Tuesday, July 2, 2013
As of the 2011 model year, the Panther platform was in use longer (32 model years) than any other platform in North American automotive history. It was initially developed as a response to the downsizing of full-size cars from Chrysler and General Motors due to increasingly stringent fuel economy standards for cars. During trying periods for Ford, the Panther cars were scheduled for cancellation and replacement (in favor of the front-wheel drive D186 platform) on several occasions, as early as 1985.
As the 1980's progressed, the full-size cars of the Buick, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac divisions were downsized further; all were replaced by front-wheel drive, mid-size cars. The Panther's final GM counterparts, the Chevrolet Caprice, Buick Roadmaster and Cadillac Fleetwood were discontinued in 1996. During the early 1980's, Chrysler left the full-size car class completely. In the early 1990's, Chrysler resumed production of full-size cars (the LH platform) and rear-wheel drive (the LX platform) a decade later. However, with the majority of these cars, Chrysler competes against different customers that Ford attracts with the Panther platform.
The Panther platform was produced at Ford's St. Thomas Assembly plant in Talbotville, Ontario, Canada, with the last vehicle rolling off the line 15 September 2011. Prior to its closure on 31 May 2007, the Wixom Assembly Plant in Michigan was the assembly site for the Lincoln Town Car. Assembly of the Town Car was consolidated at the St. Thomas plant in January 2008 following paint shop and other upgrades. Ford and Mercury versions built before the 1986 model year were assembled in the St. Louis Assembly Plant in Missouri; this facility is currently closed.
Design overviewThe Panther platform utilized the body-on-frame construction with live rear axle suspension. While commonplace during its late-1970s introduction, it is a design found almost exclusively in large SUVs and pickup trucks today. The durability resulting from the body on frame construction (which allows easier repair after minor collisions), the cars' low price, and their relatively simple design make the Panther cars appealing as fleet vehicles, including police cars and taxicabs. The Lincoln Town Car appealed largely to livery services, and is the most commonly used limousine in North America, due to its ability to be easily "stretched" by lengthening the frame without compromising chassis strength.
Although introduced in 1979, the Panther platform has undergone major changes along the way. Through its design life, it has been produced in three distinct generations:
- First generation (1979–1991): The initial versions; the only versions produced in bodystyles other than a four-door sedan. The only generation to use the Windsor V8 engine
- Second generation (1990–2002): Extensive redesigns of exterior and interior; introduction of Modular V8 engine
- Third generation (2003–2012): Frame and suspension redesigns and upgrades to improve handling. 2011 was the last model year for the North American Market and for Lincoln-Mercury models. A limited number of 2012 Crown Victorias were built for the police and overseas market.
First Generation (1979–1991)The first cars introduced on the Panther platform were the downsized 1979 Ford LTD and Mercury Marquis. Both were available in coupe, wagon, and sedan bodystyles. For 1980, federal fuel-economy regulations forced the Lincoln Continental to downsize; for the first time, the flagship cars for all three divisions shared a common platform. All Ford and Mercury models were now built on a common wheelbase; aside from grilles and taillights, the bodyshells were identical as well. In the Lincoln lineup, the Continental, Town Car, and Continental Mark VI shared nearly identical bodywork. In 1982, the Town Car became a model line of its own as the Continental became a mid-sized Fox-platform car; the Mark VI ended production in 1983. While Lincoln coupes (Mark VI and the rare Town Coupe) based on the Panther platform were discontinued in 1983, Ford and Mercury coupes lasted until 1987, when low demand brought their cancellation.
The 1st-generation Panther was also:
- The last American car with functional vent windows (option on 1989 Ford/Mercury)
- The last American-brand car available with a carbureted engine (351 cubic-inch V8; option on Grand Marquis, Crown Victoria wagon/police car through 1991)
Second generation (1990–2002)The American automotive landscape had changed significantly throughout the 1980s, although Ford had left the Panther platform essentially unchanged. A combination of changing consumer tastes as well as increasingly more stringent fuel economy standards forced Ford to make significant changes to the Panther cars in order to keep them in production. Bucking industry trends of the time, Ford chose not to downsize it any further or to replace it entirely with a front-wheel drive platform, opting instead for more aerodynamic bodystyling (which had been popularized by the smaller Taurus) and an all-new powertrain. As a result of changing market trends towards minivans and sport utility vehicles, one casualty of the redesign was the Country Squire and Colony Park station wagons; at the time, their de facto replacement was the Ford Aerostar.
In 1990, Lincoln introduced the second-generation Town Car. For 1992, the Crown Victoria (the LTD prefix disappeared) and Grand Marquis received total redesigns of their bodies; the Ford was restyled to have more of a family resemblance to the Ford Taurus, while the Mercury was styled as a more contemporary version of its predecessor (a formal family sedan).
- 4.6-liter "Modular" V8
- 1998 upgrades
Third generation (2003–2012)For 2003, Ford completely redesigned the frame of the Panther platform, using a design with hydroformed steel. The front and rear suspension were also completely overhauled in an effort to improve handling; rack and pinion steering replaced the recirculating-ball design. While the sheetmetal of the Crown Victoria was left alone, the Grand Marquis and Town Car both received updates to the exterior and interior in an effort to bring them in line with the smaller cars of their respective product lineups.
In 2003, Mercury introduced the Marauder, a high-performance variant of the Grand Marquis designed much like the 1994–1996 Chevrolet Impala SS. It sold poorly and was dropped after 2004 after just over 11,000 were built. Due to very low retail demand, the Crown Victoria was restricted to fleet sales after the 2007 model year; by that time, only 5% of its production went to retail sale.
Ford LTD/Mercury Marquis (1979–1982)
In Canada, the base-trim versions of these cars marked the final appearances of the long-running Ford Custom 500 and Mercury (Marquis) Meteor nameplates. Both the Custom 500 and Meteor were discontinued after the 1981 model year.
- Body Styles
- 2-door sedan
- 4-door sedan
- 5-door station wagon
Ford LTD Crown Victoria/Mercury Grand Marquis (1983–1991)
In 1988, the LTD Crown Victoria and Grand Marquis received a redesign of the front and rear end; in 1990, they became one of the first full-size American cars to feature a standard driver's side airbag.
- Body Styles
- 2-door sedan (to 1987)
- 4-door sedan
- 5-door station wagon
Ford Country Squire/Mercury Colony Park (1979–1991)
The 1991 Country Squire and Colony Park were the last full-sized station wagons produced by Ford. By the beginning of the 1990's, consumer tastes had shifted towards minivans as cargo-carrying vehicles; the Ford Aerostar, Ford Explorer and Ford Taurus station wagon served as its replacements. As of the 2011 model year, Ford sells no sedan-based station wagons in North America, with the Ford Flex full-size CUV as closest to the Country Squire in size and cargo capacity.
- Body Styles
- 5-door station wagon
Lincoln Continental/Town Car (1980; 1981–1989)
In 1982, the Continental nameplate returned, downsized onto the Fox platform (as a replacement for the Versailles); after the discontinuation of the Mark VI, the Town Car became the sole full-size Lincoln. Unlike its Ford and Mercury counterparts, the Continental and Town Car were available with both the 5.0 (302 cui) and the 5.8 (351 cui) engines , After a minor redesign to the rear end in 1985, the Town Car went through the decade unchanged except for minor yearly updates.
- Body Styles
- 2-door sedan (1980–1981)
- 4-door sedan
Lincoln Continental Mark VI (1980–1983)
The Mark Series was downsized further in 1984, when the Mark VII was introduced on the Fox platform; it and the successor Mark VIII were only available as two door coupes.
- Body Styles
- 2-door sedan
- 4-door sedan
Lincoln Town Car (1990–2002)
In 1998, the Town Car received a major redesign of its exterior and interior. The contemporary look of the early 1990s was replaced with a curvaceous design featuring traditional cues. In 2001, a long-wheelbase Town Car was introduced with additional rear-seat legroom.
- Body Styles
- 4-door sedan
Ford Crown Victoria/Mercury Grand Marquis (1992–2002)
The Touring Sedan permanently left the Ford line as the 1992 P77 Crown Victoria. The last year available with optional handling package and optional super heavy duty sway bars, speed sensitive steering, Italian made ABS unit including 4-wheel disc brakes and higher horsepower dual exhaust P77's mysteriously lacked electronic speed limiters found on all other Crown Victoria's including the P71 Police interceptors. With the optional 3.26 mileage maker rear end available on the P77 could top out at 140 m.p.h. or 35 m.p.g. at 70 m.p.h. on a level highway. The redesign featured the fuel injected 4.6L Modular V8, the first use of an overhead-cam V8 in a non-luxury sedan sold in the United States. The 1991 model year Lincoln Town Car was the test bed for this engine, going into mass production in the 1992 Crown Victoria, Mercury Marquuis, and staying on in the Town Car. In 1995, both sedans received a minor exterior update.
In 1998, the Crown Victoria and the Grand Marquis received major exterior redesigns. To increase the parts commonality between the two, the Crown Victoria adopted the roofline of the Grand Marquis, whose 1992 redesign had been better received by buyers. In an effort to improve handling, a Watt's linkage was fitted to the rear suspension.
- Body Styles
- 4-door sedan
Ford Crown Victoria (2003–2012) Mercury Grand Marquis/Lincoln Town Car (2003–2011)
On the outside, the Grand Marquis and Town Car received minor exterior updates; these were done to give the aging Panther-platform cars a similar look to newer Lincoln-Mercury products. In contrast, the Crown Victoria was left unchanged from 1998; a growing proportion of its sales went towards fleet sales in the police and taxi markets. After years of declining sales among retail buyers, Ford removed the Crown Victoria from retail markets at the end of the 2007 model year; the 2008 Taurus served as its replacement. The Mercury Grand Marquis, the best-selling Mercury until the 2008 model year, concluded production in early 2011 after the discontinuation of the Mercury brand. The final Grand Marquis produced for retail sale was built in October 2010.
The final Crown Victoria rolled off the line 15 September 2011, when the St. Thomas assembly plant closed. All production after August 2011 were 2012 models built exclusively for the overseas market. Production of the Town Car ended in August 2011 and will be replaced for livery markets by a limousine variant of the MKT. The MKT limousine will be available in the second quarter of 2012.
- Body Styles
- 4-door sedan
Mercury Marauder (2003–2004)
After 2004, the Marauder was discontinued after approximately 11,052 were sold; after the Lincoln Town Coupe, it is the rarest Panther-platform car.
- Body Styles
- 4-door sedan
Ford Police Interceptor (1992–2012)
The 2012 model year marks the end of production for the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, which Ford is replacing in their model line with a variant of the 2012 Ford Taurus.
- Body Styles
- 4-door sedan
|Ford Panther Platform Timeline|
|LTD Crown Victoria|
|Crown Victoria (1st generation)|
|Crown Victoria (2nd generation)|
|LTD Crown Victoria P71|
|Crown Victoria P71|
|Crown Victoria Police Interceptor|
|Grand Marquis (1st generation)|
|Grand Marquis (2nd generation)|
|Grand Marquis (3rd generation)|
|Grand Marquis (4th generation)|
|Continental Mark VI|
|Town Car (1st generation)|
|Town Car (2nd generation)|
|Town Car (3rd generation)|
|Town Car (4th generation)|
- The Aston Martin Lagonda Vignale concept of 1995 utilized a modified Panther platform.
- The Presidential State Car built for President George H. W. Bush used a modified Panther platform (a 1989 Lincoln Town Car) as its basis; along with armoring and other security modifications, the powertrain was replaced with a 460 cu in (7.5 L) V8 and 4-speed automatic transmission sourced from the Ford F-250 pickup truck lineup.
DiscontinuationDuring most of the 2000's, Ford had considered a new global rear wheel drive platform that would serve as a replacement for both the Panther platform and that of the Australian-market Ford Falcon/Territory. In January 2009, Ford announced such efforts were canceled, leaving the Panther platform with no direct replacement. The 2007 Ford Interceptor concept, derived from the Mustang, was speculated to be a Crown Victoria replacement; no formal announcements were ever made regarding its production.
Since the 2007 model year, the full-size retail presence of Ford has shifted from the Panther platform to the smaller Volvo-derived D3 platform; it also serves as a successor to the D186 (Taurus) platform. Since 2008, the sixth-generation Ford Taurus and Lincoln MKS have largely superseded the Crown Victoria and Town Car in their respective product lineups. Despite similar interior dimensions, sedans based on the D3 platform are only available with 5-passenger seating. Instead of rear-wheel drive only, the Taurus and MKS are front-wheel drive with all-wheel drive as an option; the transverse engine mounting of the D3 platform precludes the continuation of rear-wheel drive. Since the 2008 model year, the Crown Victoria has been available exclusively through fleet, police, and taxi sales. Although highly dependent on livery fleet sales, the Town Car is still available for retail purchase. Like the now-discontinued Grand Marquis, it has been de-emphasized in Lincoln-Mercury marketing plans in an effort to steer buyers to their updated models.
In 2009, Ford announced that 2011 was to be the final year for the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor with a new police-specific vehicle to begin production. In the first quarter of 2010, Ford unveiled its replacement, the 2012 Ford Police Interceptor based on the sixth-generation Taurus. On January 4, 2011, the last Grand Marquis was produced; it also marked the end of the phase-out of the Mercury brand. At the end of August 2011, the Lincoln Town Car (in production since 1981) was discontinued; Ford has developed livery and limousine versions of the Lincoln MKT full-size CUV as a replacement. The St. Thomas Assembly facility closed 15 September 2011.
|Manufacturer||Ford Motor Company|
|Also called||FAW Hongqi Limousine|
|Predecessor||Lincoln Continental (1981)|
|Successor||Lincoln MKT (livery/limousine version)
Lincoln MKS (retail version)
|Class||Full-size luxury car
|Platform||Ford Panther platform|
|Related||Mercury Grand Marquis
Ford Crown Victoria
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, superseding the Continental as the flagship for the Lincoln brand as well as for Ford Motor Company.
Featuring a standard V8 engine, body-on-frame design, rear-wheel drive and large exterior and interior dimensions, the Town Car was based on the Ford Panther platform. This gave it powertrain and suspension commonality with the Mercury Grand Marquis and the Ford LTD Crown Victoria (later the Crown Victoria). This design made them durable even in the rough conditions taxi and livery cars are subjected to, and easy and cheap to repair when they did suffer damage. Town Cars are typically operated in commercial service for at least 400,000 miles.
Its large dimensions made it the largest car in production in North America. From 1997 to 2011, the Town Car was the longest car (but not the heaviest) 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.
After its discontinuation following the 2011 model year, the Town Car was left without a direct replacement. Although dimensionally a full-size sedan, the Lincoln MKS's architecture is considerably different as it has a front-wheel drive unibody platform with optional all-wheel drive. The MKS is marketed more as of a successor to the sportier Lincoln LS as well as the 1995–2002 Continental. To fill the gap left by the Town Car, Lincoln has remained in livery markets by developing a limousine variant of the MKT full-size crossover vehicle, which was made available around the second quarter of 2012 and is known as the "MKT Town Car." Lincoln is also believed to be preparing a true Town Car successor on a rear-wheel drive platform to rival the Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7-series.
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.
First Generation (1981–1989)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 lb (410 kg), 1 in (25 mm) in width, 14 in (360 mm) in length, and 10 in (250 mm) in wheelbase. Despite these dimensional regressions, engineering changes (such as the lack of sufficient engine compartment room to fit a big-block engine) allowed 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 1970s 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. The 1980 Lincoln Continental was the base series and the 1980 Lincoln Continental Town Car was the upgraded trim series. For 1981 Lincoln used the names Continental and Town Car on 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 landyacht, 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.
FeaturesThe 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.
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 1990's. 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 cu in (4.9 L) 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. Also, beginning with the 1988 model year, the Lincoln star became taller and narrower, as opposed to the more square-like appearance that it had used for decades. The narrower star design continues to this day.
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.
PowertrainThe 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 cu in (7.5 L) optional). The 460 cu in (7.5 L) V8 engine was last available in the 1978 model year. These were replaced with the smaller 5.0L/302cui 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)
Town Car was still available in three trim levels: Base (renamed "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 1990's, Town Car sales regularly exceeded 100,000 units with 120,121 Town Cars being sold in 1994 alone. The vehicle was so widely received that it was named the 1990 Motor Trend Car of the Year.
Features and ChangesIntroduced 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. 1991 saw the introduction of Ford's new Modular V8, a 4.6 L 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 (15 kW) 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 lb·ft (37 kg·m) of torque. As a result, the fuel mileage decreased by one, bringing that to 18 miles per US gallon (13 L/100 km) city and 25 miles per US gallon (9.4 L/100 km) highway.
There were three distinct models that remained throughout this generation Town Car's life cycle:
The Base (later Executive) Town Car offered six-passenger seating with two bench seats, an A/M-F/M stereo with cassette player and four speakers, power seats in the front, a four-speed automatic transmission (later with overdrive), cloth seating surfaces, fifteen-inch tires with laced alloy wheels, a digital LED dashboard, trip computer, dashboard clock, and keyless entry with Ford's Securicode keyless entry keypad.
The Signature added leather seating surfaces and an available cloth imitation convertible roof.
Finally, the top-of-the-line Cartier offered a JBL-branded sound system with amplifier, a security system, alloy spoked wheels, and other exclusive details.
A Jack Nicklaus Edition Town Car, based on the Signature Series Town Car, was available from 1991 to 1993. It offered special commemorative badges, gold lettering for exterior badges, gold front grille spokes, a gold Lincoln hood emblem, gold laced alloy wheels, gold interior accents, and a JBL premium sound system with amplifier. This Town Car celebrated professional golfing legend Jack Nicklaus. Production of this one-of-a-kind Town Car ended in 1993.
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 1970's, 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, and offered lighted vanity mirrors in the headliner for the two outboard rear seating positions.
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)
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 year. In late 2000, the Touring Edition featured a more powerful 235 hp (175 kW) version of the Town Car's Modular V8 engine, dual exhaust pipes and unique 16" alloy wheels with larger tires.
According to Consumer Guide the car scores above average in the premium luxury segments 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.
Town Car LA new "L" designation was used on Lincoln Town Cars with extended wheelbases from 2000 to 2011. The L editions offered an additional 6 in (150 mm) of rear-seat legroom, as well as remote access audio and climate controls mounted in the rear center armrest. Also included was a two-way travel switch for the front passenger seat base (a feature shared with the extended-wheelbase Jaguar XJ). This L designation was 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 (2000–2003), Ultimate (2004 only), and Signature (2005–2011) trim levels. For the 2000–02 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. Fleet buyers got a version of the "L" under the Executive trim designation.
Hongqi CA7460In China, FAW made a licensed version of the Lincoln Town Car and was rebadged as Hongqi CA7460(红旗CA7460),Hongqi Qijian(红旗旗舰) from November 10, 1998 to 2005. However the limousine version continues to be produced and sold in china.
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. Also for 2006, Lincoln offered a 25th Anniversary Edition package to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Town Car.
For 2008, many previous options were included in the base price. The Town Car was available in two models: the Signature Limited 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 three-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 Limited and the extended wheelbase Signature L. 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 hp (167 kW; 227 PS) for the fleet-based Executive, while the Signature got 239 hp (178 kW; 242 PS). 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.
|Calendar Year||American sales|
DiscontinuationIn spite of declining sales, the Town Car remained one of the best selling American luxury cars; it was the United States' and Canada's most used limousine and chauffeured car.
In 2006, as part of The Way Forward, Ford considered ending production of Lincoln's largest model as part of the 2007 closing of the Wixom Assembly Plant. 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." Ford ultimately decided to keep the model and move assembly to the St. Thomas Assembly Plant in Ontario, Canada; this was home to the Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis; both models also used the Ford Panther platform. The Town Car's manufacture resumed at its new location in late 2007. The first Canadian-assembled Town Car was built on January 10, 2008. However, in Canada, Town Cars were sold exclusively for fleet and livery sales, having been discontinued in retail markets after the 2007 model year.
In 2009, the fate of all three Panther-platform models was determined when Ford announced the 2011 closure of the St. Thomas Assembly Plant. For the limousine and livery markets, Ford had promised availability of the Town Car through the 2011 model year; retail sales continued on a limited basis in the United States and for export. 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). On August 29, 2011, the final Town Car rolled off the assembly line, without any fanfare or announcement from Ford.
With the discontinuation of the Town Car, Lincoln has moved to remain in livery markets by developing a limousine variant of the MKT full-size CUV. The MKT limousine will be available around the second quarter of 2012 and will be called "MKT Town Car." Lincoln is also believed to be preparing a true Town Car successor on a rear-wheel drive platform to rival the Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7-series.
The Signature Series was the mid-level, and also 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 base trim level and Ultimate was now used to describe the upper level trim. In 2005 the Ultimate was dropped and all trim levels were changed to a version of Signature. The base 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 with a Designer Series being added between the Signature Limited and top-of-line Signature L. By 2008, 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, including LWB or "L" versions 2000–2003. 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 staplemark on the Cartier Edition on 1998 through 2002 models.
Executive (1991–2003 for retail and 2004–2011 for fleet)
The Executive Series was the base trim level and thus the most affordable Lincoln Town Car from 1991 through 2003. After 2003, the Executive Series designation continued on, but for fleet vehicles only and included both SWB and LWB versions.
Limited (2000–2004) and Signature Limited (2005–2011)
"Limited", as an option package, was available on Signature trim models from 2000 to 2003 and on the Ultimate in 2004. Starting in 2005, Limited (known as Signature Limited) became its own trim level.
Ultimate was only used on the 2004 Town Car. The Ultimate designation replaced Cartier for 2004 and was used for the top-of-line model. Like the Cartier, it was offered in SWB and LWB versions.
The Designer Series was an upper-middle trim level in between the Signature Limited and Signature L. This trim included two-tone interior accents, a special higher quality leather called Provence leather. The rear seats also included four way adjustable head restraints exclusively on this trim for the standard wheelbase. On the exterior special chromed B pillars and chrome wheels were included.
Trim level timeline
|Lincoln Town Car Timeline|
|Entry||Base||Executive Series||Signature Series||Signature Limited|
|Mid-level||Signature Series||Signature Limited|
|High-end||Cartier Series||Ultimate||Designer Series|
|L||Cartier L||Ultimate L||Signature L|
|Fleet||Executive, Executive L|
Special editionsSail America Commemorative Edition
This special edition 1987 Signature Series model came in white with a blue carriage roof and had white leather interior with blue piping and special badging. Ford Motor Company was one of the corporate sponsors of the "Sail America Foundation" syndicate, owner of the 1987 America's Cup winning yacht Stars & Stripes 87.
The 1989 Town Car Signature Series was offered with a Special Edition package featuring a carriage roof, JBL audio system, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and "Special Edition" badging. This replaced a Gucci edition Town Car that had been in the works.
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.
1996 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" 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. Features included unique accent stripe, leather seats, wood instrument panel trim, window badging, cellular telephone, power moonroof, JBL audio system, auto electrochromatic dimming mirror with compass, and traction assist.
Also in 1996, Lincoln offered a Signature Series Cypress Edition which featured Cypress Gold Frost exterior paint, two-toned leather interior, and red Cypress tree badging.
Touring/Touring Sedan option packages were offered on Signature trim level models from 1996 to 2002. Specific options varied through the years with latter packages becoming more focused on sporting performance and handling features.
In 2005, a Pro Series edition/option package was available on the Signature Limited and included embroidered "Pro Series" logos on driver/front passenger seat backs, 9-spoke chrome wheels, chrome B-pillar, two-tone instrument panel, and floor mats with "Pro Series" brushed aluminum badges.
25th Anniversary Edition
Lincoln commemorated the 25th anniversary of the Town Car by offering a 25th Anniversary Edition package on the 2006 Signature Limited. The package included chrome B-pillar and door handles, unique Eucalyptus wood applique and matching steering wheel with wood inserts, scuff plates with "25th Anniversary Edition" and "25th anniversary" badging, Provence leather individual 40/20/40 lounge seating with individual comfort, shirring, contrast piping and rear seat adjustable headrests, foglamps, and 9-spoke chrome wheels.
Offered in 2010 and 2011 was the Continental Edition package; available as an option only on the Signature Limited trim. The package added Continental badging, chrome 17" wheels and accents to the B-pillars. On the interior, the Continental name was embroidered on the front seats and front floor mats.
Ballistic Protection Series
Starting in 2003, the Lincoln Town Car had been available featuring ballistic protection from the factory. Adding nearly $100,000 to the base price, the armored body and bulletproof glass raised the curb weight of the Town Car to nearly 7,000 pounds. Other changes to the suspension and brakes were intended to preserve the handling of the Town Car.
Throughout the entire run of the Town Car, numerous aftermarket companies and Lincoln-Mercury dealerships offered unique "trim packages" that typically included special roof treatments, grilles, wheels, and badging. These were especially popular in the 1980s and 1990s.
AwardsThe 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. It should be noted that Motor Trend has changed the criteria by which it awards its highest accolade: Originally, Car of the Year awards went to the vehicle model which was the most significantly improved over the previous year's design in all respects. Currently, no such consideration is given to contenders for this award, and vehicles are considered for the award even if in their first year of production.
|1981||4.9 L 5.0L Windsor V8||130 hp (97 kW) at 3400 rpm||230 lb·ft (310 N·m) at 2,200 rpm|
|1982||134 hp (100 kW) at 3400 rpm||245 lb·ft (332 N·m) at 2,200 rpm|
|1983||140 hp (104 kW) at 3200 rpm||250 lb·ft (340 N·m). at 2,000 rpm|
|1984–1985||140 hp (104 kW) at 3200 rpm||250 lb·ft (340 N·m) at 1,600 rpm|
|1984–1985||(Dual Exhaust)||155 hp (116 kW) at 3600 rpm||265 lb·ft (359 N·m). at 2,000 rpm|
|1986–1989||4.9 L 5.0L Windsor V8||150 hp (112 kW)||270 lb·ft (370 N·m) at 2,000 rpm|
|1986||(Dual Exhaust)||160 hp (119 kW)||280 lb·ft (380 N·m) at 2,200 rpm|
|1987–1989||(Dual Exhaust)||160 hp (119 kW)||280 lb·ft (380 N·m) at 2,200 rpm|
|Executive Series||1990||5.0 L Windsor V8||150 hp (112 kW)||270 lb·ft (370 N·m) at 2,000 rpm|
|1991–1996||4.6 L Modular V8||210 hp (157 kW)||275 lb·ft (373 N·m) at 3,250 rpm|
|1997||190 hp (142 kW)||265 lb·ft (359 N·m) at 3,250 rpm|
|1990||5.0 L Windsor V8||160 hp (120 kW)||280 lb·ft (380 N·m) at 2,200 rpm|
|1991–1997||4.6 L Modular V8||210 hp (157 kW)||275 lb·ft (373 N·m) at 3,250 rpm|
|1998–2000||4.6 L Modular SOHC 16V V8||205 hp (153 kW)|
|2001–2002||235 hp (175 kW)||287 lb·ft (389 N·m) at 3,500 rpm|
|2003–2007||239 hp (178 kW)||287 lb·ft (389 N·m) at 4,100 rpm|
|1998–2002||239 hp (178 kW)||287 lb·ft (389 N·m) at 4,100 rpm|
|Cartier||1998–2000||220 hp (164 kW)||290 lb·ft (390 N·m) at 3,500 rpm|
|L Edition||2000–2002||235 hp (175 kW)||285 lb·ft (386 N·m)|
|2003–2011||239 hp (178 kW)||287 lb·ft (389 N·m) at 4,100 rpm|
- Ford Crown Victoria/Police Interceptor
- Mercury Grand Marquis/Marauder
- Ford Panther platform
- Lincoln Mark Series
- 1990–1997 Lincoln Town Car: Overview
- 1998–2002 Lincoln Town Car: Overview
- 2003–2010 Lincoln Town Car: Overview
- Official Lincoln Town Car site
- Sydney Airport Limo Services