COAL: 1989 Lincoln Town Car – If It’s Not Baroque, Don’t Fix it; One Man’s Love for the Big American Car, Vol. 4

(Today, Sept. 15th, marks the 12th anniversary of the last Panther platform car ever produced. Enjoy this COAL submitted in its honor.)

“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!”.

Anyone who is an inveterate car guy (or gal) might identify with this sentiment. For some of us, the inexorable pull into the car hobby leaves us defenseless to the charms of acres of hood, plush seating, shiny chrome, and the invitation to a long drive in supreme comfort.

For me, this was undoubtedly the case as I was drawn back into the orbit of classic car ownership with the purchase of yet another Lincoln, this one ten years newer than Mr. President, the 1979 in its stately wedgewood blue. As an aside, I am pleased to report Mr. President went on to ‘four more years’ and is still turning heads wherever he goes, like any good head of state with the requisite presence.

While I hesitated for a time while my brain hemispheres duked it out in their eternal struggle, eventually the desire to be back behind the wheel of a big American car could no longer be denied. And so, I started another partnership, this time with “Lloyd”. Lloyd has seen better days, but he can still dance better than most men his age. A dual exhaust and a 3.27 axle ratio helps some of the motivation, when the AOD can be bothered to respond to pedal inputs. As with many Panther bodies, it handles better than a car its size has any right to; it certainly is easier to deal with when pressed into ‘city car’ duties than did my Roadmaster.

As with many old men, you either live with their flaws, their grumpiness and idiosyncrasies, or take your leave. At various times I have had a little buyer’s remorse, such as when the Idle Air Control Valve decided to fail (and two subsequent replacements died in quick succession). My right brain was appalled that I purchased a car with a bad sunburn, and cracks in the dash and door card. What was I thinking? Or rather, what thinking was discarded?

And like for many old men, a time may well come when major surgery is in order. Aficionados may know of the fatal flaw with certain years of these cars: the throttle valve cable lets go, dropping fluid pressure to the transmission precipitously, and precipitating black death. And so it was with this one: my baffling string of good luck with old cars finally reached its end, and it was a choice between a rebuild or selling (or the word that dare not speak its name: scrap) for pennies on the dollar, as it were.

But after its stay in the hospital, Lloyd is looking forward to heading down that vast open road again, still being useful after all these years. And in spite of his flaws (and mine), Lloyd and I will head down that open road together. After all, looking back can be enjoyable, as long as that’s not all you do.


Further reading:

COAL: Mr. President And Me, One Man’s Love For The Big American Automobile, Again

Vintage Review: 1979 Ford LTD – Corpulence Condensed