Right off the bat, I want to make it clear that I’m not poking fun at the driver of what could be referred to as a “transportation car” LTD. A lot of us have been in a similar place, where we had to be seen (sometimes regularly) behind the wheel of something unattractive that would seem to fill up almost the entire width of a lane or parking space. Conversely, some of us dealt with a secondhand econobox that could barely move under its own power. Others of us drove Mom’s or Dad’s dull, former family sedan in great condition that was painfully reliable, as in, it just refused to die, no matter how hard we tried to kill it. Still others of us drove a hoopty.
Hoopty (n.) – a vehicle in poor condition, often large and boatlike, and usually aided by duct tape and/or bungee cords. This was my favorite definition of that time-honored term as taken from “Urban Dictionary” online. Look at this Ford. The corrosion on the rear quarter panel makes me want to scratch the corners of my mouth with my pinky fingernails as if I had eaten too many Funyuns or salty potato chips. Ouch. In this case, “LTD” might stand for “Lurching Toward Death”, but I honestly don’t think this car is headed to the scrapyard anytime soon. There sounded to be plenty of life left in this car, judging by the decisive, steady lugga-lugga sound of what was likely a smog-choked, 148-hp, 351 2-bbl. V8 chugging through its exhaust as it crossed the intersection.
This was a nice car at some point. It’s not a Brougham or a Landau, as it had the exposed headlights, but it still has a nice landau-style vinyl roof treatment and (at least two of) its standard wheel covers. I’ll also say that contrary to some opinions, the overall styling of this coupe really doesn’t bother me. This may be more of a sentimental attachment I have for these big Fords, as my grandparents had a similar-era, mint-green LTD in the late 70’s that Grandpa used to tow their fifth wheel camper trailer between Ohio and Florida. (Grandpa once backed that LTD into a ditch near St. Louis with our whole family in it, and as the story goes, a four-year-old me refused to get “back in that crazy car” for a few minutes after a kind, neighboring farmer had pulled the LTD out with his tractor.) The opera window on the “pillared hardtop” coupes does look goofy, but no worse to my eyes than some other weird window treatments of that period.
The condition of this car in present day still has me somewhat confused, seeming as it does like a rolling time capsule from, say, 1984, when many LTDs of this vintage in the Midwest looked like this one. Was this originally Grandpa’s well-kept retirement car that was passed to Mom or Dad when Grandpa couldn’t drive anymore, which then got passed to the grandson behind the wheel (perhaps after sitting in a garage for a few years)? Certainly, any person born in the decade between 1975 and ’85 (which the driver looked to be) could have selected a more economical way to get around, even with only a few bills to spend on a transportation car. I’m going with “family heirloom”.
I honestly don’t remember the lack of a rear bumper on these cars as being as common an affliction as on, for example, Olds Cutlasses of that period, but I’ll say that I would have hated to be behind this thing in traffic when that giant, chrome railroad tie clunked off. I think that the rear-quarter view of this car presents one of its more flattering aspects, with those outboard, Lincoln-like taillight pods flanking that ensemble in the center of the trunk comprised of that reflector strip, the backup lights, and that vinyl strip of gingerbread connecting them. I honestly hope the car’s purchase price (if not a free gift) is not currently outpaced by that of its cost of operation. Nonetheless, this LTD put a smile on my face, and seemed to be doing a fine job of getting its pilot from here to there. In most cases, that’s really all you can ask of your hoopty.
Rogers Park, Chicago, Illinois.
Friday, June 17, 2016.