Town Car Comes To A Halt At 490,789 Miles

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth
town car comes to a halt at 490 789 miles

Here at TTAC, we just love to talk about the Panther-based Town Car. I’m personally a big fan, but the rest of the staff is not as fond of the last full-sized Lincoln.

Whether you love or hate driving a TC, however, you have to admit that they are very durable vehicles. It’s no surprise, then, that “Charlie The Town Car”, a 2004-vintage model used daily as a cab in Austin, Texas, wasn’t laid low just 9,211 miles short of the half-million-mile mark by mechanical failure. No, it had to be rammed by a truck.

A July article in the Austin Statesman tells the tale:

McClung, 48, a native of Bangs, a hamlet just west of Brownwood, said he properly paused at a four-way stop in East Austin (on the way to pay his weekly $235 lease to Austin Cab) and then pulled out. The other guy, in a maroon Ford pickup, ran the stop sign to McClung’s left and slammed into Charlie’s left rear…

And the odometer (the car, sadly, won’t start now and required a jump to get enough juice to light up the electronic reading on the dash) sits frozen at 490,789.5 miles. Just 9,210.5 short of half a million miles. And maybe done.

Any old Ford hand knows that’s the inertial fuel pump at work. Press the button in the trunk (or, in some Fords, the glove compartment) to reset the fuel pump and away you go. I looked for an update to this story and couldn’t find one. I’d like to believe that Charlie’s frame wasn’t bent too badly and that a junkyard door put him back on the road. It’s more likely, though, that the insurance company called time on the whole endeavor and sent Mr. McClung looking for his next Townie.

This kind of mileage is exceptional for any vehicle, but during many trips to Orlando, FL I regularly saw the Town Cars operated by Mears Motor Coach looking quite spiffy with 200,000 miles — or more — showing on the odometer. There’s plenty of evidence that Toyota minivans and the like can’t quite cut the mustard:

“The minivans, the fleets really discovered that they were just not holding up,” said Michael Woloz, spokesman for the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, an industry group.

In the long run, no modern car seems to last quite like a big Panther. It can be an attractive purchase for anyone, from a 24-hour-a-day cab company to a club racer… but that’s a story for another time.

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2 of 49 comments
  • Jack Baruth Jack Baruth on Sep 02, 2010

    I'm not convinced that recycling a car is all that easy, environmentally sound, or rewarding of an endeavor. Comparing a Town Car to a new LS460... the Townie weighs less, contains less mercury and other technology-related chemicals, is easier to disassemble, and uses fewer resources to build, operate, and transport to the United States. The LS460 is faster, quieter, rides better, and has more gimmicks. To calculate the true cost to the environment and the consumer across a fixed mileage for both is beyond my ability, unfortunately.

  • Marcus WK Marcus WK on Sep 02, 2010

    club racing a panther???

  • Damon Thomas Adding to the POSITIVES... It's a pretty fun car to mod
  • GregLocock Two adjacent states in Australia have different attitudes to roadworthy inspections. In NSW they are annual. In Victoria they only occur at change of ownership. As you'd expect this leads to many people in Vic keeping their old car.So if the worrywarts are correct Victoria's roads would be full of beaten up cars and so have a high accident rate compared with NSW. Oh well, the stats don't agree.
  • Lorenzo In Massachusetts, they used to require an inspection every 6 months, checking your brake lights, turn signals, horn, and headlight alignment, for two bucks.Now I get an "inspection" every two years in California, and all they check is the smog. MAYBE they notice the tire tread, squeaky brakes, or steering when they drive it into the bay, but all they check is the smog equipment and tailpipe emissions.For all they would know, the headlights, horn, and turn signals might not work, and the car has a "speed wobble" at 45 mph. AFAIK, they don't even check EVs.
  • Not Tire shop mechanic tugging on my wheel after I complained of grinding noise didn’t catch that the ball joint was failing. Subsequently failed to prevent the catastrophic failure of the ball joint and separation of the steering knuckle from the car! I’ve never lived in a state that required annual inspection, but can’t say that having the requirement has any bearing on improving safety given my experience with mechanics…
  • Mike978 Wow 700 days even with the recent car shortages.