In perusing the Cohort I came across these shots by Robadr of this big bruiser of a convertible. It called to me. I have answered. And yes, we all know that Paul Niedermeyer and Jason Shafer have staked out the competing end zones when it comes to the 1971-72 big Ford. I see lots of open space between their takes on this car, so let’s go there.
The shots of this Ford LTD illuminated many disparate places in my brain when I saw them. I considered the ’71 LTD the the ultimate large car when I first saw one in the fall of 1970. Ford, it seemed to me, had finally completed its assault on the medium price field with this one. Which seemed every bit as nice to me as any Oldsmobile 88. And a lot nicer than anything then being built by Chrysler, a company that was in the process of cheapening its cars terribly.
I was at a Boy Scout Jamboree held at the grounds of the Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Indiana. We carpooled from the church where we held our meetings and I got to ride in the orange 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air 2 door sedan owned by one of the assistant volunteers, a young guy about to start college. The Chevrolet was in fabulous condition, not anywhere near the beater status of most of its ilk by 1970.
When we parked, right nearby in the grass was the first 1971 Ford LTD I had ever seen. It was painted a color which Ford imaginatively named “Medium Green”, a coupe with a deep green vinyl roof and a matching (and luxurious) interior. It was clean and shiny as every brand new car is in its first weeks of ownership and it was simply stunning. “What I wouldn’t give for that” said the owner of the orange ’57 Chevy, completely without irony. I remember virtually nothing about that scout jamboree, including what activity our troop was showcasing. I just remember that brand new ’71 LTD on a beautiful day in early autumn.
Although I found the new bumper-taillight treatment a severe downgrade, the rest of the 1972 model was just as appealing. 1972 was the first year I went to a new car show and brought back a stack of brochures, which I proceeded to read over and over until I had them nearly memorized. The 1972 Ford book was one of my faves.
When my mother was looking for a new car in 1972 to replace her trusty but aging ’64 Cutlass, I tried and tried to get her to a Ford dealer, but no soap. “Fords are lightweight cars” she said. “Oldsmobiles are heavier” she said. There is so much wrong with Mom’s thought process, I now see. An 8 year old car with 60,000 miles is practically new to me. And there was no way that an A body Cutlass was heavier than a Ford LTD no matter what year one might choose for the comparison.
But this LTD was no lightweight. Ford was doing a pretty credible job of making its cars feel substantial. When these were new (or near new) shutting a door on a big Ford was a comforting feeling. That door slam felt good and sounded good – it was a little different from the classic GM door slam, but seemed no less impressive.
A neighbor across the street seemed to agree. The family had been GM people but had experienced a couple of used Mustangs for their high school-aged sons. These folks were on a cycle of a new car every three years and were clearly on an upward trend when the olive green ’69 Olds 88 joined the navy blue ’66 Impala. When a medium blue 1972 Ford LTD replaced the Impala my worldview was confirmed.
Unfortunately these cars did not age well. They had not, it seemed, licked the “Ford Rust” problems that had gotten really bad in the 1969-70 models. But where the prior version had at least been a fairly solid structure, the 1971 became downright jiggly.
Being a lover of convertibles I was a fan of these cars. Chrysler had dropped all of its big convertibles by 1972 and the big GM cars were the only other option. And because I was a Ford man through and through at the age of thirteen, Chevrolet was simply beneath consideration.
In my weaker moments I had to acknowledge that the ’72 Chevy convertible was a good looking car in its own right. Fortunately, I was able to point to the cheap injection molded plastics that proliferated in their interiors and a body structure that was every bit as jiggly as that of my Fords as a way to mask my concern that the Chevys seemed to hold up better over time.
I think the peak of my 1972 Ford love came in the fall of 1972 when the 1973 Fords came out. Those new ones were fat. And there was no convertible.
I had watched Burt Reynolds run moonshine in a hopped up 71 Ford. Gator McClusky would never be able to outrun the law in one of the new whale-like LTDs. And please refrain from comments pointing out that the ’71-72 Ford was nearly as whale-like as its swollen replacement. There is no reason to bring reality into things.
Another association this car released from somewhere in my brain was from even longer ago. When I was 7 or 8 my mother bought me a Hardy Boys book. I began to collect them, usually plowing through a new one in a day. When I say new, I meant new to me as almost all of them were either from the 1930’s 0r from a newer re-written edition from the late 50’s. In most of those books, young sleuths Frank and Joe Hardy solved capers with assistance from their yellow convertible.
The yellow convertible was never identified, but I liked to imagine that it was a Ford. The year was always malleable in my mind, sometimes it was a ’60, other times a ’63 or ’64. By 1972 a credible pair of teenage detectives would surely have been in a Mustang and not in an LTD. But that would be their loss because an LTD would have provided a lot more room in the backseat for their overweight friend Chet Morton to spread out with a bag of hamburgers or for the attractive young women the boys were so successful at rescuing from a multiplicity of perils.
The title gives away another association. When I was in elementary school, each week would see us form a single file line and trudge to the room of Mrs. Kurtz, the music teacher. There we would be taught to sing the terrible songs put out by educational publishing houses. (I will remain forever scarred by “Oh Senior Del Gato was a cat . . .”).
Mrs. Kurtz was an older woman who occasionally played a record. It was in her music class that I first heard Harry Belefonte sing The Banana Boat Song (Daaay-O, Daaay ay ay-O . . . “). I have no memory of why she played it. Adult me wonders if she lacked the patience to make us sing on this particular day, but this is just a guess. Teachers are people too, though this thought never occurred to me at the time.
The banana boat also brings up Atz’s Ice Cream Shoppe (yes, with an ‘e’ at the end), the longtime Fort Wayne restaurant and ice cream emporium. We didn’t go there regularly, so it was a big event when we did. They had a full lunch and dinner menu. but we kids were all about the ice cream. In my younger years I made a beeline for the “self-serve toppings bar”, wherein I would take a couple of poor, naked scoops of vanilla ice cream and slather so many toppings onto it that the resulting flavor explosion was not always agreeable.
I later graduated to their chocolate sodas, that virtually extinct concoction of ice cream in a soup of chocolate syrup and soda water. I once ordered their King Size soda, an event that did not end well from a digestion perspective. But I digress – my mother loved banana splits. Which Atz’s always called a banana boat because it was served in a little plastic boat-shaped dish (that was yellow, as I think about it.” Those boats would get taken home and washed and used as toy boats when we were small. As much as I love ice cream, I don’t believe I have ever ordered a banana split. This car makes me want to try one.
So there we are – Boy scouts, childhood neighbors, The Hardy Boys, Harry Belafonte and chocolate sodas. All served up by this genuine, real-life banana boat.
1971 Ford Galaxie 500 – Domino’s Delivers Even If Ford Doesn’t (Paul Niedermeyer)
1971 Ford LTD Convertible – The Name On The Title Starts With N (Jason Shafer)
1972 Ford Country Sedan – Finding A New Home In Germany (Geraldo Solis)
“My” 1972 Ford LTD [Warning – Satire Alert] – (Paul Niedermeyer)
Excellent article! Your reference to the Hardy Boys brought back a distant memory. When I read the books as a child in the 70s, I didn’t know what a convertible was (I blame growing up in a dreary Scottish industrial town for my lack of knowledge of convertible cars), so I thought that it converted from a car to a van or a boat 😐
I had Hardy Boys books as well. Each book would have a smattering of illustrations and I clearly recall a rendering of a ’64 Ford Galaxie as their convertible.
Jim, while we discovered these pictures about the same time you have done something here much more enjoyable than I could have managed. It was a great way to start the day.
The rear treatment of the ’72 does indeed diminish some of the magnificence of the ’71. Thankfully the fronts are close enough to require some thought on differentiation.
While the featured LTD uses the corporate steering wheel found on everything at Ford during this time period, I’ve never seen (fake) wood grain on one nor have I ever seen what appears to be cruise control.
I did not notice that steering wheel, but I clearly remember its twin in my father’s 72 Mark IV, complete with woodgrain and cruise control buttons. I cannot tell from these pictures if this one also features the rim-blow horn that was in Dad’s car. This one appears to be covered by a leather wrap, but maybe there is a (non-funtioning?) rim blow under there.
It’s nice to see one with a full load for a change. I regularly peruse these on E-Bay and other sites and something always seems to be missing. If it’s got AC, there’s no power windows, or vice versa. I even saw a ’71 years ago with
factory AC and 3-on-the-tree!
This one seems to have every box checked. AC, tilt, cruise, power windows AND locks, likely had a factory stereo radio , and even cornering lights.
I just missed my edit window. I would have to give the nod to the ’71 by dint
of the tailight treatment and availability of buckets & console for the final time.
It had completely slipped my mind that a banana split was ever called a “banana boat” (not that it ever really was front-and-center there), and you did it after thoroughly reminded me of Stranger Things by way of Jonathan Byers’ car…so it hit me what the thought process behind the theme and naming of Scoops Ahoy was (other than “what’s the most humorously embarrassing work uniform we can put Steve Harrington in that’s not a mascot costume or something else constricting”).
It’s too bad this one has a black interior instead of a beige/tan one so that “USS Butterscotch” would fit better…
“… I remember virtually nothing about that scout jamboree … I just remember that brand new ’71 LTD on a beautiful day in early autumn.”
Yeah. Things, especially cars and boats, have always made a bigger impression on my memory than whatever activities were going on at the time.
As a 13 year old, a family friend had a 37 foot 1956 Colonial cruiser, a 1957 Golden Hawk, and a 1957 Ford Courier. I knew every square inch of those machines (I learned to drive stick on the Courier) but can’t exactly recall what was going on at the time.
Well, maybe one memory. I do recall sitting on the flying bridge of that Colonial with the distant thrumming of the two big gas V8s moving us west at a rapid rate on a cool autumn evening directly into the setting sun as the raised bow threw moaning sheets of white water off to each side. That moment is permanently etched into my long term memory, while with regards to short term memory, I’m not sure if my township recycling is this week or next.
The Hawk was white with a gold tail fin and the Courier smell strongly of home heating oil (the owner had an oil home heating company). I can still feel the long and loose three on the tree shift lever of that Courier and any encounter with number 2 diesel triggers old memories of that yellow – no rear side windows – wagon.
I never got to ride in the Hawk; I did sit on the grass and look at it with loving 13 year old eyes and could not conceive of a more beautiful design. Where was I at the time? I have no idea.
Same here. My folks took us kids on a trip to Massachusetts when I was nine and my sister 12. It was quite different to Denver where we lived; I have vague recollections of Cape Cod and the MTA and Brigham’s ice cream and other suchlike, but mostly I remember the blue Ford LTD rentcar. Well, that and the grand-mal, full-boogie meltdown of a screaming temper tantrum my mother threw when the Copley Square Hotel accidentally put us in a room with one less bed than needed. Ahem. But mostly the blue LTD.
CC effect (kind of).
It’s a ’58 and the roof is not white. In addition, despite what the TTAC article claims, my info says the “new” 289 cu. in. V8 was a little bit less heavy than the big 352 cu. in. Packard.
yeah, there are a lot of things to quibble with there. But at least the Hawks are getting some love.
Nice article! I too have many memories of reading Hardy Boys books and updating them in my mind. They did seem to be written with a vagueness that didn’t make them dated in my mind.
I also think of Gator when I see LTDs from this era, but also Clint Eastwood in the Dirty Harry series. I just didn’t see him driving a blue and white LTD in SF though. I do recall the cars just leaning all over the place though – Ford cushy suspension setups didn’t promote great handling.
Dirty Harry is the first thing that comes to mind when I see ragtop LTDs of this vintage, too. I’m generally not a fan of ‘70s Ford styling, but these convertibles are the exceptions. Nice looking rides. If it’s good enough for Harry Callahan, it’s good enough for me!
Adults in the ’50s had a lot of strange standardized ideas about cars. My dad always bought Dodges because “Dodges are made of 14 gauge sheet metal. On other cars you can make a dent in the fender with your fist, but you can’t do that to a Dodge.”
This was never true, of course. There might have been a meaningful difference in the ’20s when Dodge used steel framing in bodies and other cars still used wood studs, but the difference disappeared in the ’30s.
I generally dislike the styling of ‘70s Fords, however I do have a soft spot for the full sized ‘71 and ‘72 two doors. These were good looking cars, particularly as ragtops. Some convertibles just look odd once the top is retracted, but not these…even if it is banana boat yellow. Memory serves, I think Clint Eastwood drove a gorgeous blue ragtop in one of the ‘Dirty Harry’ movies. If it’s good enough for Harry Callahan, it’s good enough for me!
While the convertible was most definitely an LTD, this one has had a grille transplant from a Galaxie 500 or Custom.
Damned if you aren’t right! All these years as a self-proclaimed Ford-o-Phile
and I never noticed the different grill treatments!
I had never noticed the different grilles before this comment string either!
Usually, the 1971-72 Ford convertibles was all LTD since the retirement of the XL.
I wonder could had been a Canadian oddity? The 1973 Custom 500 in Canada was also available as a 2-door hardtop. http://www.oldcarbrochures.org/Canada/Ford-Canada/Ford-Canada%20Cars/1973%20Ford%20Full%20Size%20-%20Canada/slides/1973%20Ford%20Full%20Size%20%28Cdn%29-16-17.html
Yes, this was Canada-only. The Custom 500 was available as a two-door hardtop from 1970-78, and then continued as the “LTD Custom 500” from ’79-’81. This paralleled the Chevrolet Bel Air in Canada, which also added a two door hardtop in 1970 after the two door sedan was discontinued.
All of the unique low-trim Canadian full-size cars were cancelled after 1981: LTD Custom 500, Bel Air, Pontiac Laurentian and Mercury Marquis Meteor. All were available as two door, four door and wagon.
I SO wanted one of these back when I had my ‘73. Sure, my car was a 2 door hardtop, which made my LTD look somewhat cool, but not as cool as one of these.
I really wanted a ‘72, I think more so because it was the last big Ford convertible, but I think I have to agree that the ‘71’s taillight treatment was more attractive.
As I get older though and think back to these cars, I like the ‘69 and ‘70 even more, especially in XL trim.
But there’ll always be a spot in my fantasy garage for a ‘71 or ‘72 convertible, in that rich looking seventies brown (one of the few cars I like in that color) with a tan top and tan interior. 429 would be the engine choice for me. I liked my 351, but it barely got that more than 2 ton boat out of its own way.
From personal experience I can tell you a 429 in a ’71 LTD convertible is one of those earthly delights that almost defies description.
Sure the email chain in the linked article above is bogus but the ride in that LTD was not.
Dad had a 72 LTD Brougham pillared hardtop. Great car and lacked the rust problem of the 69/70 vintage.
When I saved enough money to buy a used car, I searched for a 71/72 LTD Brougham 2-door. Dad said a co-worker was selling a 72 LTD. I trusted his judgement and gave him the OK to buy it. As I hadn’t seen the car in advance, I stipulated that if I didn’t like it, I’d buy Dad’s car and Dad could drive his co-worker’s car.
Like Christmas morning, I eagerly awaited Dad’s return from work with the new LTD. To my dismay, it was a Country Squire with faded wood grain and poorly bondo’d rust patches. I made the mistake of ranting about all of the vehicle’s shortcomings… so much so that Dad backed off our deal. So, I spent the next weeks fixing the car’s cosmetics and quickly flipped it.
I learned 3 things from that experience. 1. I was much more a perfectionist about cars than Dad, and should have more confidence about my own 19-year old judgement. 2. A station wagon exposes you to jokes from your friends and strange looks from the parents of your dates. 3. The market for clean, used family haulers is strong, as many family budgets can’t afford a new car.
Now, I’d love to find a 71/72 Mercury Marquis Brougham in good condition…. NOT a Colony Park!
How rare to see a banana boat car like this out in the wild, innocently sitting ahead of a modern day Dodge Caravan. I love seeing people meander by, without the faintest hint of wonder at such an old beast, nearly 60 years old, just biding its time by the curb. Excellent pictures from the cohort! Somehow BC is either forgiving to old cars, or is the home of some find restoration skills.
As full-sized Fords of this vintage have so often been portrayed as representing law enforcement or government in so many movies and on TV, it seems strange to see one in a bright, cheerful colour. You almost naturally expect to see these in dark, low profile colours.
Nice article, nice car and nice reference to the Hardy Boys. I read every book from the first (The Tower Treasure) thru #44 or 45. I also used to enjoy the occasional Hardy Boys segment on the Mickey Mouse Club show from the 60’s, starring, if memory serves, Tim Considine and Tommy Kirk ( had to look up spelling “Considine”). My dad was a definite Ford man was getting leased cars through his employer in these days. Somehow, he skipped over these going from a 69 Galaxie to a 73 wagon.
Polistra mentions the strange beliefs of 50/60’s car buyers….. in my family, on my father’s side anyhow, no one would -ever- buy a Ford. I was a little kid in the 60’s, so I may have muddled my memories but apparently the steering wheel came loose in my grandfather’s hand while he was driving his new 1949 Ford, and that was that. I remember the family of one of my older sister’s boyfriends being criticized as a family of poor judgement because they drove a fleet of (pretty darn nice) Fords. Of course when your eldest child is a very pretty redhead, you go as far as you have to go to find something to criticize her boyfriends. The other rap on Fords that I distinctly remember was that they required “special tools” for repairs, although to this day I have no idea what that meant.
I admit to being, like every kid, a huge fan of the Mustangs, and I also loved the look of the Galaxy and the LTD …. but only until 1969 for the big cars, and 1970 for the Mustang. Fords suddenly got bloated (just like the Plymouth Barracuda) and that spoiled everything. I didn’t get the look….
As for reading, I went though my formative years on a diet of my dad’s old Tom Swift books, like Tom Swift And His Electric Rifle; although I did like the Hardy Boys….they didn’t have electric rifles….
Anyhow attached is a picture of what (in my mind) a Ford LTD should look like from the days before Bunkie ruined them
I’ll stop juuuust short of saying “prejudiced”, but I am, ah, deeply skeptical of grownups who go by cutesy kiddy names like “Sonny” or “Cammy”. Or “Bunkie”, whose work nicely illustrates my skepticism.
When your real name is Semon, you can see how Bunkie might be preferable.
Fair enough—shame on his tonedeaf parents, no matter what fusty old tradition they felt was so important to inflict on the boy—but I don’t see where those were the only two options. “Sem” would’ve been fine. Or what would’ve been the matter with going by his middle name, Emil?
As someone who very narrowly avoided becoming “Emil Max the Third”, (Thanks Mom, for talking Dad outta that one!) I’m gonna have to agree with everyone else who went by a nickname instead of what their parents bestowed on them. Nobody calls my Dad Emil Max Jr, he’s “Butch” to everyone…
I’ve had similar thoughts all my life. At a young age I discouraged people from calling me “Bob” because that was a short jump to the too cutesy “Bobby” and I was trying (with questionable success) to live a more dignified life and “Robert” certainly sounded more dignified.
That theory was confirmed when JFK’s two younger brothers were first. called Bobby and Teddy, but then “Bobby” became “Robert F.” as a Senator from New York and presidential candidate. Teddy became Ted (maybe OK for a frat brother but not a US Senator), and he was never known as “Edward Moore”, his real and IMO much better name.
There are exceptions: Jackie Gleason, Jackie Wilson, Jackie Kennedy, Jackie Robinson, and Jackie Brown. OK the last one is really a “Pam”, but you get my drift.
Just about total agreement. I don’t look askance at all -y or -ie or -i names, either; Jackie and Joni and Jenny don’t cloy and grate the way Cammy or Teddy or Bobby* or Tommy or Johnny or Timmy or Jimmy or Bunkie does.
“Danny” I don’t like, but I really have to recuse myself on that one due to conflict of interest.
“Ted” as a nickname for “Edward” is almost as weird as “Beaver” as a nickname for “Theodore”.
“Ted” as a nickname for “Rafael” strikes me as cynical and opportunistic, and that’s all I’ll say about that lest I veer into territory.
*Go, right now, and create an autocorrect entry in all your devices to change “Booby” to “Bobby”. Even if you think you’ll never need it. Same way you can go years and decades fastening your seatbelt without ever actually needing it: when you eventually do need it, the need will be very sudden and very urgent and it will be far too late to think about preparing for it. Trust me.
Every time I hear or read about an adult male named Robert who answers to Bobby I am forcibly remined of Bob Knight, the former basketball coach at Indiana University. He was known as “Bobby” until the day IU finally got rid of him and presumably, now approaching 80 years old, answers to the diminutive to this day. Among his other faults Mr. Knight tended to act like a spoiled child on a frequent basis, I’m sure having an eight year old’s name didn’t help.
Several lifetimes ago I had a job as the outside bill collector for a low rent finance company. It’s a long story but essentially the finance company was part of a massive money laundering scheme that ended up with quite a few people entering a gated community. One of the perks that came with the job was that I was furnished with a company car and I ended up with the twin of the yellow convertible pictured above. The only difference I can see is that the one I used was a two door hardtop and not a convertible. My personal vehicle at this time was a VW Super Beetle so the Ford was quite a contrast. One of the major differences between the Ford and my VW was the gas mileage; the Ford returned around 9-10 MPG in normal driving and maybe a little bit more if driven on the highway. It made me real glad that I wasn’t paying for the gas as I usually had to fill up the beast every other day or so.
Which first name does have the most variants? William, I suppose?
William, will.i.am, Will, Willy, Bill, Billy.
…add Mac and Buddy to the William-alternatives, because Sheryl says so.
A David here. I actively discouraged the cloying “Davey” because 1) it’s a toddler’s nickname and 2) people would imitate that stupid claymation dog from “Davey and Goliath” and I *hated* that show.
Even “Dave” makes me itch.
On topic, my mom had a 1972 Country Squire in the same butter-yellow color with the fake wood sides, gross brown vinyl seats, and I was too young to know what was under the hood other than a very thirsty V8. “Passes everything except a gas station” Dad would say.
Being a Michael meant that I would be called Mike. That was ok as male friends called me Mike while family and girlfriends called me Michael. Mikey, however, would get you a punch in the face and there were a few of those attempts when I was young.
However, for those who are truly in awe of these type of nicks then you need to spend some time in the Philippines where these are a big, big deal. How many politicians would go by the nickname of “Baby” placed between their first and last name?
For some unknown reason, lost to history, my parents decided to call me by my middle name, Lee, instead of my first name, Michael, which I would have greatly preferred. I tried a few times, to change my name, unsuccessfully. I was too ingrained to being called Lee to respond to Michael or even Mike. Alas, in our health care system, my full name is on my health card, so all doctors and medical staff call me Michael, which I quite enjoy.
My wife and I named our firstborn son, Michael, which in adulthood he now insists on Mike. Our youngest son is named Robert, and he goes by Rob, but never Bob or Bobby. As a teenager, his buddies called him Peanut, as he has anaphylaxis to – you guessed it – peanuts.
My brother is a Robert but have always called him Bob. Couldn’t possibly call him Robert as it would seem so wrong and so like you’re in trouble now.
When my son was born the deal was a girl my wife name and if a boy I can name as long as it isn’t Michael. Ok, Michael is the middle name. Ah, but the first name took some doing as I was very aware of possible nicknames of which many I didn’t like. Being part Filipino I was even more aware of what could happen.
Being of Irish heritage I looked up the top 100 Irish boys names. Naturally Sean is first and no I don’t care for it. All the way down the list, at #86 I believe, is the name Brendan for St. Brendan. That’s the one, I like it, and it has no nickname. He is now 10 and it has stood the test of time in that their are no nicks for him. Of course, some clueless folks manage to get stuck on Brandon.
MoparMike? Mmm, kind of catchy isn’t it…:)
Gawd strewth, don’t ever come to Australia, you lot!
Practically everybody has their name shortened, and then a vowel sound added (o, a, or ee). If it’s not done to your first name, it’s definitely done to your last. Oh, and nobody, ever, is given a name with a middle letter (like ole George W), and even less than that is given a number!
For reference, it’s properly universal: one of our mostly widely-liked (and recently deceased) Prime Ministers was christened Robert Hawke. He was universally called Bob, if being formal, or Hawkie otherwise.
That may not be all. Sometimes, an ironic reference to your name or occupation or even appearance replaces the name entirely: Tiny (huge guy), Snowy (black haired), etc. In my last workplace, there were two Bobs(!) of similar age, so the reticent religious one was always called Fucker Bob, and the left-leaning one Fascist Bob, to their faces, as part of ordinary discourse.
Welcome to Australia. Leave most or all of your name at the door.
“Special tools” is probably a reference to the Model T Era “Ford” script wrenches that Ford made.
Like this? (from my Father’s Model A)
LOL! I honestly no idea but I completely bet you are right!
And there were probably enough people around back in the Model T and A era who’d think you had to use the Ford spanner because it said Ford, even if it was a standard size.
Very interesting car and a great story, I don’t believe I have ever ridden in one of these.
I was a huge Hardy Boys fan in my day as well after making the jump from The Famous Five in Europe. Sadly my own kids seem to show no interest…
But could the lady in the passenger seat of the green one have any more of a Mrs. Robinson look/pose about her? She’s making me feel a little clammy just looking at it. “Oh, Benjamin…”
Love this convertible! While not a fan of most 1970s Fords due to the bloat and huge park bench bumpers, I must admit a weakness for these 1971-72 LTDs. From the perspective of a 10-year old accustomed to riding around in stripper Mopar products, with his legs glued to a hot and clammy vinyl seat, a ride in a friend’s parents’ LTD Brougham was a revelation. The smooth ride (I never get seasick), the luxurious brocade upholstery, and the rattle-free quiet, combined with powerful a/c, all contributed to a feeling of immense well-being. Never mind the prolific rust and my mother’s similar (unfounded) contempt for Ford engineering, this convertible would amplify those youthful impressions and be just about the most perfect vehicle imaginable on a beautiful early autumn day in the fall of 1971.
What a flood of associations with your past…banana boats, Harry Belafonte, the Hardy Boys, the jiggliness of the big 1971 GM cars, all-new that year…
…and the terrible songs put out by educational publishing houses! But they were only the beginning, witness the politically correct pablum (or maybe pablum isn’t politically correct unless it is gluten-free) on kids’ TV shows today.
Enough musical criticism. It’s summer. What would be more appropriate than a chocolate soda this afternoon? Everything to make one is right here in the house!
But no, I have no bananas…
For the 1971-72 full sized Ford’s I prefer the 1971 front end but I prefer the 1972 tail end, it’s hard for me to decide which year of these 1971-72 Ford LTD I like better, I do consider 1972 to be the last truly great year of the Ford LTD in terms of style and performance.
Nice article, and associations – ‘Banana Boat’ is the perfect moniker.
I hadn’t thought of The Hardy Boys in years. Our small town New Brunswick school library had many of them, and I devoured them as available (with Biggles and Dave Dawson as backups).
My enthusiasm for Frank and Joe led me astray once with the local minister, who also ran the Wolf Cubs. At one meeting he went around the circle asking each boy what book he really wanted to read. My answer was ‘The Twisted Claw’, which struck my nine year old self as perhaps the best book title ever.
The boy next to me however said ‘The Bible’. Oh sh*t…
That was followed by a stern lecture on how everyone should want to read the Bible and that books like ‘The Twisted Claw’ (singled out with snarling sarcasm) were utterly worthless. I guess he’d never read The Hardy Boys. 🙂
Oh dear. That’s not the way to cultivate interest in children.
One thing drummed into us in college was the need for a minister to read widely – to better relate to parishioners and their interests, to know what the world was thinking (in those pre-social media days). Quite when were were supposed to find the time for all this extracurricular reading was never explained.
I didn’t mean to be too hard on him, and although he singled out the book I didn’t feel he was singling out me. Looking back at it, it’s just funny. He was very much from a different generation.
People who commit atrocities never quote passages from “The Twisted Claw”, or any other Hardy Boys books. It just doesn’t happen.
The Twisted Claw is *still* one of the best book titles ever! 🙂
I have no recollection of ever seeing a big Ford convertible in the period, none. So every time I see a photo like this, my mind wants to assume that some drunks got their hands on an LTD coupe and a sawsall.
“got their hands on an LTD coupe and a sawsall”
What always fascinated me about these was how the belt lines differed completely between the hardtop coupe and the convertible. The convertible maintained a bit of a coke-bottle contour that seems to have carried over from 1969-70 while the hardtop had a very abrupt belt kickup at the C pillar.
The big Chevy convertibles seemed to work from the hardtop quarter panels, and was a less successful look there (to me, anyhow). Ford was probably trying to not spend any more restyling money on the convertible than it had to for 71-72.
Even though my dad had a ‘71 Country Squire as a company car, when I see a ‘71 or ‘72 full sized Ford I’m reminded of “The Streets of San Francisco”, the TV show that ran from 1972-77 – a Quinn Martin Production.
Didn’t realize bucket seats did not return for the last year of a big Ford convertible. I bet few people back in 1963 could imagine that there wouldn’t be a big Ford convertible offered for 1973. I’ve always liked the ‘71’s taillights over the ‘72. I do prefer the dashboard on the 1973 LTD – maybe because it’s the car I learn to drive on.
Only a few weeks ago, I recall reading an article in a local blog where the author highlighted a car accident from 47 years ago involving a new LTD rear ending a Swinger on the local Queensway (freeway) after a summer shower in July of that year. The Swinger appearing to get the worst of this encounter, as it was sandwiched. Besides the banged up LTD, and its mangled pre-5 mph bumper, there’s some period CCs and fashions here. An OPP Polara is visible in the background.
Poor Swinger. Everyone seems okay.
I must admit that I liked the 1972 LTDs better than the previous year’s models. Designers toned down Bunkie’s beak and the taillight area was less cavernous. However, the car’s overall look has always struck me as too boxy and generic compared to the 1969-70 models.
The LTD was a brilliant move by Ford because it turned what was then thought to be General Motors’ greatest strength – its three premium-priced brands – into a disadvantage. The Ford brand could get away with moving upmarket because Mercury was fairly weak anyway. In contrast, when Chevrolet moved upmarket it risked cannibalizing sales from Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Buick. That presumably became an even bigger problem as GM’s “standard-sized” cars lost their individuality in the late-70s.
From 1968 through 1974 the LTD outsold the Caprice – sometimes by lopsided margins. For example, in 1972 almost twice as many LTDs left the factory than Caprices. Of course, the lower-priced Impala returned the favor, so the entire line of full-sized Chevrolets handily outsold the Fords. Indeed, 1972 was the last year that Chevy’s big cars topped 1 million units. The era of the land yacht was coming to a close.
This is still a pretty rare find to see one in the wild and not at a car show. Ford made 4234 convertibles in 72,while not ultra rare like one of 500,it is rare compared to over 800’000 big Fords of all models produced that year.
Fun fact,The 72 Chevrolet lmpala drop tops sold over 50% better at 6456. The following year the convertible was moved up to the Caprice line. With Ford out of the game Caprice convertible sales increased slightly over the next 2 yrs.until the end in 75.
I’m with the lovers on this shape. There was a 71-73 Mustang vert that lived near my home years and years ago in this colour.
I have no opinion or interest in this car as an actual automobile, but it will also have a significant place in my own automotive history. It was a green 1972 LTD (or more likely, a Galaxie) that was the first car we used in high school driver training. The instructor let all of us drive it in a parking lot, and after some scary moments with the other kids, it was my turn. I guess he liked what I did, and he let me drive it back to the school on public streets, in San Francisco. That was my first time on public roads behind the wheel of a car. For the last one or two sessions of the class, the Ford was replaced by a 1973 Coronet which was much nicer to drive. That’s the one we parallel parked in, on the steepest hill the instructor could find in SF with available spots to park in. Trust me, it was steep, and the rear visibility in that gen Coronet wasn’t great, especially with 3 across in the back seat, but I suspect it was still easier than it would have been in the Ford.
I never got to drive one of these until they were aging. The first one was maybe 1978 or 79, a 71 Galaxie 500 sedan. I had spent a lot of wheeltime in my 67 Galaxie 500 convertible and was aghast at how floppy the structure was on the thing. It had not been well cared for, the dash was cracked, the front suspension made banging noises and it had big rust holes everywhere. After that drive I had no desire to ever pilot one of these again. But the feeling has worn off by now, so I would at least try a nicer one.
It would surely not have been very pleasant for parallel parking. Something I learned while doing so in the 75 Mercury Marquis that was my drivers ed car.
By baby got 32000 on her and been kept in good condition just want to know how to upgrade it power wise my first ford well she how she stands up to the Chevy 85 box I had for 10yrs just wanted to post pics for ppl
I am late to the party, but great write-up JP. These big Fords are my favourite big 1970’s Fords, but fullsize Fords from the 70’s are not high up on my list of best cars. The convertibles are sharp looking though. Compared to the Chevrolet’s, I thought the Ford’s had a bit more sportiness to them as a convertible. My dad actually briefly considered a ’72 LTD convertible. When he was car shopping he really wanted a convertible and that was the only one Ford offered that had a large enough back seat to carry people. In the end it was just too big of a car for him and he wanted something with a bit of a sportier edge.
I have an old MT road test comparison of the LTD compared to the Caprice. It reads like testing two bland-mobiles. It basically concludes both are competent cars, and both are so close, that it really comes down to product and styling preference.
I was curious, so I Googled Atz’s, and found thhis:
http://www.kpcnews.com › columnists › dennis_nartker › kpcnews
Sep 24, 2014 – Monday the Atz Ice Cream Shoppe and restaurant on North Anthony Boulevard in Fort Wayne abruptly closed after years of serving the public …
Yes, I had been gone from the city for quite a few years by then, but I remember my mother telling me about it.
Great write up! It brought back a few memories like the ‘Banana Barge’, offered by Carvel (north east regional ice cream joint). Funny enough, as a 5 year old, I played my mom’s Day-O record so many times that my dad lost his cool and threw the record and player out the door… (it was her record player too). My aunt had a ’71 Galaxie 500 and I remember it having the touchiest power brakes of anything else I ever drove. I never got used to them. The car was eventually scrapped due to the rusted out frame over the rear axle.
I’m a little late reading this one, but I’ll still drop a comment here to say this is an excellent piece. Very evocative of that childhood period when one is first becoming car conscious. Our perceptions are sometimes questionable in hindsight, but then so are the adults’. I laughed when you questioned your mom’s car reasoning in hindsight. Though in even more hindsight, maybe she was right because if the Ford bodies didn’t hold up, the Oldsmobile surely would have had better durability even if they weren’t actually heavier.