May 25, 2024

Junkyard Gem: 1986 Lincoln Town Car

3 min read

Ford’s Lincoln Division applied the Town Car name (originally the Anglicized name for a coupé de ville horse-drawn carriage) to new cars beginning with the 1959 Continental, but it wasn’t until the 1981 model year that the Town Car became a Lincoln model in its own right (earlier Town Cars were Continentals). Those boxy, sharp-edged Town Cars were built throughout the remainder of the 1980s and sold well, but they’re almost extinct today. Here’s one of those cars, found in a Denver-area self-service yard recently.

The Town Car was built from the 1981 through 2011 model years, with a complete redesign for 1990 that kept the same chassis but added a less angular body and rear air suspension. In 1998, the Town Car got the full “whale” body treatment seen on its Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis siblings, and production of that version continued until the end. In China, Hongqi built a version badged as the CA7460 Qijian.

All 1981-2011 Town Cars lived on the versatile and sturdy body-on-frame Panther platform. For a 1970s design, the Panther stayed relevant for a surprisingly long time.

This car was closely related to the Ford LTD Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis, not to mention the Continental Mark VI.

The interior is full of “wood-tone appliqués” and the gauges come straight from mid-1970s LincolnMercury products.

These “twin comfort lounge” seats were just as comfy as they look here, and the Nearly Velour fabric just needs a cleaning to be in like-new condition. Of course, the optional Cartier package had much classier upholstery.

You’ll find one in every car. You’ll see.

Every 1980s Town Car had some sort of padded vinyl roof as standard equipment.

This roof has not fared well beneath the Colorado sun.

It’s a shame that opera lights have gone out of fashion.

Every 1981-1990 Town Car got a 302-cubic-inch (5.0-liter) Windsor V8 under the hood. 1986 was the first year that electronic fuel injection replaced carburetors in the Town Car; this engine was rated at 150 horsepower and 270 pound-feet.

The jarring mashup of typefaces on the HVAC and radio controls of mid-1980s Fords always makes me uncomfortable.

This car has the optional “wire-style” hubcaps, which cost an extra $341 (about $920 in 2022 dollars). Several flavors of aluminum wheels were available on the ’86 Town Car, but no true wire wheels.

The MSRP on this car was $20,764, or about $56,130 today. The Cartier Edition would set you back $25,235 ($68,215 now).

What replaced the Town Car? Trucks.

Rich people at the valet stand argued endlessly over identical-looking Cadillacs, Oldsmobiles, and Buicks, according to this commercial. The 1986 LTD Crown Victoria and Town Car looked pretty similar to each other, of course.

They’re dealin’ Town Cars in Mobile!

No wonder over 91,000 Cadillac owners have switched to Lincoln in the last five years (perhaps the Cimarron and V8-6-4 engine had something to do with that).

Even though the Panther Town Cars were smaller and lighter than their massive predecessors, they still rode like waterbeds.

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