By on November 14, 2016

1982 Ford LTD Country Squire in California Junkyard, RH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Before Real American Families drove SUVs and minivans, they drove full-sized Detroit station wagons.

I’m not a wagon fanatic and it doesn’t break my heart that wagons are no longer mainstream (although it does break my heart that Chrysler didn’t bring back wagons with huge tailfins instead of the PT Cruiser), but I recognize that the archetypal Detroit wagon of the 1960s and 1970s was the Ford Country Squire. I can’t resist photographing a junked Squire when I see one in the junkyard, and so here’s a Late Malaise Era Country Squire I spotted in a San Francisco Bay area wrecking yard.

1982 Ford LTD Country Squire in California Junkyard, rear quarter emblem - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

So far in this series, we have seen this ’75, this ’76, this ’77, this ’86, and this ’87 (plus this bonus ’72). Nearly all of them had not-even-trying-to-look-real fake wood “paneling” and “trim” on their flanks, like today’s car.

1982 Ford LTD Country Squire in California Junkyard, roof rack - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

For the 1979 model year, the Country Squire (badged as an LTD Country Squire, which remained the case even after the LTD itself moved to the Fox platform later) would go onto the Panther platform. This made it smaller than the dreadnought Squires that preceded it, but still big enough for large families and their gear. My own family had an extremely practical and stylish 1973 Chevrolet Sportvan Beauville during this era, which may be the main reason I’m not nostalgic about enormous LBJ-Nixon-Ford-Carter-era station wagons or the slightly smaller Reagan-era wagons.

1982 Ford LTD Country Squire in California Junkyard, maintenance records - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The first owner of this wagon kept maintenance records using Dymo labels on the striker surface of the driver’s door. It appears that only 27,440 miles were put on the clock during this Squire’s first decade.

1982 Ford LTD Country Squire in California Junkyard, engine - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Under the hood, a 255-cubic-inch Windsor V8 made a grim 122 horsepower. The 255 was a very rare and very loathed engine, and it was used only for the 1980 through 1982 model years. I’ve seen two of these engines swapped into 24 Hours of LeMons Mustangs after 302 obliteration, because they were the only Windsor engines available for cheap on Craigslist late on a Saturday night and the teams were desperate to resume racing on Sunday.

Look out world! Here comes Ford!

[Images: © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars]

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78 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1982 Ford LTD Country Squire...”


  • avatar
    JimC2

    Just seeing that picture of a Crown Vic grille made me look up from my phone and check that I wasn’t speeding on my drive to work just now…

  • avatar
    Old Man Pants

    Best comment ever on malaise era wagons:

    youtube.com/watch?v=FAgmQzC7rV0

    Jack up that 145, make it unibody and voila: CUV!

    Progress happens, if imperfectly (beautiful greenhouses all gone).

  • avatar
    jjthegreat

    Tell me again how things were simpler way back in the day? I see a massive amount of vacuum hoses, must have been fun to figure which one was the source of a vacuum leak.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Best car I ever owned…86′ LTD wagon. Was in my last 1.5 years of college and obviously out of $$. Bought one for $1200. $400 down 8 monthlies of $100.

    Had a wicked commute for work, distance wise. I lived in Wyoming so going to the next town didn’t take long, was just a lot of miles. Anyway. I put 35k miles on that car in close to 2 years. Traded it in on a brand new TDI Jetta in 1998 upon graduation. Got $200 for trade. So, in the end 1k for 35k miles, not bad.

    Mine was a 302 FI with the AOD and ate miles like no other in quiet bliss. Even got reasonable F.E for the time as well.

  • avatar
    skor

    I remember the 72 pee-pee yellow Country Squire that was owned by my friend’s parents. I was invited to go to the Jersey Shore with them one summer. I think the wagon was 9 passenger….3 across the front bench, 3 across the rear bench and some fold out jump seats in the back. My friend Bill and I sat in the jump seats, far away enough from the adults to engage in typical idiot boy behavior without getting yelled at by the grownups. What I remember most about that car was the AC. Cruising down the Garden State Parkway, on a typical Jersey summer day, with temps around 95 and humidity around 100%, the inside of that car was cold enough to hang meat.

  • avatar
    Old Man Pants

    Interesting how early Boomers tended to breed almost as heavily as their parents. Today, it’s a rare functional family that needs snot-haulers like these or minivans.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      And yet they buy them anyway. Newlywed here at work is 25, buying their first new car together (no kids)…

      3-row CUV.

      I’ve recommended the Pilot or the Santa Fe over the Acadia.

      • 0 avatar
        Old Man Pants

        That seems kind of needlessly large & thirsty but maybe the size of a 3-row gives them confidence. I have a late 20’s friend with one child. She’s been driving a Himmer for several years and her hubby drives a recent Silverado.

        They’re both from farm backgrounds, completely comfortable with truckish vehicles and simply refuse to expose themselves to traffic in anything smaller.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I think it’s a “we suspect we will have a child soon” thing, but still – three rows already? Their current car is like an 03 Grand Prix.

          • 0 avatar
            Old Man Pants

            Well, whatever…. erring on the side of size is always safer & more comfortable.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Of course! I explained the goodness which is the Honda J35, and how I don’t feel the GM Lambda options will be a good long-term ownership option.

          • 0 avatar
            Old Man Pants

            Sounds like around here; talk J-quality till you’re blue in the face but ingrained GM loyalty is a formidable thing.

            Still,. if you’re going to buy American, buy big. We still get that pretty right.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            His brother is a mechanic, and is pro-GM and anti-Ford. So they’ll probably end up with an overpriced and buggy Acadia in the end. :(

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @oldman: the increased safety argument has been debunked many times. Yes a larger, heavier vehicle crashing into a smaller vehicle will have physics helping it.

            But physics also means that it will take much longer to stop, will not corner as well and the higher vehicles will be much more prone to rolling over.

            Then factor in the regulatory requirements. Trucks (and for a significant period of time) mini-vans did not have to meet the same safety standards as passenger cars. Roof strength is just one example.

            Ask any police officer or EMS personnel in rural areas, particularly in snow belts regarding the number of single vehicle fatality accidents involving pick-ups and SUV’s.

            The best possible safety measures are those which help to avoid accidents.

          • 0 avatar
            Old Man Pants

            “the increased safety argument has been debunked many times”

            Well. I’m re-bunking it, dammit! Drive slowly and may the Size be with you.

            “The best possible safety measures are those which help to avoid accidents.”

            Absolutely! Like not boozing up and having a single-vehicle accident.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Corey I’d argue it’s a fairly pragmatic move assuming they’ve done some family planning on have some idea of how many kids they want. Would you rather they buy something smaller only to take a bath on depreciation in 2 years and have to buy that 3 row CUV/minivan?

        My own solution to this impending situation for myself is to subsist on older vehicles that quite literally have stopped depreciating, until it is imperative to upgrade (will probably go the minivan route, and probably AWD Sienna).

    • 0 avatar
      BobinPgh

      There were plenty of Country Squires growing up in Breed Hills. Across the street, the Kellys had non-Country-Squire Ford wagon, the only one I had seen without the wood paneling. Mr. Kelly was a surly engineer who was active in the church and his wife was usually pregnant. There seemed to be quite a few of these surly men in our area. My dad had a 1974 Kingswood Estate, no wood paneling but had that “clamshell” rear hatch that leaked and molded terribly. I always remember wagons smelling of mold. There were a lot of wagons in the Catholic church parking lot, got to get all the kids to church all at one time.

    • 0 avatar
      Johnster

      Some of these new 3-row CUVs are almost as big as the old SUVs. They’re just the thing for young families starting out. I always think about this skit from MADtv:

    • 0 avatar
      Forty2

      Working in Utah this week. Seeing ads for 5-6-7-8-n… bedroom houses for fertile (and wealthy) LDS couples. They don’t need a minivan so much as a small school bus.

  • avatar
    Dave W

    We had a yellow 74? that the wood grain was starting to fade. My dad worked in the automotive products division* at 3M so no problem. He heard about an experimental Dinoc renewal spray. On it went, and it looked great. 6 months later the engineer was walking through the parking lot at a softball game and saw to his horror a Country Squire that the passenger side Dinoc was white. Yep, it was ours. They learned something in the spray made it MORE UV susceptible. My mom worked nights so most days it was parked all day facing east in our driveway, the south (passenger) side faded out in no time.

    *3Ms most profitable division during the Brougham era. Once he was working on a program to dye the plastic bumper caps for GM products. they found they could get a perfect match under florescent light, or sunlight, but not both. When GM told them “We sell the cars in showrooms, match them under florescent”, he felt vindicated that his last American car was a Studebaker. The Country Squire was my moms last American.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    That commercial is ghastly.

    Turn up at an evening “World Premiere” event in an LTD wagon, in your formal wear, and then get out on the -wrong side- for the red carpet? And she was in the back while he is in the front – so he’s the chauffeur and hes escorting her into the film?

    Go home, you’re drunk.

  • avatar
    Tour-Rider

    Those HUGE wagons of old were the only real offering as viable family SUVs. It took the big 3 decades to listen to and implement something the buyer wanted. To this day American vehicle mfg’s cannot build what is imported due to gov. restrictions. SAD!!!+!
    .
    Most mom’s would not drive huge vans, hence minivans. Most mom’s would not drive Bronco’s, hence Sports Utility Van (SUV). But would drive the Jeep Cherokee.
    .
    I bought my wife a 74 Harvester Travelall. Tho it was a HUGE glorified Wagon/PU-Truck she liked the comfort and smoothness, I liked it for our budding families safety. The 392 w-Allison trans was superb… until the 70’s oil crunch hit. Its 12.x mpg’s became history.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      I think the later Harvesters used the Chrysler 727 auto trans, and a Borg Warner before that.

      • 0 avatar
        Tour-Rider

        Maybe so, I don’t know. At that time in my life I was “punching in” 5 times a day on 3 different jobs so I had no time to do a search. But mine had the Allison. I found out when I did the fluid change.
        I always wondered why it sold in less than a 1/2 day after I “post-it notes” in just 3 grocery stores.

        • 0 avatar
          tylermattikow

          It’s possible International used the Allison 2500 in some school buses. They often mixed and matched parts, including AMC 401’s when they were running low on 392’s. Travelalls were generally Borg Wagner 12’s Chrysler 727’s.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Naaah, regulations didn’t kill the station wagon. Minivans and the Ford Explorer did. Full size wagons with V-8s were still being sold well into the mid-’90s. The market just didn’t want them anymore.

      I get the nostalgia, but having actually owned a full size wagon (albeit when I was a kid), I can see why minivans nuked their market – easier to handle, more room, more seating options, and cheaper to run. Classic “better mousetrap,” if you ask me.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Have a soft spot in my heart for these. A Country Squire was a symbol of suburban middle class affluence. Driving one of these demonstrated that you were doing well.

    When The Old Man finally started making money, the first thing he did was buy one. A 1969 with the largest optional engine (a 429?), air conditioning and power windows and doors. For the previous 7 years we had only manual VW’s with no options. Before that a Mini. The Country Squire seemed so opulent that we fell in love with it.

    Also briefly had a late 70’s Zephyr wagon and a 79 Country Squire. Ford messed around with the placement of their horn activators around this time. Some required you to actually push in the turn signal stalk. Others had small pressure points on the back of the steering wheel.

    Nearly died one day when some idiot (drunk?) going the other direction tried to pass on a 2 lane road. I could not find the horn as it was the first week with the car. Luckily had enough room on the shoulder to squeeze by.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “Ford messed around with the placement of their horn activators around this time. Some required you to actually push in the turn signal stalk.”

      Great moments in ergonomics!

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Lol, this reminded me of when my family got a ’94 Plymouth Voyager, which had the airbag wheel with horn buttons on either side. Our first vehicle with an airbag, wow! Following that for the entire several years we had that car, my mom punched the center of the wheel to honk. Then she’d look at it, and make a face as she realized the buttons were on either side.

        http://www.motorstown.com/images/chrysler-voyager-awd-02.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        skor

        The horn on the turn-signal stalk was actually a Euro car thing during the malaise era. At one point Ford North America was trying to get its Yurpean on.

      • 0 avatar
        Jagboi

        I think they were designed around airbags, so the horn had to move off the steering wheel. Of course, airbags didn’t come until the 1990 model year. I actually like the horn on the stalk I can reach it with a finger and not take my hands off the wheel.

        • 0 avatar
          la834

          GM had airbags (driver and front passenger) as options on many of their 1974-’76 big cars. They barely mentioned them in their marketing and advertising, not surprisingly they didn’t sell, and GM used that as evidence that people didn’t want airbags for years afterward.

        • 0 avatar
          Ostrich67

          My dad’s ’80 Mustang had the horn on the stalk. He hated that.

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    My favorite part about the Squire name was that it was applied to almost every Ford wagon from the early ’60s to the mid ’80s. Besides the Country Squire, there was also the Falcon Squire, Fairlane Squire, Pinto Squire, Torino Squire, LTD II Squire, Fairmont Squire, and Escort Squire (maybe). The Fox-body LTD had a “Squire Option,” maybe that was the case for the Escort as well?
    Now I’ve typed Squire so many times it doesn’t even look like a real word.

  • avatar
    e30gator

    You might think you hate it now, but wait till you drive it.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    According to my 1982 edition of Consumer Guide the 255 was the std engine in 49 state coupes and sedans and wagons came std with 302 2BBL V8 engines. They made 111 HP in 1982 and the 302 made only 130. The 302 sedan was listed at 16 seconds 0-60 in there test. Ouch

  • avatar
    JimZ

    apart from the variable venturi carburetor option, was there anything actually *wrong* with the 255 other than being gutless?

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      The variable venturi carb was used on lot of engines and it sucked on all of them.

      The 255 made less HP than the Ford 221 thin-wall, small-block V8 of 1960. The 221 and the 255 are now both….thankfully….just footnotes in V8 engine history.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I had an 82 LTD 2-door sedan with the 302 and variable venturi. The VV became dangerous to drive (no response), so I tediously swapped it out for a decent Holley 2-barrel and dual exhaust – much better.

      But by 1996 rust was claiming the vehicle, and my wife couldn’t easily manage putting 3 kids into the back of it (2-door, remember), and so we graduated to our first minivan.

  • avatar
    CobraJet

    Could be wrong, but that emblem on the steering wheel center pad does not look right. Perhaps it belongs on a Mercury? Typical quality of that era, slapping the wrong parts on as it is coming down the assembly line.

    We had a new 69 Pontiac Lemans with beige interior. The center pad on the wheel was beige but the steering wheel was green. We never had it changed, kept the car for 13 years.

    • 0 avatar
      Jagboi

      Yes, that’s a Ford badge. If the car had a hood ornament, it would have been the same design.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      Ford used to have a couple of different “crests” for certain models like the LTD. it’s probably this one or similar:

      http://s.ecrater.com/stores/61307/4c99fbefbe376_61307n.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        Jagboi

        That’s an earlier badge from the 70’s. As far as I know, Panther LTD’s never used that badge.

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        The Ford crest was replaced by the Blue Oval in 1982 after disappearing from Ford cars in 1949. The crest in this one was probably one of the last; as these cars were replaced by new models, the new models carried the Ford Oval. The LTD died with the transition as well when Taurus/Sable sales took off and Ford was no longer worried about the Taurus/Sable bombing in the marketplace.

    • 0 avatar

      Reminds me of my Dad’s ’73 T-bird. He loved pointing out the faux-wood panel above the glove box, which was emblazoned with a “Continental Mark IV” script.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    In the battle of 80s wagons, GM B-Body will always be superior to Ford Panther.

    No VV carbs or tiny engines in B-body wagons (unless GM actually went insane and made a 267 V8 wagon) and you didn’t have to worry about the transmission either! Plus they came in four delicious flavors!

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I’ll select the Custom Cruiser, with white walls and Vista roof option.

      Special present for your viewing pleasure.
      https://cincinnati.craigslist.org/ctd/5843665658.html

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      The downsized GM “full size” lines showed up a year or two before the Fords downsized theirs. The designs were so similar it seemed impossible that the Fords weren’t copies of the GMs. Just compare the dashboard layouts. But I never heard anything offcial about this.

      GM went to the trouble with these wagons to use a longer rear axle. This helped stability but meant the rear track was wider than the front and the bodies were bumped wider through the rear doors. Just like the full size vans where GM went to the trouble of lengthening the wheelbase to make the longer models stable, while Ford tacked the extra length on the back and ended up compromising handling.

      This also meant that to get a body wide enough to hold 4×8 plywood sheets, the Ford wagons overhung the rear wheels while the GMs did not. So the rear quarter of the Ford wagons looked odd.

      Anyway, the racing crowd prefered the Ford limited slip wagon axles over the GMs because the GM axles were too wide.

      I alwasy preferred the styling of these GM wagons as their subtle curves looked better than the awkward boxy Fords.

  • avatar
    AlfaRomasochist

    You think the ’60 Dodge had some serious tailfins? Ha! Come check out my ’60 Nomad sometime. It’s garaged for the winter about a block from PT’s on East Colfax so it should be pretty convenient for you. :)

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    My first girlfriend’s granddad had a Fox based Ford LTD (I think), with a factory two-tone paint job: poo-brown and beige! He loved to boast how it had a V8 — “none of those hamster wheels for me, I won’t buy a car without a V8!” I couldn’t bear to tell him that a 4-cylinder Toyota Camry made more power…

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    These Country Squire’s were quite popular in the NYC area with orthodox Jews. You would often see them packed with families of 7 or 8 and the kids in the rear facing seats.

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    Yep these ‘woody’ wagons used to be everywhere. Back about 1980 I had moved and the neighbors had one. I noticed that they would make 6-10 trips a day usually less than 15 minutes. They went through two Squire wagons due to no maintenance. The only time the Squires went in the shop is when they needed a tow truck to move. When the second one was deemed DOA they got a Cavalier/Citation. It was a contest between the lack of servicing and abuse as to which would render the Chevy inop. It was on the tow much more than the Fords.

    And, there is more to all those vac lines than leaks. Often when engine work was done two or more would get switched. Then the motor ran poorly or stalled at idle. This was made worse as any markings would usually be gone after a few years. When something like that ended up in my shop I usually had to call on a friend who worked at a Ford dealer. He knew where all the thermostatically and solenoid controlled vac valves should be hooked up or he could get a map of where all the lines went. That was something hard to get in the 80s.
    Add in that, this being California, and emission testing was required for registration, there was much frustration over these carbureted cars. People might suffer through a car that ran poorly but not being able to register it was often the end.
    After fixing a few Toyota and Honda vac hose bundle nightmares I tried to stick with fuel injection.

  • avatar
    new2000car

    Compare this 82 Ford in the junkyard to the 2004 Suzuki Verona also in the junkyard. In 79 this car line underwent a major weight loss (like Chevy did in 77 with the Caprice). It was like 700 lbs, and a huge improvement. They were so much lighter and better than their predecessors. This car lasted 22 years longer than the Verona, and the K cars. That 82 Granada that was in the junkyard, notice how the rear end accident totaled it after it was 30 years old? The same damage would have totaled a K car after it was 6 years old! I remember in the 90s there were plenty of 80s K cars in the junkyard. The 80s Fords were still driving around, taking people places.


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