Curbside Classic: 1971 Ford LTD Convertible – The Name On The Title Starts With The Letter “N”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

(Author’s Note:  Sometimes these articles literally write themselves, as evidenced by these e-mails.)

June 2, 2013

Jason,

I was looking in your draft folder on the back end of the website.  Your motivation is admirable and your on-going ability to find such a wide variety of American iron is truly remarkable.  I also compliment you on your ability to make otherwise boring and stodgy cars interesting, such as your recent piece about the ’68 Chrysler Newport and another last summer on a ’76 Marquis; truly, someone getting shot in the ass is entertaining.  Your sheer talent is profoundly immense and does bring a certain verve to the site.

Yet in looking at your folder, I see you are making a truly valiant attempt to pollute cyberspace and eat up precious bandwidth with a ’71 Ford LTD.  Seriously?  Even if it is one of the 5,750 LTD Convertibles made that year, is it really that remarkable?  Remember, I drove a phenomenal number of these when they were new – nothing to write home about.

Just curious on what you were thinking.

Paul

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

June 2, 2013

Paul,

Yes, I suspected you might notice the LTD.

Since I’ve been writing for Curbside Classic, I have always hedged on stating what I really like in automobiles.  Klockau has the Brougham thing; Cavanaugh is a bigger Mopar afficianado than Galen Govier and both Dodge brothers combined; Ed Stembridge is The Vega Whisperer – even Saunders and Jones have their specialties.  Me?  Well, I’ve never really stated my preferences due to reluctance.  Why?  Well, a ’71 Ford, especially an LTD convertible, is what gets me truly fired up like nothing else automotive.  Searching the ever expanding archives of the site has revealed your total adoration disdain with Ford’s Finest for ’71.

Sure, all cars have their own unique advantages, but for whatever reason, the ’71 Ford has always got my juices flowing.  While I’ve never been able to put my finger on why, I suspect part of it is a great-aunt of mine had a green ’71 Galaxie – identical to the Domino’s driver in Eugene.  Don’t worry, I won’t write about her.

Another part is my age.  No, I didn’t experience these new – which is really unfortunate – but I was at an impressionable age when first seeing them, such as the video above.  This does quicken one’s pulse, does it not?

Plus, I even got to take a highly memorable ride in this LTD.  I hope this explains it.

Jason

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

June 3, 2013

Jason,

I know you weren’t around in 1971, but these machines were a fixture in low-brow movies as well as any Quinn Martin Production, such as this:

Since we are admitting to things only you and I will know, I must tell you that I am an ardent fan of low-brow entertainment.  Remember, all those movies and television shows you viewed as a youngster originated from the West Coast; if low-brow, corn-pone movies and television shows didn’t appeal to those of us living on the West Coast at the time, it would have never been produced – we just made it sound like it was for those of you in the Mid-West.

Sure, the full-sized ’71 Ford was used a lot, like in the movie White Lightning (incidentally, I have it on blu-ray as well as its equally splendid sequel, Gator – there’s nothing as enjoyable as any movie that involves moonshine).  You know why?  They were turds from Day One, were as durable as sugar cubes in hot water, and were cheap.  These cars are almost synonymous with moonshine and wrecking all these Fords was their highest and best use.

If you look at this clip (starting at 8:45) you can get a feel for how I used to drive these Fords.  Watching this with a nice bottle of California Merlot makes for a fine evening during the dreary winters in Eugene.

Hell, I liked that clip so much, here’s another one (the good part starts at around 3:15).  This truly is Burt Reynolds’s best movie after Boogie Nights.

Here’s yet another ’71 Ford in it’s highest and best use.  Again, low-brow entertainment – but I have to admit, these episodes of The Dukes of Hazzard filmed in Covington, Georgia, are truly the best of the series.

Didn’t you once tell me the painted dashes on the highway are 10′ long with a 30′ space between them?  Did you notice in this clip how they were poking along?  The handling on these POS’s was so bad they would have careened off the road otherwise.  Your video was the same way.

I’m still trying to figure you out; you quiet types really worry me.

Paul

1971 Ford Sports Set-16

June 4, 2013

Paul,

Wow, I hope I didn’t get you too worked up.

I encountered this ’71 a while back when visiting my wife’s parents.  The owner is a friend of theirs and it’s been in his family since the early ’70’s.  It’s a factory 429 car, which must be unique in the realm of ’71 Fords.  Your one article stated something like 98.6% of them were green; well, this one, as you can tell, is painted “pull-me-over” red.  You also said seeing one is as enjoyable as having a bucket of cold pig piss thrown in your face.  Well, in a sense, that is a truly memorable experience as is seeing any ’71 Ford these days.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And, yes, while I didn’t find this one on the street, Ray – the owner – has been driving the snot out of this car; you’re right, these are good booze runners as the trunk was full of beer when I took these pictures.  He was widowed last fall and has decided to have fun; he’s driving this LTD all over the place.  Heck, his dad had fun with it, too, as it has over 180,000 miles on it.  It pulls like a locomotive, despite his having the timing slightly retarded for lower octane gas.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

During our jaunt on a curvy two-lane road (this is one of the few straight pieces), that LTD was well planted to the road without any float.  Heck, when he nailed it, it didn’t upshift to third until 83 mph.  When cruising at 70 he and I could still carry on a conversation in a normal voice.

Paul, think about it:  1971 was the next to last time Ford offered a full-sized car in so many combinations.  It might even be considered the next to last hoorah of the traditional American car, a throwback to how it had been done for decades.

1971 Ford Full Size-20

There was the basic sedan, the wagon, the coupe, the hardtop (with or without pillars), and the convertible.  Really, who does such things these days?  Plus, the variety of engines is something you don’t even see in pickups anymore with 1971 full-sizers having one straight six and a choice of five V8’s (302, 351, 390, 400, and 429 cubic inches).  With the variety of engines and trim levels, these truly were built so that one would appeal to nearly anyone.

Yes, the styling has been criticized, and it is confusing in some regards with its Pontiac undertones.  However, might the ’71 Ford be the embodiment of the mood of the United States in 1971?  Perhaps a bit disoriented and trying to find its way?  As a country, we were coming out of turbulent times in 1971 which does induce a degree of confusion.  Might the ’71 Ford, in all three full-size series, best reflect and signify this disorientation?

Truly, I am aiming for the bigger picture here.

Jason

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

June 5, 2013

Jason,

You are a delightfully determined person – you must be your parent’s first-born given your tenacity.  You do have a point about the ’71 being the near swan-song of an era.  Just for kicks, I re-read your piece on the equally craptastic ’71 Mercury Monterey; this platform was second only to the Model T in terms of being Ford’s highest production platform?  Unreal.

I’ve never thought very long about this Ford from the confusion angle you present.  That needs some more thought, but I think I may be smelling bullshit.

However, all these pictures you uploaded in the back of the website are eating up bandwidth.  You’ve come a long way in your time here – you no longer load unearthly large pictures, place pictures below their descriptions, or require euthanizing articles – but couldn’t you find something else to write about, like a Peugoet?

Paul

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

June 6, 2013

Paul,

You are right, I know I have committed a faux pas or two in my time around here.  But here’s what I’m thinking:  You are committed to truth and quality and, despite some of what I’ve cluttered your website with, I am after the same thing.

I realize my writings will never be Pulitzer Prize material.  Yet, I still strive for quality in what I present here, despite the myriad number of ways it is presented.  Rod Serling is a prime example of someone I admire for his commitment to quality and ability to write some very fine material; The Twilight Zone was a fine television show.

Did I mention Rod Serling did a commercial for Ford in 1971?  Surely the ’71 Ford could not have been too bad if he associated himself with it.  Yes, I know you’ve said quality was job 8974395334 at Ford in 1971, but hey, we all have an off day year now and then.

Oh, by the way, isn’t a Peugoet a breed of French dog?  If it’s a car, we never saw it around here as any dealer network would have been nonexistent and the local NAPA store wouldn’t have had parts for it.  On the flip side, I can still buy brake pads pretty cheap for a ’71 Ford in this area; only $15.99 at Autozone (both in Jefferson City and in Eugene).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

June 7, 2013

Jason,

I came across your correspondence with Paul.  You raise several great points about the ’71 Ford.  As we enjoy cruising through the Cascade Mountains with an occasional trip to the coast, I’ve made a deal to purchase a ’71 LTD convertible for our upcoming wedding anniversary.  Paul will be so surprised!

Stephanie Niedermeyer

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA