In-Motion Classic: 1979 Lincoln Continental Town Car – Sunday Best

Dress codes seem to be much more relaxed these days in many places where formal attire had once been the norm.  When I began my career in the insurance industry just over twenty years ago, I had been required to wear a tie every day.  At some point maybe ten years ago, a change had been made first to allow for “business casual attire” (which meant nice slacks and a collared shirt) during summer months, which eventually led to a year-round adoption of this more relaxed style of dress.

While I don’t necessarily miss having to spend my extra money on ties and nicer pants and shirts, I will say that there was something about wearing a tie every day during the week that made me sit up just a little bit straighter at my work station and feel slightly more serious.  I had grown up watching my dad, a college professor, go to the office wearing nice ties and sportcoats, and I’m sure the kid in me had looked forward to doing the same once I was a “grownup” who had entered the working world.

Even my place of worship on Sunday mornings has a very chill approach to manner of dress.  I had been raised in a very conservative religious environment where many men wore suits and ties, and women wore nice dresses, shoes and costume jewelry.  I rocked a clip-on tie for years as a youth, and usually the first thing to get yanked and tossed into a corner when our family got home was said “tie”.  Nowadays, I feel perfectly at home in a pew wearing a nice, hole-free pair of Levis and a button-down short-sleeved shirt.  When it’s really hot outside during the summer, I will not think twice about wearing shorts and a t-shirt.

It was on a Sunday morning a few years ago when our featured car came rolling up to a local intersection in my neighborhood.  If the background looks somewhat familiar, it should, as these were the buildings against which I had photographed a ’65 Ford Thunderbird Landau that was traveling in the opposite direction.  The Edgewater Beach Apartments Building (which actually houses co-op units) is a splendid-looking structure that could probably make any car in its foreground look more glamorous.  The Lincoln was its match, in my opinion.

I’m particularly fond of the last of these big Town Cars (and Coupés), having written about two of them last year.  These cars have been amply covered here at CC, so you might want to click here and here for more comprehensive reading.  I just love the idea that this one materialized in traffic on this particular morning looking as scrumptious as a peach bellini cocktail with raspberry drizzle served at Sunday brunch.

Judging by the temporary plate out back, this one looked to be a new purchase for this fortunate owner.  About that factory color, it was called “Light Apricot Metallic”.  The range of vibrant, pretty hues available for ’79 as exterior colors stands in stark contrast against the tuxedo black color that many of this car’s descendants from just twenty years later were painted.  I’m at a loss to identify another make and model of car that had seemed to fall so far in apparent prestige from being a truly luxurious status symbol owned by many private buyers to the livery vehicle of choice in many urban areas.

Don’t get me wrong.  I do very much like the new-for-1998 Town Car that had traded its trademark, boxy style for a more rounded, “aero” look, and in the right colors and with the right wheels, they can be stunners.  (A friend owns two.)  The truth is, though, that I’ve seen and ridden in too many examples of these that seemed to have slid very quickly down into the pit of used-up beaterdom to be able to look at these latter day examples in quite the same way as I would be able to, otherwise.  Much like dress codes in many types of places have been relaxed in recent years, around the turn of the Millennium, Lincoln’s design language (like that of many other upper-tier makes) had come to abandon many traditional styling cues as it sought to redefine what a modern luxury car should look like.

I do love that American buyers sent our outgoing ’79 Town Car out in style, having responded by nudging final-year sales of this generation up by 4.5% over the prior year, to a total of about 76,000 units (before plummeting to 31,200 units in the face of 1980’s economic recession, among other factors).    People knew a good thing when they saw it, and perhaps when they laid eyes on the ’79-era Panther-platform Ford LTD (not a bad-looking car to my eyes, but not to everyone’s liking), they figured they had better get on the last, full-figured train to Lincoln Land before it left the station for the last time.

As for our featured Town Car, it provided more than a touch of class on an otherwise casual Sunday morning.  Sometimes, getting there can be at least as fun as arriving at one’s final destination.  Can I get an “Amen”?

Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois.
Sunday, April 3, 2016.