By on March 2, 2021

Though most of the Ford LTDs produced during its Fox-Body years were of the ho-hum middling variety, a few escaped the factory with extra zest and performance, and a Mustang V8.

Come along as we learn all about the power of LX.

The LTD was born in 1965 as a trim package on the Galaxie 500 full-size sedan. While the 500 XL was the performance Galaxie, the 500 LTD was the luxury offering. The LTD offered features normally reserved for more upscale cars, and customers liked that fact. LTD was successful enough to become its own model the very next year and was off to a running start. LTD’s first and second generations carried it through 1978, at which point it was downsized for the ’79 model year. LTD was reborn on the Panther platform alongside the more upscale Mercury Grand Marquis. LTD S and Landau models were replaced with the base LTD and upmarket LTD Crown Victoria in 1980.

By 1983 another smaller model joined the ranks of LTD: Ford split the name into midsize LTD and full-size LTD Crown Victoria lines. This all-new midsize LTD utilized the Mustang’s Fox platform like so many other Ford family cars. LTD was a replacement for (and similar to) the Granada, which was its Fox predecessor on offer only for 1981 and 1982.

Unlike its predecessor and full-sized brother, no two-door LTDs were sold; it was offered only as a four-door sedan or five-door wagon. The vast majority were powered by the 3.8-liter Essex V6, with a 2.3-liter inline-four as the most basic power plant. At introduction, the only power available was the inline-four or a 3.3-liter Thriftpower inline-six from the Granada, but that engine was dropped for ’84 when the Essex arrived. A four-speed manual transmission was optional on the 2.3-liter engine only. The 3.3 had a three-speed auto as standard, while the 3.8 engines were all equipped with a four-speed auto.

But there was an exception to the above, in the very special LX version of the LTD. Only available for part of 1984 and 1985, LX was the only LTD for the performance driving enthusiast. It came standard with a 5.0 Mustang V8, four-speed automatic, higher grade suspension, sway bars at both ends, and a limited-slip differential. LX also had a center console with a floor shifter which meant standard bucket seats. It was also the only way to get a tachometer in an LTD. Exterior badging was minimal, and all examples came with color-keyed grille and dark side trim. The LX was well-equipped and intended to compete with whatever Ford qualified as European sports sedan competition. A select few cars were produced as the LX Police Package, which meant beefier sway bars and brakes, as well as bench seats and an automatic trunk. Most of these went to police departments and were fitted with roof lights, but some escaped into the hands of regular persons.

LX was as close as one could get to a Mustang with four doors, and less than 3,300 were produced in its short run. By then the LTD was about finished, as American consumers turned up their nose at most things rear-drive and hungered for minivans and the safety of front-drive sedans. But Ford was on the ball there, and the Taurus was ready in ’86.

Today’s black over gray Rare Ride is for sale in Florida, and is fine apart from a bad wheel choice. Yours for $14,995.

[Images: Ford]

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51 Comments on “Rare Rides: The 1984 Ford LTD LX, a Mustang Sedan...”


  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Really neat cars, I was tempted to buy one. I was driving a ’78 Malibu with 305 and a 4-speed at the time and went to test drive one. I’d paid $7,000CAD for the Chevy and they wanted $11,500 for the LX, just too rich for me. It was a nice car though with great seats, nice sound and power from the 302 and it handled well for the time.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    The Thunderbird Turbo Coupe had this thing by the short and curlies. Had a pal who chose it over this sad sack-looking gussied up Fairmont. The TTC was a Fairmont too, but at least they made it look decent.

    Meanwhile, if TTAC becomes a rubbish site with videos playing away all over the place UNASKED, screw it, I’m gone. Bloody grasping Torstar, in the news today because it wants to start a casino. A casino of all things. Trying to screw the reading customer for ad revenue here impresses me not one bit. Go get ******, Torstar, and produce some decent product people actually want to read. Expand the readership the old-fashioned way, with superior writing, or go home and get lost.

    • 0 avatar
      LTDScott

      I wouldn’t be so sure about that. The LTD LX made 10 more HP and 50 more TQs than the ’85 Turbo Coupe and weighs roughly the same. On paper the LTD is faster.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      The comments section and video playing in the middle of articles has pretty much done it for me as well. I don’t mind static ads but these play PiP when you scroll past. Pretty much guarantees I will not buy a Lexus in the future. I am not sure where I might find reviews for our new sedan when our current 2014 needs replaced in a couple years. Then again, maybe a Widebody Challenger SCAT PAK would work as I won’t need 4 doors any longer.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        I could live without the perfectly objective and not at all sponsor sensitive Toyota/Hyundai/whatever reviews myself, nevermind the video ads. Though I swore of Loyoxus long before I had to endure those, the video still shows up even though I run ad block.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    This is a tarted up Fairmont which was not a memorable car. Definitely the malaise era.

    • 0 avatar
      Bcweir

      @Jeff S

      In the early to mid 1980s, nearly ALL of Ford’s passenger cars were essentially “tarted up Fairmonts.”

      Could you at least pretend to stay on topic? Online forums are not the place for your ADD to kick in…

  • avatar
    here4aSammich

    Fox platform like a Mustang. 5.0 from the Mustang. Maybe it’s just me, but I think this car had more claim to actually use the Mustang name than the Edge Mach-E has. At least the marketing people weren’t totally in charge back then.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    With the uber-desirable contrasting light-gray leather-wrapped wheel option, no less!

  • avatar
    LTDScott

    Thanks for using the lead photo in the article from my website (ltdlx.org) without permission, but I digress…

    You got a few points wrong. First, it has been determined through Marti reports (Ford archives) that there were about 5500 LTD LXs made in ’84-’85. The 3360 number that gets thrown around was published in some buff books years ago but is not correct. I have a Marti report from my own car that shows 3367 were built in ’85 alone. Production of the police package cars (which share the same engine, suspension, and brakes as the LX with exception of rear gear ratio, but in a more austere package) was something like 8000 in addition to the LXs.

    These never got black grilles, they were body colored, and the exterior trim was dark charcoal grey, not black. Finally, it was 10″ rear brakes that were notable on the LX. All LTDs (and all other pre-’87 4-lug Fox bodies, for that matter) had 10″ front brakes and they were undersized for the car. ’87+ V8 Mustangs got 11″ brakes for that reason.

    That one for sale isn’t a great example. Shoddy respray where all of the LX-specific trim has either been removed or painted over, and both front and rear bumper trim are not LX-specific which suggests this may have been in a wreck.

    • 0 avatar

      Scanning and uploading commercial print media does not confer ownership rights upon the scanner, so permission not needed. They are Ford images, which I sourced from Pinterest. It’s why Ford is credited.

      • 0 avatar
        LTDScott

        Fair enough. I’m not upset about the rights however I know I scanned this image 15+ years ago because I only had a flatbed scanner and couldn’t get the brochure to come apart without destroying it, so I had to combine the two images from the two separate pages together and cut out the middle section that was distorted in the fold of the brochure. That’s why there’s a sharp corner where the roof and A-pillar meet and why the Ford logo isn’t centered in the grille. That version exists nowhere except on my own site, so Pinterest must have scraped it.

        • 0 avatar

          Your work scanning is appreciated. I’ve turned to Old Car Brochures in past for such materials as well.

          • 0 avatar
            C5 is Alive

            “Your work scanning is appreciated.”

            LTDScott, at least a few TTAC readers also appreciate your corrections of the misinformation in this article, including that this “excellent” example appears to actually be a bondo’d-together basket case with a sub-Earl Scheib-quality paint job.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “appears to actually be a bondo’d-together basket case with a sub-Earl Scheib-quality paint job.”

            I don’t think the car is worth $15k but I think you are *way* overstating it’s condition. A bumper change and cheap paint job on a 36 year old Ford sedan isn’t exactly malicious.

          • 0 avatar
            C5 is Alive

            Look more closely at the pics, ajla. You’ll see more than one body panel waving at you.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      @ LTDScott – Any thoughts on the air cleaner cover on the car listed for sale? I thought all LXs had TBI?

      • 0 avatar
        LTDScott

        Yep, you’re correct. The description says it’s one of the last years with a carb. The 5.0 was never available with a carb in the Fox LTD. But this one appears to have a carb swap based on the vacuum advance distributor. I’m guessing a Mustang donated the parts including the air cleaner lid.

  • avatar
    Cicero

    Wait, there was a Fox body car that actually achieved the level of “middling”? You have got to be kidding.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Why didn’t Ford brand this as a Mustang?

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    That is one shitty paint job for the one for sale.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      You guys have high standards! I don’t approve of the painted-over Ford emblem on the front. I see a bit of orange peel on the fender. The gloss on the door looks a bit off, but I can’t tell if it’s smudges or what. Nothing else jumped out at me in a quick perusal of the ad. What else am I missing?

      • 0 avatar
        LTDScott

        The door/window frames, door handles, mirrors, grille, and headlight bezels are all spray bombed the same color as the body when they should be charcoal grey. And as you pointed out they couldn’t be bothered to mask the Ford oval on the hood grille cap.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Bcweir–Sounds like you are a bit defensive. Sorry if I made a negative comment about these LTDs especially if they are your favorite car. I preferred the LTD Crown Victoria version and the Grand Marquis. Fox body Mustangs were alright as well. GM and Chrysler also had some forgettable cars as well and that is why this period is called the Malaise Era. You can still inquire about this car if you are interested.

    • 0 avatar
      Bcweir

      My issue is your generalization of the car, which would collectively apply to nearly all of Ford’s product lineup at the time.

      A “tarted up Fairmont” is hardly kind, especially when you consider that Ford’s cross-town rival put out as many as FIVE of the same badge engineered vehicles.

      At least Ford bothered to give the midsize LTD a somewhat unique body shared only with the Mercury Zephyr.

      If you’re going to generalize, at least be accurate with your facts.

    • 0 avatar
      Bcweir

      My issue is your generalization of the car, which would collectively apply to nearly all of Ford’s product lineup at the time.

      A “tarted up Fairmont” is hardly kind, especially when you consider that Ford’s cross-town rival General Motors put out as many as FIVE of the same badge engineered vehicles. GM’s front wheel drive J-Body was shared with the Chevrolet Cavalier, Buick Skyhawk, Pontiac J2000/Sunbird, Oldsmobile Firenza and the awful Cadillac Cimarron. Yet you’re going to a take a potshot at Ford for the technically inaccurate “tarted up” Fairmont? While based on the Fairmont’s platform, it didn’t share any body panels with the Fairmont. You might as well have called the Mustang a two door Crown Vic – also inaccurate as the Fox body Mustang was a unibody car, while the Crown Vic was a body on frame vehicle and much heavier.

      At least Ford bothered to give the midsize LTD a somewhat unique body shared only with the Mercury Zephyr.

      If you’re going to generalize, at least be accurate with your facts.

  • avatar
    Mike-NB2

    It isn’t often that I can claim a brush with a “rare rides” selection. Or sort of two brushes.

    In 1987 I took my first posting in the military and wanted a car that I could afford, and therefore a used car, and I wanted something that was driven by an old lady to church on Sunday for low mileage and reliability. I bought a 1983 Mercury Marquis (the sister to this car, not the Grand Marquis). It had the 3.8L V6 and wasn’t a bad car at all. I made a lane change at the top of a blind hill and rear-ended a car stopped to make a turn. That ended my tenure with this car.

    But I just want to say that for a Fox body Malaise era car, it was solid and dependable.

    I ended up leaving the military and I went to law school in 1993. There was a guy there who came from across the country to that school and he had a 1984 LTD LX. (I should add that prior to joining the military I had a 1983 Mustang GT 5.0L.) That car alone made me strike up a friendship with that guy. It was well past its prime but was still solid and dependable.

    The car in this ad has definitely seen better days. At least when they rebuilt it the could have put the 5.0 badges behind the wheel wells where they belong.

    • 0 avatar
      eng_alvarado90

      Totally agreed. Something about this specific car gives me pause, be it the poor respray, misplaced 5.0 badges (did they even come with those from factory?), non-factory wheels, just to name a few . I like Fords (I’ve owned 3 so far) and although my favorite Fox bodies are the Mustang, T-Bird & Mark VII, I can give credit to a good restored, mint condition car whether I’m being fond of the model or not.

      This is not one of them…

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Boy, the car world was moving fast in the 1980s. Less than five years after this we got the 220 hp Taurus SHO, which chopped two seconds off this thing’s 0-60 while managing better fuel economy, more room inside, and a vastly higher level of feature content.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      I’d demur about feature content, but I think we fundamentally agree. Most interior features available in 1989 had been available for years or even decades. E.g., Cadillac introduced automatic climate control in 1964. To your point, however, these features were much less expensive and much more common on a percentage-of-cars-sold basis in 1989. (“Comfort Control” was an eye-wateringly expensive $495 option in ’64, although in fairness it was reasonably priced in the context of 1963’s $474 price for manual a/c. See http://www.curbsideclassic.com/blog/cold-comfort/cold-comfort-the-history-of-automatic-climate-control/).

      The June 1984 CAR AND DRIVER review of the LTD LX posted here, http://www.curbsideclassic.com/vintage-reviews/vintage-reviews-1983-1985-ford-ltd-lethargic-tuned-or-dutiful/, is interesting. It’s ambivalent, though more positive than negative. I think the market was a lot more appealing in ’84 than it had been five years earlier.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        I agree that a lot of features that became common in the ’80s weren’t new, but it was amazing how quickly they spread downmarket. Toyota and Honda also introduced some new ideas that Detroit copied pretty quickly. We’re sort of seeing the same thing over again today as advanced safety tech, heated seats, and climate control become near-universal.

        I had a fully loaded ’89 SHO, and just off the top of my head it had all of these features that weren’t available at any price on the LTD:

        – Moonroof
        – Heated windshield
        – JBL sound with outboard amp
        – Power passenger seat
        – More power adjustments on driver’s seat (bolsters, lumbar, thigh support)
        – Secondary visors for both driver and passenger
        – Entry courtesy lighting
        – Map/reading lights for outboard four passengers
        – Fog lights
        – Remote trunk and fuel door releases
        – Warning lights for low coolant, low windshield washer fluid, and brake lights
        – Coin holder

        I also would bet that many more Tauri than LTDs were equipped with leather and automatic climate control.

  • avatar

    Corey: agree with your assessment on the wheel choice. They just do not work. Thanks for the article! I learn something new every day.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    Corey, I don’t pick very often, but this sentence “LX was the only LTD for the performance driving enthusiast. It came standard with a 5.0 Mustang V8, four-speed automatic, higher grade suspension, sway bars at both ends, and a rear differential.”

    A differential? Really? I suppose the plebeian models came with a spool then? I hope you meant a limited slip differential, not just differential. :)

  • avatar
    wolfwagen

    I remember the township police department had the police version of this car back in the Mid to late 80’s when I was a teenager back in Pennsylvania. They were very quick for the time.

    IIRC Popular Mechanics had a sedan shoot out and the LX smoked everything else in the test, I think the Pontiac 6000 came in second

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    The picture of the LTD LX shows it with the 8 hole 14” 4 lug aluminum wheels. I had those on my 87 Thunderbird. Not to confused with the 15” odd shaped 8 hole ones on the Mustang GT.
    The standard tire size is 205/70-14 but I upsized them to the 215/70-14. Like the TRX wheel tires they could be a bit tough to find but my local tire shop would have either the Toyo or Nitto brand available.

  • avatar
    KOKing

    My brother’s best friend’s dad had one as his DD for a few years around 1990 or so. Arguably it was the pre-SHO. And it probably made more sense to do this with the Windsor as opposed to the 2.3 turbo like the SVO Stang which I believe were sold the same years.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    take junkyard car. get best paint job $99 will buy. add ugly chinese wheels and make up some BS “its almost like a cop car” story. pedro didnt even know where to stick the emblems. mebbe worth $1500 max, if it runs

    • 0 avatar
      LTDScott

      While I agree that $15K is ridiculous, the values of Fox LTDs (and all Fox platform cars in general) have been rising pretty quickly in recent years. Any solid non-rotted LTD regardless of engine is $2K minimum today. Any solid LX is at least $4K.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I remember these cars at the time and they had very little appeal but then as you have stated GM and Chrysler did the same thing but then they had little appeal as well so I am not just singling out Ford. In retrospect even the Japanese had some boring vehicles but at least they were more reliable if you got past the tin worm.

    The Taurus and Sable was a real revelation both in styling and in quality and soon made this car very forgettable. Taurus and Sable much much better cars.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Four eyed Mustang 5.0/GT prices are climbing fast and faster than any other era Mustangs. So any four eyed Foxes are along for the ride.

    The only “correct” wheel upgrade (or correction) for all four eyed Foxes are the common 15X7 10-slot alloys stock on 85/86 GTs and ’87+ 5.0 LX plus all LX Mustangs ’90+.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I saw a picture of one of these wearing 1987 Mustang GT wheels and I thought it looked fantastic.

    • 0 avatar
      LTDScott

      Yep, the rising tide lifts all boats. People priced out of Mustangs are looking at the “alternative” Fox cars.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        It’s not just that. ’87+ Mustangs have been the prized Foxes since forever. And they’re absolutely everywhere now/still. Many of the four-eyed were converted to the ’87+ nose/fx, at least initially. OK the ’87+ LX 5.0s are getting crazy prices and unobtainium.

        The four-eyed are just getting the respect they deserve. The four-eyed Saleens being the Holy grail. Mclarens are good also.

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