(first posted 2/20/2014) Good morning, Curbsiders. Today, our subject is Bloat. Please turn your attention to the photograph above. We are going to examine this poor, unfortunate swollen subject in some detail. This is the sad result when a handsome but large American car simply lets itself go.
Sure, the 1971-72 Ford LTD had been a piece of crap. But it had at least been an attractive and appealing piece of crap, one that made its (first) owner feel handsome and successful, at least until the rust started bubbling up through the paint after its third winter. But the ’73 model, ugh!
I vividly recall this car’s debut. I was thirteen. My Mopar fandom was still developing, and my automotive heart was still with the big Fords. From my earliest consciousness, I worked hard at identifying every year and following the new models when they came out. I suppose it was my way of rebellion in a family dominated by GM vehicles. Finally, my Uncle Bob got a used ’64 Galaxie 500, and then Dad got a new ’66 Country Squire, followed by a ’69 LTD. Each of these cars seemed better and more appealing than the last. I still remember the first ’71 LTD I ever saw – I was stunned at how beautiful the car was. Yessir, Ford was on a roll. Then came this one.
“My,” I thought of my old flame in late 1972, “haven’t you put on weight?” Actually, my dear Ford LTD had gotten outright fat. This was bloat of the highest order. Sure, Chevy and Plymouth had usually been better performers, but Fords had at least looked trim and athletic from the curb. No more. The ’71-72 LTD always made me think of Burt Reynolds. Maybe this is because I remember him driving them in the movie White Lightning. This car? More like John Candy. Only not as funny. Middle age spread had taken hold.
I wanted to like the car. Really. But every feature of the thing seemed designed to look less appealing than last year’s model. Every detail on the car was dull and puffy compared to the prior version. I knew that the fat bumpers were not Ford’s fault, but everything else certainly was. To tell you how bad it was, the ’73 Caprice started looking good to me, which in my Chevy-phobic youth was a serious matter indeed.
Let’s be truthful for a moment. Does anyone really like the ’73 big Ford? I don’t mean do you like the way it rides, or how much you can put into its cavernous trunk. I mean does anyone think that this is an attractive car? I suspect that we will get two or three contrarians out there who will disagree with me, but on this one, I claim to be in the comfortable majority. I ask you: even aside from its all-too-obvious weight problem, is there an original (or even interesting) line anywhere on it?
I can hear those two or three apologists now: “But JP, maybe you have not actually spent enough time with one of these.” To which I shall reply “you sir, are wrong.” A close family friend traded a black ’68 Mercury Montclair fastback (which I dearly loved) on one. Six of us rode in that car on a vacation that summer. It was certainly comfortable, and as a top-line LTD Brougham 2 door painted a reddish-copper, it was about as good looking as these got. But attractive on its own? Not really. I also remember from a few years later the rust, the hollow-sounding doors and the duct-taped upholstery. A school-friend’s dad bought one too, in that ungodly metallic pinkish-red, no less. My father got them as rentals (usually Galaxie 500s) more than once on family trips. And I got to spend a whole day cleaning and detailing a lime green ’73 Country Sedan wagon, getting familiar with its every nook, crevice, squeak and rattle. I have firsthand experience with an impressive variety of models, trim levels and colors. These cars, to me, are like Green Eggs and Ham–I do not like them, Sam I Am.
Really, I think that this is the car that singlehandedly started the Malaise Era. The ’73 model was not so much a new car as a new platform for hanging ever-more parts from Ford’s massive Brougham Catalog. This car was the white pine that would be transformed into the Christmas Tree by 1976-78 (which we will call Peak Brougham). How many square yards of earth-toned padded vinyl and woodgrain applique swathed these things? It may have helped them.
Sometimes, we can be surprised when we find that a reviled broughamified chariot can look quite trim and appealing once all of the gingerbread is stripped away. But as we see with rather basic version here, it doesn’t help one bit. Just like some people don’t look good in a Speedo, some cars just don’t look good wearing nothing but metal. Quick, somebody get this poor swollen thing into a trim shop. It’s gonna take their broughamliest vinyls, and lots of them, to cover this automotive hippo. And if anyone ever wondered whether a finer grille texture would have helped this car’s look, we can now give you a definitive no.
It has been quite awhile since I have heaped such hate onto a car, but to tell you the truth, it feels kinda good, in a soul-cleansing kind of way. Am I being unfair to the poor, helpless thing? Perhaps. I am man enough to admit that the 1973-74 generation of this car was probably a better quality package than Ford offered in 1971-72. But not by a lot, and truthfully, this was not a particularly high standard from the outset. No matter what Paul Niedermeyer says (here). Although it depends on which day you ask (here). I can also concede that the car was one of the smoothest and quietest interstate cruisers of its day, capable of devouring miles (and gallons) in great quantities.
If pressed, I can also acknowledge that there is a sort of cohesiveness to the design. We can debate about how good of a thing this cohesiveness actually is, but it is at least there compared with the muddled hash that followed as 1975 models. I have reviewed Paul’s rant (here) about the odd two-door greenhouse on the 1975-78 version, and see his point. But is the 1975-78 version of this car an overall improvement over this one? Fodder for the commentariat indeed, because I just can’t decide. It’s like having to choose between a splitting headache or uncontrollable itching.
In anticipation of at least one comment, I will freely acknowledge that I have walked past hundreds of well-kept versions of this car, just waiting for a picture of a real shit-box in order to support my bile-filled diatribe. Who am I kidding? It is amazing that even one of these lived long enough to get this worn out. Most of them rusted to powder, at least until their 400 cid engine blocks cracked or until they were totalled after slipping into reverse and backing into something or another. The few that avoided such these fates were doomed by their 8 mpg fuel habit after 1979, so it is entirely possible that this is actually the last one of these in daily service anywhere. (Oh, wait. This was a Ford, not something made by GM, so the griping about my choice of a crappy one to photograph won’t even come up. My bad.)
Well, everyone, my spleen has been vented and I feel a lot better. But now I am actually starting to feel a little bad about some of the abuse I have flung at this poor car. It is not this poor LTD’s fault that it is overweight. It’s engineers simply gave the poor thing abnormally big bones. OK, and maybe some extra padding. Besides, it is now the second decade of the twenty-first century, so we are not supposed to say such unkind things. Maybe I should go back and buy this poor car, and give it some love. And an ice pack to relieve the swelling. Yes, perhaps I really should do this…
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Or, as those from the southern states might say, “HAYLE no.”
Feel better now? hehehe. Myself, I wouldn’t kick a wagon version of this out of bed. Still think the 71/72 is the best looking since the 60, but.
I dunno, I think this particular LTD would be a great car to terrorize the neighbourhood with, sans muffler of course. 🙂 Beater heaven ! Nice parking job too, up and over the curb….but then you can do that with this car and get away with it……it’s expected.
John Candy did that in a Mercury Marquis in Uncle Buck. And it was and did.
Ford applied the same bloatification to the Torino in 1973 as well, which was quite an accomplishment since the ’72-’76 body was pretty much identical. But the front and rear treatments took the ’72 Torino from an aggressive intermediate to a wretched pile of malaise that appeared to have lost all muscle tone and just sagged to the ground.
In fairness, the 5 mph bumpers were forced on the industry, by Insurance lobby. But, gas mileage aims took them away 20 some years ago.
Yes, but Ford seemed especially derelict in styling around the bumper mandate. Plymouth/Dodge managed to provide front-end treatments that didn’t make their cars suddenly look like they had ballooned into fat Vegas Elvis. Chevy also managed to make cars like the ’74 Malibu look decent. Ford just slapped on bumpers that jutted out a foot as well as turning the entire front-end into a plasti-chromed abomination that emphasized their incompetent bumper treatments.
Ooooh, fat Vegas Elvis – sure wish I had thought of that!
I’m going to argue that point about the ’74 Chevelle having attractive bumpers; those looked like Ford cow catchers. Mopar handled the 5-mph bumper requirement perfect from ’74 on . . .
So were buyers of these cars ‘receivers of swollen goods’?
(Credit to Catherine Tait, although in a completely different context 😁)
Jim, Jim. This shocks me, as you always have such positive things to say.
The ’70s model Fords do have a trajectory that mimics life. In youth, you had the baby faced ’71 and ’72 models. Adulthood brought the ’75 to ’78 models that were busting out all over. These are the adolescent models; see, even those bungy cords holding on the rear bumper put one in mind of the rubber bands orthodontists are so fond of using on all those poor, hapless teenage patients of theirs. Braces, acne, and orthodontics just seem to go hand in hand with this poor Ford.
Four wheel covers and a little naval jelly on those bumpers, and you could look quite elegant cruising around Indy.
Even Barnaby would approve.
then was the 79′ full-size Ford a victim of osteoporosis?
This Barnaby Jones LTD color scheme (this car exactly) was the common one I remember seeing (in quantity) in the day in California (Northern or Southern). When I went to visit relatives in Missouri, it was the green and the burnt orange colors the were dominant (and lipstick red with white vinyl tops seemed popular in the mid-west). These cars were EVERYWHERE . . . . that’s what I remember the most. Generally speaking, in California you didn’t see these with anything smaller than a 400 2V Cleveland . . .
And it’s for sale too… what was their asking price for this gem of a classic?
It has been quite awhile since I shot this one, and do not recall. The price was completely irrelevant information to me. This one would be overpriced at “Take Me, key in ignition!”
Of course, this was before I knew Keith Thelen’s self-destructive automotive urges. If I found this now, I would send him pictures and info. 🙂
My guess is this wound-up as either a parts donor, demo derby fodder, or the owner gave-up trying to sell it and took it to the wreckers.
Or still lives in it.
To me, this model, along with the even worse ’75-’78 model, sums up everything that was wrong with the ’70s. I dislike the ’71-’72 almost as vehemently, but they did look trimmer. A neighbor fixed one of these up (kind of) a few years ago, slapped on a really bad white paint job and a set of Cragar S/S mags. He left off the vinyl roof and emblems, and that’s probably about the best a ’73 LTD coupe got. Not my cup of tea, but it was nice to see someone giving it some TLC.
I do feel bad for this particular example. As it obviously was maintained for a very long time by the original owner(s). But then, I’d guess in the last 5-7 years, it’s been quite neglected. And likely winter driven at some point.
IMO these looked particularly ungainly in coupe form. It accentuated their bulk and general wastefulness. I can understand where Ford played with the B pillar window treatment. As that pillar is ridiculously thick on this one. At least the four door and wagon versions had some redemptive qualities as family haulers. Even at the time, I found these coupes way too bulky, for what they were. Never did liked the look of the headlights embedded within the grill. I think square headlights, would have helped these.
Unfortunately, I would describe that rust as terminal in this case. You typically would have seen them in this state by 1977-78. One of Ford’s lowest points.
The “Splitting Headache vs. Uncontrollable Itch” owns me. I can’t help but like the car though.
Now that I’m seriously considering candidates for my first classic, I’m starting to like these cars. Sure, they’re not as flashy or nimble as the Forward Looks I usually drool over, but they have cushy interiors, tough bumpers and replacement mechanicals are pretty easy to find. That, and they cost a lot less. Plus, I like the grille texture on these cars.
I like the way this car looks. A lot. The bigger, the better. But that’s me, I’m an European who likes American cars and 70s full size cars are my favorite. The green example (love the color btw) is in rough shape, but with some restoration it would be fantastic.
But the most beautiful picture in this article is the bottom half of “1973FordLTDAD03-crop-vert.jpg” (’76 LTD Landau? Google image search fetched this result).
Now that car is drop dead gorgeous. The lines (the appearance of tapering towards the tail) somehow remind me a bit of Citroen DS – very distantly, as if the DS was an underage girl who grew up into a well-built beautiful woman.
Oh and one more thing – I don’t think a big size car can automatically be equated with an obese person (male or female). If you say ‘fat car’, thw 1998 Fiat Multipla comes to my mind, for example, not this one.
Yup! I can agree on many of your points as I am European too and see the 70’s boats different than many people from accross the Atlantic. For me they are exotic and symbolize something different from a traditional Euro-box. OK, I agree – this Ford really is not the best example of American styling. What would I change to make it better? I would do away that awful B pillar and add a better styled grille and headlight treatment. Otherways the car could be attention magnet here in Latvia for example.
Of course, the bad rust reputation is a different story.
These Fords remind you of a Citroen DS? Really??? I’d like a sip of what you’re drinking.
Absinthe with worm.
With those two shots from rear 3/4 view, I can see what he’s saying…covered wheels with a bit of narrowing toward the rear end.
Well I agree the 1971-72 is much better looking than the 1973-74 Fords, I don’t think they are that bad. I prefer their styling to the 1975-78 generation. The 1973-74 coupes were not particularly attractive, but the sedans looked not too bad for the era. I have and old Motor Trend that has a Ford sedan beside the Chevrolet, and the Ford’s lines do look somewhat more modern than the Chevrolet. For 1973 I probably preferred the Chevy for styling (sans wheel skirts) over the Ford, but the Ford was far better looking than the 1973 Plymouth.
I pulled out one of my old 1970’s used car guides. Contrary to popular opinion on this site, the 1971-72 Ford isn’t listed as a terrible car. It notes that it has serious rusting problems, but otherwise an average car overall. The only other problem areas listed are the idler arm and carburetors. The Chevrolet’s biggest advantage was that it didn’t have the serious rusting problems that all early to mid 1970’s Fords seem to have (the 1970 Fords were listed as having major rusting issues too).
As for the comment about the 400 cracking, only a few of the early blocks had this issue. None were from 1973 or 1974.
As a college sophomore in 1982, my very first car purchase was a blue 1974 LTD Brougham coupe with the super-deluxe optional velour interior. Lincoln luxury at a Ford price…$800. The car had been well cared for but began rusting in about a year. A cool chilly morning meant hard starts and stumbles & stalls…I knew when I went outside if we were going to have a bad experience that morning. Overall I loved the car. Bigger is better in my opinion so while I’m sure to be the minority opinion, the ’70s Ford biggies really were better ideas to some of us.
I’ve never been a fan of full-size coupes from the ’70s and this shows exactly why. Paul may have lambasted the “pillared hardtop” which followed this car, but its extra glass made it look a bit less chubby than the ’73.
You may just have to post a nice full-size Ford to atone for this one, JP. 🙂
Looking back, I prefer the STYLING of the 73-74 LTD over the ’71-’72.
“Styling” is in caps because none of these cars had anything to recommend in roadability that actually involved taking a corner.
One memory of these cars is now 30 years old…while living in Cortland NY, I saw a deep red ’73-’74 LTD 2-door with the little strip of side trim…
…and NO rear quarters. Whatsoever.
They had rusted away to the base of the roof and a jagged edge behind the door. Funny seeing that side strip going all the way back to the side marker lights, still somehow attached to the car…and inner structure sticking out for all to see.
Unless there’s been a change, New York has no body rust laws.
Don’t worry Jim, you’re not being too harsh on this car. Although I don’t have a deep hatred for it, I agree that it’s a very unattractive bloated monstrosity. I do share the same degree of hatred for several other cars though. Everyone is entitled to a few 🙂
Are the bungee cords part of the Energy Absorption System?
Later that afternoon Buddy Ebsen showed up and pistol whipped Jpcavanaugh within an inch of his life….
Boy that’s a thick quarter pillar.
I associate this vintage big Ford with John Candy too, but more the beat to death, fowl smoke spewing, rust rimmed Mercury Grand Marquis coupe that he drove in 1989’s Uncle Buck, I always thought that was great car casting, I don’t think that there has ever been a better paring of a character and a car. It kinda summed up what every 70’s abused land barge that was still on the road in the Midwest looked like.
I initially felt badly for the memory of John Candy being compared to this heap, but on further consideration it is fitting.
He was also cast alongside a Broughamified rental car in Planes, Trains and Automobiles. I think that was a K-car.
It was a Dodge 600 convertible with a bunch to extra trim and Town & Country woody sides added on, interesting trivia, its painted the same green as the Wagon Queen Family Truckster from Vacation, which was also written by John Hughes from what I recall.
A Buddy Ebsen pistol whip – made me wince over my breakfast. I’m not sure who I’d want to face angrier over this, PN or BJ.
After seeing Uncle Buck my wife named her 79 Colony Park the “Buckmobile” in honor of Candy’s Mercury. I named her next car, an 88 Country Squire, S.O.B., “Son of Buck”.
Agree with you on this one. One of my College Roomates had one of these for a short time, in Brougham Spec., which replaced a 72 LTD 4 door identical to Paul’s. My family had a 73 Impala Sport Sedan, and I had a 71 Fury Gran Coupe at the time. The 73 LTD was definitely the most comfortable highway cruiser of the bunch but the Fury performed worlds better though not nearly as smooth and quiet. I thought my folks Impala was a good compromise of the three and the best looking though not as roomy as the Fury or LTD. The roommate eventually replaced the LTD Brougham right before graduation with a Chevette. What a comedown!
My favorite of the full size Fords is the 69-70 models. In 73-74 the Mercury Marquis, though bloated, had a much better look.
Not one of my favorites, but truly, I would rather have it than anything made today.
I definitely think the sedan looks MUCH better than the coupe. And the ’75-’78 looks better than the earlier iteration, although I’d still much prefer the sedan there, too.
I would probably prefer the Mercury from either generation.
That’s assuming I can’t have the Lincoln.
This poor example is not much of anything anymore.
I won’t go on record that this is the pinnacle of any sort of style, but it was an acceptable product of its times. Many here may agree the ’60s were the pinnacle of style, and that ’65 was an amazing year across most car lines, likely contributing to a record sales year.
I was 9 when this came along, so my sense of automotive judgment was in its infancy. When these started showing up on my street, they were shiny and new compared to the rusted GM products they were replacing, and we had quite a Ford-a-Thon going. The opening of a new Ford dealer bordering our neighborhood had a lot to do with that.
I’ll agree that the ’73 Caprice was suddenly sleek and sexy next to these cars. And, I’ll argue these are better looking than the ’74-’77 Plymouth and Dodge full size. But, Ford correctly predicted the box trend, and this was the first of many to come over the next ten years. The boxes got progressively less bloated, which was a good thing.
I spent a ton of time in the ’76 version of this as a passenger and driver over 8 years.
*Very quiet. Noticeably better than any of the ’71-’76 high end Oldsmobiles rotating through my life. Includes protection from wind leak and wind noise.
*Interior integrity was very good. The bits and pieces, the upholstery, etc. all out performed the ’68 Impala it directly replaced. Much better than Chevy’s ’71 – late ’80s crack-o-matic dash pads. You had to buy an Olds or Buick to get a decent interior from GM.
*Very smooth ride.
*We just didn’t have that much trouble with rust, and it out performed all the GM products we had ahead of it.
*The styling was a let down from cars ahead of it, but that was a common issue across most car lines.
*Ford seemed a bit angry about the 5 mph bumper standard. The styling says; “here, dammit, you have your compliant bumpers.”
*Compared to about anything on the road, handling was sloppy. At times even frustratingly sloppy. My ’73 Cutlass Supreme coupe was a sports car compared to this in every respect.
*Reliability was generally better then the late ’60s cars we had ahead of it, and comparable to the GM cars that surrounded it at the time.
*Sluggish performer unless you opted for the fastest ways to go through gas. The 351 in ours was very ho-hum. Loved the GM 350s in the Colonnades and the ’77 up B bodies.
Terrible car? No. The sales numbers provide testimony as much as anything. GM was best in most respects, Ford second, Chrysler third, AMC a distant fourth, and the rising foreign brands were providing all kinds of new positive and negative experiences – but were generally not competing in anything above the compact car class.
Well Dave B, 22 comments in and you seem to be the closest we have come to a real fan of these cars, at least among those who have lived through them. After writing this, I started to wonder if there is any other car out there that is a better poster child for the universally unloved car? I have started to wonder if my whole rant was nothing more than a “Captain Obvious” moment. Oh well, the day is young and we have not yet heard from Eric VanBuren. I allotted three seats at the table for fans of the 73 Ford, and we still have at least two of them left. 🙂
“I started to wonder if there is any other car out there that is a better poster child for the universally unloved car?”
1974 was very kind to this car. The new C body Chryslers could barely wheeze out of the factory and AMC was most obliging with the Matador sedan. Henry II got lucky with all the diversions.
It just occurred to me that my wife’s Aunt drove a ’73 or ’74 LTD Brougham sedan into the mid 1990’s, replacing it with an Intrepid. It was a bit of a family legend. Every year we waited to see what car she would be driving to the family reunion. That Ford was more faithful than several family members. You just can’t hate on a car like that!
I’d have to agree. They were well-built and comfortable. Styling was in the eye of the beholder, but I love my cars long, wide and opulent so I find Fords of the so-called ‘malaise era’ most appealing.
If you wanted something cheaper that did the same basic job of transport, you would buy a Toyota, Datsun or Mazda. If you wanted something with more “get-up and go” you would plump for a Mustang, Corvette or the like. If you wanted a family car with a few status symbols (badging, fancy grille-work and enough sheet metal to impress the neighbours) then you went for something like this. That’s why they sold so well.
The bloat doesn’t surprise me a bit. It was a product of its time. And that time was all about big hair, bell-bottoms and wild music.
Another good write-up JP. Really enjoy your stuff.
Dad had a new ’69 LTD 4 dr HT, which was replaced by a new ’75 LTD Landau, the awful 2 dr. with that ridiculous little window behind the B pillar. Always thought the ’69 was handsome and attractive, and the 390 moved it quite well. Was handed down to my sister, who eventually sold it after 130,000 basically trouble free miles. The only problem I can recall was that the motor mounts needed replacing. The ’75 was decidedly worse. Bloated and fat, with the wheezing 400 delivering maybe 10 MPG. I recall after driving it the first time lifting the hood and seeing if it was really was a 400. The ’75 was like seeing the hot high school cheerleader at your 10 year reunion, where the years, shall we say, have not been kind.
Had a friend who was a salesman that had a ’71, ’73 and ’75 as company cars. All were quite comfortable, but each was a bit fatter, slower and more dowdy than the one before. As a guy in his 20’s, he hated these “old man” cars.
Ha! CPJ! As a high schooler in the mid 70’s in “Blame Burnt Mr. Moore’s” Auto Shop Class (San Rafael High School), Mr. Moore had a ’69 LTD with the 390. No a/c, but the standard P/S. Open the hood – boom! Engine. No sweat. Granny’s ’74 Country Squire, an English teacher’s ’73 Thunderbird . . . open the hood . . . hey, there’s an engine in there somewhere. Hard to see if all the hoses, EGR and air pump bleed off valves (with hoses); cold air induction hoses, feedback from the carb hoses, hose hoses, etc . . . . (worse for the malaise era California cars . . . . ).
Jim; we need to have a word. Bashing big Fords from the seventies is my exclusive domain here; did you not read your contract? Maybe you’d better go over it more carefully with your attorney.
You’re seriously stepping on my toes here…what am I to do with the rest of the ’73 – ’78 LTDs I have in my files? Have Jason ghost-write them for me, extolling their many virtues?
I hired you on the basis of your deep and abiding love for the ’71-’72 Ford, to provide some contrast to my well-know disdain for them. I just assumed you’d love these too, even more so, as they’re just a bit more of the same thing, right?
You’ve created a crisis here Jim. Folks want “fair and balanced” coverage of Fords, and you faithfully provided that for all these years. And now you blow it all up….This strikes me as a material breech of our contract….things may get ugly….you know there’s guys out there just chomping at the bit to be our “Big Ford Guy”. Richard, Tom, Perry…..
JP – time for a spinoff!
http://www.fatfords.com is available….
Sorry, Paul – I had no choice. As we have proven today, the 73 big Ford is the universal automotive punching bag. The best we have gotten from the commentariat is that they were comfortable and not really much worse than anything else out there. Wow, such love!
I now see why you staked out this territory for yourself – Anti GM rants bring all kinds of brimstone down, but a screed that targets a 70s Ford really gets no pushback at all.
While researching a find from yesterday, look what I stumbled upon at the Professional Car Society’s website. Jim, for some odd reason, I thought of you upon seeing this.
The “Our Lady of Brougham” Festival is a sacred annual event.
Our Capo, who art in Brougham, haloed be thy
Dang glitchy picture-typewriter.
Truly weird conversion. Is the rear side door for the occupant of the aft compartment?
There are tons of 3rd-gen Camaros out there Paul 😉
These Fords have more virtue than the combined population of a convent.
To paraphrase that contemporary Shakespeare, also known as Sir Mix-a-lot: I like big Fords and I cannot lie.
Why don’t you tell us how you REALLY feel! 😉 seriously, though, this is my favorite piece you’ve ever written. Could be the basis for a new series… JP’s Curbside Vitriol.
Isn’t there a scene in Uncle Buck where he talks about his Merc being under warranty…?
And speaking of bloat, I’m still betting a modern “mini” van has more curb weight…but likely 200 more horsepower from two less liters of displacement…
The are the cars the term “sled” must have been invented for. There really isn’t anything good about them. They were huge but with a less than huge interior. They were not powerful and even with the 351-2V they Hoovered gas at an alarming rate. Touching the brake pedal would make the front end almost hit the pavement. In three years they’d be full of holes. Total junk.
JPC I find myself agreeing with you more than anyone else at CC. If you grew up where I did or vice versa we would probably have the same exact opinion. I don’t understand your 70s Mopar love though.
+1 on everything you said about the bloat starting with the ’73 and about how nice looking the ’71 and ’69 Fords were.
I currently own a 73 Ford Country Sedan. Your right, they are kind of bloated, but I do have fun driving this wagon around. The paint is mostly original, and I put fresh carpet and recovered the front seat. I also had to replace it’s 400 because it spun a bearing and had a cracked head. But I have to admit that I’ve had a lot fun with this wagon. It appeared in a music video for a British band called Tribes(It’s on Youtube) The song is called “Reincarnate”. And it was used in a photo shoot for a local band here in Hendersonville NC.
Wow, that is the exact twin to the one I detailed for a guy. I can still smell bug & tar remover on my fingers when I look at this picture.
Nice car, nice colour
Nice color…and it’s got those cool flying-saucer wheelcovers. (I never did figure out which cars got the version with the holes punched out but at least I know the ’73 Country Sedans got the solid ones now).
Now that’s Truckster Metallic Pea Green.
Road trip! Visiting my Grandmother after my Grandfather passed away, summers of 1974 and 1975, we ate lots of miles in her green Country Squire. Said wagon then was bought by my Uncle and upon visits rode with them many miles throughout Missouri, Illinois in that. He traded it for a new ’78 Plymouth Fury wagon which, within three days was rattling and running rough and he tried to trade it back for the old car (Country Squire). Dealer sold it within 24 hours of the trade.
I went looking for the song expecting to find another “me too!” pop band, but I was pleasantly surprised. You may have just made me a Tribes fan.
Ford assembled these down under the last American Ford cars they bothered with a mate of mine being a good Ford man bought one used, he never did that again prefering his Fords to be Aussie models from then onward, nuff said I feel.
Are you referring to the 71/72 Bryce because apart from one or two recent lhd imports I’ve never seen a 73, the local LTD was out by then on a 120″ WB to take the place of US imports.
Back in the day, one of my acquaintances who owned several classic cars stopped by to trade some license plates. He was driving a near-new 1973 Ford wagon the same color as JP’s example above. He actually apologized for it: “I know it looks like a toad but I need the room for the kids…” It was very similar to the metallic olive drab wagon whose photo Michael posted, which does appear to be in really nice condition.
That’s about all my personal experience with the 1973 big LTD. Most of the Ford products of that era I was at all acquainted with were various Elites, Thunderbirds, and Continentals belonging to fellow Realtors of my wife; they all seemed basically the same car, with humongous appetites for fuel and with run-all-the-time interior fans that had become clattery.
I agree with JP about these tanks, disliked them as a kid too. But, they sold well enough to be #2 on the charts. Loved by middle aged men, just getting into leisure suits, white shoes, and belts. And, just before the first Gas Crunch.
The bulky body worked better for the Mercury line, I will say. McGarret’s 1974 Marq has more sentimental value than the Fords. Except for “Hutch” on S&H who had a beat up ex-cop ’73 Custom.
I like these. I had a 78 landau I wrecked and put a 73 header panel and hood on. The 78 was a good car. 600 $ car that lasted me 14 years and my friend 3 before getting wrecked. The big 460 always ran good. The seats lasted 27 years before only the drivers seat cracked. I liked the car a lot. Now driving an 83 Lincoln mark vi sedan. The car didn’t rust out but did get a few holes in the roof under the vinal. It was a solid car and much more reliable than the gm competition.
I would like to see a full article on that lovely green 73 Country sedan.
Agreed, this would make a great “My Curbside Classic” piece. And I promise to be extra nice if you write it up and post it. 🙂
I must add though that I vividly remember when I first saw the grille on a 73 Galaxie 500. The grille of the 73 LTD may have been its best feature, but that Galaxie grille was quite, uh, plain. Ford did this on the 72 base Torino as well, giving the lower line car an extremely plain front end to advertise to the entire world that the buyer was a tightwad who would not spring for the good one. Not since the late 30s when Ford made the Standard model look like last year’s DeLuxe has there been such a blatant attempt to differentiate the low from high trim models.
All that said, I really do like your wagon. If there is a single model of this car that could make me love it, it would be the wagon. And the color of yours is the quintessential 70s color. Sort of like that salmon pink on a 50s car or turquoise on an early 60s car. I am amazed that Ford offered such bright (I mean BRIGHT) colors on the big sleds and not just on Pintos and Mustangs.
Great write-up, JPC, it made me laugh out loud. I’m with you in loathing these cars. My automotive “coming of age” was when these beasts roamed the earth, and there weren’t enough 60s vintage “good” big Fords around to offset my opinion. My grandfather and his wife were full-sized Ford victims, with a ’72, ’77 (for her) and ’73 and ’79 (for him) cycling through their fleet. All were awful, but the ’73 was really a nadir. My grandfather’s ’73 LTD was that nasty rust-orange metallic with a beige vinyl roof. Chintzy beige brocade seats inside, which started shredding after 3 years. In the South, rust was not much of an issue, but the car still had some, all along the base of the vinyl top (at least it kinda blended with the ugly rust-colored paint). Even the wheel covers, with their bloated concentric circle design, were hideous. Compared to the GM cars that most of my family had, or even the Chrysler products belonging to my great aunts, I thought these Fords were just the worst. The only positive thing I can say about this car was that it did sell in large numbers
Yes, I should have mentioned those stupid, stupid standard wheelcovers. I used to collect hubcaps in those days and was used to some really beautiful plastic inserts in the centers. The 71-72 covers, while very conservative, still had some class with the gold Ford crest in the black background of the center. These 73 caps were cheap looking, just a big fat stamping that had a design that took a bloated car and made it look even fatter. Going up to the fancy wheelcovers was no good either. After the ones with full fins (69-72, I think) the 73 deluxe covers had the little truncated fin section in the center, and I just never found them really attractive. Even the poverty caps were awful – Ford switched from that classic flat cap with “Ford Motor Company” spelled out in a ring to a very forgettable design that again looked puffy, like everything else on the car. Damn, you have me going again.
Here it is, since Ford barely showed it in any of the brochure shots that I used.
For the big Fords, they switched to an embossed Ford crest for ’73 . . . (dog dishes). Standard on the LTD even through 1978.
To me, this is the automotive equivalent of an elderly woman who was once quite a looker, but with advancing years has let herself go to fat and wears too much make-up to try to claw back her lost youth.
My experience of this era of Ford is limited to riding in the back of one at an uncle’s funeral. I couldn’t get over how little leg room there was in the back for such a huge car, and how the front seat frame intruded when I tried to put my feet under it. I said as much to the driver, who admitted I wasn’t the first one to say that, but the company wanted a car to match the hearse (big Ford wagon). That led to a discussion of the merits of the 390 in the hearse versus the 400 in the mourning coach, the revelation that on the way back from the cemetery the drivers would sometimes race them – and totally took my aunt’s mind off her grieving. She actually thanked me for it afterward, and said Uncle Jack would have appreciated the relief!
I hope this works, here’s the video my Ford was in….
I liked that.
For those who don’t think a 73/74 can be Gator worthy(with some heavy Hollywood editing):
Ahhh..4-barrel theatre! Gotta love it!
Jesus, how did these cars not flip over in corners like that? Were they just too wide and heavy to turn over?
Chin…someone is out there writing disparaging things about 70’s Ford products, run them through the HPD computer, I want the book on them…..
1969 Ford Galaxie Country Sedan Wagon vs the Gargoyles. Even the Gargoyles had it in for them…
McGarrett’s ’74 Mercury Marquis Brougham is alive and well resting in a Nanakuli garage in the Homestead . . . .
By coincidence, just today I drove my ’76 LTD Landau. Jeez, what a barge. I’m not sure the steering wheel is actually connected to anything. Gargantuan, but only a contortionist would volunteer to get in the back seat. The epitome of impracticality, even if it wasn’t such a gas-guzzler.
Reminds me of this ad…
I would still rather have the Eldorado.
Yes, aside from the unbearably cheaper image there’s also the small matter of the state of Italian car production in the seventies. They were built with metal so cheap they rusted as you looked at them.
Drive a 60’s/70’s Mopar with power steering, now THAT’s spinning the wheel with “air” (Mopars had the ‘deadest’ steering feedback of any power steering car). No wonder that, through the 1960s, the CHP would NOT specify power steering on their horribly fast Mopar cop cars.
I totally agree with the author. The only thing these cars are good for are demolition derbies, assuming the frame isn’t so rusted out that it folds like an accordion with the first hit.
A guy I used to work with was going through a divorce and lost everything, and then fell asleep and wrecked his car, which had no insurance, because he was totally broke. So our boss found him an old LTD, in the same green as the one at the top of the page. It was a $50 car, and he drove it for two years, complaining the whole time that it looked bad and handled worse. I knew he was a whackjob, but he went into Warp Drive when he had to buy a battery for “Big Green”, as we called it. We were all kind of like, “Hey, a $60 battery for your $50 car that you’ve driven for two years? My god, the horror, the horror!”.
One day, he just disappeared, and we never knew what happened to him. I found him one night when I was bored, he’s out on the West coast, married again, and judging by his website, crazier than ever. He drives a Ranger now, a purple one. It looks like a $500 truck, so he has progressed, I guess.
I was born in 1954 and, to me the fifties did not end until about 1963. The sixties ended, to me, at about 1972 or 3. I think that at that point, people were just uncertain about what was to come given what was going on in the world. I was never a Ford fan but for the 57, 60 and 64’s that I thought were desirable objects. This automobile is rightly deserving of your bile. Coming of age in the most regret strewn age of automotive design, interior design and just about anything else, It is the one decade that I would never desire to re-live. That car deserves even more bile than you have already spewed on it. Yet, I am so thankful that you were there to photograph it. For it to have survived for so long, it does deserve my reluctant respect.
You know the 1973-74 full size Ford is pretty unpopular when the only truly memorable one was Hutch’s hooptie on ‘Starsky & Hutch’.
This 73 was such an aweful LTD
I have a soft spot for these as they were EVERYWHERE in the 70’s. This was in a period when I was in high school and spent every summer with Grandfolks and relatives in Northeastern Missouri (I lived in the S.F. Bay Area). Seemed a lot of the middle aged (!! ha !! I’m there now at 54!!) whether it was Corte Madera, Hannibal or Qunicy drove these. Call it a bargain Lincoln, call it bloated (it is that nowadays), but these LTDs seemed to be the car of choice for eating up the miles. These things seemed to be the company car of choice in San Francisco (although you’d see these with dog dish wheel covers – but yet – were LTD’s – not Custom 500’s or Galaxie 500’s).
In other words, these all seemed to serve a purpose for their day. I personally never knew of anyone having a lousy one mechanically, although in the day (like most Ford C6 cars in the 70’s), they had that malady of slipping out of gear.
BTW, Ford was (and still is) the fleet favorite car in San Francisco . . .
Also, my Grandmother had a ’74 Country Squire that shortly after it’s purchase in December, 1973, they drove it out to our house in California from Missouri and back. My Uncle bought it off of her in 1976 when they got a Ford Granada (302 V-8 and three speed stick on the floor!).
“…in 1976 when they got a Ford Granada (302 V-8 and three speed stick on the floor!).”
Back in high-school one of my buddies had a somewhat tired ’69 Mustang convert with that combo. No idea Ford was still making it as late as ’76 — and sticking it in Granadas, yet!
There’s more than bloat at work here. To that you can add crude surface development and poor detail integration. About the only thing this car makes look better is a ’73 Mercury Monterey:
“And the award for Worst Space Utilization and Most Wasteful Exterior:Interior Ratio for 1973 goes to…”
I can’t believe this car has the most wasted space. I would thing an eldorado would be much worse. My 78 had plenty is to front and back. And furthermore these look lots better than the ugly new cars Chrysler products excepted. These were decent cars. Not too crazy about the 73-74 but add a front header panel and hood from an ltd landau and you have a real beauty especially in coupe form. The ugly 70s car award should go to the AMC matador coupe or the fast back cutlass the had on 78. The cars were reliable at least. Don’t understand the ford hate
This car reminds me of a time I was next to a similar car at a stoplight. The light turned green and he floored it, the slow moan of the four barrel opening up and the exhaust sounding like a broken air hose flailing around the shop floor. He was just ahead of me as we both bounced over the railroad tracks, and one of those 10 pound wheelcovers with the jagged edges flew off and sailed over my hood, inches away from the windshield. Classic.
Sounds like he out ran you. Lol
Yep. He took my 66 VW fastback by a car length. If I was 3 feet closer I hate to think about the wheelcover and my rolled down window!
This car is emblematic of why a generation of American car buyers stopped buying American cars, and to this date, have never returned. Excrescence of the highest order.
Too bad there isn’t liposuction for cars, cuz this LTD needs it badly. Lay it out on the operating table, administer the local anesthetic, then power up the cannula and just suck all that bloat outta there!
The Panther platform helped with that. Doesn’t quite have the pimp swagger the old Full-Size Fords do but it was worlds better.
Wow JP, a lot of anger on that poor LTD. You can add me to the Thanksgiving kiddie table where the rare and few fans of ’70s LTD sit. I guess it’s just me, Eric Van Buren and Jason Shafer 🙂
And while I agree that the ’75-’78 LTD coupe’s mini opera window could have looked better, I still like them. Especially the Landaus, with the hidden headlights and fender skirts.
Here’s the Landau coupe, with Paul’s most favorite opera window!
Of course, I love the green-and-white color combination. Those alloy wheels were very rare–I don’t recall ever seeing them on one around here, though I wasn’t really old enough to notice cars until about ten years after these LTDs debuted.
Love those ltds in the last 2 posts. I had one of each both in light glow blue with a white top. Next to my mark vi these were my very favorite of all the cars I ever had. They were often mistaken for Lincolns and really they were almost as nice in top landau trim. Sort of a mark four and a half. With the cam advanced 8 degrees, timing advanced, ported vacume switches bypassed along with gutted cats on dual exhausts and the egr disconnected along with a decent rear end ratio the 400 and 460 engines had lots of power. I outran my buddys 400 trans am with my 460 sedan. And with these simply mods I got 18 on the highway with my 460 and 26 out of my 400.( at least when we had ethanol free gas). I slightly preferred these to my 78 continental and they were far superior to my 72 Electra, 76 lesabre. And especially better than my 79 lesabre and 80 delta 88 Royal brougham. All the gm cars but the 72 fell apart. Hank the duce really knew how to build a big car. The only fault I had with the ltd was it had very flimsy armrests. Rest if it was built like a tank. They had nice steering you didn’t feel the road and road good. I miss them both now that they are in automotive heaven where the roads are straight and smooth, gas is cheap and there are no speed limits.
I’ve always loved these cars. Maybe because I grew up on Starsky & Hutch and actually looked forward to seeing Hutch’s Galaxie. Thus, when I had the chance to buy one last year…
I love them too, see mine
while I agree this car was a step down to the previous Ford LTD’s but I didn’t think the 1973-74’s were as bad compared to the 1975-78 styling (which I’ve thought was awful), my dad owned a 1974 Ford LTD Brougham with the 400ci V8 and he absolutely loved that car,
Hey! Easy on the negative comments in regards to the 73-74 Ford LTD/Galaxie. I grew up with a 73 Gaxlaxie and just loved the car! I loved it so much that I own a BEAUTIFUL 73 LTD I get nothing but positive comments about the car it’s real GEM!
I love mine. 84,000 documented original miles. the major problem was that in order to meet the ’73 Smog regs they detuned the 400 by 6 degrees, put a tiny 2 barrel and restricted intake & single exhaust. Mine has an Edelbrock 4 barrel with an Edelbrock intake, dual exhaust, an adjustable roller timing chain, and Edelbrock cam and lifters. The 400 is a stroked 351 Cleveland! with the big valves. Mine will now smoke those 235’s through the posi rearend and gets much better mileage then the 145 horsepower original. Super road car and guess what! no computer. the repair bills I have paid for the past 5 years on my newer cars have all involved computer related items such as oxygen sensors, abs. check engine lights. Cost of ownership on these cars aint bad.
I like what you have done with your LTD it looks great!
I also changed out my “tiny” 2 barrel carb with a 4 barrel Holly carb 650 CFMs and a Edelbrock intake with a dual exhaust, sounds and runs great.
Nice, seems the 73/74 LTD does have it’s fans. I’m not an aficionado by any means but I don’t mind them, they’re way more interesting than the 75-78. Also, is your engine block up for the strain of that extra power? I know they were known for cracking (unfortunately) right around the miles yours has.
Looking for a 1974 ford Ltd for sale 2dr brougham
Any out there ???
I bought a ’73 in 1985. It had been well maintained. But it was still garbage. Even that V8 wasn’t enough to power that monstrosity. And then the rust started to set in….
I would’ve killed for a ’69 (and would still consider buying/rebuilding one today), but anything past that: forget it. Fugly is the word for that car.
Thanks for the great post.
Love my triple black 73 LTD. Car has around 75k original miles…not exactly stock any longer as it now sports a 429 pushing around 550 hp to the rear tires, dual side pipe exhaust…not completely done as the current set of rims are temporary. Not a spot of rust on this one…
Now I happen to have an affinity to these particular cars because wrecked many in demolition derbies…decided to save one and make it a Sunday driver. Certainly stands out from the typical car show car and always draws a crowd especially when I fire up the “73 Evil LTD”.
I had a chance to drive one of these (a 75) and compare it to a 76 olds delta 88 in 1978 and it stacked up favourably in terms of performance (acceleration) and handling to the olds. It was just another one of those cars that grew to be toooo big in its time.
I have to admit I like the 73-74s too. My aunt had a 1974 LTD 4-door. It had a fabric interior, upgraded from the vinyl, and was so smooth and quiet you felt like you were on your couch. The Landau irons on the vinyl roof were kind of elegant. The stand up hood ornament made it classy – remember that one of the interpretations of what “LTD” stood for was “Lincoln Type Design.” I also liked the paper thin one spoke steering wheel that graced almost every Ford product of that vintage (although that wheel was used on 71-72 models as well). The hubcaps were so heavy that when they would bounce off, my uncle said they made so much racket you couldn’t help but stop and retrieve it. I also remember they junked it around ’87 with only about 50,000 miles on it.
My dad bought a 75 LTD to replace a (yikes) 69 Continental Mark III. He avoided the 73-74 models because of all the pollution control problems associated with all 73-74 cars. Despite that, I hated that car. It was probably the only Ford he had that didn’t return to an organic state after 3 years in Indiana arctic hell, but it looked even worse than the 73-74 models- an impressive feat in just how much bad taste could be piled on this bloated opera windowed POS of a car. I thought it was an embarrassment even when it was new. We still had a 68 Custom with a 3 speed on the column that was aqua. I had equally despised that car until the 75 LTD came along, then I accepted it as the lesser of evils. I have no awe in seeing one of these 73-78 Ford’s around today, I just wonder why someone thinks they are desirable. The whole entire Ford product line was an embarrasing POS during this era.
how much for you’re children , seriously though whats your price i love it i want it now
JP, this is quite possibly the funniest thing I have ever read on this site. (Thank you, Paul, for dusting it off.)
This was the very first thing I ever read on this site!!!
Was I turned off because JPC was dissing my first car? Nope. He helped me take off my rose colored glasses and I have been a fan of CC ever since.
My car looked almost exactly like the one in the brochure picture above John Candy’s picture. (Mine wasn’t a Brougham though). Same colors. To save you all from having to scroll back up, I present another doppleganger for my first car.
I really need to go up into my attic and scare up the pictures I have of that car so I can do a COAL counterpoint to JPC’s post. ;o)
In all seriousness, yours is probably as attractively painted and trimmed as any I have seen (in an early 70s kind of way that is appropriate). I will also admit that with the passage of time I like these better than I did. Not a lot better, but at least somewhat better. 🙂
Well, in defense of your mood at the time when you wrote this, my LTD did have those basic stamped wheel covers that said “FORD FORD FORD” in a 120 degree angle circular pattern… I seem to remember you were not a fan of those. 😉
I think that mine actually had black silkscreening in the FORD letters. The ones in this pic look really cheap….
This was my first experience with an LTD from this era, in the same colors, when I was about 9-10 years old.
Dan grew up next door, and was touring the orient courtesy of Uncle Sam during 1971 or so. His Camaro Z28 awaited him under his parent’s carport.
Upon returning, he soon married, had a kid, and settled down with a loaded 4 door LTD Brougham – in which his family frequently came back to visit his parents.
The car was new, shiny, a bit different from the aging GM fare on our street, and was demonstrating the democratization of features such as power windows and stereo radios in the 1970s. It was impressive to my young eyes, and the first of several LTDs to invade our street as the disco era unfolded, including the ’76 that came home with my dad one day.
Dan passed at a terribly young age, a victim of Agent Orange it was speculated. The gold LTD came around around only a few more times after that.
I’d seen this ’77 parked on Queens Boulevard near Parker Towers, and finally caught it idling in December mid-morning chill a bit more than a year ago and you could smell the gasoline almost a block away at the entrance to the subway. Hadn’t smelled a smell like that from idling iron in decades. The driver was a doorman who lived in New Rochelle, and he just kinda bought it, not for any nostalgia reasons, but just to drive. New Rochelle to Forest Hills and back is forty miles a day, which I guess is tolerable at $2.50 a gallon with the EZ pass discount over the Whitestone with, say, something like my Outback two cars behind, but this thing?
As bad as this bloated boat looked, I think its Marquis fraternal twin was even worse, especially in two-door form.
Ford did brougham better than anyone else, and I don’t mean that in a good way.
By 1976 they got all haughty about themselves and made the taillights vertical just to look so much more special and luxuriousy and all. Someone thought that gave them the right to put politically offensive bumper stickers on the dreaded thing. In Canada no less.
photo didn’t take. It was just from an iPhone, file size shouldn’t have been too large. Try again.
Wow, it even has a Grounding Strap (or whatever that’s called) hanging from the bumper. That’s something I haven’t seen on a car in a mighty long time (though buses still use them sometimes).
JP, I understand your distaste for the1973-78 full-size Ford’s… even lipstick on the high series could not cover the bloat and complete lack of effort to style the 5 mph bumpers. But the “dis” on the 1971/72 models is not shared. I like those models… in LTD form…. hardtop and pillared hardtop.
The Marquis aged better and wore the weight better as a near Lincoln product.
Also, the product quality of those 71/72 models was very stout…. we never experienced a single issue with our 1972 LTD Brougham 4-door pillared hardtop with the 400 CID engine. We regularly saw 17-20 mpg…. never single digits.
Having spent a lot of time in that 72 LTD and a 73 Impala Custom Coupe, the Ford had a much better ride and a less twi. I liked the sleek styling of the Chevy, but it’s quality was not as good as the Ford’s.
Sounds like you were drinking the Ford Kool-Aid at the time. I have a hard time believing 17-20 mpg for those monsters, unless they were driven at a steady 45 mph on a flat road with a tailwind.
My mother had a 73 Monte Carlo bought new. Yes, I know there more emissions controls in were mandated starting in 73, mainly EGR to deal with oxides of nitrogen. The Monte was probably a good 800 pounds lighter than those LTDs, equipped with the 350 V8. Its gas mileage ranged from 9 city to 18 hwy in the summer with a/c in use and 8 to 19 mpg in winter with heat only, and those highway figures were best-case achieved at the double-nickle speed limit on the PA Turnpike.
I’m not going to even address the serious rusting problems these Fords had in the early 70s, certainly worse than the comparable large and midsize GM cars.
Wow, 132 comments as I type. That’s quite a lot of feedback on this model of car.
Seems a lot of us out there were affected by these big bloats back in the day.
I remember very well when Ford put on a big event introducing the 1973 models at a lavish event in Edmonton. I believe it was by invite to loyal customers. I tagged along with a buddy who bought a 72 Torino. Was I ever disappointed when we saw the LTDs and Custom 500s. Yikes! The 5 mph front bumpers as hung on Ford models that year we bad enough but Ford’s ful-lsize car was just awful. What a comedown from the nice trim, 71-72 models (I just thought a Dirty Harry movie for some reason).
Well, in 1977 I would buy one of these big boats; a 1975 Custom 500 ex-RCMP Highway Patrol car. 460 V8, hand throttle and police tires. Loved the car which flioatd on gravel and it was ideal for the drive-in theater
Meh. These were never intended to be “fine cars”, and yes, Fords of this era seemed to rust faster..but everything rusted then. The later Grand Marquis variations on this body were stunning cars as coupes. And the difference between then and now is that if you didn’t really care about road racing and wanted a big comfortable cruiser you could buy one. If you wanted a little cramped highwinding sedan that jittered and bounced but went around corners fast, you could buy one of those. Now you only have option two, unless you wish to drive a truck or have big money to buy a Rolls or an expensive Benz.
’71 on big Fords were the first cars that I recall that commonly could see A LOT of miles, without showing the wear and tear and without having had significant wrench work.
IMH Experience, your (high) mileage recollections may vary
Of course this was before the “1” odometer
so mileage was tough to ascertain without knowing a vehicle’s history.
Talk about coincidence, this video was suggested after I read your article.
It features the development of this model.
One funny part, it mentions stopping on a dime and this thing locks up and slides diagonally towards the camera. I have a sneaking suspicion that it actually destroyed the camera, they cut away before it happened.
Funny. I understand everything, every single thing you’re saying about this car. Intellectually, I hate it. When it came out, I was a sophomore in college, and we were surrounded by these gas hogs. I was driving a ’62 Plymouth Valiant as my college car, and it was well worn-out. But we used to joke about these cars maybe getting stuck in a deep storm drainage dip in the road. But now, well over forty years later, I wish I could drive one of these, just to see what it was like. I crave isolation now, and it’s hard to find. I want cushy, not just firmly supportive, and I want generous, stretch-out room not just for the front seat occupants, but the rear seat passengers too. I want hushed quiet, so that the stereo can sing with the delicacy of harpsichord plucking string, and the force of a symphony orchestra. I want to remember what a V-8 and its torque feels like, and a nice, smooth Cruise-O-Matic. And here in the desert southwest, rust wasn’t nearly as much of an issue. But I know that those days of luxurious barges available to lots of people will never come again.
Way back when I was living in an apartment, I remember seeing the Landau version of this, from about 1977 or so, and thinking that it was incredibly loaded with luxury features for a mere Ford. Now, of course, I understand that Ford didn’t have to deal with even the remnants of the Sloanian ladder that GM divisions dealt with, even in the ’70s.
Try a mid 2010’s LS460…. L version for an extra 6″ of rear passenger leg room if you’d like (though my non L version fits full size adults in the back very comfortably). It pretty much grants you all that you are asking. Almost 400 HP/TQ numbers out of it’s naturally aspirated V8 (it will move surprisingly quickly for such a big, heavy car), very isolated on the inside (get one with the ultra luxury package for thicker rear windows/more isolation), and if you get one with the air ride (which mine has) and set it to “comfort”, it even wallows or “floats” like the old land barges… HA! Most of them have the Mark Levinson stereo system installed which is by far the best factory system I have yet experienced.
The mid 10’s models are fairly reasonable, especially if you seek out a deal. I got my ’10 for $10.5K a year ago, though it had just over 100K on the clock and I haven’t seen a deal quite that good since.
I remember Ford’s TV ads during this time touting their “slab-sided beauty” and “road-hugging weight.”
Regarding the “Road-Hugging Weight”, while it is understandable to poke fun looking back, I can honestly say that my ’73 LTD was the best car in the snow that I’ve ever had, including every car ever I’ve owned since.*
But you had to wash it immediately after the snow/salt event was over. Unlike most of the early seventies fords, mine never rusted out due to my due diligence.
*My wife’s 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer is a close second, and our go-to vehicle when we get such weather, which sadly we have not had this year in the Baltimore area. I actually like snow.
After 20 years of increasing the size of cars, Detroit reached peak bloat. You had to go to aircraft carriers and RVs to get a bigger ride than these full-sized cars. So – how do you still sell them after they couldn’t get any larger? You load them up like the aforementioned RVs. You doll them up like a Winnebago. You glue your Aunt Sally’s living room into them. You sell them as rolling lounges.
Look at what passed as an “intermediate”! By this time, the Valiant was considered a compact, yet it sat six.
We ended up with all the performance of a Pullman car, but without the porters, engineers, railroad tracks or bomb-throwing anarchists.
7 miles per gallon – 14 miles per gallon on the highway – 20 miles per gallon, according to the Feds.
Today, we are seeing peak SUV. Lord almighty, take a look at that manatee-looking Infiniti! It is a bloated SUV with a forehead, gills and fins? And sorry Hyundai, but that Palisades looks like a side-show circus performer with enormous chrome lips. And Toyota, I think Pennywise the clown when I see your front end styling.
Whoever was/were responsible for the 5 mph bumpers should be beaten to a pulp with one of them.
I never realized the the tear quartet panel on the coup was so large. The vinyl roof really masked it. This car looks horrible. I liked the styling of the sedan and especially the wagon in this car. Remember that GM has the rounded clam shell backs. Both Ford and GM started 71-72 relatively sleek. The 73-74 takes on some junk. The 75-76 GM went to the colanade room and looked horrible. Ford followed. The downsized 77 GM’s were revolutionary for their day. (Remember that this was in response to the oil crises of 73). Ford was stuck with the bloated cars for 77-78. But instead of trying to make them sleeker, they made them worse. Chrysler was just dead in the water at this point. The 79 Panther platform LTD was a direct response to the 77 GM’s and Ford finally got back in the game. But I never understood why they made the cars bigger and fatter while the nation was looking for small car.
My first, and by far worst loaner car ever, was a turd brown over turd brown ’73 LTD I got for two days while my almost new ’74 Roadrunner was waiting for a part, I think it was a replacement brake booster, but it was a long time ago..
The LTD was only about 18 months old, but looked much much older. The interior was messed up and smelled of cigarettes, and the vinyl top was starting to show signs it wouldn’t be holding up very well. It started up fine, but at any speed over about 40, it started to shake, and at 55 MPH, it was downright scary. Driving it from Bowling Green, OH to Toledo, was more of an adventure than I expected. When I got home, I had some place to go, so I called the dealer to see if I could swap it for something else in the morning. The only thing they had was a ’68 (I think) /6 valiant that looked very rough. I had seen it a couple of cars away from the LTD, and I didn’t think it would be any better. I managed to drive the LTD until the part came in and was installed and I was very happy to see it be gone. It did nothing to end my basic dislike of Ford products that continues to this day, with the exception of the F150.