By on April 25, 2012

Every time I see a junked Ford LTD of this era, I recall my early-childhood memories of my grandfather’s ’69 LTD hardtop. My parents had a ’67 Ford Custom and a ’49 Cadillac sedan at the time, and I thought Grandpa’s super-clean LTD was the most luxurious transportation imaginable. Nowadays, of course, most big Fords of the 1965-75 period that one encounters are total hoopties… but even a junked Early Malaise Era LTD still retains a bit of its original class.


You know, the ’73 LTD really was a better deal than the ’73 Jaguar XJ6!
Lowriders, hot-rodders, and ironic rockabilly hipsters don’t care for big Fords. They suck alarming quantities of gas, so it’s hard to justify one as a cheap beater. Mostly, these cars just get used up, then sit in a forgotten driveway for decades before getting crushed.
These cars were very comfortable, and held together reasonably well (as long as you didn’t mind electrical problems and lots of front-suspension looseness after 50,000 or so miles).
This one boasts the shockingly heavy but torque-centric 429 engine. Real-world highway fuel economy was probably just barely into the double digits, which became an issue not long after this car was sold.
Look, it’s one of the infamous Park-To-Reverse Settlement stickers!

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86 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1973 Ford LTD...”


  • avatar
    Hank

    When I was a kid, my best friend’s parents drove a ’74 absolutely identical to this car right down to the upholstery. They drove it into the early ’90s with nothing but regular maintenance, plenty of cheap fuel, and reupholstering of the front seat. It was an extremely comfortable and solid car, and that ad is right. Its V8 purred like a kitten and was smooth as silk.

  • avatar

    Vomit on wheels. Ford’s absolute nadir. Bad enough to make a Mustang II look good.

    Then again, GM’s full-size offerings 1971-76 were just as bad.

    • 0 avatar
      PaulVincent

      You don’t have a clue. My personal experience forty years ago (while driving my ’69 Mach I) was that this generation of Ford LTD were good for at least 130 mph (and I say at least because I know we were going that fast) completely stock. Modified, it was capable of much, much faster. Once again, you simply don’t have a clue. In addition, these cars could carry a full load of passengers as well as a trunk load of whatever. Finally, having one of these vehicles meant that you didn’t need a second, third, or fourth vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        130mph in a straight line, on a smooth road, and God-forbid you need to stop or turn. And about 1mpg at that speed. Utter dreck.

      • 0 avatar
        tonyola

        I was there and I do have a clue, and these Fords were utter pigmobiles. Dad had ’72 and ’77 Marquis Broughams that I drove extensively. Big, plush, and roomy, yes, but completely inept in dynamics. Zero cornering ability and anything but the smoothest roads had the cars bounding like they were suspended on Jell-O. The GM and Mopar biggies of the era weren’t great either, but they drove better than the Fords. I call BS on the 130 mph claim too – the ’72 with the 429 barely managed 120 and the ’77 with the 460 was lucky to break 105.

      • 0 avatar
        Lemmy-powered

        It’s been 25 years since I sold my ’78 LTD to the crusher, but I still remember how utterly awful the car was.

        I grew up sitting in the back seat of that car, and a ’73 before it. When I got older, the ’78 was given to me. My first car.

        Even for its day, it had awful quality control, awful seats, awful steering, awful handling, awful braking — and there is not a single handsome line on the car to boot.

        The F100 half-ton we had at the same time was a joy to drive by comparison.

      • 0 avatar
        PaulVincent

        tonyola, You weren’t there, but if talking tough over the Internet is your game, have at it (enjoy it with all the other sissies). My ’78 Z28 with its 160 hp engine was good for 115 mph, and a ’96 SS Impala was good for 140, so don’t try telling me that a 429 Ford would not break 130 mph stock. Stats: 390 Horsepower V8-429 4 Barrel 4.36 x 3.59 429 11.0 hp=360 @ 4600 TQ=476 @ 2800: V8-427 4 Barrel 4.23 x 3.78 427 10.9 390 @ 5600 460 @ 3200

      • 0 avatar
        tonyola

        Dear Mr. Sissy, er, Vincent:

        1. Your post said “this generation of Ford LTD”. The pictured LTD was in its first year of a new generation which lasted through 1978. Your so-called 130 mph LTD was of a previous generation. The ’73 was way down on compression and power compared to your example and the 427 you casually toss around was gone in the big Fords after 1967. The hottest engine for ’73 was a 202-hp 460. So points off to you for lack of clarity.

        2. By the late 1970s, cars had much longer gearing than before to maximize fuel economy so getting higher top speeds if you had enough running room was no big deal. So your comparison of the Camaro and SS to earlier cars doesn’t mean much. Hell, my 76-hp CRX could manage 118 mph flat out.

        2. How did you verify your claimed 130 speed? By the vehicle speedo or by timed passage through actual measured marks?

        My clue is very much intact, thank you.

      • 0 avatar

        No way this car would have done 130 on the highway. I’ve driven/ridden in many early-70s Detroit full-sized/big-block cars at flat-out top speed, back when they were 10-15 years old, and the real-world top speed on these cinder-block-shaped monsters ends up being more like 110… if you can believe the factory speedo, which I don’t. At that speed, a big Ford of that era feels like it’s going to disintegrate, which it probably is.

      • 0 avatar
        05lgt

        Well, it’s worth nothing but if my big VDO tach was proportional to speed in 4th gear my 72 small block Challenger was over 140 when the front end got light enough to be completely non-responsive to steering input. No claims to anything in the drive line being stock. Not sure what the year was, but my friends 429 LTD wagon pulled like crazy, but the intake and carb were not what it came with. You really could see the gas needle move at WOT. Top speed? are you crazy?! it couldn’t stop or turn at 80mph.

      • 0 avatar
        Moparman426W

        I remember listed top speeds of most of the smog 70′s big cars being in the 110 range in magazine road tests of the day. Some of the older pre smog boats with bigger engines had pretty impressive top speeds though. The 63 dodge polara police pursuit with 413 engine had a top speed of 129 mph. The 69 polara 440 police car topped out at 147, which was a record for police cars that was held for 2-3 decades.
        Some engines weren’t as affected as badly as others in the smog years. According to the allpar website the michigan state police got a 133 mph top speed out of a 78 440 equipped monaco during testing. Testing of a 74 401 matador for the LAPD resulted in a 125 mph top end.

    • 0 avatar

      Respectfully, I stand by my assessment. I’d take a pre-’71 LTD/Galaxie any day of the week for driveability and style, and the Panthers that replaced this generation were so superior the design lasted over 30 years.

      Same with GM…Pick any ’65-’70 Impala/Caprice or any ’77-’96 of the same. My ’91 Caprice wagon is a ‘Vette by comparison to these 1970′s pre-downsize offerings – with more room and 23 MPG highway.

  • avatar
    mdensch

    Reminds me of the ’71 LTD coupe that I bought from the original owner in the early 90s, though mine was a lot more basic. It was yellow but had the same vinyl top and same color interior. Mine just had the bench seat with the ultra smooth nylon upholstery, A/C, AM only radio, no power windows or lock (imagine that on any car these days) and only 40,000 some miles on the clock. It handled like a barge, sucked gas like a pig but none of that mattered when you were cruising out on the open road.

    (BTW, my folks had a ’67 Custom when I was a kid, too. Not even the 500, just the base Custom.)

    • 0 avatar
      dastanley

      I bought a ’71 Custom 500 for $500 in ’83 when I was in high school. It had 223,000 miles on it with the original 351W 2BBL – even original timing chain. It burned oil, but it ran. The interior sounds like it was identical to yours – vinyl bench, manual windows, manual locks, AC, AM radio. Solid white. It got me through the rest of high school and 4 years of college. I finally sold it in late ’88.

  • avatar
    dutch45810

    Those were the days, when a car had an ashtray and “cigar lighter” for each of the 6 passengers. I think my brother’s fingerprint is still influenced by the rear passenger lighter of grandpa’s “old blue” ’71 Sedan DeVille. This car in particular reminds me of the series of decade-old Country Squire wagons my family had through the late 80′s. Never liked them at the time, but I can understand why my dad preferred them.

    • 0 avatar
      GoesLikeStink

      This comment instantly brought back the sense memory of that awful smell when the parents left you in the car and one of the kids would spit on the hot cigar lighter. UUGH!

  • avatar
    retrogrouch

    I am amazed that the Big Three survived the 70s.

    • 0 avatar
      moedaman

      The imports may have had better gas milage, but they weren’t built that much better. And when it came to most european cars, worse build quality. And remember families were bigger back then and most Americans needed bigger cars. My father couldn’t put him, my mom and four kids into the vast majority of imports. But we all fit in his Chevy.

    • 0 avatar
      PintoFan

      Why? Ford, GM and Chrysler sold cars like these by the millions every year, because they were what people wanted. Only the ’73 oil embargo hurt them, and even that was temporary. The only reason small cars took off in the United States was because people felt that they HAD to buy them, not because they WANTED to.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Small cars sales had been growing since 1965, or long before the Arab Oil Embargo (which happened in late 1973). Plenty of people wanted small cars before the first fuel crunch.

        At the other end of the market, Mercedes and BMW sales had been growing dramatically since the late 1960s.

        The gas mileage of way too many domestic cars was just awful. Even with relatively cheap gasoline, an increasing number of people were tired of 10-11 mpg fuel “economy” in their cars – even the luxury cars. That is why GM’s downsized big cars of 1977 were such a huge hit.

      • 0 avatar

        It couldn’t go on the way it was going, and when it was discovered the ’77 B-body’s space utilization blew the previous generation out of the water (as it was with the Panthers over the previous LTD), that was the exclamation mark…smaller on the outside yet bigger on the inside.

        In retrospect, I think the public had to come to the collective conclusion that bigger didn’t necessarily equate to better. Had GM skipped the 1971 generation and introduced the leaner, meaner B-bodies in the fall of 1970, they probably wouldn’t been as well received.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    You want steak and potatoes? This Detroit vehicle offers steak and potatoes. You want Pabst Blue Ribbon? This vehicle offers PBR.

    When we look at the evolution of Detroit passenger cars, we see this LTD as an obvious extention of that evolution. The generation that wanted a 1949 Ford after experiencing the fears of WWII, still wanted a Ford in 1974 which offered heft and silence, not performance beyond an ability to get out of it’s way. Quality meant lasting three years, not thirty. The growth within the US economy from 1949 to 1974 meant that more was better and there were no limits. Hippies were bathing, shaving, marrying, birthing and turning their backs on utopianism. Steak and potatoes were still considered a luxury.

    We can be critical towards 1974 only in hindsight. If we were there, we would not question why a six passenger 4,000 plus, Captain Merill Stubing Love Boat LTD with an eight trac of The Carpenters wasn’t the epitome of normal. If you wanted to be hip, there was the mini-LTD Mustang II Ghia. This, and vehicles like this, is what normal people bought and wanted to buy. Ford sold millions of these cars. The 1974 LTD is the godfather of the 2013 Camry. After all, you’ll find the same folks driving each, only forty years older.

    The moment I saw the Love Boat Captain on the deck of this LTD, I couldn’t have imagined a better ad for this Love Boat.

    There is no way I would want this car even if I would love to seat six on two bench seats. It was a cheap hearse for a year when a gallon of gas set you back forty cents. No limits, no competition, no goals other than flatulent luxury makes for a pretty horrible ride.

    • 0 avatar
      Hank

      “This, and vehicles like this, is what normal people bought and wanted to buy. Ford sold millions of these cars. The 1974 LTD is the godfather of the 2013 Camry. After all, you’ll find the same folks driving each, only forty years older.”

      Nailed it.

    • 0 avatar
      roger628

      Baby boomers criticized these cars for not having “feel of the road”,
      among other sins, as they sidled on to the BMW store to look at 2002s. The depression-scarred buyers driving these had had enough feel of the road in their formative years, thank you very much.
      They felt it, all right, and saw it, through cracked and rusty floor boards of , they smelled it, they inhaled it, and had to get out and touch it to fix frequent flats and other maladies of the era.
      These people didn’t want to feel no stinking road.

      • 0 avatar
        Hank

        When you live in the land of potholes and corrupt city govts that couldn’t fix a pothole to save their life like I do…yeah, I’m looking at you, New York…feeling the road is overrated.

    • 0 avatar
      lowflyingdutch

      73. 400 block. As old as i am. Steals the show no matter where i go. Flawless. And i mean flawless. Flawless? Flawless. 39k on the clock. Had sat up for several months and was hard to start. Took her out of town and floored her to clear her throat from the ethanol garbage thatcomes out of the pump nowadays. Big black cloud and an engine purring like a kitten now. Impossible to keep in a straight line. But youknow what? No more volvo for me. Simple. Sturdy. And 40 without showing crows feet. Just downright gorgeous. A reminder of what design used to be about. Unassuming. Two kids in the front seat alone. And running for another 40. Takers? Single working dad. No note. Simply fixed. Indestuctible and the envy of my neighborhood. I know. No beamers or lexus where i live. But bring it on biotch. This is american 40 year old pride. And i will still bury your kraut driving self. And she will do so screaming down the tarmac and with a scared shitless driver fighting to keep this monster bomber in a straight line. But i will own you. Own you. You never stood a chance. 6.5 liters is really no match for 2.5 no matter how you slice it. And you know what? One day. One day we will come to our senses. And one day american engineers will be allowed to dream up the next monster. And they will once again carry your kraut recyclable as a spare car in their trunks. And until then? Detroit is still owning you. Maybe not as often. And maybe as a reminder of what and who we used to be. And maybe that city is inhabited by ghosts today. But you had better pray. You had better pray we dont get back on top.

  • avatar
    Speed Spaniel

    My claims adjuster uncle had just acquired a new one of these as a fleet car in the early 70s and he noticed there was a knock coming from the driver’s door. When he brought it to the Ford dealer for inspection, they had discovered a stray empty beer bottle wedged into the inner door as the culprit. Who wants to bet this was the last car manufactured around quitting time on a Friday afternoon?

  • avatar
    ranwhenparked

    Going back to Steven Lang’s post from the other day, big Fords of this era may have been junk in a lot of respects, but they were still willing to spend some money on the details.

    Look at that door panel – the bottom half is covered in carpeting, the upper half is mostly patted vinyl upholstery. The window crank, ashtray, lock, door pull,and chrome trim are all made of actual, chrome-plated metal. Even the fake wood is made of a heavy plastic that feels solid to the touch and held up well over nearly 30 years of use.

    Flash forward 30 years and compare it to the Crown Victoria (the direct descendant of this car). By then, the door panels were essentially a single piece of hard, injection moulded plastic that sounds hollow to the touch, and the fake wood trim that remained on the dash and only the dash was printed on a thin strip of plastic film that compresses inward when you poke it.

    Cars have gotten more reliable, longer lasting, and better built, but its come at the expense of the details.

    • 0 avatar
      dutch45810

      I remember the chromed pot-metal door latch lever and the sharp edges where mold came together cutting my finger in the good old days, as well as flakes of chrome plating coming off the pot-metal door lock buttons…my rose-colored glasses have their limits.

      • 0 avatar
        Roberto Esponja

        Do remember those days, Dutch…and me repainting plenty of door lock buttons with modeling paint because their factory finish came off (yes, I was that anal back then). Bad times…

    • 0 avatar
      Lemmy-powered

      I remember how the cold air used to blow in from around the foam by the interior rear door handles on winter drives.

      I remember how the chrome tips on the HVAC sliders used to fall off.

      I remember how the clock never worked. Ever.

      I remember the excess glue everywhere, never cleaned up by the factory.

      I remember as a child pinching my fingers in door mechanism when I used the inside door pulls.

      I remember the horribly flimsy spare tire cover in LTD wagons of this era, always busted.

      I remember the chrome chipped off the gear lever, and every other control.

      I rode in these LTDs from age 3 to 17. I miss nothing about them. They weren’t even that big inside.

      • 0 avatar
        ranwhenparked

        No rose tinted glasses here, cheap cars have always been cheaply finished, and the 1970s were an obnoxiously low point for horrible build quality. The big difference between then and now, though, was that back then, automakers knew how to take cheap materials and make a cheap interior that LOOKED somewhat expensive. Today, they just take cheap materials and make an interior that looks cheap. If you’re not cutting your hand on pot metal edges, you’re cutting it on the sharp seams from injection molds, if the plastichrome isn’t flaking off of a knob or door handle, you’re scratching the fake aluminum trim with your nails. Different eras, different problems – I still the prefer the look and feel of carpet and padded upholstery to hard, hollow plastic, though.

      • 0 avatar
        Hank

        Nice avatar. Ilyushin Il-62, right? I used to see lots of those in Russia in the 90s. I always liked that their airliners, for the most part, took design deviances from the standard playbook. I always wondered if a well-placed Franklin would get a ride in the glass nose of the Tu-134′s Aeroflot used for domestic flights.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      The above comments don’t sound so much as those for an old car as much as a sofa on wheels.

  • avatar
    skor

    My friend’s parents had a 71 Country Squire wagon (the wagon version of the LTD). It had the 390 engine, was pee-pee yellow, with fake wood glued to the sides, and was absolutely Brady Bunch hideous in the worst possible way. We all piled in for trip down to the Jersey shore. It must have been 90+ degrees outside but the AC blew ice cold….you could have used that car to transport meat. Ah, childhood memories.

  • avatar
    roger628

    According to the compliance sticker, this would have been one of the last 73′s off the line before the traditional summer hiatus before the new models.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    If its good enough for Alan Oppenheimer, then it’s good enough for me!

  • avatar
    geeber

    When I was a kid, these were everywhere…and they somehow seemed more luxurious and upscale than the Chevrolet Caprice, let alone the Plymnouth Gran Fury. Surviving examples do look better assembled than contemporary Chevrolets and Plymouths.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    I had a two door ’72 LTD in light blue for a while. It was a floaty marshmallow sitting on a pile of pillows on a bed filled with down feathers. Nice for highway cruising, but any kind of spirited driving was terrifying to say the least.

    Mine had the “puny” 302, which moved out alright, but the carburetor was finicky in the winter and didn’t like to start when it was colder than 20 degrees.

    I replaced it with an ’82 Toyota Tercel that could have easily have fit in the trunk of the LTD that it replaced.

  • avatar
    PaulVincent

    I had a ’74 Country Squire wagon with the 400 c.i. engine. It could and did haul anything. I will forever miss that car.

  • avatar
    PintoFan

    I agree that the rockabilly crowd doesn’t care about these; they’re too new. But hot rodders have used them as a source for cheap big-blocks for years, and you do see them turned into lowriders occasionally. But the real interest is with the donk crowd; they’re increasingly popular as prices for unmolested G and C-bodies are on the rise.

    I want one of these in my collection someday. Right alongside the Mustang II Cobra and a Fairmont Country Squire.

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      Go rent the 1973 Burt Reynolds movie “White Lightning”. Reynolds plays a moonshiner who drives a brown 1971 Ford Custom 500. The Custom was a stripper version of the LTD. The movie car is particularly interesting in that it is equipped with a 429 and 4 speed manual on the floor!

  • avatar
    MAQ

    Back in the early 80′s, I had an even more upscale ’73 Mercury Marquis Brougham with power everything and the 460 ci engine.

    It had the optional towing package but still could barely go around a corner. However, on the highway, with the cruise control on, it was truly the epitome of a “land yacht.”

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    How come the fuel gauge has the markings, but not the needle?

    Anyway, looks like perfect Demolition Derby material.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      The needle is there; it is white and is all the way to the left past the ‘E’.

      These cars did OK in the demo derbies, but much more common FOMOCO vehicles were the Marks and TBirds of the same era (probably due to the extra length out front which allows the radiator to live for a few minutes longer).

      The “holy grail” demo derby car is a 1973-75 2-door full-sized Chevy, but these are getting hard to come by. In my younger days I regularly attended said derbies and could usually pick the top three cars to win before the event even started.

      • 0 avatar
        MadHungarian

        I thought the ultimate derby car was a GM clamshell wagon.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        The ulitmate derby car was the ’57-’66 Imperial. They were two cars in one, a unit-body structure sitting on top of a full frame. They could pretty much drive through any other car as a result, making them derby dominators until they were banned. That’s probably the only reason any still survive.

      • 0 avatar
        nikita

        Our demo derby car was a ’72 Chrysler Newport, now that was one tough car! Early Imperials were way too rare, and by the ’70′s were just fancy Chryslers anyway. These flexi-frame Fords, especially with the heavy big engines and lots of miles on them collapsed the front suspension at the slightest hit. Chevy wagons did seem to hold up well when ramming in reverse.

  • avatar
    DIYer

    I bought a used ’73 2-dr 400 CID with 108K for $900 in the spring of 1979, when gas was 60 cents. That summer, there was another oil embargo, and gas went up to $1.00 and stayed there. I liked the LTD except that it only got 13 mpg. Smoothest ride of any vehicle I’ve ever had. The only parts that needed replacing outside of normal maintenance were the alternator, hi-pressure power steering hose, and the heater blower motor. I gave the LTD to my brother in 1983 with 165K on it, and bought a 1975 Dodge Dart 225 slant six which got 20 mpg for $700.

  • avatar
    autobahner44

    Seeing this car really summons the memories…

    Our neighbor, Mr. Evers, who lived two houses down from us, had the two door version of this, same color and everything. He bought a new Ford every three years or so. The ’73 was preceded by a ’70 LTD, a ’67 Galaxie 500 convertible, a ’65 Galaxie 500, and others before that I’m sure. My dad was also a Ford man, but he held on to his cars for way too long. finally buying a ’72 Gran Torino and passing his ’64 Galaxie down to my big brother, then my sis had it, then me…
    They were wonderful for their day. Big, fast, and smooth. No one gave a shit about gas prices back then, so vilifying them now for their un-slakeable thirst then is just goofy.
    Rest in peace, Mr. Evers. RIP, LTD…

  • avatar
    gkhize

    VanillaDude hit it on the head, when this car was new it’s what everyone wanted, just like people thought they had to have an SUV 20 or 30 years later. My dad drove a long line of big Fords; ’62 and ’66 Galaxie 500s, ’71 Country Squire, 79 LTD and today is in his third Grand Marquis. I recall the one option he really wanted on his next car was a vinyl roof and he was very happy when he finally got one. These cars epitomize what his generation thought was a desireable car; lots of room, V8 power, and a smooth ride. Held up against the technologically advanced cars of today it may look like a piece of crap, but compare the ’73 to the ’49 Fords they grew up in and this ’73 was right up town.

    Also, couldn’t help but notice the rust free rear quarters on this one. I live in the midwest and remember seeing this particular generation LTD with see-through trunks and bumpers that literally fell off from all the rust. But, as someone else mentioned, these were designed for a 3-5 year 100K life span, not the 13+ year 200K lifespan of today. Great memories of a different era when Mom, Dad, and all 4 kids piled into the car for the weekly Sunday afternoon drive.

  • avatar
    chevysrock39

    Great find, Murilee! These cars were total slugs when new, but then again I’m pretty sure everything was at the time. Any time I see one of these cars, I think of “The Driver” with Ryan O’Neal. A clip of the car chase can be found on youtube. To quote my father: “Wow, listen to that smog pump go!”

  • avatar
    getacargetacheck

    Our family car when I was a kid was a black on black ’73 Country Squire Brougham. Pulling campers back then was very popular and our 400 cid LTD did the job with some occasional overheating. The car in the junkyard is a Brougham as well — you can tell by the high-backed front seats. If you pull up the door upholstery that’s peeling on the front passenger side in the junked car you would see the chrome “Brougham” script. I believe the tufted door panels and interior door lights were special to the Brougham as well.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      “a black on black ’73 Country Squire Brougham”
      Good lord, that must have looked like a medical examiner’s car…were your parents fans of Quincy?

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    I remember the TV ad where they had a diamond cutter sitting in the back seat and making a cut on a real diamond while the LTD cruised down thw road. Then there was the ad with Hugh Downs describing how a LTD got over 20 MPG in a road test. This was during the height of the Arab embargo. It was later disclosed that the road they used for the test ran downhill!

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      Saturday Night live did a parody of that ad. The ad was for the “Royal Deluxe II” but instead of a diamond cutter, they had a rabbi in the back seat circumcising a new born. Purfect!

  • avatar
    mrpz

    In the world of cars-with-faces, I’ve always thought this one looked like Judd Hirsch.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    I got my license in 1976 and one neighbour had a 74 LTD and another had a 78 Caprice with F41 suspension. I got to drive both and the Caprice was a revelation compared to the Ford.

  • avatar
    windsormarxist

    I think your memories of these things are directly related to where you lived in the 1980s. In the rust belt, ’73-76 Ford full size cars rusted in a way that was only surpassed by GM pickups of the same vintage. I remember in 1993 going to look at a $300 example of a ’73 LTD. It actually had holes in the doors and rear quarters big enough for a football- you could see the power window mechanisms through the holes. There was more rust than car, and I don’t think I’m exaggerating. However, it did drive nicely in spite of this but I just couldn’t bear to be seen in an ‘Uncle Buck’ car.

    Fast forward nine years and I picked up a ’71 Ford Custom- not Custom 500, just Custom, with no power steering, drum brakes and the 240 six cylinder. It wasn’t too slow, and was reasonably economical and was a great interstate cruiser. Not fun at low speeds with radials though. Only my 109″ land rover was heavier to drive. The frame also had rust behind the doors quite seriously, but the body itself was far more rust free than most 73 and later ones I’d seen, and this was for an Ontario car. It was reliable too, needing only a fuel pump gasket, carb rebuild and thermostat. Totally psychobillytastic as well.

    You got a date, he’s just a friend
    I can’t believe this is the end
    Things ain’t so bad, cuz I got a galaxie 500.
    In my own galaxy
    1973
    You probably would have wanted this too….
    but its not air conditioned.
    RHH

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    Most of the critics of this big Ford, and the other big boats of the era are revisionists of history. They weren’t there, and don’t understand the NEED for a six passenger car or a big wagon, and the DESIRE for a solid, comfortable ride.These buyers did not want a sports car ride. I had one of these LTDs, and although it wasn’t my favorite car, it served well. And aside from its thirst for 60 cent gasoline, it was very economical in every other way.

    • 0 avatar
      tonyola

      Wrong! I was very much there and I drove plenty of the big boats. See my comments elsewhere in this thread. Also, I learned how to drive in a ’68 Mercury Marquis. If you were under 25 in the 1970s, you bought a Detroit fullsize for only three reasons:

      1. You had a passel of kids and/or needed to tow something big;
      2. You bought a used one because it was cheap; or,
      3. You were hopelessly Buy-American and didn’t know much about cars.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        It was a generational shift. Younger buyers wanted something sportier, as well as something “different” and “new” to set themselves apart from their parents, who had grew up in different circumstances and therefore had different priorities when buying a car.

        Just because someone wanted a soft ride, effective air conditioning and lots of power assists doesn’t mean that they didn’t know much about cars. It meant that they simply wanted different things.

    • 0 avatar
      CrapBox

      I was there.

      I didn’t enjoy driving these boats because they gave me a pain in the butt and they wandered all over the road. In anything but perfect weather conditions, they were hazardous. Don’t believe me? Go out and buy an LTD and then drive it through a snow storm.

  • avatar
    matchjames

    in a most odd moment of serendipity, i was reading this post on my phone while on a drive-thru line for lunch.. and just to my right? same car, in baby blue. THE SAME CAR. https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash2/156213_10150694668318342_1563740351_n.jpg

  • avatar
    400 N

    Speaking from personal experience, I can feel sentimental about the car in which my s** education occured.

    Middle-class in profile and looking vaguely like the local police units, it was an excellent cruising car, never stopped once by the cops back in my wild days.

  • avatar

    Quiet is also the sound of a car that doesn’t run.

    Good thing Ford didn’t have to deal with online comments about their ads in 1973.

  • avatar
    texan01

    This reminds me of the song “take it out On the Blacktop” by the Banana Blender Surprise – (shameless plug, my cousins’s band, and the song is about his grandfather’s/my great uncle’s LTD )

    Starts out as “This is a song about Sharpstown Mall and a 1976 Ford LTD”. with a blown transmission, Houston traffic, Police and A/C.

    I too am a supporter of good quality land yachts, but Fords in the ’70s weren’t the place to be.

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    I remember driving one of these, the body roll around a corner was so excessive you could look out the window and you would be looking down into the ground, not out and see the horizon, that was blocked by the roof.

    I HATED the way these things drove and never cared for the looks or anything else. Even back then they were incredibly ugly.

    Just all around a horrible car, goes to show that if you make a car, someone will buy it, no matter how bad it is.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    In just a couple of pics of a door surface, you’ve proven the case — ugly now, ugly then. The mind boggles at what’s worse: the vomitous hue, the meaningless square designs, the atrocious vinyl pattern, or the crank stick artlessly nearby. At least they centered it with the button below, approximately. I’m old enough to miss these cars, but believe me, I don’t

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    I always felt the 73-78 big fords were the ugliest, I prefer the looks of the 69-70. Fords of this era were also very rust prone, almost as bad as the 70′s japanese cars. It’s unfortunate, because the engines and drivelines were pretty much bulletproof. Behind many of the 351 and all of the 400CI and bigger engines you got the stout C6 and 9 inch rearend.
    My dad bought a new 75 LTD wagon with the 400/C6 combo, and luckily he had it ziebarted. We went on 6 vacations a year in it from Ohio to Tennessee, which is where my parents were from. There was my parents, my 3 sisters and myself, so yes, we needed a station wagon.
    When my parents bought new furniture there was no need to have it delivered, my dad would just have them load it into the wagon. It would hold a couch or anything else you wanted to stick inside of it. My dad even hauled home a stove and refrigerator, the stove slid inside on it’s back and the refrigerator was stood on the tailgate and tied to the luggage rack.
    My dad always put a good set of snow tires on it during the winter, and it would plow through the snow better than many newer fwd cars.
    He was big on maintenance, and the only things it needed outside of normal maintenance over the 11 years that he owned it was a water pump, fuel pump and idler arm. By 1986 my sisters and me were long gone from home so he bought a new F150.
    I can’t remember the mileage on the wagon when he got rid of it but it was pretty high. The car still ran well but was starting to get a bit raggedy. It went to a neighbor down the street who pulled the engine and trans, rebuilt it and installed it into a 78 pickup to replace the 300 6. He installed an aftermarket intake with a small holley carb, RV cam and a set of headers, and it really woke up that old 400. He drove it for several years before selling it.
    Those cars did handle like crap, even for a large car, but the people that bought them didn’t care. They wanted a smooth quiet ride, which they got.

  • avatar
    28-cars-later

    I really like the side by side car add, simple, informative, and to the point even paying compliments to the competition without knocking the product. Why can’t ads be like this today, instead you have to interpret half of them with the Rosetta stone.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    I’ll never forget as a kid in the 70′s when we went to visit my God parents who just relegated there brown 73 LTD to second car duty after buying a brand spanking new B-body 1978 Caprice Classic with 350 V8, F-41 with red interior and silver exterior. I got to ride in the old LTD many times and knew the car well. Then they let dad take the Caprice out for a drive and we were shocked at the difference. The Caprice actually handled and took corners and still rode very well and controlled. The Caprice actually moved out and had plenty of passing power, felt roomier inside and didn’t feel like you were piloting the Queen Mary. That 78 Caprice started my love affair for the B-bodies every since and proved that not everything in the automotive world was crap in the 70′s.

    • 0 avatar
      Moparman426W

      The downsized GM cars and the later downsized fords didn’t have more room than the earlier models. The headroom and legroom were about the same, and they had slightly less shoulder and hiproom than the earlier models, but not by much. The cargo area in the downsized wagons was a good deal smaller. It’s unfair to compare the handling of the later cars to the earlier ones, they were some 800-1000lbs. lighter and smaller. The earlier caprices didn’t handle much better than the fords.

      • 0 avatar
        dutch45810

        Looks like it was a mix – trunk was actually slightly larger in the coupes/sedans. I know we all preferred my Grandpa’s 78 Coupe DeVille to the ’72 Sedan DeVille that was relegated to beater-duty (this was in the early-mid 80′s) but the green ’66 Sedan DeVille was still my favorite.

        Everyone’s favorite reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Caprice#Third_generation_.281977.E2.80.931990.29

  • avatar
    Piston Slap Yo Momma

    Are the people who show utter contempt for this car mixing it up with a Vega or an old rusty Renault? I’ve in my carport a ’72 LTD Country Squire wagon that’s a treasure, beautiful and functional. The doors shut like vaults and the metallic green paint and black on black interior are a perfect match. Everything works, minus the clock. It’s the most car I could buy for my $2700 – it hauls a ton of cargo and when not hauling it cruises even better, eliciting thumbs up everywhere I take her. 400ci, 9mpg and the size of an aircraft carrier. To me it represents America at its best, when laborers were paid a living wage and made a quality product. It was downhill from there. Haters can hate, but they haven’t ridden in my hooptie.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    Brings back memories of going with a college roommate to his father’s ranch and borrowing his father’s 1971 LTD hardtop sedan in that frequently seen root-beer metallic color with the 429 . His father ordered the 429 in case he wanted to use it for hauling a cattle trailer instead of his farm truck . The crazy roommate was high and was driving over 100 m.p.h. on these winding two lane blacktop country roads . I was a bit nervous about it, what with the squealing tires and wallowing suspension .

  • avatar
    Bryan G

    I grew up riding in the backseat of big FoMoCo machines, first a 73 Grand Marquis Brougham and later a Country Squire from 74 or so. By far my memories of the Mercury are better, it just had such a great look. I hated that Ford with a passion, even as a snotty nosed kid. Ours was green with woodgrain. The vinyl seats, the old french fries tucked in the creases, the smell of my mothers perfume mixed with Kool Filter Kings….that’s okay, I don’t really want to go back!

    I do agree, for their time, they were what people wanted. I don’t recall either car being in the shop much. Once my Dad was screwing around, spinning tires then locking up the brakes in our gravel drive, and somehow managed to bend a pushrod in the wagon. Oh, then there was the time the brakes failed while we were on Skyline Drive…by the time of our next summer vacation we were riding in a 77 Century wagon!

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    I know these big Fords were wallowing blunderbuses and I have no interest in them as “collectibles.” Still, I still love seeing them on the road occassionally. I particularly love the proportions of ’73-’74 models, particularly Galaxie and Custom 500 4 doors.

    Maybe it’s my love of Seventies cop shows. Virtually all the big TV producers of that era — Aaron Spelling, Quinn Martin, Universal, etc. — were supplied with Fords.

    Call me weird, but I always preferred Hutch’s tan ’73 Custom 500 to Starsky’s red tomato Torino. Kojak’s aide Crocker drove a black ’73 in the first season before he got a Buick Century too. Dann-O on “Hawaii Five-O” got less democratic treatment. He always drove a current-model black Ford. I guess that was the Lord’s way of telling the help that only McGarrett gets to drive a Mercury.

    If I were to fix one of these bad boys up, I’d do it as a detective car in black with a blue vinyl bench seat, buggy-whip antenna, and either with modern engines from a Panther or — if you have the stomach for authenticity — a 460 c.i. mill getting 7-8 mpg.

    • 0 avatar
      nikita

      Hollywood used Fords on the lot due to a marketing tie-in, while just outside, the real LAPD was driving AMC Matadors. The CHP tried Mercury for 1970 only, then went back to Dodge.

    • 0 avatar
      Moparman426W

      The 460 was actually one of the more efficient engines of the 70′s and they were known for getting mileage in the low to mid teens even in smog form.
      It would take a supercharger for a mod engine to match the power of a 460 with only a good cam, manifold, carb and exhaust with a set of flat top pistons. 500 hp is a cakewalk for a 460. You can even add FI to a 460 and a gear vendors overdrive behind a C6 and get around 20mpg.

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    AMC Matadors, huh? That explains the last few seasons of “Adam-12.”

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Thanks Murilee for reminding me how old I am, how much fun these boats were, and how much I love modern cars.

  • avatar
    The Dark One

    My Uncle had one of these when I was little; what I remember most about these cars is the huge armrest the front seat had. When it was up, the bench seated 3 adults. When it was down, it seated a 3 year old! Even if the police did care, they porbably couldn’t see because my aunt was chain smoking Pall Mall’s with the windows up to keep the cold A/C air in. It’s amazing people my age lived to tell our stories.


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