Junkyard Find: 1985 Ford LTD Wagon

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Ford built cars on the Fox platform from 1977 through 1993 (or 2004, if you consider the Fox-derived SN95 Mustang to be a true Fox), and I've done my best to document junkyard examples of every Fox Ford model ever built. One Fox that avoided boneyard discovery for many years was the wagon version of the 1983-1986 LTD, but my searching paid off when I found this very rough '85 in a San Francisco Bay Area knacker's yard.

This car got rode hard and put away wet for year after year, then appears to have been abandoned outdoors and had most of its glass smashed. It's rough.

Cars in California tend to rust from the top down, when the sun burns away the paint and weatherstripping fails and lets rainwater get into crevices during the winter. That's what happened here. Someone tried to fix the rust with duct tape, which any Rust Belt resident knows is futile.

This yard is right on the east shore of the San Francisco Bay, a few miles from the site of the Tesla Factory (and what used to be GM's Fremont Assembly and then NUMMI). It was a pleasant November Bay Area morning when I visited this car, so I decided to capture the ambience of the duct tape fluttering and seabirds singing.

It takes a while to build up this kind of lichen population on a car's body.

The five-digit odometer won't tell us exactly how many miles passed beneath this car's wheels, but I'm going to guess 137,667.

The interior has plenty of That Mildew Car Smell but probably wasn't completely trashed prior to the windows being smashed.

The engine is the 3.8-liter Essex V6, a 90° pushrod design first used in the 1982 Granada.

This engine was rated at 120 horsepower and 205 foot-pounds, and it was the only engine available in the 1985 LTD wagon. The 1985 LTD sedan got a 2.3-liter Pinto four-cylinder as the base engine.

An automatic transmission was mandatory on V6-equipped Fox LTDs, though a four-on-the-floor manual was base equipment in the four-cylinder-equipped 1983 sedans.

It's got the no-extra-cost factory AM radio as well as the $762 air conditioning ($2,144 in 2022 dollars). That A/C cost a lot more than my 1985 daily-driver!

The LTD name started out as an option package on the 1965 Galaxie, then quickly became the name for the top-trim-level big Ford car. Things in the LTD world got confusing starting in the 1977 model year, when the midsize Torino was renamed the LTD II.

The LTD II was done after 1979, while the regular LTD got downsized and put on the new Panther platform that year. But things in LTD Land got confusing again when the Fox LTD hit the scene for the 1983 model year; the Panther version split off to become the LTD Crown Victoria (and its descendants, minus the LTD part of the name, were built until just over a decade ago).

Naturally, a bigger LTD Crown Victoria Country Squire wagon was sold in the same showrooms as the regular LTD wagon, because Ford still called itself The Wagonmaster at that time.

You could get a Squire option package, complete with "wood" trim, on the Fox LTD wagon (for 282 bones, which comes to about 793 clams now).

List price on this wagon was $9,655, or about $27,161 today. The Mercury Marquis near-twin wagon cost $9,777 ($27,505 after inflation).

Because it's the same vehicle, mechanically speaking, as a Fox Mustang, all the go-fast modifications that will bolt onto a Fox Mustang will bolt onto this car. A hot-rod Fox LTD wagon would be a lot of fun, of course… but that destiny was out of reach for a hooptie like this car.

Yes, it wasn't so long ago that the Ford and Mercury Divisions each offered three sizes of station wagon.

It's comfortable inside because it's capable outside.

[Images by the author]

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Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Dr. Dump Dr. Dump on Apr 26, 2023

    I need that driver’s side tail light! My ex-boyfriend (who had a CDL and could operate anything on wheels) borrowed it ONCE and backed it into something or other. I just spent the better part of my meager savings on getting her up and running after an electrical mystery so I may have to part ways with the old gal.. if anyone’s interested..

    but first I need that tail light!

    • Dr. Dump Dr. Dump on Apr 26, 2023

      Here she is posing on that Chappaquiddick bridge..

  • Edward M. Mackiewicz Edward M. Mackiewicz on Jun 13, 2023

    I actually have one of these I am getting ready to sell. My Dad left it to me when he passed and it has been in my Garage in Arizona. I have all the original bill of sale, windows sticker, warranty plate and even the manual. I drive it every few months and I love the way it feels - like a real car.

  • Mia Hey there!I recently stumbled upon the Crack Eraser DIY Windshield Repair Kit (check it out here: https://crackeraser.com/collections/diy-windshield-repair-kits) and decided to give it a shot on a small chip in my windshield. I have to say, it worked like a charm! Super easy to use, and it saved me a trip to the professionals. If you're dealing with a similar issue, this kit is definitely worth considering. 😊
  • Rust-MyEnemy Whoa, what the hell is wrong with Jalop1991 and his condescension? It's as if he's employed by Big Plug-In or something."I've seen plenty of your types on the forums....."Dunno what that means, but I'm not dead keen on being regarded as "A type" by a complete stranger"" I'm guessing you've never actually calculated by hand the miles you've driven against the quantity of gas used--which is your actual miles per gallon."Guess again. Why the hell would you even say that? Yes, I worked it out. Fill-to-fill, based on gas station receipts. And it showed me that a Vauxhall Astra PHEV, starting out with a fully charged PHEV battery, in Hybrid mode, on my long (234-mile) daily motorway daily commute, never, over several months, ever matched or beat the economy of the regular hybrid Honda Civic that I ran for a similar amount of time (circa 5000 miles)."You don't use gasoline at all for 30-40 miles as you use exclusively battery power, then your vehicle is a pure hybrid. Over 234 miles, you will have used whatever gas the engine used for 200 of those miles."At least you're right on that. In hybrid mode, though, the Astra was using battery power when it wasn't at all appropriate. The petrol engine very rarely chimed in when battery power was on tap, and as a result, the EV-mode range quickly disappeared. The regular hybrid Civic, though, deployed its very small electric reserves (which are used up quickly but restore themselves promptly), much more wisely. Such as when on a trailing throttle or on a downward grade, or when in stop-start traffic. As a result, at the end of my 234 miles, the Civic had used less gas than the Astra. Moreover, I hadn't had to pay for the electricity in its battery.I look forward to you arguing that what actually happened isn't what actually happened, but I was there and you were not."Regardless, that you don't understand it appears not to have stopped you from pontificating on it. Please, do us all a favor--don't vote."You really are quite unpleasant, aren't you. But thanks for the advice.
  • Tassos Jong-iL Electric vehicles are mandated by 2020 in One Korea. We are ahead of the time.
  • 1995_SC Can you still get some of the tax credits under the new program?
  • Analoggrotto HyundaiGenesisKia saw this coming a long time ago and are poised for hybrid and plug-in hybrid segment leadership:[list=1][*] The most extensive range of hybrids[/*][*]Highest hybrid sales proportion over any other model [/*][*]Best YouTube reviews [/*][*]Highest number of consumer reports best picks [/*][*]Class leading ATPs among all hybrid vehicles and PHEVs enjoy segment bearing eATPs[/*][/list=1]While some brands like Toyota have invested and wasted untold fortunes into full range electric lineups HyundaiKiaGenesis has taken the right approach here.