By on June 1, 2013

01 - 1987 Ford Country Squire Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWill the faux-woodgrain Country Squire Junkyard Finds never stop? Not if I can keep finding them! We started this sequence with this ’76, then followed up with this ’77 and this ’86. Today’s Squire is another Panther platform “woodie” wagon, Detroit’s traditional rear-drive family hauler for the late 1980s.
04 - 1987 Ford Country Squire Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis car couldn’t carry the staggering volume of cargo that its gigantic 1970s predecessors did, but it still made the Taurus wagon seem cramped.
08 - 1987 Ford Country Squire Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWith an EFI-equipped 302-cubic-inch V8 and overdrive automatic transmission, these cars got pretty good fuel economy for the time. Yes, the Taurus was a lot more frugal.
14 - 1987 Ford Country Squire Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis example, which I spotted in Denver a couple of weeks ago, seems pretty solid except for the bashed-up left front corner.
11 - 1987 Ford Country Squire Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt drove to the accident, but nobody wants to spend $1500 to fix a car that’s worth— at best— a grand. Next stop, Crusher!
10 - 1987 Ford Country Squire Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSuch class!

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39 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1987 Ford LTD Country Squire...”


  • avatar
    22_RE_Speedwagon

    It’s hard to imagine this was being sold next to the moon patrol buggy that was the 1987 taurus wagon.

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      The old fashioned BOF cars could take abuse that would have quickly trashed a front drive unibody car. It wasn’t modern wagons that killed off these things, it was the one-two punch of the minivan and SUV.

      • 0 avatar
        22_RE_Speedwagon

        To your point, I can recall my father pulling out the bashed-in front end of our 70s caprice classic wagon by tying it to a tree and throwing it in reverse.

        But still the design of this and the taurus are so clearly decades apart (inside and out) it’s amazing they overlapped for so many years in ford’s stable.

        • 0 avatar
          jhefner

          I think the reasoning was if you wanted an “old fashioned” station wagon to pull your camper or boat; you bought the Country Squire. But, if you wanted a European style station wagon to impress your 5000s and Mercedes driving friends at the country club; you bought a Taurus.

          It also wasn’t a sure bet that the Taurus was gonig to be the winner it was in 1985; the LTD was standing by to try and save Ford in case it flopped.

          The minivan and SUVs like the Suburban and Escalade eventually took over the role of the Taurus; crew cab pickups and SUVs the role of the traditional large station wagon. I would think a logical “end” to this woodie series would be a Chrysler Town & Country minivan from the late 1980s or 1990s with the woodie trim….

  • avatar
    skor

    Murilee, I’m gonna guess you haven’t set foot in an auto body shop recently. That’s more than $1,500 worth of damage….closer to double. Question is: Would you spend $3K to repair a car worth $1K?

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      In 2009 my 2004 Ford F150 Heritage (old 1996 to 2003 body style) is sitting on the street when the neighbor’s vehicle rolls down their driveway and hits the long bed between the wheel well and the taillight. (Elderly neighbor had forgotten to set their parking brake on their manual trans Subaru.)

      To their credit, the neighbors were very apologetic and eager to set it right and encouraged me to get several estimates. (They wanted to cut me a check and keep their insurance company out of it, all I cared was that I got made whole.)

      I got three estimates, all between $2200 and $2400.

      My point? Yeah Skor is much closer to reality than Murilee.

    • 0 avatar
      kjb911

      my Focus had its first accident today…teaching my sister to drive stick. had her drive it up to the top of the driveway where at that point she got out of the car without engaging the parking brake…needless to say the car rolled into a ditch on my property broke the spoiler on top of the hatch and bumper…quick visit to the body shop and came back with an estimate of 1400.00

    • 0 avatar
      Wscott97

      I needed both my bumpers and my rear spoiler lip repainted due to oxidation and bad parallel parkers. The first few shops I took it to wanted to charge me about $1000-1500. I went on yelp and found a shop in Little Saigon that did the job for $550. The car looks great and now my friends are going there.

      One of my friends got a dent on his Mini Cooper, the Mini dealership wanted $3000 to repair it. LS only wanted $300

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Standard equipe for Moms in my wealthy hometowm growing up was one of these or a Volvo wagon. Which then got handed down to the kids when they got their license. Universally referred to as “plywood pleasure palaces”. Dad usually had a European sedan or a Porsche. Those did not usually get handed down. :-)

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Bittersweet , seeing this Luxo-Barge out to pasture .

    Those seats look mighty comfy to me .

    Keep up the good works ! .

    Maybe you’ll find a late 1970′s Chevrolet Kingswood Wagon .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    MadHungarian

    Despite being (mostly, ’88 and earlier) old enough to be officially recognized as antique cars by the AACA and most state DMV’s, these Panther wagons are still dogs on the market. You can pick them up for fractions of the prices commanded by 1980′s GM “box wagons” and even smaller fractions of the prices commanded by 1990′s GM “whale wagons.” There’s no doubt that the whales have better drivetrains, especially the ones with the detuned LT-1, and the boxes are perceived as less stodgy than the Fords. All of which serves to point up once again that it is a shame Ford did not build a wagon on the 1992-up redesigned Panther body. Properly marketed it could have blown the whales back into the sea. It also would have been safer, better handling and probably more efficient than the early Explorers. But less profitable, and there’s the rub. Far better for the bottom line to weld a long roof and a couple of doors onto a Ranger (still with swing axle front suspension!), slap on any old tires Firestone comes up with, and call it a day.

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      Killing the wagons was the correct business decision for Ford. The minivan made wagons as appealing as day old bread, and the SUVs were returning huge profits.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      In 1991, CAFE redefined all minivans and SUVs as “Light Trucks” and therefor exempt from potential Gas-Guzzler taxes. That was the final nail in the (nonexempt)station wagon coffin.

      I mean “station wagons” under #6,000. “Light Trucks” began to grow after that including (not so) mini trucks.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        All this light truck discussion is conspiracy theory nonsense. The full-size wagons weren’t selling as well any more, and minivans were selling like hotcakes. Why? Minivans had better gas mileage and more interior space.

        Yes, that means these big estates weren’t making GM and Ford much money, and yes, minivans and SUVs may have been more profitable per vehicle, but the Country Squire and the B-body estate stopped selling as well, and that’s why they were discontinued.

        http://www.crownvic.net/drock96marquis/salesfigures.htm

        You can see sales of wagons falling, even while overall sales for full-size cars weren’t falling nearly as quickly. Wagons were 87K for Crown Vic LTD + Mercury Grand Marquis in 1979 out of almost 500K sales total, and wagon sales hit a local peak at 48K in 1983 out of 322K, but fell in 1984 to 45K out of 360K. Then, the sales decline really hit hard and cut those local peaks in half by hitting 24K in 1988 out of 246K, 22K in 1989 out of 273K, less than 11K in 1990 out of 152K, and less than 7K in 1991 out of 168K:

        Crown Vic/LTD:
        1979 — 356,535 total sales of which:
        LTD Wagon, 5D — 37,955
        Country Squire Wagon, 5D — 29,932
        1980 — 141,292 total sales of which:
        S Wagon, 5D — 3,490
        Wagon, 5D — 11,718
        Country Squire Wagon, 5D — 9,868
        1981 — 132,363 total sales of which:
        S Wagon, 5D — 2,465
        Wagon, 5D — 10,554
        Country Squire Wagon, 5D — 9,443
        1982 — 128,053 total sales of which:
        S Wagon, 5D — 2,973
        Wagon, 5D — 9,294
        Country Squire Wagon, 5D — 9,626
        1983 — 113,616 total sales of which:
        Wagon, 5D — 20,343
        1984 — 173,489 total sales of which:
        Wagon, 5D — 30,803
        1985 — 199,110 total sales of which:
        Wagon, 5D — 30,825
        1986 — 124,037 total sales of which:
        Wagon, 5D — 20,164
        1987 — 128,878 total sales of which:
        Wagon, 5D — 17,562
        1988 — 125,189 total sales of which:
        Wagon, 5D — 14,940
        1989 — 134,103 total sales of which:
        Wagon, 5D — 13,362
        1990 — 74,606 total sales of which:
        Wagon, 5D — 6,419
        1991 — 85,532 total sales of which:
        Wagon, 5D — 3,865

        Mercury Grand Marquis

        1979 — 140,800 total sales of which:
        Wagon, 5D — 5,994
        Colony Park Wagon, 5D — 13,758
        1980 — 54,328 total sales of which:
        Wagon, 5D — 2,407
        Colony Park Wagon, 5D — 5,781
        1981 — 61,638 total sales of which:
        Wagon, 5D — 2,219
        Colony Park Wagon, 5D — 6,293
        1982 — 77,157 total sales of which:
        Wagon, 5D — 2,487
        Colony Park Wagon, 5D — 8,004
        1983 — 95,718 total sales of which:
        Wagon, 5D — [no data, subtraction gives 12,394]
        1984 — 148,817 total sales of which:
        Colony Park Wagon, 5D — 17,421
        1985 — 161,258 total sales of which:
        Colony Park Wagon, 5D — 14,119
        1986 — 108,820 total sales of which:
        Colony Park Wagon, 5D — 9,891
        1987 — 131,194 total sales of which:
        Wagon, 5D — 10,691
        1988 — 121,067 total sales of which:
        Wagon, 5D — 9,456
        1989 — 138,913 total sales of which:
        Wagon, 5D — 8,665
        1990 — 77,395 total sales of which:
        Wagon, 5D — 4,450
        1991 — 82,433 total sales of which:
        Wagon, 5D — 3,104

        Please note that I corrected the total vehicle sold data for 1990 and 1991 for Ford.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        I’m sorry Corntrollio but Minivans at the time did not get better MPG than full size wagons except for the 4cyl Caravans when operated in the city. They do of course have more usable room inside with a truly useful 3rd row, suitable for more than kids under 10.

        • 0 avatar
          corntrollio

          If I remember correctly, the Caravan was only available as a 4-cylinder for the first several years, so I think I’ve got you on this one.

          In 1984, the 2.5L 4-cyl with automatic got 17/20, 18 combined, whereas the smaller 2.2L 4-cyl with 4-speed manual got 20/26, 22 combined.

          1984 Crown Vic Wagon:
          I see two listings, both of which are definitely lower:
          14/20, 16 combined
          13/19, 15 combined

          The first V6 I can find on fueleconomy.gov is this one:

          1988 Dodge Caravan — 16/21 city/hwy, 18 combined for the 3.0 V6
          vs.
          1988 Crown Vic Wagon — 15/22 city/hwy, 18 combined

          Looks like we both win if you must compare the V6 Caravan to the Crown Vic.

          By the end of the run, you get:

          1991 Caravan
          18/23, 20 combined 2.5L 4-cyl 3-speed
          17/22, 19 combined 3.0 V6 4-speed
          17/21, 19 combined 3.0 V6 3-speed
          16/21, 18 combined 3.3 V6 4-speed

          1991 Crown Vic Wagon is still 15/22 city/hwy, 18 combined

          I’d give the edge to me on that.

          As you said, the interior space for a Caravan was better than the full-size wagon, and the front-facing third row was better than the rear-facing one in both safety and puking performance.

          • 0 avatar
            jhefner

            Thank you for all of your hard work researching it, corntrollio, but mileage wasn’t the issue either. Run your numbers (if you want for the wagons based on the FWD sedans. I have owned three of them – Taurus, Celebrity, and Reliant; the first two had rear jump seats; and all of them got better mileage than the minivans, but they did not sell well either.

            No, the Wagonmasters documentary sums it up well. By the 1980s, woman were playing a larger role in the car buying decision making process. They were working moms (“soccer moms”), and the wagon reminded them of dear ole Dad, stay-at-home Mom, and the traditional family as lampooned in the two “Vacation” movies. (Remember the Taurus wagon with wood grain trim in the Christmas Vacation movie?)

            Simply put, minivans and later SUVs were in; wagons were out. I remember the stories in the press at the time about the trend; the ones buying the large RWD wagons were pulling something, while only older men like my father bought the wagons.

            Scoutdude is right, the third seat was more usable in the minivan. But what is more, the middle and rear seats in the minivans and later SUVs usually had their own A/C vents; all of the wagons I owned only add them in the dashboard. Cupholders were a relatively new thing; but the wagons only had them for the front seats; the minivans/SUV had them all the way around.

            So yes, the minivans were more usable at full capacity than wagons; the reason why many of them were also used as airport shuttles and taxis. But, it was largely social trends that doomed the station wagon; the other advantages just nailed the coffin lid shut.

            In my case; for most of it’s life, my wagon has only been driven with 1 or 2 occupants. There were trips where all five of us rode in it; but I commuted with it or went somewhere with the boys more than anything else; it was also usually Mom or Dad or both riding in it whey had it.

            A wagon simply makes more sense in that kind of use — it is more comfortable, easier to drive, and gets better mileage than a minivan. But it can carry more people in a pinch; though not in the greatest of comfort. Now that my second grandson is born, it is the only car my combined family owns that has seatbelts for all eight of us; though without head rests for six of the passengers and other safety gear, it is not the safest. (The orginial suspension is also too old to carry such a max load for very long.)

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            You have to keep in mind that those EPA numbers are based on a vehicle with only the driver and when you used a minivan or station wagon in the real world with a lot of people and/or cargo the MPG of the stressed to the max minivan dropped much further than the lightly stressed full size wagon.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @corntrollio

            “The Energy Tax Act of 1978[33] in the US established a gas guzzler tax on the sale of new model year vehicles whose fuel economy fails to meet certain statutory levels. The tax applies only to cars (not trucks) and is collected…”

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_economy_in_automobiles

            “The United States government uses light truck as a vehicle class in regulating fuel economy through the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard. (Since 1991)The class includes vans, minivans, sport utility vehicles, and pickup trucks. Light trucks have lower fuel economy standards than cars, under the premise…”

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_truck

            Station wagons were the original “SUVs” and “minivans” and should have been ‘honorary’ “Light Trucks”, if you ask me…

            I’m not calling it a “conspiracy” necessarily, but had station wagon been classified as “Light Trucks”, they probably would’ve survived a couple decades longer.

          • 0 avatar
            jhefner

            But if the station wagon was a big seller, Detriot could have bent the rules or had the rules bent for them; just as they had minivans classified as trucks when they should have been passenger cars, and put seats in the Transit, then ripped them out when they got here so they would be classified as passenger vehicles instead of trucks.

            But, the handwriting was on the wall, the minivan and later SUV was it; and no-one wanted a wagon anymore.

          • 0 avatar
            corntrollio

            The conspiracy theorists act like car companies have absolutely no influence in setting those types of rules.

            jhefner has this right — if wagons were so great, car companies would have found a way to make them work, just like they’ve done with other types of vehicles they want to sell. The reality is that they weren’t selling, so they fought the battles where they needed to fight the battles.

            jhefner, I agree that it wasn’t just gas mileage — I’m saying that it was a lot of different factors, and also that the people who blame CAFE for wagons disappearing are trying to re-write history with an agenda. Wagons disappeared because people didn’t buy them.

            If you want a particular type of vehicle to exist, buy it new and not just when it’s several years old like most internet enthusiasts.

            scoutdude: “the MPG of the stressed to the max minivan dropped much further than the lightly stressed full size wagon” is somewhat irrelevant to a gas mileage discussion (and again, I’m not saying gas mileage was the only factor or even the chief factor — as jhefner said, the vehicles were simply better for what people needed/wanted) — most non-enthusiasts look at the EPA number and say, “damn, that new Ford gets 47 mpg!”

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            “The conspiracy theorists act like car companies have absolutely no influence in setting those types of rules.”

            Sure, they had some influence. Utopian regulatory imbeciles wanted O***a levels of fleet economy, and industry lobbied enough that the targets were achievable merely by limiting choice and cutting performance. Trucks were protected because everyone had tradesmen in their district, not because they were the key to Detroit’s success. They were 9% of the sales mix when CAFE was imposed, not that it had anything to do with trucks increasing to 44% of the market or anything. That’s revisionism and denial of the brilliance of people that are smarter than markets.

        • 0 avatar
          jhefner

          The downside of classifying minivans as trucks is that they also did not have to meet the same safety standards as the wagons did; you had Chrysler and other minivans running around without the 5 MPH bumpers and other features that were mandated for passenger cars but not trucks in those days. Not a good thing when you had whole families riding around in them; and they were based on the K-car platform; not BOF trucks; so that was a double strike against them in an accident.

          If Ford would import the Mondero wagon to North America; I would love to get one and relegate the Blue Goose to a weekend car. It is not same; but about as close as you can get nowdays; the color keyed bench seat and folding third seat are not likely to come back. At least it has decent sized C and D pillars; although the windows are still slit-like.

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      It also would have been direct competion for the Taurus. Ford’s strategy was clear: LTD Country Squire for those who want a wood grained BOF 1960s wagon; the Taurus for those who did not.

      Obviously not getting the Taurus hate here. Murilee celebrates this throwback to the 1960s breaking the 20 MPG mark; mine still made 27 MPG this week (nearly all highway), Dad and and others claimed they could get 30 with that mad Vulcan powah. The Country Squire is eight inches wider and a foot or two longer than a Taurus; though most of that length went into the hood; neither could hold 4 x 8 sheet of plywood.

      No, the Taurus could not pull a trailer. But, it could also seat eight with the same type of front bench; and handled much better and safer.

      Of course, the minivan and SUV killed them both; though the Taurus wagon staggered on till 2004.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I’m by no means a Taurus hater (or big fan for that matter), but I have owned several Vulcan Taurii and have never been able to get close to that 30mpg mark. They got about the same average mileage as my Hemi Charger, 20-22 mpg. Not to say they were bad cars, they were great as appliances, but lets not make them out to be any better than they were.

        • 0 avatar
          jhefner

          “I’m by no means a Taurus hater (or big fan for that matter), but I have owned several Vulcan Taurii and have never been able to get close to that 30mpg mark. They got about the same average mileage as my Hemi Charger, 20-22 mpg. Not to say they were bad cars, they were great as appliances, but lets not make them out to be any better than they were.”

          As the old saying goes, YMMV.

          I live in Texas, and most of my milage is driving back and forth to work, roughly 55-60 miles each way. Roughly half of that time is spent with the cruise set @60-65, with gentlely rolling hills and overpasses.

          Last winter was a mild one; most of the time, our highs were in the 40-60s. During that time, I averaged 24-25 MPG, with temperature play a role; probably has to do with how long it takes the Vulcan engine to warm up and get off choke.

          Summer is setting in, and highs now are in the 80s; fixing to be 90s. Last week, I put 400 miles on a single tank of gas. Roughly 120 miles in the first quarter, and a little less than 100 for each quarter of a tank; low fuel light came on at about 300. I was midway in the red at 400 miles when I filled it back up, I let it click off twice to make sure it was full. First click was roughly 14.6 gallons or a little over 27.0 MPG, second click was around 14.9, or just under 27.0 MPG.

          I put Yokohama LRR tires on all four wheels last year; Discount Tire even carries temporary tires that fit the spare rim in the rear fender. The tires have worn in a little now; as highs move into the 90s this summer, and rush hour traffic eases a little with school being out; I can see myself touching 28 MPG.

          If you drive in a cooler climate, drive more city miles, and are not careful to slow down in advance to stopping to hypermile as much as you can; than yes; I can see you getting lower mileage. But, I am not exaggerating; Dad was also a careful driver, and probably also had the benefit of non-ethanol gas that is good for another MPG or two; not to mention 100,000 few miles on the car when he was driving it. And, we are not alone: owners on the TCCA Forum are reporting both sides of the story when it comes to mileage. I have found that temperature and driving conditions can make a big difference.

        • 0 avatar
          corntrollio

          I had no problem regularly getting 27-29 hwy with a Vulcan first gen Taurus when driving on long trips. It averaged 30 on one highway trip, but was more regularly 28 or 29.

          If you don’t believe me (I’m not like Norm with his magical unicorn-leather Saabs that can get retuned to have more horsepower and 50 mpg), I can search for my mileage logs, although they were probably dumped long ago. I kept very accurate ones back then.

          IIRC, the engine got higher mpg when it had above 80K miles on the odo than it did when new.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Unless the fender damage prevented the hood from closing its a pity it made it to the yard… could at the very least made a nice demo car.

  • avatar
    myheadhertz

    The “Wagon Queen Family Truckster” was based on a Ford LTD Country Squire.

    You think you hate it now? Wait ’till you drive it!

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    Murilee, were you saving these up, or like cicadas, did they all pop up at once? I’ve seen odd sudden accumulations of cars at U-pull yards before. Several years ago a new row developed at one I went to. Over the course of a week dozens of late 70s/early 80s Volvos suddenly lined up like salmon that had finished their final swim upstream.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I remember our 84 conversion van having the “E time” clock. My dad also installed a JCPenney trip computer, not unlike te current Scanguage or Ultragauge for the current OBD II cars. Except I don’t know what black magic he did to make it function with that early engine control stuff on a 351 with a carb.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      There was a flow meter that was put in the fuel line and some magnets to put the drive shaft to get the speed and distance, just like the magnets used on aftermarket cruise control.

  • avatar

    Our ’83 (first year for fuel injection–throttle body) consistently achieved 25 MPG hwy.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    And nobody has yanked the 302 yet?

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    Pure fashion and style was #1 reason Ford’s big wagons, especially if they have 10 year old bodies, were dropped.

    The ‘family truckster’ of today is the 3 row seat Explorer. My 39 y/o boss just got one. Wife likes the room and creature comforts, he got his ‘Sport’ package.

  • avatar
    Jay Villa

    back in the 8o’s so many of these LTD were sold in Venezuela. They were call ‘LTD Landau ‘

  • avatar
    wagondriver

    Murilee, can you tell me what junk yard this was at in Denver? I need some parts and I have a buddy in Denver today and tomorrow that could pull them for me. Please reply today if possible. Thank you!!


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