Monday, October 3, 2011
1998–2002 Lincoln Town Car Signature Series
The Lincoln Town Car is a full-size luxury sedan that was sold by the upscale Lincoln division of Ford Motor Company; it was produced from 1981 to 2011. The Town Car nameplate was first introduced in 1959 Continental Mark IV lineup as a top-of-the-line 4-door sedan; the nameplate became a permanent part of the Continental lineup in 1969, denoting its highest-trim interior package. In 1981, the Town Car became a stand-alone model in the Lincoln product line, also serving as the flagship for the Lincoln brand as well as for Ford Motor Company. The Town Car features a V8 engine, body-on-frame design, rear-wheel drive and large exterior and interior dimensions. Its large dimensions make it the largest car in production in North America. From 1997 to 2011, the Town Car was the longest car built in the Western hemisphere, measuring nearly 18 feet (5.49 m) in length for a standard Town Car and 18.5 feet (5.64 m) for an L Edition.
In spite of declining sales, it remains one of the best selling American luxury cars; it is the United States' and Canada's most used limousine and chauffeured car. Since 2003, it has been available featuring ballistic protection, adding nearly $100,000 to the base price. Consumer Guide cites the vehicle's strengths as comfort, materials, ride quality, and 'braking short and stable for a heavyweight"; with weaknesses mentioned in acceleration and handling. The Town Car is one of the safest cars available on the North American market.
In 2006, Ford considered ending production of Lincoln's largest model after the planned closing of the Wixom Assembly Plant in Wixom, Michigan, in 2007. Ford ultimately decided to keep the model and move assembly to the St. Thomas Assembly Plant in Ontario, Canada, where the Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis, which also use the Ford Panther platform, were assembled. The Town Car's manufacture resumed at its new location in late 2007. The first Town Car assembled outside of the United States, was manufactured in Canada on January 10, 2008.
Detail of vinyl roof styling (1978 coupe)
In English, "Town Car" is a literal translation of the French term "Sedan de Ville", a nameplate introduced by Cadillac in 1956. Both names refer to a classic style of limousine popular in the 1920's which had an open chauffeur's compartment in the front. While the Cadillac was a styled as a four-door hardtop, Lincoln made its modern models visually suggest their older namesakes. Many examples from the 1970's and 1980's had a vinyl roof style that swept down the center pillar as part of a raised molding, complete with opera lamps, suggesting a partition between front and rear seats while no vinyl was applied to the front section of the roof over the driver. Other models had a full-length vinyl roof.
The Town Car name first appeared in the Lincoln line in 1922, on a custom-built Lincoln made for Henry Ford. The name reappeared in 1959, on a special limousine-like version of the Lincoln Continental Mark IV; it was available only in black and was identifiable by a unique padded vinyl top, a rarity at that time. After 1959, the Town Car name went dormant for 10 years, reemerging as an interior option package for the 1969 Lincoln Continental. It next appeared as a trim option in 1970 ("Continental's Town Car Interior option", to quote from the 1970 deluxe catalog), and thereafter continued through 1980 as the top-line trim option package for the Lincoln Continental. Again, the Town Car trim featured an extra plush interior (Media velour cloth) along with more standard equipment. The Town Car badge has always been applied to sedans, but from 1973 to 1981, there was a similar option for coupes called the Lincoln Continental Town Coupe.
In 1981, the Town Car became a separate model from the Continental in preparation for further downsizing of the latter; aside from the closely related Continental Mark VI, it became the last full-size Lincoln in the lineup. Since its introduction, there have been three generations of the Town Car, introduced in 1981, 1990, and 1998. Each of these received a substantial refresh approximately halfway through its production cycle, in 1985, 1995, and 2003.
(1981–1989)First generation 1985–1987 Lincoln Town Car
Lincoln Town Coupe (1980-1981)
Assembly United States: Wixom, Michigan (Wixom Assembly Plant)
4.9 L (302 cu in)
5.0L Windsor V8
4-speed AOD automatic
Wheelbase 117.3 in (2,979 mm)
Length 219.2 in (5,568 mm)
Width 78.1 in (1,984 mm)
Height 55.9 in (1,420 mm)
Curb weight 2-door: 3,993 pounds (1,811 kg)
4-door: 4,006–4,120 pounds (1,817–1,869 kg)
Lincoln Continental Mark VI
Mercury Grand Marquis
Ford LTD Crown Victoria
After lagging behind Cadillac and Chrysler, Lincoln became the final American manufacturer to downsize their full-size cars in 1980. The 1980 Continental shared the Panther platform with full-size counterparts from Ford and Mercury, which adopted it for the 1979 model year. In comparison to the 1979 Continental, the 1980 model shed approximately 900 pounds, an inch in width, fourteen inches in length, and ten inches in wheelbase; surprisingly, the redesign did lead to an increase in trunk space. As the 1970s Lincolns had sold well towards the end of their production run, much of its styling was carried onto the Panther platform, including its blade-like fenders, fake vent windows, and the Rolls-Royce grille shape. In contrast to 1970's models, most models wore exposed headlights, with the exception being the Mark VI models.
The downsizing of the Continental marked the beginning of an expansion of the Lincoln lineup. As the division had relied nearly entirely on full-size cars, Lincoln split the Continental and the Town Car in 1981 into separate models. The Town Car remained the traditional full-size Lincoln, while the Continental became a mid-size car to replace the slow-selling Versailles. When the Mark Series was redesigned in 1984, it too was redesigned; instead of a land yacht, it became one of the most advanced cars ever sold by Ford Motor Company.
From 1980-1983, the script "TOWN CAR" appeared above the headlights; this script was removed for the 1984 model year. A leather-grained vinyl full-roof covering with center pillar coach lamps was standard on base Town Car, while the padded vinyl coach roof (covering only the rear half of the roof) with a frenched (smaller) rear window opening was included on Signature Series and Cartier models (and optional on base Town Car). A cloth (Canvas) roof—re-creating the look of a convertible—was optional on all except Cartier. Inside, Signature Series and Cartier models featured 6-way power seats (and manual seatback recliners) for the driver and front passenger. All models now featured a 50/50 split front bench seat, replacing the traditional full-width bench seat.
The 1981 Town Car featured many advanced luxury options for its time. An optional full-function trip computer with digital displays showed the driver "miles to empty" and (based on driver input) an "estimated time of arrival", among other features. Another new feature, the keypad entry system, allowed access to the vehicle via a factory-programmed (or self-programmed alternate) five digit combination. From the keypad, the driver could lock all four doors, or after entering the code, unlock the vehicle's doors or open the trunk lid. With this system being linked only to the vehicle, rather than a satellite, the need for drivers to share their identity with an operator in a potentially unsecure environment was not required. This popular feature is still in use on many Lincoln, Mercury and Ford vehicles.
1986 Lincoln Town Car
1988 Lincoln Town Car
1989 Lincoln Town Car
For 1985, the Town Car received minor design updates. Like previous years, the scheme included a reflector running in between both taillights above the bumper mounted license plate - a design feature kept for the second generation 1990–1997 Town Car. But now, a single, wide reverse lamp was mounted in the center of the reflector panel (the lamps moved up from the previous bumper location). All four corners of the vehicle were slightly rounded, and the new, narrower bumpers were flush mounted with the sides of Town Car. Inside, the 1985 dashboard used satin black trim on the lower dashboard fascia and a slightly revised steering wheel with a padded center panel including a horn button—the previous year had a hard plastic center piece, with the horn button located at the end of the turn signal stalk. The large wood-tone applique used on each door panel through 1984 was replaced by an insert matching the seat upholstery.
In 1985, Cadillac DeVille and Fleetwood were both downsized, the former converted to front-wheel drive. Lincoln, however, continued to field the Town Car as a traditional-sized luxury car. In response to the downsized Cadillacs, Lincoln began running a series of ads in late 1985 titled "The Valet" which depicted parking attendants having trouble distinguishing Cadillacs from lesser Buicks, Oldsmobiles, Pontiacs, and even Chevrolets, with the question "Is that a Cadillac?" answered by the response "No, it's an Oldsmobile (or Buick, Chevy, etc.)." At the end the owner of a Lincoln would appear with the line "The Lincoln Town Car please." The commercial saw the emergence of the new advertising line, "Lincoln. What a Luxury Car Should Be." which was used into the 1990s. The mildy-revamped 1985 Town Car sold well in comparison to the newly re-styled GM vehicles that not only all looked like each other, but also too similar to lesser GM models. While the Town Car retained its traditional layout and large size, fuel prices dropped to a contemporary new low at the time, and operating economy became less of a concern to buyers than a decade prior.
Visually, 1986 was a virtual re-run of the popular 1985 model, but with the addition of the federally-mandated third brake light, mounted on the parcel shelf in the rear window. The dashboard featured more wood-tone accents (in simulated blonde walnut burl), whereas the 1985 model held satin black lower dashboard panels. Tall, four-way articulating front seat head restraints arrived in many Ford vehicles for 1986, including Town Car. The biggest mechanical change for 1986 was the switch to multi-port fuel injection for the 302-cubic-inch engine. This replaced the throttle-body fuel injection system that had been used previously. The MPFI engines are easily identifiable visually, by their cast aluminum upper intake manifolds with horizontal throttle body (vertical throttle plate), replacing the more traditional-looking carburetor-style throttle body with top-mounted air cleaner of previous Town Cars.
1987 was more of the same for Town Car, and changes were minimal. The top-notch Cartier model - which was previously only available in two-tone arctic white and platinum silver, changed to dual shades of platinum (a metallic beige), along with a new interior color in a revamped sew-style, with a sandy beige color ("Titanium") replacing the former white and gray upholstery. Also new was the available JBL single-slot CD Player.
A very minor facelift occurred for the 1988 model year, which saw an early release in the spring of 1987. Town Car now included a wide brushed metal panel on the rear of the vehicle just below the trunk lid opening. The reverse lamps, previously located in the center, now moved to the outer edges of the reflector panel. On the front end of the vehicle, Lincoln returned to the waterfall grille versus a crosshatch design from 1985-1987. Inside, the standard dashboard held a new cluster featuring round gauges set within the square bezels. The burled walnut wood-tone trim was replaced by American walnut applique, and the horn pad changed slightly with more detailed plastic trim.
For 1989, Town Car's grille featured satin black paint on the sides of the segmented grille blades (similar to Mark VII), and now included the "LINCOLN" logo (in a larger, more contemporary font), on the grille itself - down from the header panel above the headlight. Parking lamps were changed from clear to amber, and the background of the Lincoln medallions in between the headlamps was changed from clear to black. In back, the brushed metal panel above the center reflector held a series of fine horizontal pinstripes, and the new "LINCOLN" logo and "Town Car" script emblems moved up from above the tail-light panel (where they had been since 1988), back onto the trunk lid itself. The standard vinyl roof on the base model featured a smaller, more formal "frenched" rear window this year, and did away with the exposed trim surrounding the glass. Large, chrome Lincoln "star" emblems were embedded onto the opera window glass on base and Signature models.
The introduction of the Panther platform Town Car in 1980 was also the first year without the 400 cu in (6.6 L) V8, initially optional in 1977 (standard in California) then standard in 1978 (460 CID optional). The 460 cu in (7.5 L) V8 engine was last available in the 1978 model year. These were replaced with the smaller 4.9 L (302 cu in) V8 (throttle body fuel injection, replaced by Port Fuel Injection in 1986 through the 1989 model year). This engine was marketed as a "5.0" model. For the 1980 model year only, an optional 5.8 L (351 cu in) V8 was available. The transmission also changed to a 4-speed automatic with overdrive. All Town Cars from 1980-1989 featured an optional trailer towing package which included: dual exhausts, a shorter-ratio limited slip differential and an improved cooling package for the engine as well as transmission.
Second generation (1990–1997)
1990–1992 Lincoln Town Car
Assembly Wixom, Michigan, USA
Body style 4-door sedan
1990: 4.9 L (302 cu in) 5.0L Windsor V8
1991-1997: 4.6 L (281 cu in) Modular SOHC V8
4-speed AOD automatic 90 - 92
4-speed AOD-E automatic 92 - 95
4-speed 4R70W automatic 95 - 97
Wheelbase 117.4 in (2,982 mm)
1990–94: 218.9 in (5,560 mm)
1995–97: 219.0 in (5,563 mm)
1990–91: 78.1 in (1,984 mm)
1992–94: 76.9 in (1,953 mm)
1995–97: 76.7 in (1,948 mm)
1990–94: 56.7 in (1,440 mm)
1995–97: 56. in (1,422 mm)
Curb weight 3,935–4,103 pounds (1,785–1,861 kg)
Mercury Grand Marquis
Ford Crown Victoria
1993–1994 Lincoln Town Car
After ten years on the market (nine of them as the Town Car) relatively unchanged, Lincoln redesigned the Town Car inside and out for the 1990 model year. While the Panther platform was retained, along with the powertrain, every body panel on the outside was changed; the angular design seen since 1970 was abandoned. The front half of the Town Car echoed that of the Mark VII and the 1988 Continental, with the Rolls-Royce grille given a far more aerodynamic shape and the exposed halogen headlamps replaced with a wraparound composite design. Other sheet metal gave Town Car a decidedly contemporary look, while styling cues like those of the trunklid and taillights, remained somewhat similar to the 1980's model. The revised interior featured a new dashboard, seats, and door panels. That year, it was also named as Motor Trend's Car of the Year.
Town Car was still available in three trim levels: Base (re-named "Executive" in 1991), Signature, and Cartier—in increasing order of price and appointment of features. Cartier was now available in several interior and exterior colors (up until now, it had only been available in a single paint scheme every year).
The second generation Town Car was an overwhelming sales success and became one of America's best selling full-size luxury sedans. During the late 1980's and early 1990s, Town Car sales regularly exceeded 100,000 units with 120,121 Town Cars being sold in 1994 alone.
Features and Changes
Introduced in 1990 were several new options that had never been available before on Town Car. A two-position driver's memory seat was an optional on Signature (standard on Cartier). Electric seatback recliners with power inflatable lumbar support were available as well. The Electrochromic Dimming Mirror was also a carryover option from the 1989 Town Car, but now wider than before. A revised digital instrument cluster (standard on Signature and Cartier) featured a more advanced message center, but lost the "estimated time of arrival" feature (it returned in 1995).
Many advanced safety features were now featured on Town Car. For 1990, dual air bags became standard. However, problems with sourcing the passenger air bag module caused many cars to be delivered without the passenger side module. A credit, shown on the window sticker, was issued for the missing component. Upon request from an owner, the credit would be taken back and the passenger side airbag module would be installed. For the first time since 1979, 4-wheel disc brakes were standard on the Town Car; ABS was optional. Rear air suspension was added as standard equipment. 1991saw the introduction of Ford's new Modular V8, a 4.6L SOHC design replacing the Ford 302 Windsor, as well as new lightweight front and rear bumpers. 1992 saw the standardization of ABS braking along with dual airbags.
The 1993 model year saw a minor facelift on the front grille, and a new checkerboard pattern to the tail lamps. An electronic automatic temperature control (EATC) unit with digital display replaced the analog unit from the previous year. The electronic instrument cluster was now standard on all three models, while the automatic headlamp dimmer (part of the headlamp convenience group) was discontinued, the autolamp system became standard. An orange-toned walnut applique graced the dashboard and door panels. In 1994, 20 HP was added to the engine, bringing the total to 210 hp (157 kW). The torque was increased as well, by ten, bringing the total to 270 pound-feet (37 kg·m) of torque. As a result, the highway mileage decreased by one, bringing that to 18 mpg-US (13 L/100 km; 22 mpg-imp) city and 25 mpg-US (9.4 L/100 km; 30 mpg-imp) highway.
1995–1997 Lincoln Town Car
The Town Car underwent a minor exterior facelift for the 1995 model year. Changes to the exterior included smaller, clear headlights as well as additional running lights in the rear. Larger door mirrors were body-colored (formerly chrome), and were moved slightly forward on the door itself. Updated bumpers front and rear, new body side moldings, and the deletion of the small fixed window in the rear doors completed the exterior changes. The antenna was removed from the outside of the car and integrated into the rear window.
The interior was extensively revamped. Town Car received a new dashboard, seats and interior door panels. The angular interior shapes from the 1990 to 1994 model's interior were replaced by a curved dashboard that flowed into the front door panels, in fashion with the so-called "organic" design. 1995 also saw the introduction of a new steering wheel, which was used in all Panther-based sedans from 1998 to 2004. In addition to the cruise control buttons, which had been steering wheel mounted since the 1970s, some models (Signature and Cartier) featured remote audio and climate control buttons as well.
Also introduced in 1995 was a new digital dash layout (replacing the unit used since 1993) that featured a more italicized look to the readouts, while the exterior temperature readout moved from the dash cluster to the climate control panel. A "miles to go" trip computer feature was added. Dual power recliners with lumbar support—as well as a three-position driver's seat and mirror memory function became standard (formerly optional) on Signature Series which could be assigned to the keyless entry remotes as well as the up to four personal keyless entry codes. Heated seats were a new option, and door panel switches now featured (slight) illumination from a lamp located below the interior door handle. Power door lock switches were back-lit, and were mounted high up on the driver and passenger door panels. The fuel door release (previously mounted in the center dash panel) and trunk release button moved from inside the glove compartment to the lower driver's side door panel. Similar to the previous year, Signature and Cartier models featured dual clamshell storage armrests up front with cassette storage, coin holder, and an optional Cell phone. The 1997 Cartier models held dual cup holders in the rear center armrest.
With the demise of the Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham after 1996, the Town Car became the last of its kind: the last American full-size, rear-wheel drive luxury car. The demise of the Fleetwood also made the Town Car the largest mass-produced car available in North America.
Third generation (1998–2011)Third generation
1998–2002 Lincoln Town Car Cartier
Wixom, Michigan, USA (1998–2007)
St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada (2008–2011)
Body style 4-door sedan
Engine 4.6 L Modular SOHC V8
4-speed 4R70W automatic
4-speed 4R75W automatic
Wheelbase Town Car:
117.7 in (2,990 mm)
Town Car L:
123.7 in (3,142 mm)
Town Car: 215.3 in (5,469 mm)
2003-2011 Town Car: 215.4 in (5,471 mm)
1999-2002 Town Car L: 221.3 in (5,621 mm)
2003-2011 Town Car L: 221.4 in (5,624 mm)
1998–2002: 78.2 in (1,986 mm)
2003–2011: 78.5 in (1,994 mm)
1998–2002: 58.0 in (1,473 mm)
2003–08 Town Car: 58.6 in (1,488 mm)
2003–08 Town Car L: 58.7 in (1,491 mm)
2009–2011 Town Car: 59.0 in (1,499 mm)
2009–2011 Town Car L: 59.1 in (1,501 mm)
Town Car: 4,006–4,369 pounds (1,817–1,982 kg)
Town Car L: 4,360–4,517 pounds (1,978–2,049 kg)
Mercury Grand Marquis
Ford Crown Victoria
For the 1998 model year, Ford gave its full-size cars for all three divisions major redesigns, with the Town Car receiving the most attention. The straight-lined body seen for eight years gave way to a curved design scheme with a downwards sloping trunk lid, and cat's-eye headlights. The C-pillar opera windows and Rolls-Royce grille seen since the 1970s were left off, as was the hood ornament. In the front, the new Town Car wore a waterfall grille much like the Navigator that was introduced alongside it for 1998. While it lost three inches in overall length, the new Town Car was two inches wider, one inch taller, with a slightly longer wheelbase as well.
1998-2002 door panel
The interior received major changes as well. Door and instrument panels as well as the radio face, switches and controls were redone. Additional wood trim was added to the newly designed dashboard and the door panels. The power seat recliner and lumbar controls were moved to the door panels. Lincoln emblems remained on the door panels and the seatbacks, as well as the rear tail lights, making the 1998-2002 models the last Town Cars with that feature. The Cartier model also received a 220 hp (164 kW) version of the Modular V8.
Seat-mounted combination head and torso side airbags became standard during the 1999 model model year. In late 2000, a Touring Edition was added to the Town Car lineup; it featured a more powerful 235 hp (175 kW) version of the Town Car's Modular V8 engine, dual exhaust pipes and unique 16 inch alloy wheels with larger tires.
According to Consumer Guide the car scores above average in the premium luxury segment for comfort, room and materials but scores below average for acceleration, steering and overall technical performance. Otherwise, the Town Car has frequently received negative reviews with the car being considered "out of date." The Town Car is, however, still considered one of the best chauffeured vehicles as it receives high marks for being among the most comfortable, quiet riding and roomiest luxury cars available. Forbes car writer Jerry Flint attributes the Town Car's falling sales since the 1998 redesign to the reduction in length and smaller trunk.
1998-2002 stretch limousine
Town Car L
A factory option available to individual owners of Town Cars since 2001 has been a version of the Town Car with an extra six inches (152 mm) of rear seat legroom, designated as the "L" or "long" version. This model provides extra amenities for rear-seat passengers, including a unique rear-seat switch that allows the front-passenger seat to be moved forward as desired for extra room in the rear.
2003–2011 Lincoln Town Car
In 2003, coinciding with a major update of the Ford Panther platform, Lincoln facelifted the Town Car inside and out. The front and rear sheet metal (hood, front fenders, trunk lid, and rear fenders) as well as the bumpers were squared off, with a new grille and headlights (in the style of the Lincoln LS) added to the front end. After 5 years without one, the Town Car gained back its hood ornament; however, the Lincoln emblems were removed from the taillights. Suspension changes necessitated the use of wheels with a high positive offset (flush-spoke). To improve its handling, a speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering system was added to the Town Car. Also new was a power trunk lid that opens and closes at the touch of the driver's door mounted button or through the keyless remote; this was known as "Trunk at a Touch." The Modular V8 now produced 239 hp (178 kW),
On the inside, the seats were replaced with a new design (with larger head restraints) and the dashboard received satin metal in addition to the standard woodgrain. The radio face, including the climate controls, received an update with the addition of an analog clock. A DVD-based satellite navigation system designed by Pioneer became available late in the 2003 model year; it was later paired with THX sound processing. The factory-equipped rear ultrasonic park assist (with two rear bumper mounted sensors) became standard on all except the Executive Series.
The 2003 redesign would turn out to be the last for the Town Car; all changes since then have consisted of minor yearly changes. In 2005, the steering wheel was updated. For 2006, the instrument panel received was updated with the addition of a tachometer (becoming one of the last American cars to adopt the feature). On the exterior, the parking sensors became hidden.
For 2008, many previous options were included in the base price. The Town Car was available in two models: the Signature and the extended-wheelbase Town Car Signature L. As Town Car production began to ramp down, many optional features were standardized in an effort to use up existing stock, ease assembly line procedures, and position Town Car as a better value against the competition. Leather upholstery had been standard since 1998, and the 6-disc CD changer was included in the base price. The only four remaining options were HID (High-Intensity Discharge) headlamps, chrome-finish 18-spoke wheels (in place of the standard machine-finished 10-spoke wheels), a white-wall tire option, and the trunk organizer—a 3-bin storage tray underneath a hard carpeted cover for Town Car's deep center trunk well (which allows the Town Car to have a temporary flat, albeit considerably shallower, loading floor).
The 2009 Town Car was available only in Signature trim, with a choice of two wheelbases. The four options from 2008 continued for 2009, in both price and availability.
For 2010, the Town Car is again available in two forms — Signature Limited and the extended wheelbase Signature L. The few remaining options include High-Intensity Discharge headlamps, Trunk organizer, and a set of four 17" 18-spoke chromed aluminum wheels. The whitewall tire option was discontinued, but Daytime Running Lamps became available. Also available only on Signature Limited was the Continental Edition package. This is somewhat ironic, as the Town Car was originally the upscale edition of the Panther-based Lincoln Continental. The package adds Continental badging, chrome 17" wheels, and chrome B-pillar accents to the car's exterior, while inside, the Continental name is embroidered on the front seats and front floor mats.
Of interesting note, some time after 2003, the Executive (and Executive L) became equipped with single exhaust while the Signature Series and Signature L were equipped with dual exhaust. This created 224 bhp for the fleet-based Executive, while the Signature got 239 bhp. Most coach builders convert the Executive's single exhaust into a dual exhaust setup when building a limousine, to give the vehicle some added power on top of having to stretch the exhaust to accommodate the stretched frame.
2003 marked the last year of "Cartier" trim package (introduced in 1981); beginning with the 2004 model year, the top-of-the-line Town Car was instead designated as the "Ultimate". The Touring edition (on the Signature model only) was dropped.
2003 also saw the mid-year intro of the "Limited", based upon the Signature. The Limited had special perforated seats, unique wheels, and a black grill with chrome surround moulding. All options were made standard on the Limited, except for whitewall tires & the Navigation System. The Limited also introduced a new color (Code DV) "Mineral Green Metallic", which is still on the 2009 Color Chart. 2007 also marked the last year of the DVD-based satellite navigation system and THX sound processing system that went with it. 1,131 LIMITED(s) were manufactured.
After 2007, the Town Car was discontinued for retail sale in Canada, becoming exclusively available for fleet and livery sales; it also became the final year of Town Car production in Wixom, Michigan. Ford was reported to be considering discontinuing the model at this point, a proposal that shocked observers. Industry observer George Peterson said "It blows everybody’s mind that they are dropping the Town Car. Just think what Ford could do if they actually invested in a re-skin of Crown Victoria, Grand Marquis and Town Car." During 2008, production was shifted to St. Thomas Assembly in Canada, consolidating its production with the Mercury Grand Marquis and Ford Crown Victoria.
Ford promised availability of the Town Car through the 2011 model year for the limousine and livery markets. Lincoln intends to discontinue production of the Town Car in August of 2011 and is replacing it in livery markets with a limousine variant of the MKT. The MKT limousine should be available in the second quarter of 2012 and will be called "MKT Town Car."
On January 4, 2011, the Town Car became the last Panther-platform variant available for retail sale as the final Mercury Grand Marquis was produced (the last Mercury-brand vehicle); the Ford Crown Victoria has not been produced for retail sale since the end of the 2007 model year.
The last Town Car rolled off the assembly line on August 29, 2011.
While the car has been highly rated for safety, there was some controversy and lawsuits in the 1990's and 2000's over Ford Crown Victoria (and its Mercury & Lincoln counterparts) gas tank leaks after certain types of high speed impacts, specifically when being hit in the rear end at high speeds. These impacts did cause fuel tank failures in the Crown Victoria. The leaking fuel in combination with friction between the vehicle and the road was found to be the cause of fires.
The reports that the cars were more prone to fires during a rear collision was a simple combination of three things. First, most law enforcement agencies rely heavily on the Crown Victoria as their primary vehicle, meaning that any police-related auto accident is very likely to involve a Crown Victoria. Second, the accidents occurred as the result of the officers intentionally parking their vehicles close to active traffic to shield a stopped motorist - something most civilians would never do. Third, the impacting vehicle was often traveling at, or above, the posted legal limit (70-75 mph in most jurisdictions).
The condition was exacerbated by police equipment installers drilling over the package tray in the luggage compartment. Due to the gas tank's orientation, drilling through the package tray may result in drilling into the gas tank. Installers also used screws set directly into the bulkhead and facing the fuel tank. In the event of a high-energy collision, these screws could be forced into the tank, both rupturing the tank and possibly acting as a spark source. Long bolts for mounting heavier equipment were also directly suspect. The manufacturer provided an aftermarket shield to help prevent these items from puncturing the tank during impact. Further, many investigations, both performed by federal/state agencies, and the police department themselves, have found that removable items in the trunk were improperly stowed. These items became tank-piercing projectiles during the rear-collision scenarios. Ford's second solution came in the form of a recall kit including patterns to mark unsafe areas (to drill) in the luggage compartment. Also included were rubberized kevlar and hard ballistic nylon shields for the differential cover lower shock bolts. They also included a kevlar-based trunk liner. Ford used similar kits on early-1980's model passenger vehicles. For 2005 and newer models, Ford offers an optional on-board fire-suppression system for the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor units. The system itself is integrated with the anti-lock braking system as part of the activation, and can be activated manually. However, Ford does cite several system limitations regarding fuel loss and impact speeds.
Despite numerous court cases charging Ford with partial liability for fires caused in accidents, the company has never been found liable in a Crown Victoria accident.
Notably, only the Ford Crown Victoria and new Ford police car have been certified for high speed rear impact collisions, adding credibility to Ford's statement that fiery crashes are a result of extreme and unfortunate situations.
On 2004 models, the accelerator and brake pedals are close together. This has been blamed for accidents caused by driver error where the driver presses the accelerator instead of the brake. On NHTSA safety complaints, some drivers reported that their foot was not on the accelerator at all, and the car still lurched forward. Despite numerous complaint submissions, NHTSA has not issued a safety recall.
On 2003 and 2004 models, the front door latch handles are secured with plastic only and may break and become disengaged from the internal mechanism, preventing the door from opening except by operating the external door handle. Previously, the repair required replacing the entire door trim panel (about $950 for the part alone). The trim panel is no longer stocked, making it impossible to repair the door handle, rendering the car unsafe due to emergency exit concerns. A similar problem in Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigators resulted in a recall, but thus far, NHTSA has not issued a recall for the Town Car.
Intake manifold defect
Model years 1996 through 2001, which use an all-composite intake manifold, are subject to coolant leaks in the component. Late in 2005 Ford settled a class action lawsuit. See Intake Manifold Defect section of the Ford Modular engine article for details.
Signature Series Identification Label
In 1981 the Town Car was introduced in three trim levels, the base Executive Series, the mid-range Signature Series, and the top-of-the-line Cartier. The trim levels remained unchanged until 2003, when the Executive Series and Cartier names were dropped. The Signature Series did not any longer represent the mid-range model; rather it replaced the Executive Series with Ultimate designation being used for the mid-range and top model, which was formerly called the Cartier. In 2005, however, the lineup was changed again. For 2005 only, the Ultimate designation was dropped, with only the Signature Series designation being used for all three trim levels. In 2006, Lincoln introduced the Designer Series as an additional trim-level to fit in between the mid-range Signature Limited Series and the top Signature L Series.
The Executive Series was the basic trim level and thus the most affordable trim level on the Lincoln Town Car from 1991 through 2003. After 2004, the Executive Series designation continued on, but for fleet vehicles only.
The Signature Series was the mid-level trim and was also the most popular trim level from 1981 through 2003. In 2004 the trim levels were renamed, and the Signature Series was now used to describe the basic trim level and Ultimate was now used to describe the mid-level trim. In 2005 the Ultimate was dropped and all trim levels were changed to a version of Signature. The basic trim level for 2005 was called Signature, the mid trim level was called Signature Limited and the top-of-line trim-level was called Signature L. The trim level designations were revised again for the 2006 model year. For 2006 a trim level called the Designer Series was added between the Signature Limited and top-of-line Signature L. By 2010, with only two models remaining, the Signature Limited became the base model, while the Signature L badge was used for the extended-wheelbase model.
Cartier was used on the top-of-line Town Car from 1981 through 2003. The Cartier also featured the designer's logo stitched onto the seats in place of the Lincoln star. Golden Lincoln emblems on the tail-lights also became a staple mark on the Cartier Edition on 1998 through 2002 models.
According to Edmund's pricing guides for 1989, the Town Car was to be available as a Gucci Edition including a standard Carriage Roof (convertible-look). This was apparently cancelled as there was instead a "Special Edition" of the Town Car in 1989 which had a unique edition of the Carriage Roof option, with an embedded opera light extending the length of the "b-pillar", possibly replacing the proposed Gucci model.
"Limited" was based upon a Signature Limited, but was also a $2,125.00 option on a Signature Premium; on a standard Signature, it cost $2,730.00. It featured a unique black grille bars within the normal chrome surround. It also had a perforated strip on the bottom seats, Limited carpet mats, special seat piping, Alpine Stereo with CD and Audiophile speakers, unique 14-spoke wheels with painted "pockets" as well as a unique exterior paint color, "Light Tundra Metallic" ~ actually a very light silver-green metallic. In total, 1,131 were produced.
Ultimate was only used on the 2004 Town Car. Ultimate designation replaced Signature for 2004 model year and was used for the top-of-line Lincoln.
L Edition (2001–2011)
The "L" designation is used on Lincoln Town Cars with extended wheelbases. The L editions offer an additional six inches (152 mm) of rear-seat legroom, as well as remote access audio and climate controls mounted in the rear center armrest. Also included is a two-way travel switch for the front passenger seat base (a feature shared with the extended-wheelbase Jaguar XJ). This L designation is similar to that used on other luxury flagship sedans such as the BMW 7-Series or the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The L designation was applied to the top-of-line Cartier (2003), Ultimate (2004 only), and Signature (2005 - 2011) Series trim levels. For the 2001-02 versions, the "L" edition can best be identified by a wide, stationary gloss-black panel bearing the Lincoln "star" ornament, mounted forward of the window glass on the elongated rear doors. The "L" version from 2003 and onward features extended-width fixed opera windows.
The Designer Series is an upper-middle trim level in between the mid-level Signature Limited and top-of-the-line Signature L. The Designer Series is roughly $1,000 more expensive than the mid-level Signature Limited with a starting MSRP of $45,915. This trim includes two-tone interior accents, a special higher quality leather called Provence leather. The rear seats also include four way adjustable head restraints exclusively on this trim for the standard wheelbase. On the exterior special chromed B pillars and Chrome wheels are included with this package.
1992 to 1997 saw a special Signature Series sedan come to market: the Jack Nicklaus Signature Series, which featured a green body with a white vinyl top with white leather interior trimmed in green. Another version came with white exterior paint and a conventional roof and a similar white leather interior with green carpets and trim. Most of these editions have ornaments and wording on the exterior trimmed in gold including green and gold "Golden Bear" badges on the front fenders. Options included on the 1992 to 1997 Jack Nicklaus Signature Series included: Memory Seats with Power Lumbar/Recliner, Leather Seats, and Monotone Paint.
1995 also featured another special Signature Series edition called the Spinnaker Edition which featured tri-coat paint, two-toned leather seats, the Spinnaker logo on the floor mats, and 16-inch spoked aluminum wheels.
To celebrate Lincoln's 75th anniversary in 1996, the Town Car took on a "Diamond Anniversary" edition. This edition was applied to Signature Series sedans only. Options included a paint strip down the side, leather seats, wood instrument panel trim, window badging, cellular telephone, power moonroof, JBL audio system, auto electrochromatic dimming mirror w/compass, and traction assist.
Introduced in 2010 is the Continental Edition package; available as an option only on the Signature Limited trim. The package adds Continental badging, chrome 17" wheels and accents to the B-pillars. On the interior, the Continental name is embroidered on the front seats and front floor mats.
Also introduced in 1996 were the Ride Control and Touring Edition packages. Ride Control was only available on Signature and Cartier while Touring Edition was available for all Town Car models. Ride control featured an auxiliary power steering fluid cooler, 16-inch aluminum wheels, 225/60/16 tires, 3.27 axle ratio, 28.5 mm (1.1in) stabilizer bar, as well as revised air springs and shocks. Touring Edition featured (depending on model), a power moonroof, JBL audio system, electrochromic automatic dimming mirror, auxiliary power steering fluid cooler, 16-inch aluminum wheels, 225/60/16 tires, 3.27 axle ratio, 28.5 mm (1.1 in) stabilizer bar, and revised air springs and shocks. Both the Ride Control and Touring Edition packages would last only between 1996 and 1997; however, the Touring Edition package would make a brief comeback during the 2000 model year.
The Town Car has received several awards and recognitions.
Forbes magazine repeatedly named the Town Car one of the best cars to be chauffeured in along with other, often more expensive flagship sedans, such as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7-Series and Lexus LS. The Town Car Signature L features a rear seat comfort package which not only provides rear seat passengers with audio system and rear compartment climate controls, but also features a control function which allows for the rear seat occupants to move the passenger seat forward, a feature exclusive to few ultra-luxury sedans. In addition to its many amenities, the Signature L also features an unrivaled 46.9 in (1,191 mm) of rear legroom, and 60 in (1,524 mm) of rear shoulder room.
In 1990, upon the introduction of the second generation Town Car, the vehicle was named Motor Trend Car of the Year. However this award was later included by Car and Driver in a list of poorly chosen car of the year award winners.