In the long history of the automobile, there’s no dearth of cars that flopped spectacularly, and had to be pulled from the market within just a couple of years. Poor decisions made by otherwise brilliant executives have almost invariably resulted in cars that were shunned by the general public. But there have been some appallingly mediocre cars that have gone on to be enormous sales success stories due to specific market reasons. Ford’s Tempo saloon from the Eighties is an excellent example. The late Seventies and the early Eighties saw most of the big manufacturers in the US downsizing their model line-up, in response to the oil crisis, as well as to counter the onslaught of Japanese players. Chrysler had their K-Cars and General Motors had their own bunch of dreary compacts. While many of these, like the Chevrolet Cavalier, were atrocious, Ford didn’t want to be left behind and wanted to come up with a compact saloon of their own. Rather than doing a proper job of designing and developing a new model ground up, the Blue Oval took the easy way out. It borrowed the front-wheel drive platform from its European Escort, built a tedious, generic shell around it and dropped a weak, noisy engine under the bonnet. The suspension is said to have been bouncy, and the handling limp. Several problems were reported by owners including fuel pump failure, frequent stalling. And like many cars from the era, it was highly prone to rust. However, the Tempo was a huge sales success for Ford. During its production run of 10 years, it remained one of the best selling cars in the US, along with its rebadged cousin, the Mercury Topaz. But that success doesn’t take away from its dubious distinction as one of the dullest, slowest and most unexciting cars to have come out of Dearborn.

 

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