Junkyard Find: 1985 Ford LTD Wagon
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.
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 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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