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.

junkyard find 1985 ford ltd wagon

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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3 of 27 comments
  • Wolfwagen Wolfwagen on Jan 18, 2023

    I would like to get my hands on an Old Fairmont or Granada wagon (or mercury siblings) with the old 240 inline six. Swap in a 300 Inline six with a 5-speed from a mustang (300 and 302 shared the same trans bolt pattern)..Unfortunately trying to find one of those is not as easy as it was in the late 80"s

    • VWGTI VWGTI on Jan 18, 2023

      Fairmonts did NOT use the 240 six- they used the 200 Falcon- an engine that can put out a lot of power when built properly. The Aussies do it all the time. Why would you want to replace a light, compact engine with a 650 pound (really) 300 cube six that in EFI trim puts out 165 hp? The 300s and R5 5 speed are a dime a dozen in rotted out F-150s.

  • Jeffro Jeffro 3 days ago

    As I sit here this morning with my 2 day old TRD OFF ROAD 4RUNNER tucked safely away in the garage, my head spins with this weird desire to locate a 85 LTD equipped with the epic 😵‍💫2.3 and the FOUR ON THE FLOOR. THE HOLY GRAIL. Ying and yang baby!

    The search begins.

  • Jeff S The Cybertruck is one of the most hyped vehicles in decades.
  • Nrd515 This is all I could think of seeing this. I saw it in the theater with my dad about 59 years or so ago:https://www.popcorncinemashow.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Mr-Sardonicus-1961-01.jpg
  • Art Vandelay I have no illusions tha my Challenger was going to be a car I wanted to own 10 seconds out of warranty. Fun, sure. Fun in 8 years? Hard pass based on the 2 years I had it
  • ToolGuy Weren't some of the most powerful engines in the M4 Sherman air-cooled? (And supercharged.)
  • ToolGuy "I installed oil temp and cylinder head temp gauges on various vehicles I was driving, so I could monitor how the engine was doing. I switched from my normal 20W50 and dropped to 15W40 oil and put down thousands of miles. Within that time, I saw a noticeable decrease in oil temps and even cylinder head temps while driving in different situations."ToolGuy has great admiration for your use of the scientific method in conducting original research.