By on February 15, 2011

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.

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47 Comments on “Meet The New Town Car, Same As The Old… No, Wait...”

  • avatar

    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.

    Not to mention, one is a sedan and another is a large station wagon.  But who cares, segments are sooo 20th century.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      So’s that old Panther chassis…

      I’m sure a Town Car based on the 500 / Taurus would be miles better than the old Panther-based Town Car.

    • 0 avatar

      And the Taurus is based on an ancient Volvo that was never better than mediocre. It makes you wonder why people fetishize the panther. Almost anything is better subjectively and objectively, unless you’re a fleet operator. Personally, I don’t ask my car to stand up to spending 20 hours a day on the almost paved streets of Manhattan piloted by a guy who had never driven anything more complicated than a goat two weeks earlier. Commuting in a panther is like using a monkey wrench to open beers. It can be done, but it is clumsy and a waste of time.

    • 0 avatar


      Your Panther platform critiques are irrelevant to my comments to Jack.  I was pointing out how segments are becoming blurred in an era when a station wagon (or crossover in the modern parlance) can become the new Lincoln Town Car.

      Now then.

    • 0 avatar

      CJ –
      I don’t know if we fetishize the panther, but I think that enthusiasts appreciate it for what it is – the last example of what used to be the defacto standard for passenger cars – RWD BOF.
      I’m sure in another decade or two when due to CAFE standards the last V8 sedan rolls down the assembly line, even though by that time turbocharged V6s and I4s will embarass it in performance and fuel economy, the enthusiast community will likewise shed a tear and remember V8s perhaps a bit too fondly.

    • 0 avatar

      NulloModo, the naturally aspirated V8 is being bled by regulatory intervention. There is nothing subjectively superior about a forced induction engine, never mind objective reality outside of the EPA lab. People have been declaring the V8’s death for as long as I’ve been reading magazines, over 30 years. It survives because of its superiority. BOF RWD cars have dwindled during the same period because they’re inferior in almost every way to unibody FWD cars. No BOF cars handles better at the limit than a decent FWD car, and that is the only advantage enjoyed by the best unibody RWD cars. I’m not nostalgic for starting cranks, carburetors, points, drum brakes, lever shocks, leaf springs, French or British cars, AM radios, 8-track tape players, bench seats, column shifters, vinyl covered hard tops, landau bars, chrome trim, or any other archaic crap that once blighted the US car market. I had a part time job that ‘allowed’ me to put at least 25K miles on last of breed Town Cars in the past 3 years, and it was always a treat to turn them in and get in a real car to drive home. 

    • 0 avatar

      CJinSD: I’m not nostalgic for starting cranks, carburetors, points, drum brakes, lever shocks, leaf springs, French or British cars, AM radios, 8-track tape players, bench seats, column shifters, vinyl covered hard tops, landau bars, chrome trim, or any other archaic crap that once blighted the US car market.

      Save the reductio ad absurdum for the noobs.

  • avatar

    I’ve not seen the powertrain mentioned in the press release.  Is it the 305hp 3.7L V6?  355hp EcoBoost 3.5L V6?  Or both?  I guess the 6-speed automatic is a given.

  • avatar

    Here’s my issue with using the MKT as a Panther replacement: There’s just no way to stretch uni bodies nearly as easily and cheaply as a BOF car. Nor to beef them up for load carrying capacity.
    Honda’s Ridgeline, with a full load and on uneven terrain, gets so stretched and bent out of shape that the windshield has been known to squeak. And that’s on a 120 odd inch wheelbase. For being a pickup, it’s got amazing ride and handling, but for vehicles intended to serve widely different size and load roles, it’s just too complicated and single purpose optimized.
    Livery trade cars are probably not as demanding of configurability as trucks, but I just cannot see how there is no market for the salient points of a BOF in that niche as well. Hopefully someone else will pick up the slack if Ford drops out.

  • avatar

    Wow!  The Edge becomes a Town Car, while also doing duty as a Mazda CX-7.

    • 0 avatar

      Wrong chassis…the Edge/MKX/CX-9 are built on the CD3 chassis along with the Fusion/MKZ/6.

      CX-7 has a unique chassis, using bits from the MPV and 5 vans.

      The MKT (discussed in the article) uses the D4 chassis, common under all the large Ford/Lincoln crossovers…a heavier-duty version of the D3 chassis.

      Still, kind of a shame the Town Car is now a crossover and not a large sedan that says “American Luxury”. Luxury shouldn’t have to be about technology.
      Should be about a smooth ride, noise isolation, smooth power delivery, and durability. All that the Town Car did quite well, and Lincoln used to do well.

      Oh well, maybe I’ll park a used Town Car next to my Outback. A car for each purpose, defined by their name(s).

    • 0 avatar

      “Should be about a smooth ride, noise isolation, smooth power delivery, and durability. All that the Town Car did quite well, and Lincoln used to do well.”

      I guarantee that the MKT does all of those things better then the panther did. Here on TTAC people tend to over romanticize how good those cars were on the road. Yes, in the 80s they were great, but now, many outclass them for the aforementioned soft-riding luxury (also a fan).

      Incidentally, I also own an Outback. Besides wind noise (in my gen at least), it does quite a nice job of isolation, smooth power delivery and a smooth ride (at least in 3.0R form).

  • avatar

    No pictures yet?

  • avatar

    Great. It is still ugly, and now longer and uglier to boot.

  • avatar

    It looks the same as a normal MKT. 

  • avatar

    “in-car Wi-Fi”
    Sounds like a car I’d like to be driven in more than anything.

    • 0 avatar
      N Number

      Perhaps that’s why it’s being marketed to livery companies.

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      That’s what needs to be kept in mind for certain nameplates. For a Continental, the owner is likely going to be the driver, while for a Town Car, the owner may very well have someone else drive him or her around while enjoying connected omniscience from the rear seat.
      A stretch MKT limo could work: flip the 2nd row to face rearward and use the increased length to set up a useful (read: comfortable) 3rd row in a conference seating arrangement. The mini fridge morphs into a mini bar, and I’m certain you could optimize Sync and the MyTouch system for rear seat control.

  • avatar

    So how much bigger is the big version? The LWB.

  • avatar

    The Rare Earth I prefer is Get Ready.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Yeah I want to see some OUTSIDE of the car pictures.  What does the stretch actually do the proportions?

  • avatar

    My daughter insists that I drive her old Panther-based Town Car when she visits me and I purely despise the thing.  It may run forever, but there is not even a speck of pleasure in driving that thing.  I feel like I am on the bridge of an ocean liner.

  • avatar

    ““abysmal” (our august, departed Dear Leader, Robert Farago)”
    Were there any cars that he didn’t rate as “abysmal”?

  • avatar

    It sounds like the livery market is wide open.  Let’s see if Chevrolet/Cadillac offer a black-car version of the Suburban/Escalade.

  • avatar

    This begs the question of why wont Ford import their Falcon from OZ its RWD  6orV8 wagon sedan ute body style come as a factory toughened taxi or fully loaded even has the Mustang motor or turbo 6 if youre in a hurry.

    • 0 avatar

      While I think the Falcon is cool, and I do wish we’d get them here, it’s completely wrong for livery/taxi duty.  It was the BOF design that made the panthers so good as livery cars, not the RWD, and the Falcon is unibody.  Rear leg room in the Falcon isn’t anything more than OK.  This isn’t a segment where performance matters beyond ‘good enough to keep up with traffic’, and fuel economy is becoming increasingly more important.
      The Transit Connect taxi will do a good job for taxi service, and time will tell if people take to MKT Town Cars.  Pricewise, the base MKT stickers out at around $46K, though I don’t know what the price tag on the livery version will be.

  • avatar

    Today is a DIFFERENT WORLD. We now live in a ONE WORLD economy.

    Ford should be IN CONCERT with German auto manufacturer’s success and plan to export the Lincoln Town Car. US automakers need to BAND TOGETHER in this thinking to correct our trade imbalances and put people to work. It would be a GRAND SLAM for the US economy.

    Slick WILLIE REMEMBERS selling Nafta and international trade to the US masses. It did not work out as promised for the middle class. Here is a chance to vindicate Mr Clinton’s legacy from things HOT & TIGHT to economic prosperity.

    In China it’s a BRAND NEW WORLD.  The present GENERATION has DREAMS/ANSWERS of luxury and status. In China, brands like Benz, BMW, and Audi are not about driving dynamics and engineering, it’s about status. Just like a Chinese MADE IN SWITZERLAND fine watch knock-off, Lincoln Town Car can be a player.

    At this time, status overrides the negative stigma of what a behemoth vehicle does to the ECOLOGY. No RAREATH electric motors needed to make Chinese people consider purchasing a conspicuous luxury vehicle. Just push a Cosmopolitan MIDNIGHT LADY lifestyle. For marketing, show a couple heading back to their Chinese hometown and taking MA out to dinner in their new Lincoln Town Car.

    So I say GET READY with the imported Lincoln Town Car. Lincoln Town Car says “I have arrived” at BACK TO EARTH pricing. Forget having a separate Lincoln dealership network. Have all the Chinese Ford dealerships BAND TOGETHER selling the Lincoln Town Car.

    And remember to include the following to each China Lincoln Town Car:
    * RARE EARTH GREATEST HITS demo CD in the glove box.
    * Hood emblem
    * Crest on the pillar

  • avatar

    Now, after seeing them in person, I’m very surprised that Ford didn’t do it homework and made a LHD version of the Falcon being sold down here.
    Of the taxis rolling here in Melbourne, most of them are Falcons, I’d say 65% or more. For me that accounts for proven and durable car.
    It’s not as big as the TC, but the Fairlane they sold was just the right ticket.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    The  main deal for  me is RWD. When  my pair of  88 BMW 528es rusts into   oblivion Im  gonna put  my beloved into a Jag  XJ6 , if  I  can find one , or  the  best  panther I can  find.  T’other  ride  is  gonna  be  a  base  model  Tacoma.  I  would  love  a  left handed  Falcon  I6 ute. But that  is   not  gonna  happen.  Basing a Town Car on a van  platform  is  heresy.  But  hey, not everybody  is a crazy  car nut like me.  I am  25 yrs  behind  in  my  motor vehicles

  • avatar

    Falcons are built as TAXIs at the factory with heavy duty suspension  seats lower compresion and power points for meters built in. they are delivered painted in whatever taxi fleet colurs required. Ford have been doing this for 20 years and Falcons make bloody good cabs and last easily until mandatory replacement. A cab will do 1000km per day on awful roads tram lines potholes etc you dont need body on frame to last a decent unibody is much stronger and lighter.

  • avatar

    i do not understand the love for panther cars – especially the TC.  Overweight, vague at best steering, bewildering ergonomics, bad sight lines, the worst bouncy floaty suspension since 1964,  i dont get it.  Makes my work assigned DTS feel like a sports car.  Good luck with the mkt, tho – i beleive a modified taurus would have been a better choice.

  • avatar

    Oh-Oh, What did I do now?

  • avatar

    To me what is totally amazing is how Ford has taken another top selling Lincoln nameplate, the Town Car and pushed it into oblivion. Instead of updating the car (years ago) considering at one time they sold about twice as many Town Cars as they do Lincolns (all models) today they let it die a slow death. No updates, no advertising, no nuthin. First the Continental now the Town Car, talk about squandering brand equity and abandoning a loyal ownership base.
    They should just call all the new Lincolns MK? since outside of a Lincoln dealership nobody knows which MK designation is what vehicle. Ford is totally clueless when it comes to running a luxury car division. Successes = 0 Failures: Lincoln, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Land Rover & Volvo.

  • avatar

    Good riddance. I picked up a two-week rental at PHL from Avis. Being so-called “Avis First” I was entitled to an upgrade. In spot #C-whatever stood a Grand Marquis*. “Oh no, you have got to be shitting me.” There was a surfeit of Grand Marqs around the lot; apparently Avis got a good deal on the last of the fucking things. I opened the door and heard that mid-90s BONG BONG BONG, saw the column shift and broadcast-only head unit (no CD slot, no aux input; AM/FM only. Who the hell even makes those anymore?) and made a beeline to the Preferred desk and begged for an Altima, which I get most of the time simply because I know where all the doodads and gizmos are, not because I particularly like them, but it has the benefit of not being designed in 1988 and lets me plug in an iPod. And that RWD boat would have been deadly in the ensuing ice storm that week.
    Even in the denouement edition, they still couldn’t bother with a de Sade package… morons.

  • avatar

    MKT Town Car….if you say it enough times, you can almost get the vomit taste out of your mouth:

    I thought the D3 offerings were the second coming of Christ….why would you saddle it with the name Town Car which is synonymous with the Panthers, Ford’s equivalent to the devil?

    I’ve noticed this year that the higher end livery companies here have already started the switch from real Town Cars to Chrysler 300s and a few Navigators. I am assuming that something similiar is taking place in most other major cities’ as well.

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