(first posted 10/8/2015) It seems one could write dozens of these articles on special editions of the Lincoln Town Car alone. After all, Town Car special editions included the Touring, Pro Series, 25th Anniversary, Designer, Ultimate, Continental, Spinnaker, Regatta, Jack Nicklaus, Cypress Edition, Diamond Anniversary, Special Edition and Sail America. Yikes. Understandably, that’s an article perhaps best saved for a Town Car fan site more so than Curbside Classic, although there are plenty of Panther-platform fans who have this site bookmarked. Instead, let’s look at some other special edition and limited-run Lincolns as well as such cars from the defunct Mercury division with which Lincoln shared showrooms. Oh, and we’ll also take a look at one Town Car.
Lincoln LS 3.0 manual
Years produced: 2000-02
Total production: 2,331
Kudos to Lincoln for trying. The LS was a flawed sedan, with so-so reliability, an unexciting interior and fairly uninspiring exterior, and a weak base powertrain, but Lincoln tried. After all, it was their first rear-wheel-drive sports sedan and they fortunately had the sophisticated DEW98 platform to use, shared with the Jaguar S-Type, and featuring independent double wishbone suspensions front and rear. As the extensive advertising campaign declared, the LS had near 50/50 weight distribution, great handling and an available five-speed SelectShift automatic transmission. One feature they didn’t advertise as heavily was perhaps the most surprising feature of all: a manual transmission, Lincoln’s first since 1951.
Sadly, the five-speed manual transmission was mated only to the Duratec 3.0 V6 and not the Jaguar-sourced 3.9 V8. While a 3.0 V6 was not an unusually small engine at the LS’ price point, Lincoln had priced its sports sedan similarly to the BMW 3-Series but sized it closer to the BMW 5-Series, much the same as Cadillac would do for its 2002 CTS. This meant the 210 hp and 205 ft-lb Duratec was tasked with moving 3572 lbs of Lincoln.
To the LS’ credit, it was extremely capable dynamically but for that engine. The manual was sourced from Getrag and by all accounts was a slick-shifting unit. Handling and grip was at BMW 5-Series levels, without sacrificing ride quality. Dynamically, Lincoln had hit it out of the park on their first attempt.
Perhaps understandably, given Lincoln’s fledgling status in the segment, the take rate for the stick shift was low. Seldom advertised and arguably an undesirable order for Lincoln-Mercury dealerships, the manual LS 3.0 was dumped after 2002; plans to release a manual V8 never came to fruition. Lincoln still had its sophisticated if imperfect five-speed automatic to offer. To date, there has not been another manual transmission Lincoln, nor a Lincoln as exciting as the LS. Rather than build on the strengths of the LS and continue using its capable platform, Lincoln let the LS wither on the vine after a light refresh in 2003 and the model was retired after 2006. Ford had decided to take the easy-route and refocus Lincoln as more of a near-luxury, Acura-esque brand with front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive models. The rear-wheel-drive American sport sedan mantle was left to Cadillac.
LS photos courtesy of Lincoln vs. Cadillac forums user Julian. This is actually a 2002 limited edition LSE, basically an LS with some sporty styling tweaks. Apparently only 63 LS manuals were the LSE package.
Mercury Grand Monarch Ghia
Years Produced: 1975-76
Total production: 14006 (est.)
The Monarch Ghia was a highly-equipped version of Mercury’s rebadged Ford Granada, and was sold from 1975 until 1980. The Grand Monarch Ghia was an even posher version, offered only from 1975 until 1976 when the oft-maligned Lincoln Versailles took over as Lincoln-Mercury dealer’s most premium compact.
“What made the Grand Monarch Ghia so much grander than a plebeian Monarch Ghia?”, you may ask. A quick glance of the specifications reveals the two are quite alike, with both featuring the 250 cubic-inch six and three-speed manual transmission as standard equipment (Ford’s 302 and 351 V8s were optional). So, was this a regular Detroit example of a posher trim level merely featuring nicer upholstery, maybe some thicker-pile carpet and loose-cushion seating? Not quite.
In fact, Mercury touted the Grand Monarch Ghia’s technical features in advertising material, chiefly its standard four-wheel disc brakes and a hydraulic power steering system. The former was a feature Ford was proud to advertise as being available on only one other American luxury car: their flagship Lincoln Continental Mark IV.
The Grand Monarch Ghia represented a very different approach to luxury for domestic automakers, offering luxury trappings in a smaller, more manoeuvrable and more fuel-efficient package. Even lesser Monarchs and Granadas featured plush trim and formal styling, and sales of the 1960 Falcon-based compacts shot through the roof. Perhaps cocky at their success, Ford axed the Grand Monarch Ghia (retaining the Monarch Ghia) and launched the ’77 Versailles; after all, they certainly didn’t want cheaper competition in the same showroom. Alas, Ford didn’t have the R&D budget to more comprehensively restyle the Granada/Monarch body, and the Versailles was a flop. Besides, the Monarch already looked so expensive, so much so that Granada advertising boasted of its resemblance with Mercedes-Benzes. The Grand Monarch Ghia may not have sold as well as lesser Monarchs, but it was another example of Ford offering the right product at the right time.
Mercury Cougar XR-7 3.8 V6 Supercharged
Years produced: 1989-90
Total production: 8592
The MN-12 Cougar and its Ford Thunderbird counterpart represented a $2 billion investment in a shrinking segment. The program ran over-budget, the cars weighed 300 lbs more than their predecessors and, despite critical acclaim, these factors very quickly ended program manager Tony Kuchta’s career at Ford. The money could have been spent on more relevant products, sure, but the MN-12 cars were impressive personal luxury coupes. Even the base models came with an independent rear suspension and bucket seats and console, but the real excitement was at the top of their ranges. Mercury’s most prestigious Cougar was again called XR-7, and was no longer V8 powered but instead packed a supercharged V6 and an available five-speed manual transmission.
The new flagship engine had 210 horsepower, almost exactly the same as the 3.4 naturally-aspirated V6 GM would launch in its mid-size coupes for 1991. Where the XR-7 had a compelling edge – other than its sophisticated rear-wheel-drive platform, of course – was in torque. The blown V6 had 315 ft-lbs of twist, 70 ft-lbs more than the old Thunderbird Turbo Coupe
The stickshift was sourced from Mazda, and also went into the Ford Ranger, Bronco II and Aerostar. The MN-12 platform was the only passenger car application for the transmission, which was rather unusual. Unfortunately, it was not the slickest of sticks with heavy shift action required. The blown V6 also had a reputation for blown head gaskets, another thing shared with the rival GM mid-size coupes.
Despite being the sportiest Cougar since the muscle car era and in XR-7 form the most powerful, sales dropped slightly for 1989 and then fell further in the MN-12’s sophomore year. The new generation, for all its critical acclaim, didn’t seem to be what Mercury customers were after, especially with its lack of a V8 engine. Only 5% of ’89 and ’90 Cougars were XR-7s; in contrast, 14% of ’88 models were XR-7s. There were echoes of the previous-generation Cougar XR-7; it had launched in 1983 with a standard turbocharged inline four, but by 1987 was back to offering the 302 cubic-inch V8 (a V8 had remained available in the lesser Cougar LS, though). A hefty price hike had also affected XR-7 sales for 1989.
For 1991, the Cougar XR-7 lost its supercharged V6 and manual transmission, although they remained until 1995 in the Ford Thunderbird Super Coupe. In their place were a four-speed automatic with overdrive and a 5.0 V8 with 200 hp and 275 ft-lbs, now available in the base LS model as well. You’ll notice that is 10 hp and 40 ft-lbs less than the supercharged V6. While smoother, the new top cat was declawed; 0-60 was a whole second slower at 9.5 seconds.
Cougar sales continued to decline, but by 1994 they had rebounded quite considerably, if not to 1980s levels. The segment was dying and the MN-12 Cougar was axed three years later with no direct replacement. While so many examples of this generation are quite softly-sprung, V6 and V8-powered models with no sporting aspirations, there was most definitely an enthusiast offering at one point and it belongs in the Hall of Fame of High Performance Cougars.
Years produced: 1985
Total production: 135
Around 3,260 Ford LTD LXs were produced between 1984 and 1985, earning it a spot in this series in its own right. The 165 hp, High Output 5.0 V8-powered sedan was released after Bob Bondurant requested some performance-tuned sedans for his police driving certification program and Ford executives were impressed with what their engineers had cooked up. A slow seller – perhaps due to its four-speed automatic and sleeper styling – the LTD LX disappeared after 1985. What many don’t realize, though, is there was an even rarer version available only in Canada: the Mercury Marquis LTS.
photos courtesy of Four Eyed Pride forums
The sporty Marquis offered all of the improvements of the LTD LX but, as with the regular Marquis, differed in grille, taillights and badging. This meant the LTS featured a center console with floor-shifter, bucket seats, tachometer, blackout trim and, more importantly, beefed-up mechanicals. These included front and rear anti-sway bars, gas shocks, larger rear drum brakes and quicker ratio rack-and-pinion steering. Handling was much improved over the regular Marquis, and straight-line performance also benefited from the modifications with a sub-10 second 0-60.
The LTD LX was the closest thing to a four-door Mustang ever made, while the Marquis LTS was a more compelling offering than any Cougar sedan had ever been. Released right at the end of the LTD/Marquis’ run, production of the LX and LTS wrapped up in 1985 (regular LTD/Marquis production continued into 1986). The even shorter production run, Canadian-only availability and lack of published media means the Marquis LTS is one of the rarest and obscure cars featured in this series.
MKS EcoBoost Appearance Package
Years produced: 2010-12
Total production: ?
Lincoln’s brief foray into sport sedan manufacturing in the early 2000s had resulted in just one model, the aforementioned LS, and by 2007 it had disappeared from Lincoln showrooms. Ford invested in a whole line of new Lincolns to replace the rather threadbare lineup. The Zephyr (renamed MKZ for 2007) was the new entry-level Lincoln, and was based on the class-competitive Ford Fusion. At Lincoln price points, though, it was less compelling despite an all-new interior, revised exterior, and a larger V6 engine. The MKX was a handsome entry into the booming crossover segment, but despite an all-new interior and attractive new front and rear styling, its Ford Edge roots were far too obvious. The next of the new generation of Lincolns was the 2009 MKS, sharing the Volvo S80-derived Ford D3 platform with the Ford Taurus. Unlike the MKZ and MKX, there was an attempt to offer a dash of sportiness.
Initially launched with the 270 hp, 270 ft-lb 3.7 Cyclone V6 with either front- or all-wheel-drive, the MKS would receive Ford’s all-new 3.5 EcoBoost twin-turbocharged V6 for 2010. Packing 355 hp and 350 ft-lbs, this new option was available only with all-wheel-drive. Performance was impressive, with a 0-60 of under 6 seconds (AWD 3.7 managed a 0-60 of 7.5 seconds) without sacrificing fuel economy. In fact, the EcoBoost actually received greater EPA gas mileage estimates than the 3.7 (17/25 mpg versus 17/24 in the FWD 3.7). Both engines were available only with a six-speed automatic transmission.
EcoBoost models were distinguished visually by EcoBoost badges and larger wheels, but otherwise looked much the same. That is, unless a MKS buyer opted for the $2,995 “EcoBoost Appearance Package”. This package included different badging, 20’’ 10-spoke polished aluminum wheels, darkened accent bars on the waterfall grille, decklid lip spoiler, and darkened headlamp treatment. Front and rear lower fascias were body color, as were the rocker panels. Exterior colors were limited to burgundy, bright red, silver, pearl white, and black.
Inside, the leather seats were available in either black or Sienna brown, both with a tuxedo stripe. The wood trim of regular MKS models was replaced with striped metallic appliqué.
The package made the Lincoln look meaner, but the hard points of the MKS’ platform meant this rather tall and long sedan with lengthy overhangs was never going to look terribly athletic. Even with the impressively gutsy EcoBoost engine and competent handling, the MKS was analogous to the 1988-94 and 1995-2002 Continentals: a comfort-oriented, well-equipped, premium sedan based on humble family sedan underpinnings. Despite the dash of sportiness, the MKS was much of an Acura RL and Volvo S80 rival than a sport sedan to battle the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes E-Class. For 2013, the MKS was heavily revised inside and out but, although the EcoBoost engine remained, the sporty-looking EcoBoost Appearance Package was discontinued. To date, there has not been a “sport trim” Lincoln.
Tune in again on Sunday for the final five of the Top 10 Obscure Special Editions and Forgotten Limited-Run Lincoln-Mercury cars!
“… hydraulic power steering system. The former was a feature Ford was proud to advertise …”
Ford’s power steering in those years needed no advertising. It was an instant brand indicator. When you heard that high growl, you knew that either (1) an angry cat; or (2) an empty stomach; or (3) a Ford product; was in the vicinity.
I had a Ford Granada with 4wheel disc brakes that did not have a vacuum booster. They ran off the power steering pump. Both the steering and the brakes were quite impressive for their day.
Ford may call it something else, but I know that system as “hydroboost”. It’s common on diesel-powered vehicles because they don’t produce engine vacuum to operate a typical vacuum-operated brake booster. It’s also gaining popularity to convert cars to hydroboost when the owner installs a camshaft that doesn’t produce sufficient vacuum at idle to reliably operate the brakes.
Ford also used Hydroboost on the 96-04 4.6 powered Mustangs since a conventional vacuum booster wouldn’t clear the large wide OHC valve covers.
By “the former”, the author was referring to the 4-wheel disc brake system. You may have known this, but since you included it in your quoted text, I presume not.
I agree though, Ford power steering always systems always sounded like they were groaning even when not working hard.
That tradition continued for some time. The P/S pump on my ’97 Crown Victoria has made odd noises for at least 5 years now. You learn to ignore it…
I just got a loud exhaust.
Very nice examples. I go between feeling hot and cold for the LS in general. There was a lot to like about it and it brought great hope for Lincoln, but there were things they could’ve done better with it, and unfortunately didn’t improve over time. One has to wonder how good a second generation LS would’ve been.
Regardless of extreme hate it tends to receive, I like the MKS a lot as a comfy cruiser and Town Car replacement. I know it’s not rear-wheel drive, but it’s far more stylish and luxurious IMHO. The original pre-facelift design was more attractive, but it’s still a handsome, elegant design. A bit too tall and long, but isn’t enormous what a Lincoln luxury car is supposed to be?
It looks good on its own, but the problem is obvious when parked next to a Taurus.
A lot of dealers park them separately.
To be fair, the current Lincoln lineup is as well-differentiated externally from the Fords they’re based on as most volume Audis and Lexuses are from their VW and Toyota equivalents. Lincoln still gets the most criticism by far for the practice, but they sure aren’t alone in it.
Agreed. I hope the “they’re just rebadged Fords” crap from people stops soon, especially with the new MKC and MKX and upcoming Continental.
I still wish Lincoln had stuck with rear-wheel-drive, performance-oriented models but I don’t dislike their new lineup at all.
I don’t really dislike the rebadged Ford speaking, because all Lincolns after ’30s are rebadged Ford. Lincoln never has a unique platform not sharing with a Ford, it’s up to how they make it. Sometimes they make it better and sometimes not so well. Usually when they make something not so well they will realize the problems.
Lincoln barely has performance-oriented models, and I’m glad they didn’t follow the path of CTS, because not everyone is for performance and black interior. And usually those cars deteriorate pretty fast ( Infiniti for example, as beater Infiniti appears as quickly as in 3 years with rust. And 25+BMWs are extremely rare in good condition )
That’s not really accurate. I can’t speak for the Zephyr and Mark I Continentals of the late 30s/40s(I don’t think I’d call those Ford based) but the 49 was more of a badge engineered Mercury, which was not most definitely not a rebadged standard Ford. The Continental Mark II was effectively bespoke(ok it was technically not a Lincoln), the big 58-60s were pretty much totally bespoke, as were the 61-69s for that matter, though there is some Tbird DNA in them(not shared with standard Fords though) and the Mark series up through the V wasn’t far off. All of which are more uniquely underpinned cars than Cadillac had in the same years
I think the previous MKS and especially previous MKZ has the biggest problem of sharing belt lines with Ford. MKZ even shared roofline, and it really looks too close to Ford/Mercury equivalents. Obviously after selling those cars for few years, Ford was reminded of the mistake of Lincoln Versailles and they are doing new MKZ almost in the exactly the same way as 1982-1987 Continental ( exactly the car replaced Versailles ). Navigator and MKS are the only left over models from the old design language, and new products are under development.
Actually, Lincoln had a unique platform from ’58 through ’69, a unibody that wasn’t shared with any Ford or Mercury. Lincolns in those years were all built in the Wixom plant, shared only with T-bird.
I believe that the cowl and windshield were common between the Thunderbird and Lincoln Continental from 1961 through 1966.
I came fairly close to buying a used LS V8 back in 2006. The ’03 refresh brought the power to more acceptable levels (gaining 30 horsepower, from 250 to 280), and while the styling wasn’t terribly distinctive, it was attractive. The handling was also quite impressive, at least as much as I could observe on the test drive. What I did *not* like was the interior. Featured plenty of gizmos (heated *and* cooled seats, not terribly common at the time) but it didn’t *look* expensive and didn’t *feel* expensive. The leather seats were nice enough, but otherwise it felt like a Ford.
That wasn’t enough to keep me from almost buying it. What *did* keep me from buying it was the Marauder parked next to it on the dealer lot.
Definitely the 75-76 Grand Monarch Ghia. And I’ll take that red interior too.
Thanks for uncovering some gems. “Grand Monarch Ghia” sounds like something from National Lampoon–I didn’t realize that was actually a model. The Marquis LTS for Canada–wow, finding that one must have taken some digging!
They should have called it the Grand Monarch Ghia Brougham d’Elegance…
A grandiloquent name like that belongs on a car like the Bugatti Royale.
The writers from Car and Driver (back when it was written well) are still waiting for the de Sade edition of the Marquis.
I’m sure there have been some attempts that never made it out of the design studio!
I remember reading that the Grand Monarch Ghia was very popular in the internal Ford fleet, particularly for the wives of Ford executives.
I knew about the LTD LX, but never knew there was a Mercury version, even in Canada. I know they thought about a Sable LTS as a counterpart to the Taurus SHO in the 90’s but that never came to pass.
I still remember when I first saw the 1989 Cougar XR7 on the cover of Motor Trend in the fall of 1988. I was 14 about to turn 15 so my drivers license was only a year away and I was lamenting the death of the RWD GM G-Bodies (I had given up on anything new, cool and RWD from Mopar) It was refreshing to see FoMoCo was willing to come out with a great-looking new RWD coupe and the Roots-blown supercharged V6 was Grand National-esque. I thought the waterfall grille made it much prettier than the Thunderbird. I wanted one real bad and I figured I would pick one up as a used car several years down the road, but by the time I was able to afford a decent late-model car in the mid-90s, clean, low-mileage XR7s were few and far between and by then they had reputations for poor reliability so I bought new Dodge pickup which I still have. Today, I still think they look great for a ’90s car but I think one with a 5.0 would be a better choice.
My sentiments exactly. I was in love with the G-bodies during the 70’s and 80’s as a young kid and said i would own as many as I could when I got my license. When GM stupidly killed them all off after 1988 it was Ford that sort of saved the day by offering there new 1989 Cougar/T-Bird coupes and continuing the blown 3.8 liter V6 and this time with a stick available. But these never lived up to the GN in a straight line and the Ford 3.8 was worse on the durability front but I still like the 1994-97 variants with the 4.6 even thought the interiors were worse and came in boring tan and gray shades for the most part. Finding a really clean one now has proved quite difficult as many have nasty interiors that are falling apart or really worn and dirty or they have mechanical issues with the engine or transmission.
Try a Mark VIII instead.
How were the interiors worse? I thought the interior refresh (was it in ’94?) was a stylistic improvement over the older design.
+1 The 94+ interiors have all that soft touch material people clamor for today, dash and door door panels are wrapped and padded, even the plastics are coated in a soft rubberized finish. And yes the take rate was high on grey and tan but you could also order red blue and green.
The 89-93s, in particular driver side binnacle, is very plasticy in comparison.
Nice article – few here I was unaware of – was familiar with the LX but not the LTS. We had a few LX police models in our USAF fleet – they were great cars – little tight on the inside but much preferable to the Chrysler K cars.
My father tried to order a Grand Monarch Ghia, but could not get it in the color combo he wanted. He was told that the model was subbed out to ASC for final trim/assembly, thus the limited trim options.
I also did not know about the Marquis analog to the LTD LX. I wish I would have tried harder to find one as an ordinary used car.
I was aware of the LTS, but only from having seen it previously mentioned in comments here on CC. I had never heard of it until I began hanging out here, and I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen so much as a photo of one, never mind one in the metal.
The LTS presumably existed in Canada, but not the U.S., due to the stronger tradition in Canada of FoMoCo’s two dealer networks having equivalent models; the same was also true of GM and Chrysler. In sparsely populated areas, one dealer might sometimes need to serve as the sole FoMoCo outlet, so they needed to cover a broad range of vehicles (this explains the existence of vehicles like the Meteor, 1960 Frontenac, and Mercury trucks, and why the Bobcat was introduced earlier in Canada than in the U.S.). The LTD LX was such a nichey, low-volume vehicle that there was really no need to sell it through L-M dealers as well. But the L-M dealers were apparently able to convince Ford Canada that if Ford dealers had a car like this, they had to have one, too.
Of this batch, the “Grand Monarch Ghia” all the way. Hated Monarchs and Granadas of this generation…until recently. I believe it was Tom Klockau who had posted about a brown Granada Ghia that I actually found myself wanting a little bit. BTW – I think your stellar profiles of North American cars are not only well-research and written, it’s all the more incredible since you don’t live here. Even with the internet at my disposal, I’d be hard-pressed to write intelligently about cars from your continent. Keep up the great work. Fingers-crossed that you profile my favorite FoMoCo product of the 70’s in your next post in this series.
Big plus one on the Grand Monarch Ghia. I wish this model had not been stolen by Lincoln. A sensibly sized model that was above anything wearing the Granada name was a great way to sell a Mercury. The Marquis and Cougar were well differentiated at the time as well leaving Mercury well off in the late 70s.
There was a LDO (Luxury Decor Option) Granada in 1976 (and maybe other years that featured the same interior as the ’76 Grand Monarch Ghia red interior shown, with leather optional. Outside was exclusive two-color paint and different alloy wheels.
A few Monarchs were sold in the UK in the late 70s/early 80s. Sales were dismal, only ever saw a gold one in Fleetwood near Blackpool in 1982
Did they sell any of the American Granada version in UK? Side by side with the Ford of England version, they might seem like strange takeaways on the Spanish city.
No don’t think so, that would have been confusing!
Yes from 76 to 80 via Bristol Street Motors of Birmingham along side Mustang II .RHD was at extra cost but I have never seen a LHD one.
Custom Car Mag pitched one gainest an XJ6 o road test and decided for the same money the Jag was better in every way!.
For the same money as a Jag, it’s a wonder they sold any!
What was the price difference between a US Granada and a Monarch?I’ve never seen a US Granada in the metal, they seem to be universally disliked. In the mid 70s the GM F bodies were the only new American cars to interest me
> Did they sell any of the American Granada version in UK?
They sold the Ford Monarch, which looked like the Mercury sold in the US except for Ford badging. Ford of course already sold a completely different Granada in the UK (I’ve read they had the same front seats as the US version, true?) But I’m a bit surprised they didn’t just take the U.S. Ford Granada and rename it Monarch or something else.
I did live there, for a while… I miss it.
It’s funny because I grew up reading (obviously) Aussie car magazines but also a lot of British magazines because American ones were so scarce here. And then the internet came along and I just ended up following the American auto industry so much more closely, to the point where I generally don’t feel as confident about writing about, say, the British auto industry.
And thank you so much for the kind words, Joseph! What is your favorite FoMoCo product of the 1970s?
You had to go to a large city newsagency to find many of the American titles. That’s why my Car and Driver collection has a massive hole from 1987 to1989.
Awesome, William. As for my Ford family favorite, Yohai71 actually posted it today! The German Ford Capri. Almost bought a ’76 Capri II when I was 16 – it was the one that got away. 🙂
Apart from the Lincoln LS and Marquis LTS there’s not really anything else to excite me here.
Sad to see the Cougar compared to the original right first time 67 model
As much as I adore the first-generation Cougar and find it to be one of the most beautiful American cars ever made, and as much as I don’t much care for the styling of the MN-12 Cougar… They still deserve to be mentioned in the same breath. The MN-12 Cougar was an impressive car, IMO.
I had no idea the LS was available with anything besides a V8. Geez, if I was paying over $30K for a Lincoln back in the day, I’d want a bigger engine than the one in my Mazda.
Were the LTD LX and Marquis LTS supposed to be competing with the Pontiac 6000 STE?
The V6 in the LS was bigger than the V6 in the Mazda. The LS V6 was a 3 liter rated at 220 horsepower while the Mazda 626 V6 was a 2.5 rated at 165 horsepower. Even the top line Millenia only had a 2.5 or supercharged 2.3.
I meant the 3.0 Duratec in my Mazda Tribute (also in the first-gen Mazda6 and second-gen MPV).
I should have added that the V6 in the LS was not the same V6 in Escapes/Tributes and Mazda6s (if I remember correctly, but I may be mistaken.). The LS still had a 20 horsepower advantage over the same size Mazda V6.
All those Town Car “special editions” that were mentioned in the opening paragraph….I always assumed they were “dealer installed” packages.
Car companies in the 60s and 70s, imagine building a top-of-the-model range car and equipping it with your smallest 6 cylinder AND A MANUAL TRANSMISSION? Like many of Ford’s/Lincoln-Mercury’s models, the Grand Monarch Ghia was an “interesting” idea, it was kind of clumsily executed.
The LS with a manual transmission? I often dreamed of owning one but the finances just weren’t there. Probably offering the manual with only the V6 was just as well. The take rate on the V8 would have been quite low, too.
The LS is a classic case of what might have been, thrown away by lackluster assembly quality and a lack of refinement. Imagine what a 2nd generation might have been like.
The super-charged Cougar….an interesting idea but I can only imagine how many “I told you so” were heard by the folks responsible. Dropping the V8 for the super-charged V6 SEEMED like a good idea, but the experience with the turbo should have been an indicator of where sales were going to go.
Finally, how interesting that Mercury US got a Tracer LTS (equal to the Escort LX-E with a twincam engine) but not a bigger Marquis LTS….but Canada would get it.
I strongly doubt that any Grand Monarchs were built with the six and 3-on-the-tree.
I base this on a long ago Car&Driver article where they tried to build a Granada with a six into a turbocharged project car. They mentioned the extreme difficulty of trying to order the 4-wheel disc setup with a six, being told by Ford that they didn’t build them that way, It took some arm twisting and special arrangements to get it built. Based on that, I find the standard Grand Monarch specs somewhat dubious, fictitious at best. By the way, the Grand Monarch had a Ford Granada counterpart, the Granada Ghia with the LDO option, offered in ’76 and ’77.
or bench. They did, however, break out the 4-wheel discs as a separate option on the Granada version.
The LDO interior was available with leather too. Had slightly different seat design than the corduroy cloth version.
I don’t ever recall seeing either of these twins optioned this way before. The vast majority had vinyl or cloth bench seats and were sparsely optioned 250 straight six cars with automatic, AM radios, PS and PB and maybe A/C
Escort LX-E was a late addition along with the regular Escort sedan and I think it was one year only (if midyear to midyear) and far less well publicized than the LTS that appeared in most Tracer ads; the Tracer LTS was available from the CT20 cars’ launch to the end of the square-body sedan. Would’ve been nice to have the Mazda DOHC 1.8 in a five-door hatch and/or wagon but no…
I knew about the Granada Ghia LDO but I’m surprised to learn it too was pulled to clear the decks for the Versailles given Fomoco’s historic reluctance to reign in Ford Division product to give space for L-M. Along with the here-today-gone-tomorrow Escort LX-E that makes two examples, Must not have been big sellers.
It would’ve made sense to offer the LS with a V8/manual *instead of* the V6/manual. Maybe even one-price it – same for V6 auto (would you like to upgrade your rental sir?) or V8 manual (your law clients don’t need to know it’s basically a leather-lined four door Mustang!) with a sufficiently significant upcharge for a V8/auto.
Can’t say I ever liked the MN12 Cougar roofline, much preferred the T-bird. If only they’d spent that money on a four-door version maybe they’d have kept the lineage going…
That platform would have made a marvellous base for a prestige sedan.
Oh so many memories here… I was at a L-M dealer back in the early 00’s looking at the then-new LS model. It intrigued me, but it was too pricey for what it was. As I’m standing there inspecting one of the V6/manual models, an older (I mean octogenarian older!) gentleman walks up to me and remarks that the car has a stick. I guess the inference was that I would like it better if it were a stick. That was only partially true, if it had been the V8 and the stick I would have liked it.
I don’t recall ever seeing a Grand Monarch Ghia, but frankly they looked a lot like the regular Monarch so at a glance they would be hard to distinguish. I knew about the Marquis LTS, as a Mercury lover back then, this would have been the coolest sedan, ever. I was not aware it was Canada only, but that was 30+ years ago.
Oh that 1989 XR7. So much want, so glad I didn’t. I was really stoked about the revised Cougar for 89, the supercharged V6, the IRS, the all new body style. But in 1989, I found out I was going to be a father for the first time, so no new car for me! As time passed, one heard about all of the maladies affecting that model, but I would love to have one in my fantasy garage. But, with a 302 instead of the 3.8 V6.
Like you, I had a touch of mild interest in the LS when it came out, but when I found out that the stick only came with the V6, well no thanks. As time has passed, any interest I ever had in these kind of went away, this being sort of a dead-end platform.
Was the Monarch power steering any different from the version installed on the Granada? My memory of that Granada’s steering feel can be described as ‘hyrdroplanning through Molasses’….
And, since I’ve just read the ‘Hot-Wheels-on-a-Jag’ article also posted today, wouldn’t we just love to see some ‘hot wheels’-type wheels on that Monarch above? Maybe then it might start to make sense. At least they’d offer some resistance to that power-steering system (if you could take the groaning).
I’ve really enjoyed your articles on the obscure versions and packages on otherwise sometimes common cars.
As you noted, Ford tried a couple of times to put smaller displacement engines with turbo / supercharging into sport handling versions of the Cougar / Thunderbird.
Sales were always poor for these versions as the reputation of turbos and supers was always quite poor, regardless of manufacturer, during the 1980’s and 1990’s. If not the quirky driving characteristics of response lag to accelerations inputs, the reliability record killed sales. And, rightfully so, as your article notes.
As long as the economy and gas prices were okay, buyers for these really wanted a decent normally aspirated V-6 or a reasonable cost V-8. Ford omitted the V-8 a couple of times, to their detriment.
We had an ’89 T-Bird LX with the 3.8 that I bought used on a newlyweds budget in 1993. An excellent low mileage car, its only failing was a relative lack of power. I had the hots for trading to a V-8 version for several years, but children and two door cars don’t mix well, and that car turned into a minivan.
I remember the Lincoln LS with a manual transmission. While I was pleased that the Lincoln division offered a car with a manual shifting transmission, I was disappointed when it was discontinued. I know that not everyone likes or expects a luxury car with a manual transmission. But I know that some people do like manual shifting, and so should be allowed that option.
I also remember the Mercury Marquis LTS and the Ford LTD. I liked how both cars looked, and was disappointed when both were discontinued. I thought they were the best looking Ford cars I’ve ever seen.
They forgot the Mercury Villager Nautica. I remember as a kid when my parents leased a ’94 Villager seeing these Nautica versions and being super impressed. Don’t see too many anymore.
This is only “Part I”.
I owned a 96 blue on top, white on the bottom Nautica…those white wheels were miserably difficult to keep clean but the two tone gray leather was snazzy and comfortable. A neighbor had the strawberry red over white, and I have seen green over white too.
Nice little Nissan vans with dollops of Mercury luxury added.
I remember the Nautica, completely forgot about the Villager Multi Sport until I saw one the other day. White with white wheels, and an ultra-90’s neon multi-color stripe and badging.
I see a few Villager Nautica’s now used as painter/contractor work vans. With missing trim pieces, but running strong.
Off-topic, but the Mercury Bobcat! Forgot about that one. If the Cadillac Cimmaron was the worst badge-engineering stunt ever, then the Bobcat is the 2nd worst. Even as a little kid at the time, whenever I’d see a Bobcat, I’d think to myself ..”you’ve got to be kidding.”
Maybe it will make Part II
Love the Cougar XR7, obviously. I actually prefer the 5.0 91-92s though, you got every handling and luxury improvement the 89-90s(and Tbird SC)had but without that headache of a V6 under the hood, I also prefer the revised styling with integrated fog lamps. Shame the manual wasn’t equipped, but I guess that didn’t fit the demographic, the M5R2 and supporting components are a direct bolt on to the 5.0 MN12s from clutch to driveshaft, it easily could have been offered.
The LTS I was slightly aware of and have never seen. I like the details better than the LTD. I love the stealthiness of both though, and it’s pretty neat(to me anyway) to see how much the LX and LTS were put together from the ever deepening Fox parts bin, like the center console and buckets being sourced from the rarely equipped 80-82 Tbird and Cougar XR7s.
I also had no idea there was a manual transmission Lincoln LS! The shift knob looks to be the exact same one used in the concurrent Mustang Cobras.
Quote: The blown V6 also had a reputation for blown head gaskets, another thing shared with the rival GM mid-size coupes.
Actually that is not true. The GM V6 engines of this time period with the Chevy designed 60 degree 3.1 and 3.4 and the Buick 3300 and 3800 never suffered from bad head gasket issues like the Ford 3.8. The latter year 1994 on up 3100/3400 and of course the 3800 Series II did have intake gasket woes and that was usually corrected with an upgraded aftermarket manifold or improved gasket design.
I thought they were referring to the 3.4 “Twin Dual Cam” of the Z34 Lumina, etc. It’s based on the earlier 2.8 and 3.1.
The 3400 (an enlarged later 3100) from the vans had the intake gasket woes you referenced, but these early 3.4 TDC had bad head gaskets, and were generally a nightmare to work on.
I have some experience with these, just ended up putting a new 3100 in an older Beretta (after the original blew its head gasket). Was going to go with a Pontiac 3400, but ended up not wanting the hassle.
A correction on the ’85 Marquis LTS production numbers: only 134 were built per Kevin Marti. And I own one 🙂 . Probably the only one in the States.
And according to Marti Auto Works…
1984 LTD LX = 1920 produced
1985 LTD LX = 3367 produced
OK, we to see a COAL article on that car! One of 134 originals, and how many left i wonder?
Probably not more than 10 I would guess, and it will be a while before mine is COAL worthy. She’s pretty sad right now, she sat for 15 years under a lean-to next to a tobacco farm 20 miles south of Gallipolis, Ohio. Slowly but surely accumulating the needed parts for her restoration.
“Sad” is still interesting and worth writing about. We would LOVE to see your LTS on here, there’s virtually nothing on it on the internet!
Here’s a pic from the ebay listing…
There was also a very messy divorce that involved the car, too. Lots of drama attached to the old girl.
All the more reason to provide before and after write ups!
“15 years under a lean-to next to a tobacco farm 20 miles south of Gallipolis, Ohio”.
Even that quote makes me want to read about this car. It sounds kind of romantic to me – I’m guessing it doesn’t to you. 🙂
Actually, it does 🙂 . Why do you think I wrote it 😀 ?
me too always thought these were nice looking cars….retro but mordern at the same time and kind of aggressive looking
Now see, folks trashed the 91-94 Olds 98, but the Lincoln MKS is a truly butt-ugly car.
I’ll take the Mercury Grand Monarch. The interior is almost the same as the Versailles, not surprising since this was the basis for that car. The LS is ok, but needs a more distinctive Lincoln grill treatment and dare I say it – needs a tire hump on the back, now that would have made it distinctive! I don’t really get it why Lincoln is now so afraid to draw on classic Lincoln styling cues, this is not a heritage to be ashamed of.
I see a lot of parallels between the MN12 and DEW98 platforms: both were expensive to develop, had interesting but short-lived and unpopular special editions, were arguably underutilized, were RWD with IRS (the current Jaguar XF is the only AWD implementation, IIRC), and underpinned Ford Thunderbirds.
Also, except for the Jaguars, products on these platforms never ended up having direct replacements (Cougar: midsize coupe to small FWD Contour-based hatchback, Thunderbird: midsize 4-seat coupe to midsize 2-seat convertible to…nothing).
And those two platforms are extremely unsuitable for winter!
why, because they’re RWD? I daily drove my Cougar for years in the winter, they’re a damn sight less squirlly and unpredictable than a lot of pre traction control rear drivers, like live axle Mustangs
They both have horrible rust resistance. And they both have the tendency of slippery feeling, much more so than many traditional rear wheel drive cars.
I’m still wondering why Ford stopped using the Ghia name. In the ’70s and ’80s it was their go-to name for top-of-the-line trim series. “Titanium,” which appears to have replaced it, isn’t nearly as evocative.
Don’t forget the Platinum trim. I see it on a lot of their trucks
When they stopped using it in UK, I assumed it was because it was associated with cars which were by that time considered tacky, like the Orion Ghia Injection. “Essex boy cars”.
Not sure how they were perceived elsewhere.
I always loved the Grand Monarch Ghia. The first time I saw one I had to give it a double take because they were very rare. There was a white one that I used to see for many years and then one day it was gone. It had a brown vinyl top and brown leather interior. The funny thing about the brochure photo with the brown Monarch is that originally it was a regular brown 1975 Ghia, and then they reworked the picture for it to be a 1976 Grand Monarch Ghia for the following year!
See? Funny how they even photoshopped in the ’70’s!!
love those wheels! Grand Monarch Ghia over the Lincoln Versailles because of the wheels
I always loved those wheels too. Last year there was a very low mileage bright red ’78 Granada Coupe with a stick shift, no A/C, no vinyl top and those wheels ordered that way from the factory. I had to look at the copy of the window sticker several times to actually see the options listed that way! Imagine the rarity of that combination!
The bottom picture is a Mercury Monarch ordered in a similar way to the red car I saw on e-bay – stick shift, no vinyl top, V-8 engine and those rare wheels. I love the Grand Monarch above it – it too was on e-bay not too long ago. Wish I could have grabbed it.
I love this series, keep them coming!
I never understood why Ford didn’t make a police version of the LTD LX/Marquis LTS (or the similar earlier Fox Granada or Fairmont) instead of that Mustang police package. Performance and parts would have been similar, and surely the cops would rather have them in a roomy 4 door sedan.
There are likely several reasons for the lack of an LTD police version. For starters, Ford didn’t want any kind of canibalization of their Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, which was undoubtedly a higher profit vehicle, particularly since they’d have to tool up parts for a police version of the LTD LX (as easy as it might otherwise have been).
Then, too, there’s no doubt that Ford had been watching how the last RWD Malibu cop-car was selling. It, too, was on the cusp of being replaced by a FWD car.
So, the upcoming Taurus in the pipeline and the LTD’s days were numbered. In fact, it’s worth noting that there was a police version of the Taurus. So, apparently, Ford crunched the numbers and just didn’t feel the money was there for a cop-car version of their last, intermediate-sized, RWD sedan. At the time, any police fleets interested in a non-full-size car were buying a Malibu 9C1.
As opposed to what other kind?
Hyundai and others now have electronic power steering. But in the 1970’s? I’m going with no power steering at all…
Thanks for bringing this back in 2021! The two-tone paint scheme on the Grand Monarch Ghia doesn’t appeal, but otherwise I’d be happy and proud to be driving any one of these around today. Time to poke around on eBay, Hemmings, etc. to see what’s on the market…