By on September 21, 2010

Kudos to Baruth for having the stones to (re)join the Mehtas and countless other Pro-Panther families at the dark side: no small feat considering he’s a famous Audi/Porker racer extraordinare. Which points to a universal fact: it’s okay for car people to love the American Land Yacht, even if modern-day Detroit hopes we’d forget about the past. To that effect, check out two Lincoln Town Cars that often grace my driveway.

My Dad can be a stereotypical Indian: he loves luxury goods, but doesn’t always want to pay for them. His pre-owned BMW 750iL did just that at every (unscheduled) service interval, but his 2006 “Designer” series Town Car doesn’t disappoint, loaded with THX navigation/audio and the back seat from the long wheelbase version to boot. I added a monochrome Navigator-esque paintjob, a resonator-free intake, mufflers from the 2010 Mustang GT (yes, it sounds like a Mustang now), semi-metallic pads, and a Crown Victoria Police Interceptor rear swaybar (2mm thicker) to the mix: this Lincoln is better than new.

My Aunt has driven Dearborn’s flagship since I was a kid, helping frame my collective respect for these machines. Her 1988 Signature Series personifies all that was right with America: traditional styling, pillow-topped brown velour, power everything and a modicum of modernization via vacuum fluorescent indicators and a cutting-edge SEFI 5.0 liter V8 with overdrive.

While both relatives could do better, they really cannot. When you demand flagship luxury on a family sedan budget, the Town Car is it. Northstar Cadillacs? I prefer my head bolts intact. Anything imported? Some luxuries aren’t crystal clear until the repair bill for a modest problem arrives: a truly non-luxurious notion to consider.

The 2006 Town Car is no slouch at sane driving inputs. Even sans Mehta-modifications, it feels better in a corner than America’s mainstream sweetheart, the Toyota Camry LE. With its relative lack of driver nannies and poised V8/RWD architecture, the Town Car is miles ahead of products that pull back on their electric throttles, drive the wrong wheels, self-steer their tillers and spin rubber band tires that bang on pavement joints. Contrary to every other luxury car, the Town Car is cool with you being cool with yourself.

It’s possible to take a corner without getting sea sick, but why bother? Instead, be cool: thanks to that Police Interceptor bar, the ’06 Town Car is a blast when gently easing into a corner, crossing the apex and hammering the throttle: exploding out of a corner like a scene from COPS. This car is fun.

And when its time to relax, the “Designer” encourages Houstonians to go Slim Thuggin’, workin’ that wood grain wheel in the nearest parking lot. Too bad the live axle crashes over speed bumps, and the beatbox can’t hit the highs and lows demanded by modern music. Ditto the lack of A/C seating, rich carpeting, SYNC interface, or the Mustang GT’s awesome powertrain. Ford even dumped the THX/Navigation option in 2008 to add insult to injury.

This wasn’t a problem for Lincoln back in 1988. The Signature Series sports the best thrones front and back, shaming the “Designer” digs. The velour is softer than any automotive-grade leather, thigh support is downright naughty, and the 80-watt “Premium Sound” system is shockingly competent when you drop a hit of old school in the tape deck.

I found the need to be “Lōc’d After Dark” uncontrollable, so I hit the freeway, lowered the power vent windows, put one hand on the top of the tiller and let the digital gauges dance to the beat, or to the up-down cycling of that prodigious powerdome hood and pointy fenders. One ride in a proper 1980’s Town Car at not-quite legal speeds and you’re straight-up ghetto fabulous, homie.

The elder Town Car is just that, unbelievably entertaining, feeling better the faster you drive. In a straight line: with over 100k on the clock on a 100% original suspension, this unit has absolutely no road holding ability. And what of live axles? You can’t feel a damn thing with tuning this soft. While not a threat to bystanders, the leaky Motorcraft shocks and low-rider springs means I should “Piston Slap” this car on my Aunt’s behalf. But the economy sucks and the ’88 is still a head turner with a clean set of Michelin whitewalls.

So which Town Car is better? No doubt, the 1988 has everything a luxury purist desires: add the performance and technology advancements from the new Mustang GT, add the interior bits of the Navigator and this car–as it sits–would rule the world. Take it from someone who drove a Rolls-Royce Phantom, this is THE machine. I couldn’t resist sneaking a peek at that unmistakable, 1960s Continental-inspired profile in an office building’s glass wall, and there were too many “Gawd Damns!” from passengers upon entry into the vat of brown velour to not proclaim the 1988 Signature Series the champion. It’s a shame: the new model never had a chance. Sorry, Dad.

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66 Comments on “Panther Week Comparison: 1988 vs 2006 Lincoln Town Car...”

  • avatar
    SVX pearlie

    The 1988 actually *looks* like a Lincoln. The 2006, just an overgrown Taurus.

    • 0 avatar

      The 2006, just an overgrown Taurus.
      Eek…then where does that leave the MKS???

    • 0 avatar

      Eek…then where does that leave the MKS???

      Suckin’ hind teat.

    • 0 avatar

      I had 8 Town Cars i had an 85 86 88 92 93 93 6 Pass Limo) 94 98 2000

      THE 88 I had was full digital full leather, the seats where awsome, all of the 5.0 models developed a tick around 80,000 miles REMEMBER the oil light blinking and the thicker oil routine? I have 2 add in comments to share. 1. My 88 Town car had a computer and the car even told you which bulb was out, IT WAS way more sophisticated then the 2000 I have now, way more features. WAY WAY better suspension. I used to drive over curbs with people in the car when they did not believe how smooth the car was. I made a convertible out of my 85 and people kept saying it would bend under its own load. WHAT A BUNCH OF BS, It was solid without any kind of reinforcement. The Seat Belts had to be moved to the side of seats. I Loved the hood lines. PS all the PARTS are the same You can take the Steering Ties from an 88 an 85 and use them on a 2000 its freakin amazing. You get so much car for the money. I feel safe and confident with my travels in the Town Car. The 2000 Lost the hood ornament which i Loved, i used to use it as a road guide, the little cross was great when driving home late with one eye. I passed my drivers test with the 86, talk about blind spots, that car makes you learn the mirrors. Anyway now Years later, i still own them, because of the many many good times I and my friends had in my Town cars, my friends are even starting to buy them. I think its the nostalgia of trying to lift the tires of the ground on a sharp hill on a strait road. I even had a guy race me with an audi against a 98 Town Car,, and the Lincoln won. I told him no contest? He thought he could shift faster then an electronic trans. I used to drive like a cab driver when i entered any kind of city limit. Since i owned the older models the round models dimensions are the same so, it was so easy to freak cab drivers out, with what they thought where close calls. I love the town car. I have more crazy great memories in that model then any other car i owned. And i beat the piss out of them, THEY ARE AMAZING!. The 85 I cut the Top off of, Ran on a mix of marvels miracle oil and gasoline, since its impossible to replace their shitty oil pumps since its right ubove the front axle/ frame plate. IT RAN for 5000 Miles with no actual oil in the damn thing. I give it 10 Stars. Its the only car made on this planet that can take such abuse and not loose parts on the road. NO VW, no Volvo, no Jaguar xj6 can even come close.

      • 0 avatar

        I also had a 88 and a 95 Fully loaded continentals, BUT with BOTH their garbage transmissions failed at 106,000 miles. The 88 one day on the highway going to St pete beach, the digital dash went to 0, the car instantly shifted down to 1st gear at 70 miles an hour. It was like hitting a wall, i just felt the rear end lift up like 2 feet. And that was the end of that one. The 95 decided it was no longer going to shift after driving to a mall at night drive normal to the parking lot parked, got in it, and no go, the only gear i had was reverse. My experiance is that the transmissions will just go randomly, with out any kind of warning in fords garbage transaxles. THIS IS why the continental faded, FORD KILLED IT, it was unreliable, things where always flickering. NEVER have i ever had any kind of problems IN a TOWN CAR as i experienced with those 2 continentals. The Electronics are impressive in a continental, you can set the steering and air sus, from soft to firm. In the 95 that is, i enjoyed the car until random problems and my friends constantly telling me it had feminine features which looking back, it deff did, what an ugly car it was. Today You cant even find any 88 or 95 Continentals on the road, as they where crap then and didn’t survive time. SO TOWN CAR= GREAT Other models not so much. Fun fact You can buy air sus bags on amazon for 115$ for 2.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    LOL.  Way to go Sajeev.  If Ford and GM had kept improving their RWD platforms and not cost cutting… sigh.
    “Lexus?  I don’t need no stinkeeeeeen Lexus.”

  • avatar
    H Man

    The 88 looks miles better, as well.  I had an 85 in that color.
    My recollections of the Ford Premium Sound System are quite different from yours, however.  Stay tuned!  (I hope.)

    • 0 avatar

      Interesting! Now name me a better stereo system when new.  Every Japanese and European system back then was absolute trash, and if you find a 1983-up Ford that hasn’t baked in the sun for 20 years, they still sound punchy and impressive.

  • avatar

    “Turbine” wheels on the 88.  I had similar wheels on a 79 T-bird.

  • avatar

    IMHO the model in between these two was the best looking of the bunch.

  • avatar

    Well, that was definitely fun. But I’ll very happily keep my ’99 Accord 5-speed.
    What Dan said about improvement–+10.

  • avatar

    That brings me back.  My Dad had an 86 TC, as did our neighbor.  I almost bought the neighbor’s car when I turned 16, but the old man thought I should get something cheaper to maintain.  I should have ignored that advice.

  • avatar

    Great job modding the ’06, nicely done. The ’88 has the same hideous pinkish-tinged brownish color of velour my Buick has. I call it “puke”. Can’t imagine what they were thinking when they decided to make it in that color.

  • avatar

    So it is the 2006 if you have to drive, and the 1988 if you will be a passenger.
    Yes, I remember the seats in the late 80s Lincolns.  They were really nice.  A lot of people traded rear drive Cadillacs for these back in the day.  One thing, though, – I could never get used to that strange design for the tilt steering wheel – the wheel tilted while the column stayed still.  This was the ultimate Panther platform – getting to sit in that comfy front seat, looking out over that long, shiny hood with the Lincoln star standing up at the end.  Nice.

    • 0 avatar

      Not really. It’s one thing if you want a driver’s car, but driving a 1988 model would be quite enjoyable around NYC or Jersey.  The roads are terrible, traffic stinks…wouldn’t you want to be in a cacoon, isolated from all that mess?

  • avatar

    I guess this sort of thing is OK in the fly-over country, where the roads are long, straight and flat. About useless in New England, unless you own stock in whatever company makes Dramamine. I have yet to sit in an American car “seat” that I can tolerate for more than 20 minutes. Those soft sofas feel great in the showroom, but your back will thank you at the end of a 10hr drive for choosing a Volvo or Saab.

  • avatar

    You touch on the exact thing that drove many, many baby boomers to European sedans: suspension. I’ve never understood why people like the gushy springing of large American sedans. I have fond memories of my sister barfing in the back seat of an old Cadillac Fleetwood we had on every long trip. I want to feel the road, not forget that it’s there. I want the car to stay relatively level on turns, not dive toward the outside of the curve (exception: the famous COD right turn on high school dates), and I want to avoid that sickly nosedive lurch when I hit the brakes.
    As an impressionable newly minted driver I obtained a job as a professional,  chauffeuring wealthy citizens in their own cars — our firm provided only drivers, not vehicles. By the time I finished college I had driven every sedan made from the workhorse American Caprices, LTDs, Buicks, Chrylers, etc. I had also driven the Mercedes-Benzes from the lowly 220D to the 450SEL 6.9 and everything in between. BMWs, check. Audis, check. Jaguars, check. Mind you, this was before minivans came out and before the contemporary notion of SUV had emerged. The average trip was 4 hours of freeway time, and I had booked about a quarter of a million miles by the time I graduated.
    Of the American cars of the late 1970s and early 1980s, I’d choose a Ford LTD any day–sedan or wagon. Of the Europeans, I preferred either the Mercedes 240D with a stick shift, or the big V8s like the 300SEL 6.3 or the 450SEL 6.9, though I had a lot of respect for the 300SD turbodiesel and the 300TD wagons as well.  I also liked the Volvo sedans and wagons. BMWs of the late 1970s were nice too, but they didn’t really get into their groove until the mid 1980s as far as sedans are concerned. I was never a fan of the period Rolls Royces; it was fun to be seen in one, but they drove pretty much like big Chevys with less noise and more power-steering boost. I recall that RR sourced their transmissions from General Motors in that era, so that may have been part of the reason.
    I often wonder how many consumers were lost to the European car makers (and later the Japanese) on suspension alone.  Why weren’t there dealer add-on suspension packages that could offer a more European ride? Nowadays any large sedan regardless of origin has fallen to the American suspension model–even the Accords and Camrys. Funny thing is, I’ve never been surveyed on this though I hear constantly that Americans prefer the gushy ride to the taught, high-feedback suspensions European cars were once known for.

  • avatar
    thats one fast cat

    This and the Baruth article actually got me to look at Ebay for a nice panther class vehicle.
    Now is your chance, all you TTAC readers, to own “new old stock”
    And no, it isn’t mine.  very funny.

    • 0 avatar

      Oh, that is beautiful.  The only thing that could possibly be better would be a ’92 Executive in the same time capsule condition.  Why would the lower trim line be better?  Because the ’92 Exec had a totally analog instrument cluster, no LED stuff waiting to fail.  And I actually prefer the Exec leather over the fancier stuff. 

  • avatar

    When you demand flagship luxury on a family sedan budget, the Town Car is it.
    Northstar Cadillacs? I prefer my head bolts intact.

    Well, La-De-Da.  Anyway, Pre-Northstar Cadillac had a decent flagship. IIRC, it was some model that started with an F.

  • avatar

    Having sat through half a week of Panther-lust, I feel I must be the wet blanket at the party.
    I just got back from living with a 2010 Mercury Grand Marquis Ultimate Edition on a three-day rental trip from Richmond, VA to Bangor, ME with a side trip down US2 towards New Hampshire and back, and I’m seriously trying to figure out where you guys are seeing such wonderment in these cars.  OK, if you’re really all the enamored in driving giant sized Chevy Aveo’s (and yes, that car was the closest comparison I could come up with at the end of 14 hours and 800 miles on the main leg of the trip), but if I want something in a boring, conservative 4-door sedan I’ll happily opt for my mother-in-law’s 2005 Buick Lacrosse.  There’s no comparison between the two, and the Buick only showed the Mercury for what it is: A car that should have been put out to pasture 10 years ago – at least.  Having listened to the B&B wax poetic about these cars, I looked forward to the drive.  Having completed it, I discovered that the B&B ain’t.
    How is it possible to have a car that big, and still be that uncomfortable (I’m 5’11”, 180lbs)?  My wife wasn’t even able to sleep comfortably on the drive, an action that she usually has down to a science.  Oh yeah, I let mother-in-law (she’s 89) drive it before returning.  She loved the visibility, otherwise considered the car completely inferior to her buick.
    OK, I did have one enjoyable moment (actually 10 minutes in the car).  I-95, just north of the New Hampshire border where I put the cruise on at 62mph, nestled down into the seat, turned on the left turn signal and moved into the passing lane for the next ten miles.  Just because, at that point, I figured I needed to see how the car felt being driven as it was obviously designed to be driven.
    No improvement.  I’ve never had a rental car I was so happy to get rid of.

    • 0 avatar

      And I thought it was just me! I have never understood the love for these things. Having rented several of these over the years, I think they are the worst cars available, and I refuse them when they are offered. My last was a Grand Marquis in Seward, AK in 2007. I drove it to Homer and then to Anchorage, stopping every 45 minutes or so, to walk and rest my aching back and sciatic nerves. For its size, it is very cramped, the seats are lousy, and the suspension is willowy, to be nice about it. Looking at the instrument panel, I was surprised that I couldn’t find a Stewart-Warner logo, or some such, on the tach and speedo, given how they looked so blatantly stuck on.
      Ford will retire this thing. Who cares! The Impala I had in Minneapolis the next week was so much nicer, and they are not a favorite.
      To be sure, you and I are talking about the rental-spec car. The PI version has to be better, doesn’t it?  Doesn’t it??
      I won’t miss these things for a minute.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve had town cars as rentals and livery. Once was in the winter and I tried the heated seats and only the bottom cushion heated up. I wasn’t sure if the car was defective or if it was actually designed that way.

    • 0 avatar

      Please sign me up for the wet blanket club as well. I just do not get what people see in these cars. I think its due to the fact that I don’t like big cars at all, and these are the worst of big cars. Only in America could car companies coast on pure nostalgia for 15-20 years. Too late to close the barn door, the horses are already gone. Despite their recent troubles, there is a reason Toyota owns the American car market. People finally woke up and realized that no amount of flag waving and nostalgia could make up for the fact that they were driving a complete piece of crap.

    • 0 avatar

      Wow, I agree guys. I don’t understand the huge cult following behind these cars. I’ve driven in one twice (Lincoln) and, quite honestly, while softly sprung it didn’t handle road imperfections well, it thumbed and rolled and dodged around. It was quiet either. It was just big. I’m sorry, but this feels like the case of we love it because no one else does.

    • 0 avatar

      Add me to the wet blanket chorus (obviously).  I, too, was inspired to call on one the dealers I used to support to see if I could get a spin in a modern TC.
      Is the driver’s seat still more cramped for tall people than that of a Honda Fit?  Yup.  Does it still clomp over expansion joints at speed?  Yup.  Does a Kia Rondo still have more features?  Yup.  Does it still have a V8 that feels like an anemic six?  Yup.  Is a half-ton truck more agile?  Yup.
      Again, I get the whole “feel” thing—there’s nothing that drives like this—but dammit, I’m just not feeling how this is a good car unless your a cop, taxi driver or a fleet manager for either.

    • 0 avatar
      Headroom Tommy

      Dewfish, crap? I’ve put 100s of 1000s of miles on these cars. You might not like the cars, but they were reliable as all get out.


    • 0 avatar

      Yes Tommy, they are crap. I’m talking quality not quantity. Something American car companies never fully grasped. For some reason, American luxury has always meant “make it bigger.” The foreign companies’ cars lasted just as long as these cars, and were of better quality.

      To Sajeev: Thats fine. I will admit that the Japanese cars were very lousy in the late seventies and early eighties. But they did learn from their mistakes and improved their cars. The American Luxo-barges have been running on nostalgia and patriotism and little else. That is why they got left behind. I tried commenting after your comment, but I can’t put in a new comment until the timer runs out on the current comment.

    • 0 avatar

      dew: The foreign companies’ cars lasted just as long as these cars, and were of better quality.

      Yeah, there’s one generalization that rarely holds water.

    • 0 avatar

      Hey even if you hated the Panther, I hope you enjoyed your stay here in Bangor. :)

  • avatar

    In 2008 I had a 2007 Lincoln Towncar Signature as a rental in Florida.  Long story, but we needed to rent a nice luxo-barge to haul around VIPs and this was all we could find (the Cadillac CTS we were offered was too small).
    From a driver’s standpoint, BLECH. Big, rubbery acceleration, heavy yet somehow over boosted steering, nose squat on braking (but very good brakes). Old school switch gear and ergonomics that leave much to be desired.  From a passenger standpoint probably as close to sitting in a limo the average backseat passenger can get, without being in an actual limo.  The people we were hauling around loved it. On the highways of Florida this car must have had a big sign on the back that said, “pass me and then cut me off,” because everyone that seemed to come close to it must have assumed a Florida blue hair was behind the wheel. Plant the happy pedal down and the Lincoln moves, nicely and surprisingly despite the bulk.

    Despite my lack of love for the floating ride and brake/steering feel I do agree with the writer; the feedback is better than a Toyota Camry LE. I had a 2008 Camry as a rental car about a month later on a different trip, it is to date the second worst rental car I have ever had the displeasure to drive. It did feel lighter and crisper than the big Lincoln, but amazingly Toyota found a way to build a car with less road feel. That, is a different story.

    • 0 avatar

      I drove the LE and the LTC about 2 months apart back in 2006 for TTAC reviews and was pretty shocked by that.  The Camry LE is probably close holding the road like a fully rebuilt suspension on a 1988 LTC. I’m glad somebody else noticed.

      Really glad, in fact.

  • avatar

    Great writing Sajeev!  Any article mentioning “Loc’d after dark!” gets my respect.

  • avatar

    Among other things I learned while in high school, I discovered that the torque-happy ’88 can do Starsky & Hutch smoky shenanigans in reverse all day long.  Engage reverse, foot off brake, floor it.

  • avatar

    Don’t remember about the Town Car, but I know that, even in recent years, Ford never figured out how to make doors on the Crown Vic and Grand Marquis shut with a reassuring “thunk” sound.  Instead, they make a cheap tinny sound like any General Motors vehicle from the 1980s and 90s.

    • 0 avatar

      The doors on my 92 close with a satisfying solidity.  Which Panther car doors have you been opening and closing of late?

    • 0 avatar

      It was a Grand Marquis at an auto show.  Probably 2008 or so, I’m guessing, it was after they quit selling the Crown Vic to civilians but while they were still selling the MGM.

    • 0 avatar

      I could believe that.  Ford went on a decontenting binge with the Panther platform (among others) from at least 1998-on.

      • 0 avatar

        I must be in a parallel universe, or a GM=General Motors, not Grand Marquis black hole, somewhere over the event horizon.

        I have owned a 97 GS model Grand Marquis, acquired from the original owner last Fall. As a point of reference, I have owned cars such as a 1961 Jaguar Mk II 3.8L sedan, a 76 VW Rabbit w/sway bars, an 88 Ford Thunderbird Supercoupe with the 5.0L engine, and have driven dozens of other American, European and Asian cars from most of the mass-market and performance car manufacturers, and I really like the overall balance of the ride.

        The doors are heavy, and do go thunk when slammed. The car rides softly, but you can still feel the road, and with minimal lean thanks to the front and rear sway bars. And I don’t have the Handling Performance Package, air suspension, traction-loc, ABS or any of those “modern” “improvements”…just an old school RWD V8.

        The car isn’t the fastest on the road, but is faster than most, and fast enough. The mileage isn’t great, but it doesn’t kill me at 25mpg measured on the highway.

        My back is bad enough I get a prescription for when it gets really bad, yet the ride is comfortable even when I am not taking my meds.

        Yes, it had (note the past tense) the dreaded plastic/aluminum hybrid intake manifold, but the original owner got soaked the $700 for the aluminum replacement, having missed the recall window.

        The car is a nice cross between an old geezer comfortable car and an old gearhead solid running piece of real solid iron.

        I realize most of you are referring primarily to the Lincoln TC version of the Panther platform, but the basic platform is very similar.

        Do I sometimes wish I had the dual exhaust LS model, with the HPP, air suspension, and traction-loc? Yes, but not enough to really mind. Do I wish I had ABS? Not at all, I know enough to fan the brakes, not mash them, in a quick emergency stop. Do I sometimes wish I had a Marauder with the 350 hp engine? Yeah, for about a fraction of a minute, at the occasional stoplight, but the feeling passes when I pass the first gas station.

        I love this car and suspect I would like any of the Aero models, perhaps even some of the Whales. That would be 92-97 and 98-2002 or 2003 respectively. And the 2003 to 2010’a look pretty good too, although they start to get pricier. My 97 has 187K, on a motor that runs to 300-500K miles in cop cars and taxis all the time, and cost $1500.

        And when it sits in a row of cars, for example at an outdoor basketball court, or in a drivein, the car positively shines when sitting next to all the look-alike Mercedes, Audis, Lexi, Acuras, etc. The Buicks look like poor copies, and only the Mustangs (or at least some of them) have a distinctive look of their own.

        But my Prairie Tan GM GS with just the right amount of chrome, and a nice set of whitewalls, sits low and sleek next to anything short of an Aventador or a Veyron. And when you consider that it takes between 100 and one thousand times as much money to get as impressive a looking machine, I feel like I have a real bargain luxury car.

        Yeah, some modular motors had split sparkplug problems…but not the Grand Marquis’ with the Romeo powerplant. A few had a steering column problem (03 to 05 more or less) but that was fixed on recall, as was the lame idea to have a hot electrical lead come into a sensor mounted on the master cylinder. But the fact remains…the engines routinely last between a quarter and a half a million miles with just normal maintenance. Ditto the rock solid 4R70W auto trans. Never thought I’d see an auto trans better than the AOD on my Thunderbird, but this is it.

        So keep on hating, lads…it will help to keep the demand and the price down for these rock solid, very drivable used cars.

        To paraphrase Jay-Z, “if you’re having car problems, I feel sorry for you, son…I got 99 problems, but my car’s not one.”

    • 0 avatar

      Does it matter how the doors sound?
      My Saab cost me four grand a year in repairs, spat it’s transmission and was starting to sludge, yet had a satisfying door “thunk”, while the Corolla and Protege that preceded it closed with a twang and suffered no more than consumables.

  • avatar

    It’s a shame Ford replaced these cars with the incompetent, V6 FWD bland mobiles that are on the failed D3 platform.
    Had Ford sunk HALF of the money they have spent on trying to make a D3 vehicle that sells well (Five Hundred, Montego, Freestyle, Taurus, Sable, Taurus X, Flex, MKT, Taurus, Explorer, MKS ALL have failed)…they would have a much more competent, desirable vehicle PLUS more money in the bank.
    After the Panthers die off…Ford makes nothing of interest.

  • avatar

    Ford was on the cutting edge of marketing using computers back then.

    This 1988 Town Car came out back when Ford just released their 1988 Ford Simulator software, which ran on an IBM XT in all its EGA/CGA glory on my 12″ monochrome monitor, but preferred a more powerful 286. It fit onto a 5.25″ floppy, and had all the Ford and Lincoln cars on some virtual test track. Not that I could tell a difference.

    I could even pick my own options with the available configurator, and print it out on my dot matrix printer on my parallel port. I didn’t get my first 2400 baud modem for another 6 years.

    The XT clone is gone, but this car platform still lives on.

  • avatar

    If you enjoy driving a Town Car for its pure hugeness and shock value in a parking lot or cruising the highway, the newest ones worth driving are the 79’s.  Just about everyone can’t help but stop and stare. Being photographed while driving (not by a red light camera) is normal.  Anything newer looks like a cheap imitation.
    233 inches long. Opera Lights and Windows.  Hideaway Headlamps.  Chrome tipped fenders from stem to stern.  Can land a helicopter on the hood.  Those are the Town Cars I drive and love.

  • avatar

    I think the cream of the Town Cars were the ’92 through ’97 models.  The ’91 used the same body, but still had the old 302 V-8.  Ford’s 4.6 liter V-8 is a honey.

    Still pretty boxy and roomy, but handsome.  Never cared for the more rounded ’98 through 2010 models.

  • avatar

    I’ve always figured that ‘town car’ doesn’t mean ‘car for the town’ so much as it means ‘car which is the size of a town’. Still, I think that the ’59 imperial has these examples handily beat in scope and mass; can anyone confirm that?

    • 0 avatar

      Probably, but nothing is bigger than the 77-79 Continental/Town Car.

    • 0 avatar

      I tried to find some information about the actual sizes of dinosaurs and here’s what I found:

      The 1970-72 Lincoln Continental has a length of 225 inches, the same as the 1970 Cadillac Calais and Deville, but smaller than the Fleetwood 60 Special which was 228.5.  The redesigned 1971-72 Calais and Deville were 225.8 inches and the Fleetwood 60 Special was 228.8.  The 1970-72 Imperial was 229.7 inches long.

      Redesigned front bumpers increased the lengths of the 1973 Lincoln to 229.5 inches, the 1973 Cadillac Calais and Deville to 228.5 inches and the Fleetwood 60 to 231.5.  The 1973 Chrysler Imperial grew to 235.1 or 235.3 depending on the source.

      The redesigned 1974 Chrysler Imperial was 231.1 inches long, while redesigned rear bumpers increased the lengths of the Lincoln to 233.1, the 1974-76 Cadillac Calais and Deville to 230.7 and the Fleetwood to 233.7.

      The 1975 Chrysler Imperial grew to 232.7 inches long, while the 1975 Lincoln shrank to 232.7.

      In 1977 The Lincoln was 233.0 inches long and in 1979 it was back up to 233.1.

      (Most of this information came from, but some of the Imperial info came from Allpar.)

  • avatar

    I don’t know.  The steering in the 2006 is so much better, the styling is better, and there is no “carriage top.”  I have to go with the later model.  And those velour seats!

  • avatar

    These cars invoke a lot of nostalgia but the sad truth is once behind the wheel of a couple of rental 2009-2010 Grand Marquis sedans, I found myself dying to get back into my 2008 Impala 3900 LT! The 4.6 still feels slower than most any V6 mid or full sized sedan I have driven, the steering still vibrates, twitches and transmits road imperfections into resonance, the driver’s seating position is poor and the seat while initially comfortable grows tiresome on the back side after 2 hours or so, mileage is dismal, the trun kis big but concentrates it’s space in the forward section with the rear half all but obliterated for long objects, there is no trunk pass- though and forget about any modern tech like Sync, USB ports or even a radio that will play MP3’s. Nope what you get is a 1990’s CD/Cassette player like my 1999 Olds Intrigue had albeit a nice sounding enough unit. The transmission which upshifts very quickly is basically the same unit found in the 1991 Panther varients and as far as the interior the super cheap feeling plastic glovebox, old tech dash, varying interior fits and quality, lack of rear seat legroom with the front seats more than half way back and a massive driveline hump running from fron to back are all reminders that this car needed updating 10 years ago. A rental 2010 Lucerne, Genesis and Avalon are all reasons this car is on death row.
    On another note, that 1988 looks great and those pillow topped seats do look comfortable. I remember being pretty impressed driving a very similar 1987 TC with the dual exhaust 160 HP 302 and 3.27 traction loc rear axle many moons ago. There were some bright spots with the 80’s cars and this was one of them and was a refreshing change from todays jellybean clone plain bland look alikes.

  • avatar

    I didn’t even know it was Panther week when I brought my new baby home yesterday. I hope it’s a good omen!
    [url=]P1050675[/url] by [url=]dinkytoys[/url], on Flickr

  • avatar
    Jordan Tenenbaum

    I would like an `88 Lincoln Town Car and an `88 Cadillac Brougham in my driveway. I would be happy.

  • avatar

    I look forward to Panther Week every year.

  • avatar

    OK, I’m not imagining that the ride of my 2005 TC is inferior to the ’92 I used to have.  I get that banging over small bumps too.  Not in the ’92 which was the traditional land yacht ride.  In fact, the air suspension went south on the ’92 and I did the cheap fix, replaced it with coils, and it was impossible to tell the difference.  Does adding the cop car sway bar help the banging and bottoming, or does it just let you hoon around on-ramps faster?  I do like the more precise handling on the ’05 but I would love to be able to dial out that rear harshness.

    I was never much of a fan of the 1980-89 generation which was the last gasp of Bordinat Baroque.  However, the 1991-97 generation with the modular engine (hence excluding ’90) just might be the best luxury car ever.  Those usually get 1-2 MPG better than the later models too, not sure why.

    Whichever generation you prefer, they all run reliability rings around any Northstar Cadillac, and they really don’t give any territory away to the Germans either especially when you factor in the higher acquisition cost and higher repair parts cost of a Benz or BMW.

  • avatar

    Your 2005 will ride better if you…wait…I’m not gonna tell you until you email me @ [email protected] for your Piston Slap request.
    My favorite Town Car is still probably the 1995-1996s, the 1997 looked the same at first, but all the Nasser beancounting came into play and they are kinda sucky compared to the older ones.
    Make mine a 1995 Cartier, Ivory pearl with cream inside.

  • avatar

    With this Panther Week going on, I am enjoying the fact that folks bring up Caddy products to compare to the Lincolns/Mercury’s but no one EVER mentioned a Chrysler product!
    Why the hell is Chrysler still around.

  • avatar

    In the world of automotive platforms, the Panther demands respect.  This is late 1970’s architecture turning out capable rugged machinery right up to now.  Ford styling lost it’s way in the aquarian 90’s: a bit too much fish and flippers blowhole for my taste.   Melted soap bar supposiTaurus and the jellybean cars all took it too far after the “aero” novelty wore off.  Though I do consider the Mark VII to be one of the most elegant cars of the modern age.
    Sharp creases and neoclassic formality kept the idea of the great 70’s Lincolns alive in the 1980’s.  The evolution of the Mark VI might have died in ’84, if Ford would have had their way.  Public demand kept her in production as the TC until the 1990 redesign.  It wasn’t patriotism, or nostalgia…it was the quiet high harmonic of the transmission, the thick mass of seat wrapped around your backside, the pivoting headrests, the JBL sound,  rear seat switch reading lights, power vent windows!!  To Lincoln, with love.
    Currently scrutinizing a 1987 Town Car.  Coach top, factory spoke wheels, power sunroof.  Scratchy and forgotten, but soon to be my saved little darling.
    Big bumpers, you say?  Triple black 1979 Continental Town Car…full length top, sunroof, leather, and factory cassette player. OooohLALA

  • avatar

    I was a bigger fan of the Continental class due to their better performance and sportier look. All this is relative, of course, but as others have said, “the old formula of good power and LOTS of space” would still work and sell LOTS of cars if only it were still so.

    P.S. I still have my father’s 1998 Lincoln Continental and its 270HP GT performance.

  • avatar

    I”ve owned a few Lincolns ’77 MarkV, 88 Towncar, ’91 Towncar, and currently a 99 Towncar. Having these 4 permutations I can say that each have their charms. The Mark V was truly a land yacht. The 88 had a wonderful elegance to the way it drove. It was smooth and surprisingly agile given its size and suspension. The 91 handled better and was easier to get in and out o fand the roomiest inside , but the 99 is the most fuel efficient and best handler. The joy of owning a Lincoln cannot be truly appreciated until you own one yourself. First they are ideally suited to driving over less than perfect streets and down freeways. Second unlike a Cadillac or other such vehicle especially imports, anyone can fix my car and the parts are dirt cheap by comparison. I bought all of mine used for a fraction of what they are new and drove them for years. At this rate I’m good for Towcars until 2025. Long may they roll.

  • avatar

    Very interesting review!
    As a European guy, I can tell what I do like the American classic cars. But now, US auto companies try to make cars for European market and they make them… too European! I don’t want to buy Buick that looks like Lexus or Lincoln that smaller than VW Passat. I don’t want to buy European car which was made in US.
    Wake up, America! People want to see full size sedans with real American luxury. What is that: MKS, MKT, MKX or MKZ. Where did they get the beautiful name like Continental? Did they give it for Bently? What the stupid people are sitting at the Ford’s office.
    Yes, there are a lot of different options inside the Europeans Luxury cars (even the night vision, that was stolen from 2000 Cadillac Deville). But the main American car’s “option” is the DRIVER! Just try to drive any of the US big sedans and you’ll feel that. Do not change your soul for the gadgets! You have the Great traditions, so, save them!!!

    PS. I’m 38. I have a LTC (not for delivery) and I’m proud to be its driver.

  • avatar

    I have always liked Lincolns, my dad had a 75 Mark IV and a 78 Mark V Bill Blass Edition, I was too young to drive the 75 but I loved the 78, the 460 was awesome, ride was comfy even after long drives i wasn’t fatigued. My uncle had a 78 Lincoln Town Car and I always liked the Town Cars better. I have a 76 Caddy Deville coupe I bought from another uncle before he passed, all original and garage kept, sweet car but I still want to add a 78-79 Town car to the fleet preferably a designer or collector series. When I went to college I had a new 86 Accord LXi, it was summer in MS and I had my a/c on full blast and it was cooling but not cold, I got in my dad’s friend’s 86 Town Car and it was ice cold and he didn’t have his system on high. I would also like to have the last year they made the square town car, think 89, they were awesome also.

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