My First Curbside Classic – 2000 Lincoln Town Car Cartier Edition – Of McCarthy, My Grandparents, And Other Things

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Well, I’ve finally done it. You may have gotten hints from my ebay find 1991 Eldo Biarritz and my lengthier treatise on the world of the 1977 Cutlass Supreme Brougham, but fact is, I’ve been thinking about a nice old car as a toy for some time. Thanks to you, our viewers, and some of the other writers here on CC, I’ve done it! I’ve bought an American luxury car–my first.

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I imagine those of you who read the ’77 CSB post thought I’d get it. Indeed, for a few days I was scheming about it all day at work! But upon talking to Mark at South Hampton Service, it sounded like the owner wanted a bunch for it. And upon further reflection, I decided I did not want to mess with a carburetor. Another big plus to acquiring a CC is I have no wife or girlfriend to say, “oh no you don’t!” Hey! I don’t need spousal/significant other approval! I have the money. I can do whatever the hell I want!

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I am a German-stock cheapskate from way back. Plus, I work in the accounting field. Frugality and pragmatism are rather built into my genetic makeup. I still have golf shirts from high school that I wear regularly–and a pair of Bass Weejuns I bought the year this Townie rolled out of Wixom. But, come on! Everyone should buy something they really want but don’t need at least once! It was, by God, very liberating.

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And, I love Lincoln Town Cars. If you remember Lincoln Week, I waxed extensively on my love of Ford’s premium motors thanks to my grandparents’ patronage of the marque. But one thing I did not mention was Dick McCarthy.

Dick McCarthy was my friend. He and my Grandpa Bob started a law firm after WWII, and they both got their law degrees thanks to their service in Big Two. After my grandparents passed away, and I got my drivers’ license in the fall of ’97, I started going down to the law office to “shoot the bull” with Dick. We’d talk in between his phone calls, and we got along famously. He had the amazing ability to carry on multiple phone conversations and our in-office chat without one miss. Need I mention that he was in his mid-seventies at the time? He also provided a running commentary on his callers–sometimes good, sometimes not.

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We’d also frequently go out to lunch. Harris Pizza in Rock Island was our place (Rudy’s Tacos, the “cheap Chinese place” on 18th Avenue and Happy Joe’s also occasionally merited a visit), and usually, either Pete Church, John Callas, Frank Fuhr or one of the other lawyers would join us too. We’d all hop in his Town Car, or John’s Explorer Sport Trac (later a 300C), or my Volvo S70, and head to the restaurant. The Reuben was our favorite, with Harris’ homemade potato chips or waffle fries.

Waitress: What’ll you have?

Me: Reuben.

Dick: Reuben.

John: Reuben.

Frank: Reuben.

Waitress: Okey-doke!

Ironically, today I work for the family who owns Harris Pizza! Funny how some things turn out…

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In between, we’d talk of current county and city political maneuverings, local idiots, good (and bad) restaurants, and other interesting stuff. Early on, Dick had a gunmetal-gray ’95 Executive Series (and before that, a silver-blue ’86 Signature that he drove into the ground), but in 2004 he traded it off for a lightly-used Silver Frost 2002 Signature Series. That ’95 was the only 1995-97 Town Car I have ever seen with a cloth interior. At this time, Dick could have gotten anything he wanted–maybe even a Lamborghini!–but having grown up during the Depression, a lightly-used Lincoln was just the thing. One time, we joked about his trading the Lincoln in on a Hummer H2. “Damn it Tom, maybe I will!” Of course, he didn’t, but we all had a good laugh picturing him driving one of those things.


The ’02 looked just like this one, and had a light gray leather interior. This was our lunch transportation, more often than not. And many times I was the chauffeur. We’d be in his office, and he’d get John Gianulis on the phone: “Hey John, it’s McCarthy. We’re going to lunch and I’ve got my chauffeur today. Get your ass out front in five minutes or we’re going without you!”

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Back then, I was in my early 20s and Dick was in his mid-to-late 70s, but we really got along. We were both interested in politics (and harping on all the elected idiots!), the Quad Cities, food and of course Lincolns. So the fact that I bought a Lincoln near identical to McCarthy’s is no coincidence. I respected him, and all the amazing things he did in his life.

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He never retired. In about 2006 he was out on his farm property outside of Milan when he fell into a chuckhole. Broke his ankle. Boy, did that piss him off! The doctor made him stay at home, and that pissed him off even more. My Uncle Dave stopped by to see how he was doing one day and he had a fax hooked up. Turned his living room into an office, and he was running his secretary ragged. I can just hear him: “Goddamn it Doc, I don’t want to stay home! I have way too much shit to do!!” Yes, Dick did not mince words, and did not suffer fools. He was a genuine person.

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Sadly, in early spring of 2008, he started feeling poorly. Went to the doc and found out he had lung cancer. Now, he smoked–like everyone else!–when he was a young man, but he hadn’t done so in probably forty years. And in April of that year, he said goodbye to all of us and went on to his reward.

At that time, I had had surgery, and also had a cough to boot, so I was unable to visit him in the ICU. My parents did though, and relayed my well wishes. After my germ had passed I tried to see him at Friendship Manor (where they moved him after he came out of the ICU), but they had moved him back to the hospital. When I got to the hospital 15 minutes later, they didn’t know which room he was in. And, just a few days later, he passed on.

I really regret not getting to say goodbye. He was a good friend, and I really feel bad about it. But we were always on the same page, and I know he knew how I felt about him. But it still sucks.

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So, when this 2000 Cartier showed up at my favorite Volvo dealer, I had to go investigate. I saw a picture on the website and thought, “it’s probably all beat up and has 200,000 miles on it, but I should go take a look anyway.”

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Upon arriving at McLaughlin Motors and the salesman, Brian, pulling the car around, I was shocked to see that this car was near-pristine. The leather had hardly any wear, it purred like a kitten, and rode as nice as you’d expect of a car bearing the Lincoln Star.

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And, it was a Cartier. I remember seeing Cartiers on the lot at Strieter L-M and Classic L-M when they were new, but very few were on the road. I always liked the analog clock that was exclusive to the Cartier model. Also, the special upholstery and chrome wheels.

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The back seat appeared to have never been used. The car sat nice and level, the paint shone brilliantly, the tires were good, and all it needed was a new, caring owner. I thought it over, looked over my books, and realized that, yes, Virginia, you CAN own a Town Car!

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So I bought it. On Columbus Day, to be precise. I found my 1999 Town Car brochure in my literature collection and found out some interesting Cartier facts. For instance: The Cartier (and seldom-seen Signature Series Touring Sedan) got the Limo Package, which included dual exhaust, bumping power from 205 hp/280 lb-ft to 220 hp/290 lb-ft. Cartiers also received heated seats with five settings and cushion/backrest or backrest only settings.

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My car is also equipped with the 6-disc CD changer and full-size spare. Which is good, because I’ve seen thrashed Town Cars in traffic with the goofy little donut spare, and they look terrible!

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The amazing thing is how different the Cartier-exclusive Ivory Parchment Tricoat paint can look depending on the lighting. As you’ve probably noticed, it can range from pearl beige…

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to pearl white…

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…to light honey gold. I’ve seen it in at least four different colors so far. It is a great color!

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The 4.6 is also a great match to the Townie. Smooth and quiet. And this car has so much sound insulation! Just about anything but tractor trailers generate no interior NVH in this car. Quite nice!

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I would like to thank Eric Van Buren, JP Cavanaugh and Jason Shafer for all the great info pre-purchase. If not for them, I might have let this fine automobile slip though my fingers. I would have taken the “safe” route, and have gotten no Lincoln enjoyment. I also like to think that Grandpa Bob and Dick McCarthy are looking down on me and this car and saying, “the kid did all right.”

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Not everyone can understand Panther Love, but let me explain it in the words of Ferris Bueller: “But to be honest, I love driving it. It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.” Sure, he was talking about a Ferrari, but those immortal ’80s words also apply to me and the Town Car. So pick one up; they’re cheap, and very fulfilling. Just make sure you get a good ‘un!

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This CC is dedicated to Richard W. McCarthy. I scheduled it for November 5, Election Day, in honor of his love of politics–and his scorn at some of the fools that get elected!

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