Road Testing a Ford Tempo, 16 Years Later
This past week I had the opportunity to travel back in time. I did not need a Delorean, a flux capacitor, or a vehicle capable of 88MPH (which is a good thing because the car I got wasn’t up to the task). All I needed was a 1994 Ford Tempo. So how did this come to be? Well, this week I took my car in for much needed maintenance. I am prepping it for an appearance at the Bullrun event in New York City in two weeks time. More on that event in future blogs.
While my car was in the shop, I needed to get into work. I am one of those people who lives no where near their place of work. There is no viable public transportation options to get there either. I had no car, but absolutely needed to get into the office. So what was I to do? Borrow a 1994 Ford Tempo! I made a call and found out it wasn’t being used that day. Success! What better suited vehicle could there be to travel clear across Toronto 50KM during rush hour? So what if it is 16 years old and has never driven more then 2KM at a time in the past 10 years? I had wheels.
The car in question is a 1994 Ford Tempo GL Sedan. It features a 3 speed automatic hooked up to a 2.3L Inline-4 cylinder developing a monstrous 96HP. Watch out GT-R drivers, this guy is looking for you. The colour of the car is hard to describe, I am not sure if 16 years of relentless sun has faded the paint, or it was always a pale bluish colour. Either way, the sparkle is long gone.
One interesting detail about this car though is its mileage. As can be expected for a car rarely driven, the odometer is a just a tick past 80 000KM. That works out to 5 000KM a year on average. I do that sometimes in a month. This Tempo is just a baby.
The Tempo had been a hit for Ford over its 11 year life span. Always a strong seller, by 1994 it had become obvious the car was out of date and out of style. Today, the Tempo is a relatively rare car. There are not that many left on the road. In fact, I did a quick search of Autotrader.ca and found that at the time of this writing there were no Tempos or Topazs for sale. I also found out that you can discover a lot about a vehicle in just one day and 100KM. Read on to discover my adventures with the Tempo, and, perhaps the reason it was discontinued all those years ago.
KM 1: You sit inside the car and realize how small the interior really is. I am only 6’1” but I found myself having to recline the drivers seat partially into the rear passenger area so I can see out of the windshield. A nice touch is that the power mirrors still work. Adjusting the microscopic side mirrors into place was a snap.
KM 2: I debate about stopping at Timmies to grab a coffee but can’t find a cup holder. I finally do find the one and only cup holder. It is sensibly placed way down on the floor beside my feet behind the gear shifter. I figure putting a coffee there is a recipe for disaster.
KM 4: I’m 4KM into my trip and I am getting use to the car. Maybe this car isn’t so bad.
KM 5: While getting onto the highway, I notice the lower left portion of the windshield appears to be melting. There is a “Ontario Drive Clean” sticker there that has now fused itself into the windshield.
KM 6: I finally get onto the highway. As I approach 80KM/H the car begins to develop a serious case of ‘the shakes’. Being bold (stupid?) I push it to 100KM/H. The shakes actually let up and the car isn’t too bad to drive on the highway.
KM 10: I hit my first patch of morning rush hour traffic on Highway 401 and moderately hit the brakes. The rear-end of the car immediately pulls hard to the left attempting to change lanes on its own. Who needs state of the art technology? I am already in the self driving car.
KM 15: 6 stop and go sequences later and I am beginning to master the art of ‘counter-steer’ braking. Every time I go to brake, I steer a little to the right and the car stays straight. Sure, the backend dances around more then a kid at a rave, but it isn’t too bad once you get accustom to it.
KM 25: Having finally cleared the worst of the morning traffic, I enter an open part of highway 401. Feeling more comfortable in the Tempo, I push it up to 112KM/H. Having only a 3-speed automatic, the car is turning 3700RPM at this speed roughly (no pun intended). The car is shaking, vibrating, and wheezing down the road. Suffering from sensory overload (or fear), I get the car back down to 100KM/H. I pick this as my top speed for the rest of the trip.
KM 50: I make it into work and park the baby blue beast. Really, it isn’t that bad to drive. I conclude it just needs an alignment (and maybe 100HP and larger then stock 185/75R14 tires).
KM 51: It is time to drive back across the city to pick up my car. I head out and am amazed and how easily the Tempo fires up even after sitting in 28 degree weather all morning.
KM 52: It is hot out and I think ‘What the Hell, let’s try the A/C.’. To my amazement it works and blows out nice cold air. Power feels like it has dropped to 13HP.
KM 63: I am clicking along the 401 at a constant 100KM/H without issue. The vague and light steering isn’t really affecting the cars ability to stay in its lane.
KM 90: I exit the highway onto a right handed off ramp. Daydreaming, I momentarily forget I am driving the Tempo and not my RX-8. I attempt moderate braking while moderately steering to the right. The rear-end of the Tempo tries its hardest to pass the front of the car. All feelings of confidence and manliness evaporate. I almost spun out a Ford Tempo.
KM 100: I drop the car back off with the advice to the owner, ‘Maybe it is time for a new car’.