By on July 9, 2014

07 - 1976 Ford LTD Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin
Just after I wrote that non-Country Squire Ford LTDs were rare Junkyard Finds (we’ve had three so far: this ’69, this ’71, and this ’72), I found this majestic yellow four-door hardtop in a San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard. As an added bonus, it’s a Brougham!


21 - 1976 Ford LTD Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWe laugh at Malaise Era big Detroit cars now, with their overwrought heraldic crests and laughably fake wood and leather, but I spent much of my childhood in cars like this and they actually seemed pretty nice at the time.
19 - 1976 Ford LTD Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 351M V8 was big on torque, not so great for horsepower or fuel economy.
17 - 1976 Ford LTD Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one got a lot of use over its 38-year lifespan.


There is no way in hell this generation of LTD managed to get 22 mpg on the highway, even with the not-so-strict tests of the time. It was comfortable, though.

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59 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1976 Ford LTD Brougham...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I remember driving along once behind a similar vintage Town Car and noting just how much excessive, scrolling details were on the rear brake light lenses – not to mention the rest of the car. This looks so similar to a Lincoln, and I’m sure it was a third of the price. The name really did mean something those days.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    We really thought that we had arrived the day that our father wheeled in his brand new Ford Country Squire wagon with the fake woodgrain, vinyl interior and 3 way tailgate just like Ara Parseghian advertised.

    Used to ‘camp out’ sleeping in the back of that wagon in the driveway.

    Corey is correct those were aspirational cars back in the day.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    That close up photo of the rooftop material rotting away appears like an alien life form crawling over the Martian soil.

    I was a teenager also in 1976, and also remember it like being quite cool. But then, disco-era fashions were corny beyond belief. I cringe when I see a 70s movie or TV show, and my grown up kids ask me: “Did you also dress LIKE THAT, Dad???

    Yes, I did

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    The video shows a 22 MPG highway, but the small print states it is with the 5.0 litre engine, AKA the 302.

    The 351, which was the one that my dad owned, was thirstier than a sailor on shore leave.

    • 0 avatar
      PunksloveTrumpys

      “thirstier than a sailor on shore leave”

      What a beautiful truism!

    • 0 avatar
      bomberpete

      Those EPA numbers were a joke. The only way one of those LTDs with a 302 would get 22 mpg is to drive straight through US 50 in Kansas under perfect conditions doing 40 mph at 5am on Sunday. Oh, and first you’d have to remove about 700 lbs of its weight.

    • 0 avatar
      roger628

      I remember from 1970 to 1977, the 351 was the smallest standard engine in the LTD. This was barely adequate, especially in the post-72 behemoths. How a 302 was able to move under it’s own power I’ll never know. These things needed the 400 minimum just to move, and preferably the 460.

      • 0 avatar
        RogerB34

        The standard 1976 LTD sedan engine was a Cleveland 351 cu in, 152 bhp. Optional was the 400 cu in engine and 180 hp. Weight 4,303 lbs and sticker was $4,752 with 160k sold.
        Rem that SAE hp standards changed from gross to net around 1972. Smog and net hp caused advertised hp to drop dramatically. They were big dogs but consumers loved them.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    The Streets of San Franbrougham!

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    I absolutely ADORE that pedestrian-eating front bumper. I would put a banner on there in big bold letters, “SUCCUMB TO DARWINISM, ALL YE WHO CROSS MY PATH.”

  • avatar
    autojim

    Dad’s 1976 company car was a powder blue LTD (not Brougham). Pretty sure it had the 302, not the 351M, but I was 8 years old, so I didn’t pay nearly as much attention to it as I should have. AM radio only (see: company car), so Dad added an Audiovox FM receiver that plugged into the antenna lead and in turn plugged into the antenna socket on the radio, allowing FM broadcasts to be heard over a particular AM frequency (which one is lost in the mists of time).

    He also, because he was on the road a lot for work, and it was 1976, installed a Realistic 23-channel CB radio. Boy, was THAT fun for 8-year-old me.

    That car was replaced by a ’78 Oldsmobile Delta 88. In metallic brown. It came with an AM radio only, too (see: company car), but was the first recipient of an aftermarket AM/FM/cassette radio installation. Said AM/FM/cassette head unit was subsequently transferred to a ’78 Impala (also metallic brown) after Dad changed jobs and got that as a company car. We wound up buying that one, so the next company car (’81 Olds Cutlass 4-door notch) got a new AM/FM/cassette unit, which ALSO was subsequently moved to an ’83 Caprice (subsequently bought). The 3rd head unit was installed in the ’85 Caprice (which by that time had the then-new weird Delco radio format, so Dad kludged up an installation kit using ABS mudflap material. It looked every bit as ugly as it sounds).

    After that, the company cars (a Crown Vic and a series of Tauri) came with AM/FM/cassette units and that wasn’t necessary.

    Amusingly, ’round about 1982 or so, Dad was between jobs and needed a car. An uncle found a true little-old-lady ’66 Mercury Comet 2-door, 200cid I6, C4 automatic, absolutely cherry. The Audiovox FM tuner came off the garage shelf and was installed in that car. Dad sold it on after getting another job, for a healthy profit. But he kept that Audiovox tuner. I saw it in his garage last Christmas.

    • 0 avatar
      I've got a Jaaaaag

      My father had a 1974 Country Squire, it was a pretty well loaded dealer demo when he bought it (AC, Power windows, Locks etc) but it too had the AM radio, he put one of those FM receivers under the dash. I can only assume that factory installed AM/FM radios were the high markup accessory of the day then like NAV systems are today.

      • 0 avatar
        ChiefPontiaxe

        My dad had a 1972 country squire wagon- in requisite light green. It was a real POS even back in the early 70′s. He had to put in “hi-test” gas to keep it from running-on after the engine was shut off.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Yes they were. I recall that when my folks bought the ’82 Subaru that became my first car five years later, the AM/FM was a $200 option over the AM only. Then a cassette deck was a bunch more money on top of that, or was in an expensive option bundle. They went for the AM/FM. Their ’80 Subaru only had the AM radio.

        The ’85 Oldsmobarge Pregnancy Brouham had AM STEREO – oooooh, what luxury! Too bad there were no AM stereo stations anywhere in Maine.

        • 0 avatar
          I've got a Jaaaaag

          Ha, the aforementioned loaded dealer demo with AM only was purchased by my father when he lived in Maine. We may be dealing with the unique cheapskateness of the folks in Maine.

          My father was looking at a Caprice in 1988, this was a loaded to the gills, top of the line Brougham model. Except there was no carpeting in the trunk, the brochures showed there’d be carpeting, but the dealer in Maine ordered it without because “I don’t spend much time in there”

    • 0 avatar
      cpthaddock

      Dark brown mettalic paint seems to be making a comeback on a few Chryselr 300′s I’ve seen lately, but any takers had better snap up remaining realistc CBs while Radio Shack still exists.

    • 0 avatar
      dtremit

      Wrong brand, but something like this, I’m guessing:

      http://www.radioshackcatalogs.com/html/1974/h063.html

      The archived RS catalogs are a great trip down memory lane.

  • avatar
    mars3941

    I bought a new 77 LTD Landau coupe back then with the 351 Windsor that I think was the standard engine in the landau. It was dark green with the half landau top in white with deluxe wheel covers with matching white inserts. Nice car and the 351 was all it needed for all around performance. Big car that was about 224 inches long. I even ordered it with a factory FM radio with a built in CB in it. The ultimate of 70′s cool.

    • 0 avatar
      bomberpete

      I can see Barnaby Jones pulling up to his client’s house in one of these.

      Ford discontinued the cheapo Custom 500 and mid-trim Galaxie 500 after 1974 in favor of LTD. During the first year of this design, there was a serious recession on and they just sat in lots. I knew a guy who bought a limited-edition stripper ’75 called the Custom 500 because of customer push back on high prices.

  • avatar
    mechimike

    These make excellent road racing cars.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    Back in the malaise era , if I remember , Ford more than anybody else was accused of exaggerated mileage claims by Consumer Reports , etc. One mid-seventies ad trumpeted the mileage of an LTD traveling from somewhere , maybe Denver or Salt Lake City , to Los Angeles , which of course is downhill most of the way .

    • 0 avatar
      autojim

      Ford actually paid a steep fine to the EPA in the late ’70s for fudging EPA mileage numbers, as did Chrysler and AMC.

      Back then, trying to tune a carb/ignition for emissions while still maintaining driveability was difficult at best, and you’ll recall the Chrysler “Lean Burn” systems. Similar systems were used by other automakers of the time. One of the things that some automakers did was have a mercury switch in the hood that triggered a different tune — one that was emissions-compliant but drove like crap — when the hood was open, such as for EPA emissions testing, while running a tune that wasn’t emissions-compliant but drove okay when the hood was closed.

      Clever, but expensive after several million dollars in fines were levied.

      This is related to mileage in that the EPA mileage ratings are derived from a carbon balance of the exhaust gases collected during the emissions test, not from actually measuring fuel consumption. By having an emissions-test-only tune, it also inflated mileage numbers.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        I thought Ford was caught fudging data related to Clear Air Act requirements in the early 1970s, which was an entirely separate issue from fuel economy at that time.

        CAFE didn’t take effect until the 1978 model year, if I recall correctly. Even though automakers were using EPA figures in ads before 1978, they always came with the disclaimer – Your mileage may vary.

        • 0 avatar
          autojim

          They were, and they did. The stuff in the late ’70s was a separate thing.

          The mercury switch bit was, IIRC, on Chrysler or AMC cars. They used the switch for the underhood lamp.

      • 0 avatar

        Many of us went to the local mechanic. Screws in…take state test. With car sputtering and dying at lights….go back to shop…screws out a few turns….and back to normal running. Prying “non tamper” plugs out included…

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    Yet another dead Brougham.

    It would be nice to see some huge old 70s Chrysler C-bodies though. There has to be a junkyard somewhere with a Newport, New Yorker, Monaco, Fury, etc in it.

    • 0 avatar
      Halftruth

      There a few of those up here in the Northeast that have 60s and 70s era Mopars.
      I wonder if Murilee passes over them or perhaps just doesn’t see them in the yards he frequents. Regarding the ad though, I think that color looks good on that car.

  • avatar
    RogerB34

    It is amazing to see the rats nest of smog controls under the hood.
    Detroit did everything in it’s power to avoid fuel injection. An early Bendix Electojector fuel injection system was installed in a few 1958 DeSotos. Removed from the few sold because heat tolerant integrated circuit components were not available. Bendix sold the patent to Bosch which later morphed into the KJetronic series. One of the Desoto injection cars has been restored:
    http://www.allpar.com/cars/desoto/electrojector.html

    • 0 avatar
      Willyam

      I was thinking similar thoughts RogerB34. Great heaping plates of spaghetti-hose, Batman!

      Life was sad for us that grew up late-malaise. Real muscle cars were usually out of high-school price range, and parents fears kept most sports-cars off the list as well.

      A good friend of mine received one of these in Brown/Brown with landau top when he turned 16. His parents had a policy of the more metal the more safety, so malaise sedans were mandated. His older brother had an evil-cop-car-looking green Fury or some such thing, which made the LTD even more unfair.
      It had a 400M under the hood IIRC. He tried all sorts of things poor teenagers with part-time jobs try to make cars hotter. White-letter fat tires, a used 4-bbl and intake, dual exhaust. It eventually got to where it would raise the hood a bit under throttle, but not much more. Physics just defied him.

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    Love how that ad sounds like an indirect swipe at the GM B-body cars. And the two couples looks like they’re getting ready for a little swapping action — Why Don’t We Do It Off the Road?

  • avatar
    Occam

    That car doesn’t look so different from the 83 LTD Crown Victoria that my grandmother drove. The interior was brown vinyl… in Florida.

    It still seems strange to remember a full-size car with cheapo seating material and hand-cranked windows.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    I was a teenager during the Malaise Era, and we sure did laugh at these. My buddy’s dad had one with a 390, and man did it suck….gas. But it was pretty comfortable. There is something majestic about a huge car built for the average Joe sporting a massive V8, but honestly, I can’t say I miss these.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    Is this a “tribute” Brougham or were the headlight doors optional?

    • 0 avatar
      bomberpete

      I would love to know what it costs to do a “tribute” Brougham and what the market for it is.

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        I would think tiny. Who would want to go back to cars that sucked gas like OPEC did not exist, handled like a battleship, had more blind spots than Helen Keller, and did not offer THAT much more interior space than say a well designed K-Car derivative of the 1980s?

        My first car was a 1974 Plymouth Fury, and I loved the “Bluesmobile”, and remember it fondly. But, I were to own one again; it would mostly just sit on the driveway; I would hardly drive it. Not so the cars that I owned after it. I learned to drive with that car; and so scared Dad so many times in the process that he swore off teaching any more of us kids, and sent my younger sister to Driver’s Ed instead. I also noticed mine was far from the only one with a collection of small dents along the rocker panels from bumping other cars while trying to park it.

        It looks like this one at least had a passenger side mirror at one time; but it still picked up it’s share of parking lot rash.

        One of my uncles; who has been single all his life; bought a brand new dark green 2 door LTD of this vintage. I remember my Dad talking about what a waste of money of it was; I thought he was entitled to buy whatever he wanted.

        • 0 avatar
          luvmyv8

          I wouldn’t mind owning a ’74 Monaco myself, except though I’d want it to be an ‘A38′ police model with the ‘E86′ 440 Magnum.

          True, I’m a fan of the original Blues Brothers movie, but I’m a even bigger fan of the late 60′s and 70′s Mopar squads, not much could touch the 440′s, even the smogger ones could run… the best one though is the beastly ’69 Polara 440.

        • 0 avatar
          PunksloveTrumpys

          “had more blind spots than Hellen Keller”

          I have to disagree with this. In my experience damn near every car built before 1990 or thereabouts has far more visibility than it’s modern “equivalent.” SUV’s, CUV’s, bloated sedans with huge A,B,C (and sometimes even D) pillars have horrendous visibility regardless of ride height.

          Add a reversing camera and parking sensors to any ’70s Detroit tank and it’ll be much less damage-risking to park than a modern.

    • 0 avatar
      I've got a Jaaaaag

      The headlight doors came on the Landau model a step up from the Brougham.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Poor old Barrio Bomber , this . the truck taillight lens and radio decal tell the story .

    When I lived in Highland Park , these were so very popular with the locals , most were just as battered after a couple years of driving home shytfaced from the local bar….

    The guy next door to me had a ’72 that was missing a great chunk of the right front fender….

    It was poop brown of course .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    Nice find, but not a 4 door hardtop – there’s a thin B pillar separating the framelss door glass.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    The Landau featured in the ad has the very bespoke power mini vents.

  • avatar
    doug-g

    These were good cars when viewed in the context of their time. My father had a couple of friend who traded Cadillacs for LTDs in the 1970′s because they felt they were better cars.

  • avatar
    makuribu

    The last car my great uncle drove before the cataracts took him out was like this.
    Not sure of the year, but his last LTD was a dark blue four door with a 400 c.i. engine. Always driven under 30 mph, and usually with the right tires on the shoulder. I shudder to imagine how far that thing would have gone through a building had he suffered an “unintended acceleration” event.
    He had been a Ford dealer for years, and had bought himself a brand new V-12 Lincoln Zephyr. Tragically for me, he was not a hoarder.

  • avatar
    ppxhbqt

    AHHHH the good ‘ole days when if the ENGINE light came on, you stopped because it really meant something was wrong with the ENGINE and you didn’t know if it was low oil pressure or high temperature and no amount of duct tape could help if ignored long enough. But surely LTD drivers would just call a tow and not try to do any diagnosing themselves.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      At least the engine light meant an engine problem, the modern Check Engine Light can come on from all sorts of things. A stupid EPA-mandated sensor in the exhaust system failing or my gas cap being loose totally means my engine needs repair, totally.

      • 0 avatar
        RogerB34

        The engine control module is a major improvement over the prior dumb engine warning systems. Error codes are more precise and repair is usually straight forward. The stupid sensor in the exhaust system is the oxygen sensor and is the main component of mpg and emission control. Major mistake if ignored. The gas cap is a nod to Greens and VOC control. Our Sable has a separate gas cap warning light from the CEL.


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