By on February 10, 2010

Thirty-two years is a long time. That’s how many years the Panther chassis-based Town Car will have been made when the last on rolls off the line in 2011. And to what can we credit this remarkable longevity? Brilliant engineering; or insightful marketing strategy? How about a big helping of GM’s boneheadedness mixed in with equal dashes of Ford cheapness and stubbornness. Sometimes you just get handed things handed to you on a platter. Although in the case of the Panther TC, it took a couple of years of anxiety before Ford realized what had been given them: the keys to the last traditional American car.

It was not a happy beginning though. After reluctantly abandoning the out sized Lincoln barges of 1979, having hung on years longer than GM, Ford bit the downsizing bullet. And it hurt. If ever GM’s styling prowess was put to a difficult and unasked-for task, it was the vast resizing of their large cars in 1977. And they pulled it off with remarkable results. It helped that their ’71-’76 cars had become inflated walruses, but the B-Bodies of 1977 maintained a sense of dignity, proportion and style, despite the radical pruning.

One would think that the extra couple of years Ford took for their grand liposuction would pay off. Not so; the 1979 LTD and Marquis looked boxy and ill-proportioned on their 114″ wheelbase, especially so the ungainly coupes. And the Lincoln, riding a slightly longer 117″ wb, suffered from the same maladies. The coupe versions in particular, both the Town Coupe and the truly pathetic Mark VI, were painful to look at, like a victim of horribly botched cosmetic surgery. Instead of starting with a clean sheet, it looked like a scissors and paste version of a bad photo-chop.

Sales went into free-fall. In 1981, less than 70k Lincolns were sold; one third of just a couple of years earlier. The ’81 recession didn’t help, but Lincoln jumped the shark with these. The Town Coupe was such a mess that it was euthanized within a couple of years, and the Mark VI slogged along a few years longer. Meanwhile GM was selling its handsome E-Body coupes in record numbers. But then came the great act of self-mutilation.

In 1985, GM launched its second bout of wholesale miniaturization, and this time they jumped the killer whale. The FWD Caddy DeVille was now barely bigger than a Chevy Citation. Yes, it was a miracle in terms of interior space utilization in relation to exterior length, but that was not the criteria that counted for much of anything at the golf club. And in that most painful chapter of GM’s self-destruction, it handed Ford the keys to Town Car immortality, success and big profits.

Everything is relative, and compared the the mini-Caddys, yesterday’s truncated Lincoln was suddenly today’s “traditional” land yacht. And there was a huge market of traditionalists wanting one. Sales exploded: in 1985 over 167k Lincolns found newly appreciative owners. In 1988, Lincoln actually outsold Cadillac, a feat that would have seemed absurd to contemplate a few years earlier. And the Town Car was the backbone of Lincoln’s resuscitation.

A gaggle of other Lincolns didn’t hurt, mostly. The T-Bird based Mark VII had a nice run, and actually provided a pleasant driving experience, in the LSC version. It epitomized Ford’s abilities to make do with what they had, but with some honest and genuine feeling (and results).  The FWD V6 Taurus-based Continental was the Mark VII’s polar opposite; Ford laid an egg with that, and its stink was all-too obvious, all too soon.

But Ford left the TC mostly alone, save for a couple of major restyles along the way. GM saw the error of its ways, and tried a rather embarrassing comeback with the Caprice-based ’93 Fleetwood. But that soon went away to make production room for more Suburbans and Escalades. It wasn’t a serious threat to the Town Car’s hegemony by then anyway, especially since fleets had long adopted it as their own. A simple and rugged RWD BOF car is what everyone from taxis, police and limo operators found to be the cheapest way to get the job done, and the Panthers were willing to oblige. Ford is keeping its TC line running through 2011 to give them a chance to stock up and prepare for the end, whatever that means. But the end is in sight, for the lucky and plucky Town Car. Note to Ford: send a Thank You card to GM before you turn off the lights on the TC line.

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57 Comments on “Curbside Classic: 1985 Lincoln Town Car...”


  • avatar
    Green Destiny

    Brilliant commentary as usual, Paul…Though I was hoping the next entry in this Lincoln story would have been a Mark V

  • avatar
    92golf

    I drove a 1989 version of one of these as an airport limousine for several years. It had the old standard fuel-injected 302 V8 and I remember being amazed at how tough it was and how good the fuel economy was for such a big vehicle. Everyone I knew, including myself, loved the front power vent windows that slid down ahead of the main window. The trunk was gigantic, one could simply keep piling stuff without paying attention to how it was packed. We had several that went over 700,000 km without any major issues.
    All in all, a worthy representative of the last of the big American rear-wheel-drive luxury cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Mike66Chryslers

      I thought the slide-down vent windows were gimmicky and not useful. The nicest thing about conventional tip-out vent windows is that they make a bubble of calm air behind them, so you can roll down the door window and hang your elbow out in weather that would normally be a bit too cool for that. Not so in the Lincoln.

    • 0 avatar
      sastexan

      Our half-lab, half-golden retriever loved that vent window in my mom’s ’86 Town Car (very much like the picture except baby blue paint and half-vinyl top and blue velour cloth interior). She would stick her snout out it (yes, I know, in the event of an accident she would have lost her nose) and tongue hanging out, bark at all passers by.

  • avatar
    86er

    *Obligatory mention of $1 billion in profits from this line in 1986.*

    • 0 avatar
      WinthropWyman

      Look at the type of maintenance ports that are on the system. If they are small (about 3/8″ wide) and are threaded they are r12 and if they are about 1/2 inch in diameter and look like a quick connect with no threads it is r134a.
      Lmo in Toronto

  • avatar
    Mike66Chryslers

    A friend had one of these 80′s Lincoln Town Cars. It was originally from out west, so the body was in good shape. The only time I was in it, I drove it home for him from the farmer he bought it from. I was not impressed; it was almost as long as my Chryslers yet rode like my grandmother’s Ford Fairmont. He finally gave up on it a few years ago due to electrical system gremlins left him stranded in the middle of nowhere.

    The 302 was gutless and the valvetrain clattered (I suspect gummed-up lifters) the whole time he owned it. It always had a vacuum leak somewhere. The variable-venturi carb was not good, and he paid a hefty sum to have it overhauled shortly before scrapping the car.

    I’m not sure how much of the Lincoln’s problems to blame on the car and how much to blame on the owner’s indifference (which I find bizarre since he really, really wanted a big ol’ Lincoln). I make fun of him though, because he replaced the Lincoln with a Hyundai Accent hatchback with an automatic.

    • 0 avatar
      92golf

      I suspect the fuel injection made all the difference on these cars. Also, with them being driven so much they were maintained pretty well and didn’t get much of an opportunity to gum up. The power was adequate.
      I liked those side windows but, like you, would have preferred the old tip-out ones that folded out.
      As for the ride, well I’ve never been a big car kind of guy so it seemed pretty smooth to me. I didn’t expect it to handle like the cars I was used to. (Disclosure – I learned to drive in a 1972 Austin America and a 1974 Volvo 145 and all my cars since then haven’t been much bigger)

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    After my dad’s beautiful 78 Town Coupe, he traded it on an 80 Town Coupe. One of the ugliest Lincoln’s ever. I HATED that car. Fortunately, I was in college by then and didn’t have to think about it very much. My only memory of that car is driving it early fall of 79 – the car was brand new. It was a hot day and dad asked me to run an errand for him. The door felt cheap when you shut it, the interior was cheap. Then, while driving along, i watched the temp guage start climbing into the red. No idea what it was, I stopped and called dad, I let it cool down, then started back out and it didn’t do it again. A mystery.

    This series of Town Car is one of the few that I have no desire whatsoever to own. I never liked the 302 and AOD drivetrain (I did own an 85 Crown Vic). Near as I could figure, the TC got you a couple of extra inches of rear leg room and marginally better seats. By 88 or so, Ford started to put some money into it, added the dual exhausts and ditched the carburetors, so the cars were not so bad. It was not until the 90 that I would have even considered another.

    I vividly remember that era. Every year, the car mags would tell us that this would be the last year for the panther. Then, they would sell so many that Ford just couldn’t pull the plug.

    It is interesting that since 61, Lincoln has run in roughly 10 year cycles. The 80-89 was the nadir, in my opinion. The newer ones may not be of higher quality or bigger, but they do look and perform better.

    My dad never owned another new Lincoln after the 80. He suffered some health reversals and had to give up on his hard-charging self employed lifestyle. About 1985 he found a used 84 Continental (the fox body) and drove quite a deal on it. This one had the air suspension and was genuinely scary to drive. But I still didn’t have the visceral hatred that I reserved for the 80. Then, after a couple of Taurus’ (and a 90 or 91 Accord) his last car was a 97 fwd Continental. I never liked it much, but at least it had a V8. By that time his rational side understood that Lincoln was no longer a first rate luxury car, but there was something about them that just scratched him where he itched.

    Thanks, Paul, for this trip down memory lane.

  • avatar

    What’s BOF?

  • avatar
    paul_y

    In 2002, a friend of mine in college had acquired a 1985 Town Car. Absolutely pristine, relatively low mileage, for the princely sum of $800 (or so). What a fantastic road barge. Interestingly, it was rated to tow something like 5000lb. It did not have regular HVAC controls. I had a thermostat on the dashboard instead. The seats were cushier than my living room furniture at the time.

    Unfortunately, this car met it’s demise in DC traffic after graduation (though we went to school in Rochester, NY). It probably wouldn’t have been totaled if the same crash happened 15 years earlier — depreciation is a bitch.

    At the same time, my roommate had an 83 Chrysler New Yorker (M-Body), and it just looked like a half-assed Lincoln knockoff. If it was in better shape, it would have been a reasonably nice car, and the 318 was stupid-reliable, but the Lincoln felt like it was a better effort.

  • avatar
    levi

    Some cars actually manifest a bit of character and charm with the addition of years and cosmetic deficiencies.

    This is not one of those cars.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    These cars were just plain ugly, with the oversized, hideous wheel openings reminiscent of 60′s oldsmobiles. And that roof was so box shaped it wasn’t funny.
    The smog-laden 302 was somewhere in the 140 horsepower range, and was seriously underpowered for this heavy body. They were absolute turds, and climbed hills at about the same rate as a chevette.
    And even though the body was downsized from the 70′s version, it had lots of pitch and wallow going down the road, it was like sitting in a rowboat on lake erie. And the steering was no better than the biggger 70′s versions, either.

    • 0 avatar
      jpcavanaugh

      I could not agree with you more. Also, there was simply no reason to pay that kind of money for a new car and have it exhibit a complete inability to climb a grade on the interstate at 70 without jumping to 3d gear so that we could all listen to how hard we were thrashing the poor little overmatched 302. Gad, how I hated those cars.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    I’ll take a 3800 with the 4 speed overdrive any day to one of these.
    At least I’ll get out of my own way. 302? AOD? Yuck..
    These cars are just not inspiring to me at all.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    Considering the sheer numbers of Town Cars in use as airport runners and Crown Vics in use as Taxi’s and Cop mobiles, what are Ford going to replace the panther with? Do they have something super secretive up their sleeve, or are they just going to push flimsy FWD platforms at these markets?

    • 0 avatar
      john.fritz

      1) Probably nothing.
      2) No.
      3) Yes.

      A sad day for those of us who like these cars. Hope everyone enjoys their new Escape.

      mmh. I just threw up a little bit in my mouth.

    • 0 avatar
      rnc

      They’ve already announced that they will have a new large RWD replacement ready when CV/TC factory closes (100k cars a year with no real competition probably to hard to let go). Would imagine it will be the LWB falcon (rumors of australian engineers spending alot of time in detroit lately and vice versa US in Australia). Or just stretching/widening the mustange platform and bringing over the body dies from the previous generation falcon and slapping it together (still not a bad looking car).

    • 0 avatar
      Sinistermisterman

      Hmm the Falcon eh? Hope they bring the straight six with them. That’d be an interesting power plant for a US built RWD car. I’m thinking BMW competitor, but I know I’m dreaming…

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    You know what you’re talking about, JPC. I was going through a divorce in the early 90′s, and bought one of these cars, it was an 86. I certainly didn’t buy the car because I wanted it. I was only in my 30′s, and didn’t like the idea of driving down the road in a car that looked like something an 80 year old would drive. But I needed a way to get around until my finances improved, so i found this 86 dirt cheap and bought it.
    I had to travel from northeast ohio to southern ohio on the weekends to visit my children, and this was without a doubt one of the most awful cars I had ever driven. I had to floor it on moderate grades, and the trans would have to kick down a couple of gears, just like you said, and the car would still slow down to about 50-55.
    The old fellow that lived across the street from me at the time had a crown vic of the same year, and he told me it was the same way. That would make sense because they both had the same engine/tranny.

  • avatar
    getacargetacheck

    Perhaps the only thing I have not been able to find on the Internet is one of my all time favorite car commercials: the Lincoln Town Car commercial from 1985 where country clubbers get confused between the (new FWD) Olds 98, Cadillac DeVille, and Buick Electra while waiting for the valet. “Is that my Oldsmobile?”

    • 0 avatar
      majo8

      Those ads were very effective. So effective that GM eventually “asked” — more like pleaded — Ford to stop running them, which they did.

      According to the book “Comeback”, Detroit was still very much a men’s club, and the higher-ups at Ford couldn’t keep kicking a member when they were down.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    I’ll have to respectfully disagree with Paul on this one.

    I’ve owned two Mark VI’s as well as two Mark V’s. The Mark VI’s were a burgundy four door and a silver two door coupe… and they were far and away better than the Mark V’s in the real world.

    How shall I count the ways? Hmmm… let me see. The 1983 Mark VI’s were more comfortable to ride, far more economical (17 vs. 12 in real world driving), made of better interior components, less costly to repair, more durable by nearly every measure and in the case of the silver two door coupe… far better looking.

    Other than my Insight I never received as many complements as I did with that vehicle given the price I paid for it. It had been a retirement gift from the former president of the Coca-Cola company with 90,000 actual miles. Priced paid back in 1998? $1500. This was back in my pre-auctioneering life.

    I only sold it because my wife wanted to have a vehicle made in the same decade as we lived in. The burgundy Mark VI was a true beater in terms of it’s cosmetic condition. But it also gave my wife 5 years of complete trouble-free driving despite a ton of neglect. Ironically enough, the day her mom finally gave her the title to that vehicle was the day the vehicle died.

    The silver one later sold for $2000. I could have sold it for $3000 ten years later if I kept it for the long haul. Chances are we wouldn’t have but I can tell you that it was an absolutely stunning vehicle in person. We actually used it as our ‘getaway limo’ when we got married.

    Mark V’s are overrated. Mark VII’s are old man Mustang’s (my dad had one in his 70′s). The Mark VI was the best of the bunch if you’re really looking for a traditional American luxury car without the associated costs.

    As for the 1985 Town Car? I have one. It’s nothing special. I bought it for $700 w/ only 45k but I like the 1990 Town Car w/ 81k that I bought for $400 a whole lot more. That’s the one I should have kept.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      I’m glad it worked well for you Steve. My comments were about the aesthetics of it, and for what it’s worth, the buyers seemed to agree. The Mark V (more on that tomorrow) sold 75-80k per year; the Mark VI between 30-40k.

  • avatar
    jplane

    I took a 1982 Town Car to the prom. 4 door, maroon, white leather interior with digital dash. I really liked the car but then I have fond memories.

  • avatar
    jplane

    I also thought the Town Cars really drove better than the early 80s Cadillacs. They didn’t have near the boat feel the Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham had.

  • avatar
    BDB

    Great write-up as usual.

    The whole “Build ‘em well, then let ‘em rot” seems to a recurring theme in Ford’s history up until very recently, from the Model T all the way up to the mid-sized Taurus. Introduce a really good car and platform, and then just let it sit. With minimal updates, if any at all.

  • avatar
    Arturo1855

    From as far back as I can remember and up until his death, my Grandfather always had a Lincoln town car. I would have been 7 in 1985, so this vintage seems about right for the earlier years.

    My first driving memories are of me sitting in his lap around about that age driving down county roads and the field roads around the farm. The only time any of us wore seatbelts was when a high speed run was required to cross a mud hole in a field road. We’d back up, buckle up and give ‘er hell. Usually worked. If not, a tractor was never too far away. Fun times for a little guy.

    Thanks for bringing back some good memories.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Yep… they sure rotted…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czYUZOlclSo

    Sometimes the best cars are the ones that were made forever.

  • avatar
    educatordan

    Style and size wise the Lincoln has got it all over GM. But I too prefer the 3800V6. I wouldn’t mind an early one of this body style with the engine transmission upgraded.

  • avatar
    Wheeljack

    My favorite from the Panther platform Townies is the ’97 – I really liked the ’90 refresh and the ’95-’97 models cleaned up some of the awkward exterior details and had improved interiors. Unfortunately the ’98 was a hideous car with terrible fit & finish, uncomfortable seats and a lot of inexcuseable decontenting.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    The 3800 would certainly have more power than the 302/aod setup in those lincolns. of course what didn’t have more power? You could probably outrun one on a bike if you tried hard enough.

    • 0 avatar
      bugo

      I had a 1980 Cougar XR7 with the 302/AOD combo.  It was slow and the transmission slipped going into 4th gear.  I eventually yanked it out and replaced it with a C4 and it was much faster.

  • avatar
    Turbo60640

    I like these 80s TCs, especially in white.

    I have to say the Mark VII is still one of my favorite designs to this day.

    How about the short-lived, odd looking Continentals that were around at this time? They had a bustleback trunk treatment similar to the early 80s Cadillac Seville.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      I loved my ’88 Mark VII LSC. Coming from a early ’70s Fury, the dynamics blew my mind. Looked great, too. I wished I still had it (still own the Fury, though)…

  • avatar
    MadHungarian

    The goofiest thing GM did in trying to compete with these Town Cars was to give the RWD Caddy Brougham a mild facelift in 1990 with slab sides to make it look more like a Town Car. OOPS! That would be like last year’s Town Car, as Lincoln zoomed ahead with the totally restyled ’90 Town Car, so different it made you forget it was the same platform underneath.

  • avatar
    EROD55

    I had an ’81 and an ’86 Town Car and loved them both. The were roomy, smooth riding and got decent gas mileage. I drove lots of highway miles, had no real mechanical issues and maintained them regularly. When I sold the ’86 the phone rang for days after the ad ran out.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    So why is Ford quitting it?If it still sells and they make money, keep making them.

  • avatar
    sfdennis1

    Suprised by the amount of negative attitude for the 80′s Town Car on this thread…not the best of the Lincoln lineage, but it did preserve the traditional quiet smoothness and posh ride Lincoln customers expected, while delivering significantly better mileage than the 70′s dinosaurs (which I still love!)

    And compared to the unholy craptastic garbage Cadillac was foisting on the market at the time (diesels anyone? V864? self-destructing gutless 4100s?) the T.C. is like a friggin’ S-Class in comparison! Lighten up!

    After a few Lincolns in the 70′s, my mother had caught the import bug in the late 80′s and had an Audi (bought right b4 the unintended acceleration crap!)…on a long family trip to So.
    Cal, we rented a T.C. for a few weeks…took her almost a week to ‘re-learn’ how to stop the car with the super-soft brake pedal without lurching to a stop…she was, by then, used to the responsiveness of her Audi. Still though, the Lincoln held us all and our luggage in comfort and with room to spare, and seemed almost as smooth and cloud-like as the old 70′s barges my family once owned.

  • avatar
    russification

    excellent curbside classics series on the lincolns.

  • avatar

    Is 1990 too soon for a Curbside Classic review? I’d love to see one on the 1990-97 TCs. I’m also surprised you didn’t take a look at the 1980-82 Continental Mark VI sedan, which was more or less a TC with bits of Mark V coupe styling and hidden lamps.

    Full disclosure: I own a 1990 model, more or less reduced to beater status thanks to slow-motion explosion of the leather(ette?) interior and disappearing paint (made even worse with an incident involving a bottle of Nu Finish). The fuel injected 302 is not only reliable, but it also gives decent gas mileage (although I’m getting about 15mpg at the moment). Better still, one can presumably scavenge some top end and intake parts from 5.0HO-equipped Mustangs and Mark VIIs and have themselves a rather peppy frankenengine. The ride’s smooth, the rear passenger area’s huge, the trunk could store half-a-dozen dead mobsters and a shovel, and the styling is dead-on, at least until the 1996 refresh.

    Even fuller disclosure: I also had a 1988 Caddy Brougham, this one with the far more reliable yet equally wimpy Olds 307 engine. I was surprised to see the TC with it’s 150HP 302ci able to chirp the tires from standstill, yet the Brougham with only 10 fewer ponies would just lurch leisurely with not even a light chirp. It couldn’t pull hills without near-full throttle and it gave some seriously poor gas mileage (13mpg city, 17mpg hwy).

    Both cars looked good to me (plastic bumper filler notwithstanding), but I was always amazed that GM needed an extra two years to respond to the 1990 TC. And they did it with a car that looked more like a fat woman in a Sunday church dress than an actual luxury car. I also hated that 1990 refresh. It made the Brougham look more grandma-ish and less elegant. The only consolation was the switch to Chevy power (305 and 350).

    Both cars had interior styling that seemed more like a tribute to the 1970s. Both couldn’t hold a candle to my LS400. It was just night and day as far as I was concerned.

  • avatar
    MarcKyle64

    My mother traded her 81 Mark VI Conny for a craptastic 87 FWD Cadillac Sedan DeVille around 1992. Compared to the Caddy, the Lincoln rode better, had better handling (in comparison to the deVille) and was quieter and better for road trips. The Lincoln was fairly reliable with only a few problems, the Caddy nickel and dimed her like clockwork. $500 and $1,000 repairs were the norm about 5 times a year.
    I gotta agree with the styling, but lookit all the other ugly cars being made about that time: the K-Car, Cimmaron and Phoenix were eyesores, they all made a VW GTI look like a jewel in comparison.

  • avatar
    donkensler

    Every time I saw a Panther-platform Ford, Lincoln, or Mercury in the 80′s, I said a silent thank you to the owner for contributing to my profit sharing checks. Then in the 90′s it was the pickup and Explorer owners for contributing to my bonus checks. I wouldn’t drive the things on a dare (okay, I borrowed Explorers a couple of times for hauling purchases that wouldn’t fit in the trunk of a sedan), but I was glad someone liked them at the time.

    I recognized Lincoln was not on a sustainable business model (the Ford New Car Buyers’ Survey in about ’85 had the average age of Lincoln buyers at like 67, and increasing every year), and I had no idea Ford would be so incompetent at re-tooling Lincoln for a younger generation (I found out as we rolled out the Taurus Continental and the LS), but it felt good at the time that Ford had one profitable market all to itself. And yes, I recognized it had as much to do with GM’s total incompetence as anything.

  • avatar
    KitaIkki

    It’s Lincoln Mark VII LSC (Luxury Sport Coupe), not SLC.

  • avatar
    Billy215

    Paul, excellent Lincoln series — really enjoying.

    Two small points — I think your photo car is an ’86, by virtue of its semi-aero integrated bumpers first used in ’86 and the centrally placed reverse light used only in ’86 (the TC used two small L and R back-up lights starting in ’87).

    Also, I beleive the ’93 Caprice-based RWD Cadillac was unfortunately called Brougham, not Fleetwood.

    Can’t wait for the Marks V, VI, VII, and VIII!

    • 0 avatar
      npbheights

      The 93-96 Fleetwood and Fleetwood Brougham were basically the same car. Fleetwoods has a painted roof and lacy style wheels. Fleetwood Brougham had full vinyl tops, flat sided wheels, neat rear vanity mirrors and other up-trim features, but they were basically the same car. From 1985 to 1992 Fleetwoods were Front Wheel Drive and Fleetwood Broughams were the Rear Wheel Drive. Thats probably why you were thinking that. What I don’t get is the argument that Town Cars took off when Cadillac downsized, but you could still get the old 1980-1984 Style RWD Caddies from 1985-1992, with progressively better engines with the Fleetwood Brougham.

  • avatar
    Billy215

    I was wrong about the year of the tail lights, too — the mind must be playing tricks! Thanks.

  • avatar
    Canucknucklehead

    The C body GM cars were indeed disasters, the darned things cost tons of money to keep running. I had a Mk VI for a year when I was dealing used cars in the early 1990s. It was cheap to drive and quite reliable as things went in those days. It had an awful drivetrain. The 302 and AOD were just awful. It shuddered and lugged and then lurched into third gear and they were ALL like that, LTD, Marquis, you name it. I got around it by keeping in D all the time.

    It floated, wallowed and had terrible brakes. The only reason I kept it was that for some strange reason, it was a chick magnet. Women loved it. Well, another reason I kept it was at the time we were having the First Gulf War Gas Price Spike. Sleds were dime ‘o dozen and we could not give them away. I was selling a lot of grey market MB stuff and we wanted to leave them on the lot at night to attract after hours shoppers. That is why I stuck to Das Barge, as I called it. But in fact, I preferred driving practically anything else.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    LOL…………thanks for giving me a good laugh, canucknucklehead. I had forgotten about the way those things shuddered around town from shifting into overdrive too early, until you reminded me. Those things shuddered like both motor mounts were broken, and like you said, putting the shifter in regular D eliminated it.
    What got me about these cars was that, with a foot or more less heft and close to 1000lbs. less weight you would think they would have handled better than their predecessors, but they didn’t. And the ride seemed to go downhill, because they constantly had a see saw motion, back and forth, even on relatively smooth roads. It felt like the front shocks were shot, even when they weren’t
    And unlike the 70′s cars, the 80′s lincolns seemed to go away a lot faster, except maybe the markV11.
    There are still plenty of 70′s big lincolns and marks on the road. And i see a lot of 70′s lincolns and marks, especially mark V’s in hemmings for sale, and many of the markV’s go for 10-12k, which is pretty good for a car of this era.
    I honestly can’t remember the last time I even saw a markV1, I know it’s been at least 20 years since I saw one on the road or for sale.
    If you were to find one for sale today I can guarantee you it would go pretty cheap. Same with the 80′s town car, if you find a pristine 1 owner low mileage car it will probably be under 4k, maybe even $2995. what does that tell you?

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Sweet Jesus, is that a sunroof on the phony-convertible-topped FWD Caddy Fleetwood you linked to? Was that a factory option? The irony is killing me!

  • avatar
    xyzzy

    Good memories of this car. I don’t remember the exact year, I think it was around 1991 or so I had 3 friends who hiked the Appalachain trail, and I drove up from NC to Maine to pick them up. Since it was four of us with backpacking gear, I tried to rent a minivan, but there were none to be had so I ended up renting a Town Car. It was the perfect car for this long trip, comfortable for all four of us on the return trip, great ride, good power, and all the backpacks and gear fit easily into the trunk. But they were taken aback to be picked up in a brand new Town Car after spending six months backpacking in the woods! Going through New Jersey, four scruffy guys in a town car with a loaded trunk, we felt right at home :).

    the quality — well, on the trip up the electric trunk latch went TU and we kept the trunk closed using bungee cords for the rest of the trip. When I returned the car to the rental place I was worried they would blame me and charge me, but they just shrugged and said “we’ll get that fixed under warranty.”

  • avatar
    Headroom Tommy

    A little late but having driven Panthers for YEARS, including my current 1985 Town Car, I needed to mention a few things.

    Doesn’t accelerate uphill? I’ve never, after about 400k +/- driven, had this problem including multiple trips over the mountians to DC. It does downshift when you pass, but the 3800 doesn’t?

    I like the 3800, a verenable American engine, and have respect for the GM offerings of the time. But I think some are comparing later 3800s to the CFI 5.0 in the Panthers in 85. Consider: In 1985 the ‘best’ 3800 developed 140 hp and 200 ftlbs. The 5.0 in my 85 develops 160 hp (factory dual exhaust) and 263 ftlbs (why the tires chirped).

    I’ve had to pay very very little in maintenence as well. I thing part of the reason some think they’re not reliable is, they were so reliable people didn’t do the maintenence any car requires.

    I’m tempted to say I’ll drive the GM guys back from the junkyard after they drop off their car :D

    And this is one of the few cars I can do the 14 drive to my inlaws without numb spots or fatigue.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    You got this one right, as you are often capable of doing.
    The TC was an obsolete thing on wheels that caught a break.
    It was a little aggravating that Ford didn’t try to really make the TC anything more once they started discovering that they had hundreds of thousands of new TC drivers to impress. The 1990(?) update of the TC gave it a new V8 and better handling, but Ford did nothing with this car except milk it.

    There is no reason Ford could have took advantage of this opportunity to try and keep the TC market by creating a new TC that reflects the design concepts we now see on the new RR. You can actually see a lot of TC in the new RR style. Ford was there first with this kind of design and could have given the TC a little class by trying a little bit.

    So, I have to really wonder what Ford really wants to do with Lincoln when they so nonchalantly schluffed off the TC market over the past decade.


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