Earlier today I wrote about the experiences one might acquire with a 1976 Thunderbird. One of the themes Ford touted about their Thunderbird that year was about experiencing North America.
To facilitate your own gaining of experience, I’m opening my checkbook for you. As I have a financial interest with this, there are rules to play by…
You are taking a journey back to June 1976 and will be taking a driving tour around your continent. To minimize the worry about this once in a lifetime experience, I am buying you a new 1976 model of your choosing; I’ll even pay for the fuel. However, it has to have been sold new in your country as of June 1, 1976.
You might want to consider comfort and ability to pack whatever luggage and other accessories. Why? Lodging is on you.
There is little doubt for me a Thunderbird would be in the running. But what if it were excluded from consideration? There would be other contenders.
The first thing that comes to mind, for whatever unfathomable reason, is a half-ton van. There were no smaller vans at the time (at least in the United States) unless you went with a VW. I’ll stick with either Ford or Dodge – no, make that a Plymouth just to be different. If it was a Ford it would have to have a minimum of a 351; sorry, a 300 straight six excites me not.
The Plymouth would be 360 powered, although I’m not finding where a 360 was available. A 318 would suffice.
However, there’s a lot of wind at times and driving a van in a cross breeze is no fun whatsoever. Plus I might have to
camp park in a parking garage somewhere and vans are quite tall. Roof rash is such an ugly thing. So I’m sticking with something lower profile.
When traveling bigger can often be better as it provides more stretch out room and fewer personal encumbrances. A Mercury Grand Marquis, particularly in a dark color, would be a fun choice. This might be my only opportunity to experience a new Mercury. Aluminum wheels were available on the Grand Marquis; I would prefer those as there would be no hubcaps to lose.
A 400 (6.6 liter) was standard with an optional 460. I know which one I want.
I like me some C-body so I’d also consider a gussied-up Dodge Monaco. Let’s go with red. And, just to be different, make it a wagon as it seems to be a compromise of sorts between a sedan and a van. I’d love to find a Monaco wagon to write up.
Engine choices are either a 400 or a 440. That’s an easy choice.
A wildcard crosses my mind. Having held a long time affection (also read as curiosity) about AMC let’s also ponder over a Matador wagon. Like with the Dodge, it’s doubtful I’ll see another one while navigating the nooks and crannies of North America.
I’ll go with Autumn Red, a 360, and no faux wood on the flanks.
But since the trip will be just Mrs. Jason and me, the personal luxury coupe comes into play. So if I cannot have a Thunderbird what would I pick?
A Lincoln Mark IV, of course. It’s the next best thing. But ask me again in five minutes, I may have changed my mind to a Checker Marathon.
So what about you? What would you pick for a 1976 road trip?