Let’s face it: the Lincoln Town Car is the best car in the world, and that’s why at least two TTAC staffers are Panther owners. Unfortunately for Ford, however, production of new Town Cars is completely dependent on a rare earth. Well, it’s actually dependent upon Rare Earth, the band, which generates a mineral known as “awesomtonium” every time they play “I Just Wanna Celebrate” in public. A dearth of recent appearances by the band, the members of which are now all over one hundred and ten years old, means that Ford has been forced to schedule the end of Town Car production for this fall.
What can Lincoln do in a circumstance like that? The honorable thing to do would be for every employee of the brand to publicly apologize to America right before committing ritual suicide. I’m told, however, that an internal vote regarding that topic ended up strongly on the side of “seeing our children again”. In that case, the only thing left to do is to make a new Town Car, lest the Manhattanite Masters of the Universe be forced to ride the subway.
To no one’s particular surprise, the new Town Car is a variant of the MKT crossover. TTAC opinions regarding the MKT range from “stellar” (yours truly) to “abysmal” (our august, departed Dear Leader, Robert Farago). While the outgoing Panther Town Car served all niches from taxi to hot-tub-carrying super-limo, Ford is offering two MKT variants for the commercial-car market.
The MKT Livery model is basically an MKT with a heavy dose of standard features, in-car Wi-Fi, and a rear seat which is moved 1.5 inches rearward. There’s also a “sultan switch” which allows the right-seat rear passenger to move the front seat forward, just like in various Maybachs, Lexi, and Hyundais. It’s available with front-wheel-drive or AWD.
For the stretch market, there’s a reinforced model called the “MKT Limousine”. Quoth Ford,
The MKT Town Car Limousine chassis incorporates several heavy-duty components, such as upgraded suspension, electric power-assisted steering system (EPAS) and transmission. Along with standard All-Wheel Drive, the MKT Town Car Limousine chassis also offers unique wheels and tires, unique wheel bearings and an upsized brake system.
Take my advice, guys: put all that stuff on the Livery model as well. The abuse which Panthers can aborb without complaint borders on the legendary. Hell, I jump mine over a set of railroad tracks near my house at least once a day, getting at least the rear wheels off the ground at speeds in the neighborhood of seventy miles per hour. “Black car” drivers are far tougher on their vehicles than I am. If you want the MKT to have a solid reputation in the market from Day One, it would be better to over-specify, even at the cost of some profit.
Fleet buyers are encouraged to speak with their local representative to arrange an orderly transition from the TC to the MKT-TC. In real-world terms, that may translate to “panic-buy as many 2011 Townies as your credit line can stand”. Pricing hasn’t yet been announced, but the outgoing Signature L livery model Panther rings the cash register for $52,000 MSRP, with actual transaction prices at most black-car shops running about $44-47K depending on volume.
I’ve put plenty of miles on both the MKT and the outgoing Town Car. Make no mistake, the MKT is quieter, faster, more spacious, and possessed of a vastly superior level of interior technology. If you told me that I would need to run one up a curb at sixty miles per hour for the purpose of avoiding a wandering falafel vendor across 110th Street, however, I wouldn’t think twice before reaching for the old-style keys. Ford has their work cut out for them.