It’s funny how things can come full circle – I grew up around my dad’s 93 Lincoln Town Car, but I never really loved it as much as I did my Pap’s Cadillacs or his 83 Oldsmobile 98 Regency. But it was one of the first cars I learned how to work on, helping Dad replace the brake pads and rotors, spark plugs, and after the relay/fuse box caught fire, dig into electrical system to have the car floating down the road again. And here I am, tooling around in a ’93 TC, and a Jack Nicklaus Edition at that. And I won it, in a contest, although not on the links.
Since I went to private school as a kid, and my parents split when I was 10, I got spend a lot of time in my dad’s car being ferried about Houston in its leathery comfort, the “Premium Audio” system permanently on the classic rock station spilling out Steely Dan and Pink Floyd. It also set the bar pretty high as far as air conditioning systems go – I can’t remember a time that you wouldn’t be pelted with ice cubes with it set to 60 and MAX AC. Eventually he moved on to driving Ram pickups when he got a job at a country radio station, and after Tropical Storm Allison flooded our neighborhood, the Lincoln headed to the junkyard since the interior was destroyed by mold and mildew.
So when I saw a 1993 Jack Nicklaus edition being given away by YouTuber Tyler Hoover, it brought back many childhood memories with Dad – some good, some bad, but enough to make me want the car and it’s acres of leather and fake wood. My 96 Cadillac Fleetwood wasn’t the most reliable daily driver, and my Crown Vic wasn’t as Broughamy for my tastes to live with every say. So I entered a submission video, any by some stroke of luck, I won!
Tyler bought the car at a dealer auction in Kansas where it didn’t fetch any bids due to the rough interior and a mass airflow sensor causing it to run badly. It took about a month to be shipped to me, but a free car is a free car. Especially a limited edition Jack Nicklaus – this thing really tickles my Brougham fancy, and has a few options on it that even the Fleetwood doesn’t have. The 1990 refresh really did bring these cars up to date inside and out, without sacrificing the qualities that “traditional” luxury buyers demanded – as much as I love 80’s land yachts, that era Town Car never did hit me just right like the 77-92 RWD Caddy does.
How did Lincoln come to make a Jack Nicklaus edition? Lincoln, even more than Cadillac, had various special editions over the years – Bill Blass being the best example off the top of my head. By the late 80’s Jack Nicklaus started doing commercials for Lincoln, emphasizing how comfy the car was for those “long drives,” and Lincoln even enlisted his help for the new 1990 Town Car promotional video. He appealed to the traditional Lincoln buyer at the time with an image of the upper middle class golf club member, without being Judge Smails snooty – or as Al Czervik crass.
What did you get for the extra $1,600 above the regular Signature Series Townie? Off white leather seats (like a golf glove) with green Lincoln embroidered logos, elm burl wood grain instrument panel & Jack Nicklaus “Golden Bear” logo, Front fender-mounted Golden Bear badging, green carpet and floor mats with the Golden Bear logo, and 15″ aluminum wheels to round out the package. Above that, my car has the driver’s memory seat, power recliners and lumbar, Auto Dim headlamps, as well as a sunroof and the JBL Sound System. You could get a Jack Nicklaus between 1992 and 1997, with 1997 editions coming with a nice leather golf bag.
Early editions were either green with an off white carriage roof, or white with the plain steel roof. Personally, I like the steel roof on this car – my dad’s car had the same look being a white Executive Series, and anything else just feels off. His however had the “Bordello Red” leather interior that screamed 1970’s Broughamtastic. The white and green in mine looks restrained by comparison.
This particular example has 204k miles on it – the interior is rough in a few places with the leather seat bottoms being worse for wear, and a few brittle plastic interior pieces that I should try and find replacements for are the only items that really need attention inside. Mechanically the engine and transmission are strong, with only a blue cloud of smoke off the line after idling at a stop worrying me. New valve seals are on the list for repairs, along with the usual gremlins of EATC O rings and a blend door motor – pretty standard things to go wrong with a 90’s FoMoCo Panther. The “Service Air Suspension” light comes on after a few miles of driving, so I suspect the rear bags need to be replaced. Another common issue is with these cars – the compressor on my Dad’s TC died while he was saving up to repair it and replace the bags. Being the resourceful type, he rigged a tire Schrader valve up to it so he could manually pump up the bags at the gas station when low.
But how does it drive? Honestly, it’s an almost entirely different feeling than the Crown Vic – very floaty, and not as willing in the curves as the Vic with the Handling & Performance Package. It does have the same 210 HP dual exhaust 4.6, but isn’t as fast off the line due to the different rear axle ratio – which is fine by me, as it gives me 26 MPG cruising at 65. The steering is much crisper than in the Fleetwood, and the brakes being 4 wheel discs make all the difference in the world trying to bring this barge to a halt.
On the highway it’s a much more relaxed drive than the Fleetwood or the Vic – the Fleetwood had a vibration above 70, and while the Vic wasn’t a rough ride, it’s not as “big car” floaty as the Lincoln. One feature I do love is the JBL audio system – it really does crank for a 1990’s era system, and the small subwoofer packs a decent punch. Plus, the radio has AM Stereo – perfect for a radio geek like myself.
Other comparisons to the Fleetwood? The interior of the Lincoln is smaller, but the deep well trunk is more useable than the Fleetwood’s. The doors on the Caddy feel more solid, but both cars are vault like once inside – and it pains me to say this, the Lincoln really is easier to live with day to day. The Caddy has the presence and look, but the Lincoln is just as luxurious and better screwed together on every level. I miss the instant torque of the LT1, but the 4.6 is no slouch – and going back and forth to work I make a tank of gas last longer since the Lincoln gets better mileage.
I am not a “Lincoln Man” at all, but I do think the Town Car is a better vehicle unless you need to tow 7,000 pounds, or can’t live without the Cadillac crest leading the way. That could have been why Dad chose this as his personal vehicle when he sold his 75 Sedan deVille to my Aunt & Uncle in 1993 – I never asked him why he owned a Lincoln when the Lawler’s were a GM family going back to the 1930’s, but getting to compare the two up close and personal I can see where the Town Car felt more like the 85-92
That’s not to say the car is perfect – the seats are a bit too high for me, the sunroof robs an inch of headroom that I would love to get back, and the AOD-E isn’t as buttery smooth as the 4L60E. But overall I love it – I can see why Dad switched after so many years as a Cadillac man (and looking at the sales figures compared to the Fleetwood, others did as well even if the Townie didn’t outsell the DeVille). Dad worked on his own cars – more so out of necessity than love of wrenching, and the Modular V8 is pretty easy for a shadetree mechanic to work on. Money was tight in those years, even with Mom holding down a full time gig and him working full time in radio. My car looks clean under the hood as you can see, and thankfully aside from checking the fluids I haven’t had to pop the hood (yet).
The TC is now my daily driver, and soon will be road tripping up and down the East Coast for the holidays (after a visit to my own car wizard Alan to fix the issues mentioned above). Thank you again to Tyler Hoover for the car – It’s not often you get a second chance to relive your childhood memories, but in this case I get to every time I slide behind the wheel. And whenever the radio plays “Deacon Blues”, I smile and think of Dad.
I may not be my father’s Oldsmobile, but I am his Town Car. And that suits me just fine.