Ford’s in trouble. Headlines talks of cuts, cuts and more cuts; and new product that might bring the automaker back from the brink. Meanwhile, mad props are in order for the party responsible for not killing the venerable Lincoln Town Car. This website has long argued that Ford’s failing car business isn’t about new product. It’s about neglecting existing product. Whether or not a resurrected Town Car aids an ailing FoMoCo is an open question, but refraining from reinventing the wheel at every regime change is the short answer.
The original Town Car's architectural-grade sheetmetal met with approval from wannabe-Dolemites and Golden Girls. The current whip hosts a series of cartoonishly clumsy styling cliches on a bulbous, bloated body. The Town Car’s Cheshire cat grille and googly-eyed headlights elude style like Dennis Rodman in a Valentino tuxedo. Door handles lifted from a 1950's Frigidaire put function ahead of form, not to mention an inflated bustle sporting a sad array of across-the-pond design cues. Even with the right proportions and delicious dimensions, the American-hallmark of covered headlights, coffin noses and Continental kits are a thing of the past.
The American Dream machine continues to disappoint within. The Town Car’s front and rear butt-cushions fall flat, sit short and sport the slipperiest hides this side of a live python. Where's the old school, pillow-topped, sit-in-not-on velour decadence? Mouse fur rugs replace yesteryear’s plush, shaggy carpets. The once brash and unabashed color palette makes way for shades of white-bread boredom. The entry-level CD stereo tries to reach higher and lower— and fails. Other disappointments include an ashtray door that moves with all the arthritic fluidity of its core-clientele, and a front floormat small enough for a Toyota Yaris.
Contemplating the Town Car’s $43k asking price, its low rent Euro-style cuts to the bone. Still, the Town Car is no Corolla. Soft touch plastics perfectly complement its wood-effect trim, white LED lighting, fake nickel and frosted-bronze accents. The Lincoln’s interior may not give German car lovers a reason to linger, but it doesn't feel like a beat-up Manhattan-crazed taxicab either (even when it is). And the domestic barge’s rear storage compartment is enormous; suitable transport for full grown quadruplets awaiting cement shoe fitment.
Fire up the Town Car and the American dream leaves the retirement home; dual exhausts burble while the (pathetically small) hood ornament gets its shine on. The analog tachometer is a long-delayed, much appreciated addition, providing visual reinforcement of the 4.6-liter V8's hot-rod intake tenor. Though ancient, the big Lincoln’s powerplant is the automotive equivalent of the little black dress: an under-stressed engine with significantly more torque (287 ft.-lbs.) than horsepower (239hp). Take off is never less than smooth. Momentum is never less than serene.
Nimble its not, but it isn’t as lifeless as you’d imagine– for a vehicle that's only a hundred pounds lighter than a Ford Explorer. The rack and pinion steering is over-boosted, but accurate. Rear wheel-drive balance serves massive doses of confidence, while the Watt's-link axle, monotube shocks and hydroformed chassis keep it flat enough for drivers looking to recreate 70’s cop show tire squealing understeer. Bell-bottomed pedestrians no longer fear the flying hubcap, as the Town Car’s 17” rims and prodigious disc brakes provide surprisingly competent stopping power.
To say the Town Car's basic blueprint has aged well is like calling Eleanor Roosevelt just another stand-up lady. But in today's highly competitive luxury car market, the Town Car's tuning package owns an uncomfortable middle ground. It’s not surprisingly limber like the mack-daddy Ford Police Interceptor, and not stupid-plush like a proper Lincoln. Add in the Town Car’s dim-witted four-speed automatic and you have a severely flawed package. Therein lays the problem: instead of being true to itself, the Town Car tried to out-import its competitors.
Wrong answer. The Lincoln Town Car is the sole survivor of a generation of automobiles that ooze Americana like a juicy chomp into a fully-dressed hamburger. So why does the Town Car need more than one finger resting on the wheel? Where's the button-tufted seating? There’s only two ways for Lincoln to go here: WAY up market or back to its Earth Wind and Fire forefathers. We seriously question Ford’s ability to pull a Lexus out of its hat. Which leaves… playas.
Today’s homies empty their pocketbooks for the likes of Chrysler 300s and dub'd-out SUVs. This is the Town Car's rightful territory: rear-wheel drive machines with gangstolene style, epic space and a hint of grace. Now that their back’s against the wall, again, still, maybe Ford has the stones to put the real American Dream back on the road. Maybe it can change the Lincoln Town Car from an “old man’s car” to a “stickin’ it to da man" car. We shall see.