According to Ford, the Lincoln Town Car has become ‘out of date.’ The Town Car became a distinct model in 1981, and it was restyled in 1990 and 1998. However, the main features of the car including its V8 engine, rear-wheel drive, body-on-frame chassis, live rear axle as well as its large size (including the trunk) have remained much the same. And with other cars getting smaller and smaller, such made this Lincoln appear all the bigger.
Of note is that Town Car production from Ford’s plant located in Ontario, Canada will end in August of this year. Gerry Koss, Ford’s fleet marketing manager was quoted in Automobile Magazine saying, “It was the right vehicle for its time. But you know what? Times change.”
For many years, the Town Car was the standard for transporting celebrities and captains of industry around New York City. Thus, the car certainly carries some real history and therefore, it should not easily be dismissed!
The Town Car was a very solid seller for two decades with sales of over 90,000 units from 1984-1998. Sales topped out at about 150,000 in 1990. And for a long time, it was the car of choice for the well-to-do who wanted an American car. However, as its drivers aged, fewer and fewer Lincolns were sold and only demand from the limo industry remained. But what a loyal demand it was as Cadillac had gone to front-wheel drive and Chrysler was never a real challenger in the market. The limo industry loved the car, put hundreds of thousands of miles on them, and then ordered new Town Cars.
With its ladder-style frame, the Town Car was made for limousine conversions. Such conversions basically involved a plasma cutter and a Sawzall to chop the frame rails in half. Then, steel tubing was welded in to increase the frame by four standard lengths – 70, 85, 100, and 120 inches. Ford offered ‘The Limousine Builder’s Package’ (know internally at Ford as code 418) that included heavy-duty suspension, engine and transmission coolers, heavy-duty alternator and battery, and wire harness extenders that were an easy plug-in procedure.
One of the great features of a Town Car Limo is its self-leveling air suspension. Thus, regardless of how light or how packed down the limo is, the ride is reported to be second to none, reportedly even outdoing a Maybach that is 8-10 times more expensive.
The Town Car became a big hit in New York City where demand for taxi service is fierce during certain peak hours. In 1982, the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission created a new classification of for hire vehicles known as the so-called black cars. Eventually, the Lincoln Town Car was the vehicle that became known as the ‘black car.’ Big name customers and celebrities who wanted to maintain a low profile traveled in black on black Town Cars. Even today, Town Cars account for the majority of travel on Wall Street.
Ford hopes move customers into the Lincoln MKT crossover. However, for those who have become accustomed to the Town Car, there is a big scramble to get 2011 or even used Town Cars. The limo companies want their customers to remain happy and thus they are hedging their bets regarding the MKT.
The Town Car is really suited for the streets of New York City. The car is large and quiet thus providing valuable retreat from the city’s hustle and bustle. The V8 engine provides good low end torque thus claiming the city’s competitive road space and the soft suspension soaked up the rough city potholes without becoming unsettled.
In Long Island, New York, D.J. Auto Sales is surrounded by a razor wire fence. Four dozen Lincoln Town Cars are on the lot. The business sells all kinds of Lincoln Town Car parts including body parts, lights, switches, sensors, pumps and much more. Additionally, the garage services all aspects of the Lincoln as some come in for routine service, others get overhauls, and one is seen on a lift getting brake pads and rotors while another man is replacing the car’s fender.
The co owner of D.J. Auto Sales, John Rodriguez, says that the Town Car is fairly inexpensive to buy but there are literally warehouses full of replacement parts. Rodriguez claims that an engine costs $1,200 and a transmission $600. He says as long as the car is maintained, they run forever.
Should the Lincoln Town Car stay or should it go? Well, as they ‘run forever’ and Ford like all the others are into volume, such is the likely reason Ford wants the Town Car to go.
I say that if people like the Town Car and they run, keep them. And keep in mind, Mr. Rodriguez and the boys in New York City know a thing or two about a good drive!
Visit the slideshow to see the famous Lincoln Town Car limo!
Kyle Busch is the author of “Drive the Best for the Price…” He welcomes your comments or car questions at his auto web site: www.cartown1.com. Follow Kyle on Facebook and Twitter.