    If successful, Toyota would then build a Camry-based competitor. Hyundai would then come out with their version 2 to 3 years later, and it would be about 95% as good as the Toyota for about 80% of the price. VW would then pile on with a New Caddy, based on the Golf, and offer TDI power. A few years later, with so many competitors in such a small market segment, the segment would buckle and fall apart, and everyone would scrap their car/truck programs after one product cycle. Chrysler would then decide to build a PT Cruiser based version and sell it under the Ram brand.

  14. LTDScott Avatar

    ^^ this is the friend I was referring to. He sent me photos but I don't have the time to upload them while at work.

    1. ricer-roni Avatar


  15. Goingincirclez Avatar

    Can't tell if Han is being sarcastic or not, but you know… looking at the lines of that truck, they really are clean. And perhaps even "timeless" in that retro-modernistic sense. And when you consider the fair amount of design and fab that went into it, that tailgate is pretty damn sweet. Those vertical-louvered taillight panels beg for a sequential kit.
    However, it must be pointed out that these things probably sucked as trucks. Tin frame + body flex = not something I want to subject any amount of payload to. Think of it more like an open-air wagon.

  16. Rich Avatar

    If anyone is interested in a little history on these, here is a link to a pdf copy of an article on the Fairmont Durango from a 1995 issue of Collectible Automobile magazine:

  17. Rob Stercraw Avatar
    Rob Stercraw

    I can't post pics at work, but I sent them to Scott. Hopefully he can post them later and he'll include a couple with the horrid modified El Camino camper shell that was on it when it was found on Craigslist in Socal last year…

  18. Han_Solex Avatar

    I understand the "sarcasm or not?" confusion. For the record, I think the Durango is pretty cool. With all the Fox-body fun bits out there, it would be pretty easy to soup it up. I was a big fan of all the utes long before the Jalpnik meme got started, and while my personal fantasy involves a K-code 289 powered '65 Falcon Ranchero, I 'd take one of these in a heartbeat.

  19. Goingincirclez Avatar

    Oh most definitely. I've always been a fan of the smaller utes… I wouldn't even mind a Dodge Rampage if I found a decent one. There's something about those little go-kartish trucks that's so perversely appealing.
    Agreed on the classic Ranchero. I spent a year or so (about 10 years ago, before the internet was truly useful for such things) trying to find one for myself but the only ones turning up with any regularity in my area were the late 70's models, and I've just never taken a liking to those. And perhaps nodding to the "stigma car" thread, I refused to consider an El Camino – everyone has those. There was a original-patina '65 Ranchero with period-appropriate bed topper (!) in Lexington, but as long as I kept an eye on it, it wasn't for sale.

  20. Rob Stercraw Avatar
    Rob Stercraw

    There were probably as many as (if not more) one-off custom pick-up-truck conversions of the Fairmonts as there were of the factory-built Durangos. Most of the one-offs do not have a functional tailgate. The conversion required an addition of a filler panel to move the taillight panel rearward about 4" so it would clear the rear bumper when it flipped down.

  21. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

    If they had sold these in any significant number, I would do my best to own one today.

  22. Glenn Walton Avatar
    Glenn Walton

    Here's one for sale, Ebay item 260553610001

  23. Glenn Avatar

    My Durango just sold on Ebay for $6,800.00 but the guy had neglected to ask his wife if it was ok to buy it and guess what, to put it mildly she was not happy about the purchase. He asked if I would cancel the bid and in the interest of saving a marriage I agreed. Here is a link if anyone is interested in buying the Durango and I will take $6,800.00 for the car even though the ad says $8,500.00. I have my eye on a 7 Litre Galaxie and don't want to miss it. My email is

  24. Jed Avatar

    One for sale at wheels and deals in Santa Clara, CA

  25. Laurel Gady Avatar

    Is it hard to develop online games.

  26. Tonegog Avatar

    I own a 1982 Durango . I found a 1981 at the local pick a part rhar was in great shape but they wouldn't sell me the whole car . I went back on half price day and bought all the Durango specific parts . I then found a clean 1978 Zephyr Z7 with a factory 302 and C4 and using my 82 as a template converted the Zephyr into a Durango . The first Durangos were based on Zephyrs then Ford decided to base them on Fairmonts . I love my V8 Durango !

  27. Jerry Hopkins Avatar
    Jerry Hopkins

    I have a 1982 Durango for sale, have owned the car for about ten years less than 140K onthe clock. Vehical is black in color with a small block V8. Car runs very well and is in average condition. More than happy to answer any questions. Sell price is $5,000.00 or trade. Phone is 903 875 9557 .

    1. Wayne Avatar

      Hi, do you still have your Durango for sale? Any pictures?

    2. Wayne Avatar

      Hi Jerry, do you still have your Durango for sale?

      1. Jerry Hopkins Avatar

        Wayne still have the 82 Durango have not figured out how to send pics on this site; if you send me E-Mail I can send pics My E-Mail is
        Best Regards
        Jerry Hopkins
        Phone 903 875 9557

  28. Wayne Avatar

    Looking to buy a Ford Fairmont Durango……..

    1. Jerry Hopkins Avatar
      Jerry Hopkins

      Wayne ,
      1982 Durango is still for sale, call 903 875 9557 if you are still interested. Can send pics if you will send e-mail. My e-mail is
      Jerry Hopkins

    2. madmacs Avatar

      Still looking for one?

  29. jerome holbrook Avatar
    jerome holbrook

    I have a 1982 Durango, 6 cly auto, lots of dents nothing major $3800. 310-677-7498

    1. Wayne Avatar

      Hi, yes would like photo,s of the durango.
      Thank You

  30. Susie Crouch Avatar
    Susie Crouch

    My father just past away and I have his durango for sale – it was his little dream – – everythingsusie

    1. e. motter Avatar
      e. motter

      i am interested in purchasing your durango, please send me your asking price and location.
      than you, e. motter

  31. Derrick Avatar
  32. George Avatar

    I have a 1981 Ford Durango with a built small block v8 in it. It has 48,000. miles on the car. It is in good shape and runs and drives well.. Price is 7500. if anyone is interested. email me at

    1. Larry Smith Avatar
      Larry Smith

      Do you still have the Durango?
      E mail —