The 1983-1986 Ford LTD is no longer a common sight in the junkyard, however since my family owned two of them (’83 and ’84) I’ve generally held them in low esteem and walk by them. In recent years though I’ve become more appreciative, but was still going to pass this one up as it was a little further gone than I like until I realized that it was both a 1986 model and that someone had transplanted a much more powerful engine into it. Alrighty then, let’s saddle up.
I hadn’t really realized that these were still available in 1986 since I figured it was all Taurus, all the time by then, but yes it appears that these were built in both the Atlanta and Chicago plants until right around Christmas 1985/New Year’s 1986 – presumably a bunch were produced to hold the dealers over and give them something to sell to those not enamored with the new jelly bean in the showroom. Ford needn’t have worried as the Taurus definitely made the LTD look exactly like the dinosaur it was, popular Fox platform or not.
The silver paint on this one makes it look more modern than it has any right to, ours were two tone blue and a light buttercream color. Looking at the 1986 Brochure shows that besides silver, black, and white, there was also a charcoal and a dark slate color available. So there’s your average 2021 palette 35 years early…but alright, there was also a light as well as a dark blue on offer, a dark red, a dark “clove” metallic and not just a sand beige, but also a medium sand beige on top of the regular sand beige. Eh, overall still pretty similar to today’s options which often include one blue (instead of two), the dark red, and a beige/gold option. The big difference is in the interior, while this one sports a gray (charcoal) one, there was also both a beige as well as a brown, a red and for the big bonus point, a blue! Five options, unheard of today on a mid-level car.
I don’t generally associate Broughamania with either silver paint or amber turn signals, yet this car sports both. That Brougham badge looks awfully familiar though, hasn’t the same one been used since the early 1970s on various Fords? Differing fonts on the same car, let alone the same ten square inches of trunk lid real estate is tacky, but I guess that’s the B-word in a nutshell anyway. At least I don’t think this car had any weird crests or swoopy badges or hood ornaments etc. Really it just denoted the top trim level, surely they could have thought of something else though. Although I suppose if you’re going to keep the car around for another model year just in case someone thinks the Taurus is too progressive, then it makes more sense.
And yes, I went through my collection of various badges and actually found this set that is from an early ’70’s LTD. Same exact Brougham badge, but thankfully the LTD stuff wasn’t used on this car. I never thought this would actually come in handy so it begs the questions as to why I have this on my shelf.
While the two LTDs that my family (Dad’s and Little Brother’s) sported both were motivated by six cylinder power, a four was available as well for the first few years and then the middle years (’84/’85) the 302 V8 was also on offer, if rarely seen.
However this one has been upgraded with what appears to be a 4.6l out of a ’96-’02 Mustang if I’m not mistaken; someone out there will probably be able to narrow it down more than that.
Yep, there’s a little Mustang logo on top of the intake. I can’t tell exactly what year this is, but surely someone will be able to. I’m a little surprised it’s still in the car, enough other stuff was gone that usually hangs around longer. Maybe people don’t want already swapped engines with who knows what was done to them? Or nobody knows it’s here.
Here you go, now I’m practically in the engine bay, can’t get much closer. Assuming it’s a 2002 because I have no reason to assume anything else and am too lazy to study up on all of the years, it would have produced 260hp and 302lb-ft of torque, a healthy increase over the stock 3.8l V6’s pathetic 120hp and only slightly better 205lb-ft. Jeez, the engine swap (ANY engine swap) makes all kinds of sense. Our LTDs were fine cruisers I guess but never seemed particularly motivated to get up and go. Perhaps that’s part of what I wasn’t a fan of them at the time.
The design has actually aged better than I would have expected. It’s far sleeker than the Fairmont and the second generation Granada (US Granada, that is) that it replaced. In a world of rounded shapes, this is now somewhat interesting, not just a square box (and I do like me some square boxed cars, I’ll admit). It has some semblance of day I say it, style. Just some though, let’s not go overboard here. It still screams American Midwest quite loudly. No that’s not a putdown, I myself don’t overfly those states, I’ve driven across them more often now and generally enjoy the hospitality of the occupants. But that’s where the majority of these were sold if I am not mistaken. How my family ended up with two in SoCal is a mystery for the ages – my brother’s 1983 was a stripper with vinyl seats and has been partially rebuilt, evidenced by two Ford logos on the front (one on the hood, one on the grille), while the 1984 that my Dad drove was a loaded 1984 model.
They finally went amber on the turn signals but just couldn’t bring themselves to put those lights at the corners where they make the most sense. Oh well, can’t have everything.
I do recall these having an oddly shaped trunk space, with a deep well in the front and then a shelf of sorts towards the back, just the thing for loading heavy objects and a latch in the middle for catching between the buttons and then ripping your shirt as you come back up holding your back. Is that an oil pan for a 4.6l in the foreground? It’s aluminum and weighs very little as I realized when picking it up.
Inside the trunk lid was a sticker of far more modern vintage than the car. Berthoud is a little town closer to my home than it is to this junkyard, and confounded us for a while as to its pronunciation after we moved to the area. Turns out it’s pronounced like “birthed” if you use enunciate both syllables. “I birth-ed the baby”, sort of like that. Cool little town though.
The interior was fairly picked over, someone tried to pull the carpet and someone (else?) had a look at the steering column, but the dashboard is still intact to display the bare minimum of gauges on this otherwise top of the line car, i.e a speedometer and fuel gauge. Several idiot lights complete the picture. Shaped like a cliff in front of the occupants it gave off an unwelcoming vibe from what I recall, due to the way it slants back into the cabin.
I think I recall our ’84 having even more fake wood on the dash and the ’83 had none or at least less of it. The seats though weren’t bad, sort of bucket seats in a plush velour, too bad this one’s are gone. Other than that though the dashboard kind of holds up with the radio and HVAC in the traditional positions, easy to reach and adjust while glancing down.
The back seat had a low cushion (or the front seats were quite tall), somehow it seemed a bit of a hole back there, this cloth/velour seems the same as our ’84’s, just a different color. The color choices of this owner were quite modern, all things considered, since the car itself really wasn’t.
This Ford led two quite different lives in all likelihood, and the second one was probably far more more exciting. It’d have been interesting to see it before it ended up here – what wheels and tires it had on it and if there were suspension modifications too. A decent set of Mustang wheels might have been quite the thing along with a slight lowering along with stiffer springs, coupled with the color combination I’d probably have been quite appreciative of it overall. The Brougham badge on the trunk surely completed the sleeper image or at least implied a good sense of humor on the owner’s part.