By on August 13, 2018

1968 Ford LTD in Colorado wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Full-sized Detroit sedans from the 1960s, cool as they are, don’t get much interest from those willing and able to take on project cars. With so many millions of these big boxy four-doors made — they were the default mode of transportation for most Americans back then, remember — plenty still sit in barns and fields and driveways a half-century later, and they continue to show up in self-service wrecking yards.

Here’s my latest find: a fairly solid 1968 Ford LTD sedan, in a Denver yard.

1968 Ford LTD in Colorado wrecking yard, hood emblem - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsI see plenty of Impalas and Furies and Delmont 88s in these yards, of course, but it seems that the members of the full-sized Ford and Mercury family make up the largest group of 1960s cars I see during my wrecking-yard explorations.

My grandparents drove a ’68 LTD hardtop coupe, complete with 390 engine, until the much-feared Minnesota Rust Monster consumed it at about age 8, so I have a certain affection for these cars.

The first car I remember riding in was my dad’s 1967 Ford Custom 500 two-door sedan, which was the plush LTD’s more affordable sibling. That car had a 289 and three-on-the-floor manual transmission, and it rusted to oblivion by about 1972.

1968 Ford LTD in Colorado wrecking yard, 390 engine - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThis big Ford has the meaty 390-cubic-inch V8 (that’s about 6.4 liters to you freedom-hating metric system zealots), rated at 265 horsepower and enough torque to move this 3,596-pound car smartly enough. Yes, this car weighs less than a new Taurus. Hundreds of pounds less.

1968 Ford LTD in Colorado wrecking yard, front seats - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsFour doors, smoker’s-vent windows, and a bench seat — that’s what most cars on North American roads had in the late 1960s. In non-rusty parts of the continent, you’d see full-sized Fords of this era doing daily-driver duty well into the 1990s. Front suspension components were a bit more prone to fail than those in their GM counterparts, but repairs were cheap and easy.

1968 Ford LTD in Colorado wrecking yard, shift indicator - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThree-on-the-tree manual transmissions were standard on the lesser big 1968 Fords, though nearly everyone got the automatic. In the LTD, the three-speed slushbox was standard equipment, but you could get a four-on-the-floor if you wanted (and if any of you ever sees a ’68 LTD with factory four-speed, let us know).

1968 Ford LTD in Colorado wrecking yard, rust - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThere’s a bit of rust in the usual spots, but not enough to make restoration very difficult… if anyone wanted to spend $15,000 to make a $4,000 LTD sedan.


Due to a strike, ’68 Fords were in short supply for a while.

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59 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1968 Ford LTD Sedan...”


  • avatar

    6/11/2021:

    Hellos’

    I am builden a LTD’s like this I am seeing here, and wonder if Marylee can tell me if the hood latch was still working because I mite have to go to Danver to pick it. (I live in Brown County,)

    thx-

    Bill s.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    I guess if you wanted to install an aftermarket radio on this model, you were just about s-c-r-e-w-e-d.

    Neat idea, but not very practical in the real world…

    • 0 avatar
      wayneoh

      I’m getting old, but I don’t remember aftermarket radios in 1968.
      I remember underdash mounted 4 and 8 track players were about all we had available.
      Is it just me ?

      • 0 avatar
        Roberto Esponja

        I realize that but, as Murilee mentions above, many of these LTD’s soldiered on all the way into the 1990’s, and if you had wanted to upgrade the radio on this one at the advent of aftermarket stereos in the 1970’s, I think the only alternative for it would have been to “kill” (disconnect) the factory radio and install the replacement one underneath the instrument panel.

        • 0 avatar

          Does any modern car allow you to replace radio? Or navigation system or anything else in the dash? Yeah but we do not have radios anymore – we have cell phones (I listen radio only on cellphone even in the car).

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Yes, for anything reasonably common there will be either kits or specialized units to replace the factory setup. Complete with interfaces to the steering wheel controls. Some even relocate the HVAC controls.

      • 0 avatar
        TR4

        Car radios started out as aftermarket in the 1930s. Look at this page from a 1968 Radio Shack catalog:

        http://www.radioshackcatalogs.com/html/1968/hr085.html

        Better quality units were available from Blaupunkt and the like.

        • 0 avatar
          MRF 95 T-Bird

          There was also the Lafayette electronic store chain. They carried a number of underdash units.
          A popular good quality unit was the Pioneer supertuner underdash mount with FM radio and cassette.

      • 0 avatar
        RedRocket

        There were aftermarket radios, but they tended to be more of the under-dash variety as well which were intended for vehicles without an existing radio.

      • 0 avatar

        Not there weren’t “radios” available, but most folks I knew of were augmenting the factory radio with an underdash 4 or 8-track. The combo of radio/tape player units were later. It took cassettes awhile to get to the point that they were considered “hi-fi” and that’s when one started to see the combo units become available.

        For me, personally, I only wanted tape as I didn’t like radio due to the limited playlists, dj’s talking over the music and constant ads. It got to the point where folks like Blaupunkt, Pioneer, Clarion and others improved the radio section to be better than factory that aftermarket “radio” (only) became attractive. That morphed into installing whole systems instead of just the head unit. I’ve been out of that loop for so long now I have no clue what’s happening with aftermarket systems.

    • 0 avatar
      la834

      Probably still easier to install an aftermarket radio in this than a ’96-’99 Taurus. That oval thing in the dash doesn’t even house the radio electronics; its effectively just a remote controller.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    >>if anyone wanted to spend $15,000 to make a $4,000 LTD sedan.

    I’m fairly amused when I watch modern television shows set in the 1960s-1980s, like Stranger Things. You would think everyone drove clean Mustangs, Camaros, and trucks.

    Not the powder blue Malibus, the large number of station wagons, vans, and more pedestrian land yachts you would see if watching an old episodes of Kojak or Cannon.

    • 0 avatar
      Blackcloud_9

      Yes, that’s the problem with filming a show or movie of a certain era. It’s hard to find beat up cars of that time period that still run.

    • 0 avatar
      Ko1

      I’m currently working my way through the original 1968 Hawaii Five-0 and yeah, mostly four door hardtops, station wagons, etc. This car reminds me of the green 4 door hardtop with a black vinyl roof that gets reused a number of times for the good guys, bad guys and as a taxi at one point.

      I remember reading a quote from James MacArthur where he confirmed that Jack Lord was often very difficult to work with. Then again, I imagine that anyone would be pretty irritable too if they had to drive a triple black Park Lane (later Marquis) while wearing a heavy suit in Hawaii’s heat for 12 seasons.

      • 0 avatar
        Matt Foley

        You did see some interesting cars on the original Five-O. I remember an episode in which the killer drove a Mazda REPU (rotary engine pickup truck). I was all geeked out about it.

        CHiPs is another great show for old-car p0rn.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          My favourite movie for old car watching is It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.
          The old police shows did however also have some ‘great’ vehicles. From 77 Sunset Strip, Surfside 6, Robert Taylor`s The Detectives, Highway Patrol to Kojak, Cannon and probably ending with Starsky & Hutch.

          • 0 avatar

            It is my favorite movie too and I saw it first time when I was 9 y.o.! Watched it hundred times probably, own two BD editions, one is the extended versions. All best comedians of the era were casted. Car chases are unbelievable. I was fascinated with American cars since watched it for the first time.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      @DividebyTube is correct. It is these mainstream survivors that interest me more than the ‘collectibles’. The type of vehicle that most North Americans drove or rode in, but which were considered to be ‘disposable’.

      Newer generations will see the collectibles and have little understanding of the true driving experience of that era. When A/C was a luxury. Cars had AM radios with single speakers. And power anything was an upgrade and relatively rare.

      The upholstery seems to have held up well. The dash has the requisite crack, which was endemic in Chevs of that era. However Ford was synonymous with ‘rust’ in the era ’68 to ’75. I believe the following year (’68?), Ford introduced the ‘pilot’ style instrument panel. A first for D3 sedans.

      Would love to see more of these workhorses restored and on the road.

      • 0 avatar
        Halftruth

        @ AD – That is why when I picked up and semi-restored my Newport, I kept it original. Points and all. I wanted to live with it like they did. I was pleasantly surprised. Starts easy, is a dream to drive and reliable as anything out there. Sadly, no one gives a hoot for these commoners of yesteryear and most will more likely see their motors yanked and the rest discarded.

        It’s all about Camaros, Mustangs and Hemis man! That is all that counts! Just look at the auctions. You have to laugh when an unpopular vintage car rolls through one of these auctions and the commentators are deflated. As if, “what the hell is that doing here?”

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        “Power anything.”

        Kids these days will never understand what it means to drive a car with non-boosted brakes for days or weeks and what the first few stops feel like when they drive a car with power brakes. Or why 10 o’clock-2 o’clock doesn’t work on a heavy car with manual steering (hint: 9/3 or 12/6). Hehehe… good times!

        • 0 avatar
          Carroll Prescott

          Those brakes are a reason why I respect Jay Leno when he rebuilds a car – he almost always upgrades the brakes because of the safety aspect inherent in older vehicles.

          • 0 avatar
            roger628

            I see a power booster on this one so it at least has front discs. Kudos to Ford for being and early proponent of them. 1968 was the year that if you ordered power brakes, you got discs automatically.

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        Arthur, I am also one of those people who notice “ordinary” old cars on the road. Whenever I spot one then it really turns my head. It’s ironic but they’re rarer than collectibles. I’m usually the guy checking them out at any kind of auto show including cruise nights/drive-ins.

        • 0 avatar
          BrentinWA

          I find myself doing this too…. Once in a while on my way to work on 405 in Bellevue, WA I see this 1990 Oldsmobile Ninety Eight in remarkable shape. It reminds me of the days when I was a kid and that’s what the “fancy” people drove.

      • 0 avatar
        Advance_92

        “It is these mainstream survivors that interest me more than the ‘collectibles’. The type of vehicle that most North Americans drove or rode in, but which were considered to be ‘disposable’.”

        I agree, but show them a CHiPs re-run and they’ll just think everyone in the 70s was a terrible driver.

      • 0 avatar
        roger628

        The seats have been recovered at least once, that’s not the factory fabric.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Very interesting TV ad – performance is demonstrated by driving the full-sized Ford XL on rough logging trails, which today would require an SUV with 4WD, meaty tires, jacked up ride height, and full safety cage. How did our grandparents ever survive with rear wheel drive, skinny tires, and decorative seat belts?

    • 0 avatar
      IHateCars

      Skinny bias ply tires, at that.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Grandparents, what about us kids? No child seats, no seatbelts.
        My younger brothers when infants were placed in the ‘cubby bin’ over the engine in our VW Beetle. When older they got one of those seats that clamped over the front passenger seat and had a steering wheel (like Maggie in the Simpsons) or sat in the front passenger seat on our mother’s lap.

        As teenagers we often would drive with 11 in a D3 sedan and sometimes even in my Type II or Type III VW. Driver, 2 in the passenger seat. 4 on the back seat with one on each lap. Even took a 2 hour trip with 6 in a Gremlin. 3 in the back seat and 1 in the hatch. Or a bunch of us sliding around on the floor of a fullsize non-converted van.

        • 0 avatar
          stingray65

          Kids were expendable when every family was having 3 to 5 of them. People today worry about toy guns, but when I was a young teen most of us had a 22 rifle and 12 gauge shotgun after graduating from a BB gun at about age 8. We also played unsupervised baseball and football without helmets, and rode bikes on public streets and over jumps without helmets. Yet apparently it wasn’t enough to kill many of us off, as the population kept increasing until families started to average fewer than 2 kids, and now we can add worries about pensions and social security going belly up.

          • 0 avatar
            I_like_stuff

            There are a lot of factors in the reduction of driving related deaths. The drastically different attitude towards DUI in the 60s/70s vs 80s and onwards had a huge impact. As did the increased traffic. It’s harder to die in a crash when you’re stuck in bumper to bumper traffic going 10 MPH in 1995 vs 70 MPH on the same road in 1965.

            Obviously increased use of seat belts, ABS, airbags, etc helped. But additional safety features are only part of the story.

          • 0 avatar

            ^This^ (meaning Stingray’s post)

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            ^This^ (meaning Stingray’s post)

            Uh, no way would I want to go back to the “way it was” I don’t really remember the 60s as I was really little, but I sure do the 70s and life today is much better*in almost every regard.

            * yes and when it is not, its really not…

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Emergency medicine is almost incomparably better today than 40 years ago too. If you survive the crash AT ALL, you have a pretty good chance of surviving.

            I personally feel we coddle children far too much today. Pain teaches valuable life lessons. Whether self or parentally inflicted.

            Probably best that I have not and will not reproduce.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      “How did our grandparents ever survive with rear wheel drive, skinny tires, and decorative seat belts?”

      “Grandparents, what about us kids? No child seats, no seatbelts.”

      A lot of them didn’t. But you don’t tend to hear much from the kids who got thrown out of cars and crushed.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transportation_safety_in_the_United_States#/media/File:US_traffic_deaths_per_VMT,_VMT,_per_capita,_and_total_annual_deaths.png

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      That’s what I love about going back to visit rural parts of Russia, the Russian makes stayed with that approach of engineering cars for rough roads and maximum comfort within that context rather than becoming “sporty.” We’ve had a rental Lada 2107 that we took through absolute hell to get closer to the base camp at the Aktru Glacier near Molngolia. Dirt roads through the steppe littered with big rocks, water crossings, etc. Steel rims with 175/70R13 tires, a long travel sort riding suspension, sturdy solid rear axle, decent clearance and a sturdy oil pan got us where we needed. We hit a very deep pothole at one point in my grandma’s village that dropped the front of the car low enough to smack the oil pan on the pavement, the sound was horrific. We stopped to confirm that it wasn’t hemorrhaging oil and drove back to the house to inspect closer. All we could find was a minor scuff on the pan. More recently I got a short ride across the village in a relatives’ 2000 Volga 3110. It’s an unpaved dirt/gravel road, and that Volga just floated over everything (also handled very poorly/dangerously I’m assuming). You simply can’t find cars in the US that ride like that any more, that shipped sailed with the 1990s Buicks or thereabouts.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Anyone in Russia run a Panther? I’ve seen some videos of people doing some rough excursions in those.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          There are a scant few that people brought over in the late 90s as used cars, so people know of them, I think police in Moscow ran a few “aeros” in their hodge-podge fleet in the early 2000s. What you are more likely to see there are 1990s domestic SUVs (GMT400 Tahoe, jellybean and IRS Explorer, ZJ Grand Cherokee), they were well liked by businessmen and mobsters in the 90s that brought them over as lightly used or even new cars. Russians generally appreciate the design/engineering of American cars with oversized components, understressed lower compression engines, generally easy to work on and durable. The biggest problem is spares and wait times on things to ship over from America. This is all speaking in the context of the European side of Russia (west of the Urals). American makes are almost unknown in the East, it’s all JDM-land there, although US-market Toyotas (Sienna, Highlander, Camry) are well liked and likewise were popular used cars to import right through the 2010s.

        • 0 avatar
          Johnster

          I remember reading an article about an American news crew visiting Russia in the 1970s doing one of those ubiquitous stories about “Life in the Soviet Union.” They brought along a full-sized 1970s Ford sedan which attracted attention everywhere they went. Russian truck drivers were in awe at the sheer size (and American superiority) of the American Ford V8 engine found in the car.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Not surprising in the least Johnster. Most of the Soviet larger displacement engines (as mostly found in trucks and a scant few limousines) were predominantely 1950s tech or earlier. In the 70s, the workhorse motor in many trucks was still the ancient Hercules-clone flathead 5.5L I6 with a super low compression ratio that could basically run on old dishwater. Same for the slightly newer 4.25L aluminum block OHV V8 in the GAZ (115-125hp), and the larger 6.0L ZIL OHV V8s. As the local environment dictated, these needed to be durable and crude things that could run on crappy gas and be repaired in the most rudimentary of conditions. My mom learned to drive a GAZ-51 as part of the mandatory emergency/military training in the Soviet Union, my dad wrenched on trucks in a garage for a year when he was 17 and failed to get into a higher education program on his first try (and is now a successful physicist), so I have a lot of interest in the old Soviet trucks. They’re still doing daily duty all over the more remote areas of Russia and the former Soviet Union, I love the sound and smell of my grandma’s neighbor’s old GAZ 53 burbling and creaking down the street.

            GAZ 53:
            youtu.be/Ky-ZT3SKgvk

            Some cool retro footage from testing some ZIL-130 “S” (S for “Serverniy” = Northern) trucks in the Russian North:

            youtu.be/PE1esXyPd-o

  • avatar
    deanst

    I remember a friends dad had a big Ford from this era where the radio was to the left of the steering wheel. It seemed to fit the guys dad, who seemed a bit of a control freak.

  • avatar
    doug-g

    As a kid I knew an old guy who had a 1965 LTD 4-door hardtop with a four-on-the-floor, but no 1968 so equipped.

  • avatar
    Hydromatic

    I just noticed that big Ford’s gas tank placement necessitates a huge hump in the trunk area, just like on the Panther body cars. The more things change…

  • avatar
    arcuri

    First car was a 68 Falcon Futura sport coupe ! 200 straight six, 3 speed auto. Aftermarket 8 track. Paid 75 bucks in 1981. Loved that car. Friend of mine worked at a tire store. Had 4 used Goodyear Eagles. Swapped em for the bias plys. Got her up to 115. ( if you believe the speedo)
    My dad had a 75 LTD Country Squire, 400 2 bbl, AC was like a meat cooler ! Car rode well. I miss those days.

  • avatar
    arcuri

    Hilarious !

  • avatar
    ixim

    Some NYC taxi fleets ran full size 1968 Fords. 6 cylinders, 3-speed auto, power steering, no air but an AM radio and front disc brakes! About 14 mpg all day.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    My dad had a 68 Galaxie 500 (similar to the LTD) that he absolutely hated, even though he was a Ford guy. Why? – the first-year 302 was too weak for him.

    So he traded the Galaxie for a 74 Maverick 302 which could really haul (for the day), right at the peak of the First Oil Crunch. Then he fretted about the 14 mpg he was getting.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    The police force where I grew up had 65-68 Custom and Custom 500’s in both the 2 door and 4 door sedan version.
    Like most full-sizers they were quite popular and durable for police and taxi use.

  • avatar
    Mullholland

    My mom ferried the 4 of us boys around in her 1968 Country Squire, the wagon version of this big sedan. Deep metallic green paint with green vinyl seats that could hold up to nine people/kids. An engine fire took it out. My best friend in high school happened to be driving by and saw her distress and promptly put out the fire. That big wagon was the first car I ever drove on the street, legally. My dad had a 1970 LTD Sedan as a company car. It was decorated in what I called “full-luxury fire captain mode”–fire engine red with a black vinyl top. Also had my first collision in that car. Broad daylight, early morning, empty mall parking lot, dad in the passenger seat and this oblivious lady just pulled right into the front passenger-side fender at about 7 miles per hour. She might have been legally blind but my dad was sure shocked. Luckily I went on to have other memorable wrecks.

  • avatar
    old fart

    I had one when I was twenty, it was very comfortable, quiet , and really went thru the snow , but at 70,000 miles it sheared it’s oil pump shaft and took out the mains . I didn’t have a lot of money so I scrapped it . (That was the series that had bad metal in the frame also and it was starting to have frame rot over the rear wheels – Ford had a selective recall on it if you were savvy )

  • avatar
    Scout_Number_4

    Thank you for this one, Murilee–and especially for adding the photos of your family and that 67 500. My folks had 67 Galaxy Wagon (the strangely mis-named “Country Sedan”) with this same engine and lots of other similarities. I learned to drive in that yacht, drove it through high school. Dad used it (again) as his DD until the early 90s. I keep waiting/hoping for a JYF on one of these someday, but for now will just continue to be delighted to see any FoMoCo iron from the 60s in these pages.

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