This very cherry 1970 LTD Country Squire posted at the Cohort by Daniel Lucy reminded me how hugely popular these were in the late 60s and early 70s. This was the preferred way to haul all those baby boomer kids. Baby boomer births peaked in 1957 (4.3 million), which meant that there were a lot of them that wanted to be taken to the mall or pool by this time. Including me and my first girl friend.
It got me wondering: just what exactly was the peak year for the Country Squire? Care to take a guess?
During the 50s, the Country Squire was a bit pricey for most average families, and sales started in the first half of that decade in the teens (thousands). In 1956, they topped 20k for the first time, and in 1960 they hit 30k. Then CS sales started really taking off; in 1964, they hit 47k; in 1965, 55k; in 1966 they shot up to 70k. The CS was mirroring the strong rise in middle class incomes.
By 1968, it was 92k; in 1969, a whopping 129k. Sales actually eased a bit in 1970, reflecting a mild recession in 1969-1970. By 1971, they shot up to 131k. 1972 eased a bit to 121k, but in 1973 they crested at 143k. Like so many things in America’s economy and income statistics, that was a peak year before the troubles set in. 1974 sales crashed to 64k, and 1975 dropped further to 42k. There was a slight uptick to 47k in 1976. Unfortunately, my Encyclopedia does not have CS breakouts for 1977 and 1978; Presumably, they were probably in a similar range. By 1979, with the new downsized Panther platform car, the CS sold a mere 30k. The 1980-1981 gas crisis and recession took it down to four digits, followed by a modest increase for a couple of years, peaking again in the 20k range, but still a shadow of its former wooden glory.
I prefer these ’69-’70 models over the ’71 and up successors (you probably knew that already). The ’69-’70 seemed to me to be put together a bit more solidly, and didn’t seem to float quite as bad as the later ones either. I did have a lot of seat time in both ’70s and ’71s, as it was right when I worked as a car jockey at Towson Ford. I remember a relatively rare 429 CS, and it picked up its Di-Noc skirts quite willingly coming down York Road from Timonium.
Except for the front end, these could so easily be mistaken for a GM product. Ford was trying hard to adapt GM’s Coke-bottle look a bit more organically than it had been able to on their ’66-’68 big cars. The ’69 was an all-new car, and with a 121″ wheelbase, these were big, wide and roomy. I have happy memories of sitting four across the front seats of a ’70 LTD coupe, a Towson Ford service department loaner that I “loaned” to myself on a number of memorable weekends the summer of 1971. Those evening outings to remote parts of the Gunpowder River included several all-new experiences for me.
If that had been a Country Squire, it would have been my personal CS peak experience. As it is, I have rather less happy memories of riding in a black ’67 CS with Nancy Stange and her family to some swimming club in eight grade. I somehow got corralled into being her designated first boy friend, and I played along for a while, until greener pastures presented themselves. Well, she did teach me how to kiss properly in the back seat of that big hot wagon in the parking lot, so I should have been more grateful, to her and the Country Squire.