CC Capsule: 1979 Ford LTD Wagon – First Year Box Panther Wagon

I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen one of these single-eyed LTDs, which were only made in 1979 and 1980 (as the LTD S). And checking the brochures implies this one is a ’79, as the ’80’s fender blade lights are solid amber, not white and amber like these. A first year base LTD wagon; despite my lack of fondness for these in general, I’m very happy to see this survivor still on the road.

My lack of fondness? I’ve gone over this so many times, but the original Panther came off looking like a cheap Chinese knock-off of a ’77 Chevy B-Body. As in, back then, not now, as the Chinese have gotten dramatically better at both imitation and styling. One of the worst transgressions was using the same doors as the sedan, and then continuing that plane to the rear instead of tapering it back in. The result is a hugely empty wheel well.

Here’s a closer look at that issue. And those dreadful door frames! Not only do they not seem to fit into the roof, but they’re so heavy and clunky with that second layer of trim on the body. The longer I look at these ill-fitting and poorly designed doors, the less I can believe that these came from Detroit and not Poland. Yuck.

Here’s the original. Pretty embarrassing, given the two-year lag Ford had in coming up with a proper and cohesive downsized design.

There’s plenty more stylistic fodder with which to denigrate the early box Panther; but I already covered that in this post here, our Design Shoot-Out of the ’77 Chevy and ’79 LTD. No need to speculate on the overwhelming winner.

Enough of all that styling stuff; this wagon has long transcended those petty issues. A little tape has helped it do so.

Yes, this survivor has led a long and hard life. And it’s acquired a green door interior panel along the way. That’s not exactly in keeping with the typical old Eugene beater of not having a door card at all.

And what’s on its rear window?

Can anyone identify these, and their purpose?To hold the window in place because of some malfunction?

I wonder what’s under the hood. The standard engine was the “5.0L”302 V8, with the Variable Venturi carb. Are there still fully-functional VV carbed engines on the road? Is this one of them? Or has it more likely been swapped out along the way? For a base wagon, the likelihood of it having the optional 5.8L 351 are not great. But at least the transmission was still the smooth-shifting three-speed Selectshift automatic. No herky-jerky AOD yet.

Whatever it is, it’s still chugging away. And my hat’s off to that achievement.