All Creatures Great & Small – 1968 Ford XL Fastback and 1980 Ford Fiesta

People like to make fun of American manufacturers’ products from the late 1970s, but while recognizing there were some real blunders in there, you have to look at what the manufacturers were going through. And for a good idea of that, just look at today’s pair of cars. They’re separated by a mere 12 years (okay, and the Atlantic separated the two product teams), but compare those two to, say, a 2003 Taurus and a 2015 Fiesta and you’ll notice how relatively drastic the transition was. Of course, the situation was uniquely disastrous in the short term – a fuel crisis combined with new safety and emissions controls gave them a repeated clobbering. Check out this 1968 Ford XL for sale for $3600 in Spokane, WA.

1968 Ford XL nose

Flip up headlights make for a jet-intake grill that looks cool in hindsight, but was soon to be obsolete. Unfortunately, the seller does not capture some of the car’s greatest angles, including the rear three-quarter view showing the flowing roofline and squared-rocket-outlet tail lights. This car seems to be missing its XL badge, and it looks like the passenger door was replaced or perhaps just repainted after a scrape.

1968 Ford XL interior

What can be seen of the interior doesn’t look too bad, but there are empty speaker cutouts in the door panels, minor cracking in the dash, and some blue tape visible on the front passenger seat, so expect splits on the driver’s side too. Notice the awesome shift lever, probably meant to evoke aircraft controls. Now you know where Alfa Romeo got the inspiration for the 75/Milano’s handbrake lever.

1968 Ford XL engine

Decoding the VIN provided by the seller shows car #8J60Z159839 was originally sold with an FE 390 V8 running a 4-barrel carburetor, good for 315hp (gross, of course), and was built in Los Angeles, CA. Of course, those same decoders show that “60” indicates a 4-door fastback, so you’ll want to double check the VIN as part of your PPI, as the seller seems to have made a typo. Either way, the car should move along pretty well in a straight line.

1980 Ford Fiesta left side

And here’s the contrasting piece – this 1980 Ford Fiesta for sale for $500 in Vancouver, WA. These are said to be fun to drive, just in a completely different way, and were designed for the new reality of the 1970s and 1980s. Perhaps a more valid comparison would be to the 1968 Cortina, but this Fiesta and XL are arguably as close to each other as their current Fiesta and Taurus contemporaries. The seller concedes that while the car shows its age and burns a half quart every 1000 miles, it generally runs well. It’s received new brakes and regular maintenance in his ownership, but you’ll want to pay particular attention to the clutch, as he used it to teach his teenager how to drive a manually shifted car, saying it’s a lost cause. Either way, for $500 you could have the basis for a fun street car or LeMons racer. Which would you choose, great or small?

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One Response to “All Creatures Great & Small – 1968 Ford XL Fastback and 1980 Ford Fiesta”

  1. pickles Says:

    That Fiesta!! Small car fun trumps rolls of lard every time. They’re so rare these days. It’s neat to see one again.

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