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Hagerty Employee

Avoidable Contact #106: What this Tempo can teach us about the Porsche 968 | Hagerty Media

What is joy? Would you believe that it is this: Two weeks ago, on the leafy and uncluttered streets of a fascinating Houston neighborhood dotted with mid-century homes, I had the chance to drive an outstanding in-progress restoration of a truly rare sporting automobile. No, I'm not talking about those garden-variety supercars or Sixties muscle cars.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/opinion/avoidable-contact/avoidable-contact-106-tempo-porsche-968/
115 REPLIES 115
JCalhoun
New Driver

Jack, if it's any consolation I regard you as the closest thing we have to L.J.K Setright. I read him as a kid in my father's issues of CAR and couldn't believe what he got away with. I don't always agree with either one of you but the writing is always provocative and often profound. I read his book "Drive On" during the breaks at the Goodwood Revival in 2019 and for a weekend everything was right in the world.
JC
JeffWeimer
Intermediate Driver

I have owned both those Accord generations (and the one in between) and the difference is *incredible* although the jump was at the pop-up headlight generation - and America was asleep at the wheel. Which was also broadcast in *all* the magazines at the time.
CJinSD
Instructor

That may be true, but it was a 2nd generation Accord sedan I rode in that I just couldn't pretend wasn't in another world of attention-to-detail and refinement from the Detroit products I was familiar with in 1985. 

JohninNC
Advanced Driver

The 5 speed in that 1991 era? Accord was incredible. We had a maroon EX with the 5 speed, and it was so slick and smooth, and that car was lots of fun to drive. Of course I was 17-18 coming from my parents Caprice Classic wagon (also marron with the faux wood panels). Ahhh.... gratefully borrowing the parents car until I bought a beater S-10. My kids say they'd be embarrassed to drive my pearl white 2011 4x4 4runner when they come of age, WHAT!? 🙂
JohninNC
Advanced Driver

To piggyback on my long post with the obnoxious smiley face, my pal would gratefully borrow and drive his parents tempo, and it was a nice car! He had a bazooka tube in the back for some solid rap music action.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

God bless the Bazooka! I remember them like it was yesterday.
franimal007
Pit Crew

I had a V6 Tempo a few year ago with a 5 speed manual, it was one of the best kept secrets. BLAST to drive, and I was able to take advantage of many "faster" cars by getting a jump on them, like Mazda Miata's, Honda Civic SI's, and many others. It was actually funny, and talk about a "grin" on a face! Nice driving car also, Just before you think I am nuts, I have a few muscle cars, and a FGT.
Sajeev
Community Manager

You definitely aren't nuts, you're just 100% right. 

Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

He couldn't get no righter, as Ye didn't quite say.
Ark-med
Intermediate Driver

"FGT"?
TonyT
Instructor

I tend to be reminded of Jean Shepherd when I read your articles. His columns in Car and Driver were always great. And Bax was that old friend that you had known forever; a man that had indeed been there and done that. You write with a clarity and sense of purpose about things that you have done without sounding pretentious and patronizing. You give us the facts as you know them and for that, I thank you. Some unsolicited advice: Don't worry about comparing yourself or your writing style to anyone else's. Be the best father and husband that you can, and reap those rewards.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

I'll take that advice as if I'd solicited it, because I should have. Thank you.
KMD
New Driver

Great to see a fellow Shep fan here! Been a lifelong fan... enjoy him in print, video and especially radio! I love listening to streams of his stories about cars and travel when taking my classics out for a spin!
61Rampy
Advanced Driver

Wow, haven't thought about Jean, Bax, or Setright in a long time. Jean Shepherd was one of the funniest authors ever. I would have tears running down my face reading some of his columns. (Same with Bruce McCall, and P.J. O'rourke). I enjoyed Bax, but LJK Setright? I couldn't decipher his writings at all, except to figure out that he thought the Arnolt-Bristol (I think) was the greatest car ever.
DaveB
Intermediate Driver

good solid article. Thanks. Reminds me to maybe not pursue the ultimate car today and be frustrated by not being able to get it (and even if I did - not be the driver capable with money or access to take full advantage of it on the track or dragstrip, but to be satisfied with a slightly lower trim level that I can get into and that I will enjoy.
May be time to pause or let go of the Hellcat Redeye Widebody chase. hmmmm. now to ponder that and really come to grips. Maybe I'll hold on for another few months.
cek
New Driver

Thanks so much for the great article! It caught my attention because I had a 1986 or 87 Tempo Sport edition, 5spd, 4 cylinder. I bought it new, loved the car, and sold to a friend after two years because I would be traveling for the next two years. Turned out to be a lemon. Had all sorts of mechanical problems around 50,000 miles and my friend regretted the purchase. It is neat to see that if I had held on to it, it might just be a desirable classic.
CarciergeGlenn
Intermediate Driver

My father, now passed on, was a real car-guy. He'd been a "Ford man" until a 1960 Falcon needing an engine rebuild at only 3 years of age, made him switch to American Motors. He then moved on to used GM luxury cars, and when he could buy new in the 1970's, he went with Chrysler. All American. So it was that I also learned at his knee, that American cars were what you got. At some point in the mid-1980's, he told me he'd driven a Honda Accord and the car was light-years ahead of Detroit. I thought he'd lost his marbles, but later learned - after a new 1999 Dodge Neon head gasket going "kaboom" (thankfully under warrantee) being the last straw - that I would be happier moving on to "import brands" (in my case, Hyundai, Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf). I've now purchased a pre-retirement car, a new Chevy Bolt, made in Michigan so have sort of come full-circle. (Except I think the heavy lifting for engineering and development of the Bolt is by GM-Korea previously known as Daewoo....?)
rdm101
New Driver

Don't get me wrong, I love cars. Almost all cars. What I fail to understand is the purpose of this article? Why would anyone want to restore a Topaz or a Tempo?
I worked as a car salesperson in that era. As a young person, I gravitated to the mustang and the diesel Ranger. The Tempo, couldn't take a corner, accelerate to save its life, not fuel efficient, brake to save someone else's life, nor attract the opposite sex. It wasn't even fun to drive in any way. Cars like this bankrupt car companies.

I fail to recognize the purpose of the article??

When manufactures retire cars, it is usually because there is a significant drop in demand, or the car is a lemon. This is completely true for the Tempo/Topaz twins. Let them rest in peace. please let them rest in peace!!
Sajeev
Community Manager

I guess you never drove the 1992-only Tempo GLS when you were selling cars back then? 

edddurst-gmail
Intermediate Driver

I fail to see the logic here. "When manufactures retire cars, it is usually because there is a significant drop in demand, or the car is a lemon." So from this quote, the Chevrolet Chevelle had lost public appeal or was a lemon. Is that right? Ditto for the Ford Fairlane or Torino?
Bostwick9
Detailer

Purpose of the article stated right here: ' ...the classic-car market operates in the ventricles of the heart, where logic does not apply.'
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

Okay, I see where you're coming from, but:

Get the nicest Fox Mustang you can, even a Cobra, and meet me somewhere. I'll bring my Accord Coupe. Let's see which one can't take a corner, accelerate, or brake, at least by comparison.

The Tempo is barely any further behind a modern Shelby GT500 than a Fox Cobra is. Does that it put it in context? If you'd still enjoy that Mustang, someone will still enjoy a Tempo.
schnelica
Pit Crew

People might say the same about my 1977 Ford Granada. A 2 door Ghia with a 302 and 39,000 on the clock. Very nice car that runs great and attracts people at car shows. There will be a whole line of Mustangs, but only my Granada. Everyone has a story in their past about one. One of its biggest appeals is how few are left, because they come from the depths of the malaise era and everyone disposed of them. I've overheard people at parades I've driven it in say "holy smokes, is that a Granada?". Every car is worth restoring, even the "bad" ones. It's all in the eye of the beholder.
mfp4073
Detailer

The answer to your question is- (Because its different). This should be obvious but I will say it anyway. The more unusual or unseen a car becomes the more desirable and restorable it becomes. Past reliability numbers have no sway on its future desirability. Variety is truly the spice of life in the classic car universe. Further; I practically fell out of my Dodge Charger last week when a perfect silver Ford Tempo drove by me. I wanted to stop him and check it out! And that's also why the article was written.
64jeepsrt
Intermediate Driver

Ever hear the expression "to each his own" ?
Rider79
Instructor

You gravitated to the diesel Ranger, and you think the Tempo "couldn't accelerate to save its life"? Not only was the Tempo probably quicker (I don't feel like digging out period tests), but it did not stink of diesel exhaust.
Sajeev
Community Manager

I bet a Diesel Tempo was faster than a Diesel Ranger. 

Eliteman76
Pit Crew

The interesting fun fact of my tempo experience:
1988 GLS coupe repeatedly took 3500-4500 rpm clutch dumps, smoldering the tires.

Was it a V8 mustang? Nope!
Did it scoot along decently, and for what it was, be fun for me? Yup!
DT
Advanced Driver

The purpose was to entertain you. Apparently you weren't. Most of us were. Let it go, Please let it go...
OldRoad
Instructor

I used to service the Tempo/Topaz. The power train of those models were actually very durable and performed well and fairly nimble to drive. The engine was based on FOMOCO's bullet proof inline 200 cid pushrod 6 cylinder. I never owned one but I've driven quite a few and never experienced any brake issues except maybe when it was time for a brake job. The only problem about the engine at that time was an oil seepage problem from the head gasket. None of us could ever figure out why this was happening and I don't think Ford could either because I don't remember any TSB articles addressing the problem. Maybe someone here could enlighten me.
Eliteman76
Pit Crew

I can only attest from my younger days, owning a salvage title rebuild 1988 GLS coupe…what I was always told was the 2.3 in the tempo was basically the same as Ford’s industrial pump engine and designed to run at 5,000 rpm pumping water all day…for decades.

With that said…ymmv (your mileage may vary) but I beat the tar out of mine as a teenager. The abuse it endured is still that of legend amongst my old high school friends, oddly enough.
Might have been all those airborn moments, high rpm clutch dumps and general shenanigans that ensued.
psmith
Intermediate Driver

The best cars are those that have a clear mechanical and styling heritage. The designers and engineers have had time to work the bugs out. Dad drove Tauruses (albeit SHO versions). Like the Tempo, superb go-to-work cars, no worries about parking lot dings or idiots that run red lights and risk turning one's car into recycled metal. Great MUSA transport appliances.
About the time 968s came out I was in a position to buy one (n.b. the salesman at MidWest tried to get me into a Defender 90 - they just could not move them. That might have been a mistake). It was a marvelous car. All the roughness and limitations I had been told about with the 924/44 had been dialed out. That 3 liter 4 accelerated the car like an electric motor. Incredible brakes. Handling that was sublime. And understated styling that had just enough of the Miura-cool to be interesting but it didn't scream for attention like so many other sporty cars. And I was hooked - I didn't need or want a transport appliance. The local Chevy dealer drove a new 'vette out to my house trying to get me to reconsider - it was a nice car but clearly aimed at boy racers or old men who wished they were boy racers. The 968 was a rare gem in comparison to the 'vette's bling. Who cares how fast it was compared to anything else on the road. In SE Ohio it was a superb way to chew up weekend days on the roads such as the Triple Nickel . I'd have a 'nuther if it made sense to have one in the hyperpopulated NE.
Tsaxman
Detailer

Where were you in '92?
I had a Nissan 300ZX but shortly thereafter, because I had a second child, I bought a BMW 535. Both were flawless in design and early 1990's performance. That said, because we are currently in the golden age of the internal combustion engine, a 2018 Ford Focus RS or Honda Civic Si would smoke them both.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

I was a credit analyst for the Ford Credit branch in Dublin, Ohio.
Garageman
New Driver

I think the 944 Turbo S Silver Rose was 1988 only, but I get the point.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

It was one year, and for some reason I thought it was 1989.

This is how people wind up misremembering history!
PaulyG
Pit Crew

Definitely a 1988 color as I owned one for many years. I eventually turned it into a track car. Sold it to my mechanic as I ended up doing more bike racing.

Jack, that silver rose car you see at the track occasionally was mine.
OHUQTU
New Driver

"Gordon Baxter and LJK Setright"? If I wasn't retired, I wouldn't have had the time to figure out who they were (spending 10 minutes searching the 'net).

Photos without captions? References to obscure cars, without captioned photos?

I surmise you were not writing for a knuckle-dragging car enthusiast like me.

The point of this click-bait titled exercise in joy thievery escapes my Neanderthal DNA brain.

cyclemikey
Intermediate Driver

At least your self-diagnostic skills are functioning well.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

Oh, I suspect I have more Neanderthal in me than you do -- my brow is a foot ahead of my chin, like an E28 533i. (I'll try to find you a picture).

We have a brilliant range of readers and community members at Hagerty. Some of them need to see videos with subtitles in order to understand what's going on. Some of them just need videos. Others need pictures, lots of 'em,. clearly captioned.

Last but not least, you have the 50,000 or so pure Renaissance Romantics who read James Joyce and TS Eliot growing up -- or was that Joseph Heller? -- and who just want to dream along with someone who suffered through a classical education and then underwent a seamless transition of love from the books about cars to the cars themselves.

Those are my people, and I love them, as I love all our readers.

Thanks for giving it a shot.
hyperv6
Engineer

Looking back we have a long history of cars that fell in the cracks or just did not matter enough to.

These were not bad cars or even ugly car but cars that vanished because few loved them enough to preserve the.

We do have a long history of cars that do matter some are ugly and some were not popular but today like a Superbird you can no longer find one. The yet many of Chrysler’s best selling sedans and wagons are gone.

We will see much more of this moving forward as there are so many vehicles today people like enough to buy but they have no real love or passion for. People today just see cars as transportation and not a part of their image. 

I blame many of the Imports from Asia as many of the cars we got were good cars but had little soul or passion to them. Few people want to be represented by an Accord vs a BMW. But the Asian cars were reliable, safe and did the job at hand. 

Now we have soulless cars from all nations anymore. As they age ther is little market for parts as who is going to restore them. In many cases the cost to restore is much more than what is left of the car is worth. 

Even on some cars with value to restore some rare option items like TTop gaskets can go into the thousands as no one is reproducing them. God forbid you drop a rarer glass top. I know I remove mine with my trade marked Pontiac death grip. 

It will be interesting moving forward as the hobby is is a slight decline. Will we be forced like the old days to search harder for parts even using the web. We once relied on meets and Hemings. 

Worse yet junk yards where I used to find he I engines in now scrap cars so fast that they are gone before they are even old or out of production. 

It had gotten to be best to seek out low mile cars and pay extra for them if you want a clean car. To buy the parts to restore would be more. 

What I feel is more lost is the thrill of the hunt for parts today. Also the satisfaction of rebuilding many cars that are different. 

I have a Fiero today not because it was ever the Ferrari killer. But I have it because it is different. Many like with this V6 Tempo may not be the first choice but it is different. I love Camaro’s, Vettes and Mustangs but too much they are all the same after a while. 

I appreciate those who take the tough road in the hobby. 

I need to find a good junkyard this coming weekend and just go take a walk in the history. I still have a few hidden away and like to just see what I can find. 

One last note. Those of us with these orphan cars have one clear trait. We do it for the love and passion not for the money. Too bad more are not like that. 

 

Eliteman76
Pit Crew

Well spoken.
Also…just because I have friends who enjoy Fiero living and misery 😂 have you ever considered a 3800 supercharge swap?
Or using a last generation Monte Carlo fwd 5.3 LS swap with a G6 manual transmission?
I’m a Ford Gran Torino, get off my lawn sort of hooligan, however when you have friends that have swapped in a 427 LSX into a Fiero, well…you just go for gusto.
Flashman
Instructor

There's a lot of personal reasonance for me in this article, even though I gravitated more towards Henry N. Manney and Cory Farley than LJK Setright. To begin with, my mother-in-law owned a Ford Tempo, which was a revelation after her previous Plymouth Volaré. Average, competent, and trouble-free are not bad things for an English professor. Also, I own a Porsche 968; after 21 years, it's still my (summer) daily driver. My brother's 'Vette will dust it, but the Porsche has its own strengths and is plenty fast enough to get me arrested. So, thanks for the memories, and the enjoyment of your sterling style.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

Sir, we need more information than that: color and equipment on the 968, please.

I bought a *perfect* no sunroof 1984 944 back in 2000 for real money. Another six or seven grand would have put me in a 968. That was the worst money I never spent.
Brian79
New Driver

Jack, great article, one of the best lines I've read in along time-
" The classic-car market operates in the ventricles of the heart, where logic does not apply."
Thanks
Stradakat
Pit Crew

And the 968 will always be a Porsche.
joet
Pit Crew

Vulcan V-6? Woof, woof!
Bostwick9
Detailer

What a scream. Thank you. I am a sucker for retrospectives about common vehicles and their advocates. I own two very ordinary oldies and my newest will get there in time.
Compared to those PsOS Fiesta and last gen Focus with that Power Shift automated manual, the Tempo was boring but honest and a good reliable choice for the value hunter. Ford burned a lot of people pretending there was nothing wrong with that automated manual garbage transmission. For ten years.
https://www.freep.com/in-depth/money/cars/ford/2019/07/11/ford-focus-fiesta-transmission-defect/1671...
But this: ' ...the classic-car market operates in the ventricles of the heart, where logic does not apply.' is the nugget. Somehow spending $$$ on an old Valiant or N Body is a lot more satisfying than buying a new car and that "new car smell". [Smells like money being burned to me....].
I will have to disagree about the updated roofline. That possibly held the record for the most awkward, cluttered and inelegant attempt at an update until Saturn gave the '74 Matador four door treatment to the L Series in 2003.Or the last Gen Toyota Celica.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

For the record, I think the updated roofline was an improvement on the willfully poverty-spec four-window Topaz styling but probably NOT an improvement on the six-window aesthetic of the Tempo.

Ford's decision to create that brand differentiation was one of the odder things it ever did, and it led to oddities like the Australian Ford Taurus having the Sable doors and roof to save a few bucks.