Thank you to William Oliver
Pretty nice shape for the age and part of the country those license plates indicate.
I was hoping for a moment it was the even more rare Mercury Marquis as opposed to an LTD II. (Funny name Limited Too is what I always said to myself when I would see one.)
If I had lottery money I’d love to turn one of these into a Fox Mustang under the sheet metal.
“Funny name Limited Too is what I always said to myself when I would see one.”
I do the same thing with Toyota’s mid engine sports car, as in “On look, there’s a Mister 2!”
People like to call these “LTD II”s but they are just LTDs. The LTD II was the successor to the Gran Torino and died after 1979.
When this came out in 1983 it was called “LTD” and the former LTD became the “LTD Crown Victoria.” But popular culture has decided that these are LTD IIs so this battle I keep trying to fight may already be lost. 🙂
JPC – but truthfully in their execution weren’t these really a “Limited Also” at heart? 😛
Ford was sincerely hoping that if an elderly male relative owned a Crown Victoria you whippersnappers with kids would by one of these.
My memory was that this was going to become THE LTD, and that the Panther version was supposed to go to an early grave, what with a brave new world of scarce and expensive gasoline and all.
The same way the Pontiac Bonneville looked like a Cutlass and the New Yorker was a K body instead of the old R structure.
The funny thing was that gas came down and the big ones kept selling (and improving every year despite the lack of updates).
Oh absolutely. Ford almost fell into the trap that GM did where a Mid 80s Cutlass was larger, more substantial in presence, and had a V8 – all things that an H-body 88 or 98 lacked.
According to some sources, these were also kept around in case the Taurus and Sable flopped.
They were still in production after the Taurus and Sable were officially introduced (in late December 1985). The new cars were hits, so Ford discontinued these cars.
The Taurus/Sable were always planned to replace the Fox LTD/Marquis. The fate of the Panther Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis was left to the marketplace. When a continuing market for the Panthers was established (via market research), a modest freshening for the Panthers was added (1988). Continued strong sales and profits of the Panthers spawned the complete redesigns of the Town Car (1990) and Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis (1991).
The Fox platform spanned 1978-2004 model years, serving as the host of nearly every nameplate except for C-class (smallest) and E-class (largest) segments. The Panther platform spanned 1979-2011 models, but only found life in 4 products (aforementioned full-sized Ford, Mercury, and Town Car, plus the 1980-83 Lincoln Mark VI).
I actually never heard these mistakenly called LTD IIs until today. I guess that’s why I stay clear of rumors 🙂
It was very common back in the day, especially when someone was advertising a used one.
It’s still a Ford Fairmont to me.
+1 on upgrading this with Mustang bits!
About 15 years ago, I knew where to get an ‘85 Mustang GT 5-speed parts donor. The owner t-boned a tree with it.
At least Ford was smart enough to bring back vent windows, at least as an option. Too bad few people (and dealers) ordered them and then they faded away.
I had a rental LTD II in 1986 and really liked it. 302. Then I drove a Taurus and realized progress. But I still think that a well-preserved one, especially a wagon, could be a fine and useful daily driver, especially with a few of the available Fox suspension and brake upgrades. And a 5 speed. Nice find, especially for New York.
I could be wrong but the car pictured here is not an LTD II, but it is just an LTD. Over at Mercury the same car was called a Marquis with the bigger car adding the GRAND prefix.
Nope, you’re not wrong. This is an LTD. No “II”.
The “II” went out after the stacked headlight Torino-derived monstrosities.
I just can’t give the LTD II front and rear clips any love. To my eyes, they just bulked up a clean design, and although they modified the squared off roof line on the sedan, the center section (especially the door frames) is a clunky matchup.
The disparity is especially pronounced on this car, since the roof is identical to the Fairmont wagon. Still, it’s a really clean car, and maintains 90% of the goodness that is a Fox body.
I’m not a fan of the slanted “shovel nose” front clip on the 1983-1986 LTD either, and I’ve never liked the tail lights of the Fox body wagons, as they didn’t change from Fairmont to Granada to LTD.
The 1981-1982 Granada had the best front-end styling of Ford’s three Fox body sedans, in my opinion, although that car was cursed with an awkward roofline for the 2- and 4-door sedans.
This was a good car. It rode like a small Crown Victoria and it was well made. It just wasn’t a modern car and was replaced by the Taurus/Sable.
At this point in its history, Ford was just avoiding mistakes. It was too close to bankruptcy just a few years before and the Escort saved it from extinction. So this is not a risky design. It is a glorified Fairmont. A surprisingly heavy car for its size, obviously Ford put a lot of sound deadening and larger engines in them, as compared to the simple Fox sedans. There is nothing exciting about it – it is just a well executed sedan.
Ford needed mojo. The Taurus, and the AeroTBird gave it to them. Until the launched, these plebeian vehicles filled the bill. They didn’t get their own name – they got leftovers from anything Ford was doing. So they are not special.
But they were good cars.
“It just wasn’t a modern car and was replaced by the Taurus/Sable.”
And once the Taurus/Sable were out these became the best used-car bargain on virtually any lot. I bought my ’86 wagon (the final half-year model) at 5 years old with 106K miles on it. It was the top trim level and really nicely equipped with options. I am quite sure it carried a sticker of $12-14k when new. I bought mine from a Lincoln-Mercury dealer (after some tough haggling at a multi-dealer tent sale) for $2675.
As you note, they were old fashioned. Old timers liked bigger cars those who liked the size wanted FWD.
The were kind of like Buicks–driven by conservative people, well taken care of, not much excitement.
I sold my father’s 85 LTD to a 20-something airman in 1994 for $2700. Car had about 70k miles, was clean and in excellent condition.
This car gives me the warm fuzzies. I was surprised at how much I came to love the 86 Marquis wagon I had. The 3.8 V6 and the 3 speed C-5 auto was one of the more pleasant combinations I have experienced (fortunately I avoided the head gasket issue). Gas mileage wasn’t great, but it was a nice, comfortable ride with great utility.
In fact, I had to think hard about whether to swap when my mother announced that she was buying a new car and offered me her 85 Crown Vic. It had about half the number of miles as my wagon despite being a year older, and was in exceptionally nice condition. However, I never liked the powertrain on the larger car. I swallowed hard and did the responsible thing (and not the thing my heart told me to do).
I will agree with some others, the front end was not the best, and I never cared that much for the cluttered greenhouse on the sedans. I found the wagon the most attractive of the lot. I don’t think they ever made an LX (the one with the 5.0) wagon. THAT is one I would have kept.
My dad bought a new 85 LTD in summer 1985, to replace the ‘tin can’ 80 Fairmont, also bought new, in spring 1980, which I inherited.
The LTD cost about 2x as much, from around $5300 to $10,500
For double the money , he got, in addition to 5 years of inflation:
1. Most important, the 3.8 V6. A lot more power (and also thirstier), I could chirp the wheels from a stop just by flooring it. I thinik it averaged 18-19 mpg, around 22-23 on highway
2. Auto (3-speed, not four)
3. A/C (first car with A/C)
4. Reclining seats
5. Power windows and locks
6. “Nicer”, aka more Brougham-like interior.
7. Much quieter
Still, I preferred the tin can.
There was a *huge* difference in the subjective feel of this car compared with the Fairmont.
Agreed, it was a big difference.
The LTD felt more isolated from the road, heavier and more substantial. Smoother ride. More of a traditionalist Ford ride–but not a tipsy car.
Did it corner better? Hard to tell. It had bigger tires (205/70 or 75, vs 185/75), but It wasn’t sporty. Not that the Fairmont was–but the lack of power encouraged me to go faster around corners and curves, so I wouldn’t lose that hard-earned speed….
The Taurus would have been the car to get. But they were just coming out. My dad wasn’t keen on buying ‘first year cars’, especially an all-new one.
The LTD was a competent car, and didn’t feel as cheap and tinny as a Fairmont.
But, that front end tried too hard and was too busy. I never warmed to the styling.
The Fairmont’s styling was more…cohesive. It was functional and honest, without being ugly.
Ford made some upgrades to the structure of the Fairmont when the 1981 Granada was introduced. A big one was a beefed-up support bar for the instrument panel. Apparently the panel had the tendency to develop an annoying vibration in certain situations.
I did not know about the reinforcement for the IP.
But I can say that the Fairmont had a creak/squeak that was intermittent from the IP somewhere. Not really annoying, just another reminder of “cheap”, lol.
The LTD did not have a creaky dashboard.
The 1983-85.5 Fox LTD/Marquis re-used the 1980-82 Fox Thunderbird/Cougar instrument panel.
I remember this well. My 1979 Fairmont had a shudder going 55 that literally shook the entire dash that eventually rattled annoyingly. For 1981 this was addressed by installing a beefier support between the dash and the other change was a re-shaped trunk that was deeper. The 78-80’s were too shallow. Light weight was the goal and boy did they succeed.
Great shot. Great Curbside Classic. Great Curbivore score.
Not so sure about the car itself though.
Nice catch William!
The design element that I find the most jarring, and dates the styling the most, is the light wood surround on the faux wood panelling. Ford in the 80s obviously wanted to retain a family resemblance to the Country Squires from the 60s and 70s with this styling element. By the 80s, I found it looked out-of-date. IMO, this applies to the woodie Escort Wagon and concurrent Country Squire as well. I thought the simple metal trim surround as seen on the 80s Colony Park, and the early 80s Cougar Wagon looked more modern and elegant.
The raked noise would have worked better on these if the grille and chrome grille header were a simpler, cleaner design. And the chrome grille header, not so tall.
I’ve made this point at CC before, but I found the Fairmont’s styling generally looked more fragile/frail compared to the Aspen/Volare and Malibu A-body derivatives styling. The Chryslers and GMs looked, and felt, like more substantial cars.
After looking at the picture, I completely agree. On the whole, Ford has always known how to make a good looking wagon.
That light-colored trim around the fake wood was as longtime Ford thing, while Mercury used metal trim around the edges. That Ford/Mercury difference was on these wagons too. I usually like the Ford-style trim bettter, but liked the Mercury trim on these. But maybe that’s because I bonded with my Mercury and it’s what is “normal” to me.
I had one of these (an ’83,/75,000 mi.)and a Zephyr Z-7 (a ’78/90,000 mi.) at the same time around ’94, and knowing they were related foxes, I compared them often.
The LTD was quicker, 3.8L vs. 3.3L, and the LTD was quieter, rode smoother, and had comparable mileage. Both were decently screwed together. The Zephyr handled better and more direct, (maybe the Michelin tires?) and I preferred a two door, (before kids) but the LTD was the superior car to me. It was one of the best older cars I’ve had.
Gave it to my bro-in-law and he trashed it. (He also trashed a Cavalier I gave him. I then stopped giving him cars!)
Side note: It’s been a long time since the site glitched on me. Someone is doing something right. It is greatly appreciated.
While I prefer the Fairmont (even the Fox-Granada) wagon over the LTD, I will say that the stylists did an artful job here of canting the front fascia back at a very similar angle to the rear liftgate and rear window – almost for a trapezoidal effect in profile.
I never noticed this until now!
A couple of these existed in my neighborhood back in the day. One was a 1983 woody wagon with the carbureted 3.8 Essex engine that Ford bought back as a lemon due to stalling issues they couldn’t fix and another was a 1986 dark blue sedan with the 3.8 and 3 speed auto. It’s weird how these cars seemed to evaporate literally overnight during the 90’s.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Notify me of follow-up comments by email.
Notify me of new posts by email.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Copyright 2011 - 2021 Curbside Classics. All Rights Reserved.