2000 Lincoln Town Car Cartier: Of McCarthy, Broughams And Other Things

Note: Four years ago, on October 14, 2013, I bought my first domestic car, after nearly twenty years of driving Volvos. This was originally published on the other site, but I thought it was time to move it over here, in a revised and expanded version! Four years, 40,000 miles added to the clock, and I’m still pretty happy with this car. I liked it enough that I now have two of them, so I guess it made an impression.

As purchased, Autumn 2013.

One of the things that slowly but surely happened when I started writing about old cars in late 2011 was that, despite being a car nut since I was approximately two years old, I finally started thinking about getting an old or at least older car of my own. Despite my love of 1977-79 Pontiac Bonnevilles (Dad had one) and 1990-92 Cadillac Broughams (no one had one, I just love them), the right car was apparently looking for me, and found me. One nice thing about acquiring an extra car I don’t need is that I have no wife or girlfriend to say, “oh no you don’t!” Hey, wait a minute. I don’t need spousal/significant other approval! I have the money. I can do whatever the hell I want! So I bought a 2000 Lincoln Town Car.

I am a German-stock cheapskate from way back. I was taught from a young age to take care of my things, and I always have. When it comes to my cars, I am sometimes borderline OCD in keeping them clean and looking nice. Plus, I work in accounting, so frugality and pragmatism are rather built into my genetic makeup. I still have golf shirts from high school that I occasionally wear even now–and a pair of Bass Weejuns I bought the year this land yacht rolled out of the Lincoln factory in Wixom, Michigan. But hey! You have to live a little every once in a while. Everyone should buy something they really want but don’t need at least once! It was, by God, very liberating.

And, I love Lincoln Town Cars. . Bob and Ruby Klockau, my grandparents, were big fans of the Ford Thunderbird and Lincoln Continentals and Marks. When I was a kid they had a triple navy blue ’77 Continental Mark V and a black ’77 Thunderbird with white interior. To say they made an impression would be an understatement. But another factor in my deciding to buy the car was Dick McCarthy.

McCarthyRichardwww.sau.edu

Dick McCarthy was a good friend of mine. He and my Grandpa Bob started a law firm in Rock Island (Klockau, McCarthy, Ellison, Rinden and Hartsock, as it was known in the 1960s and 70s) after WWII, and they both got their law degrees thanks to their service in WWII. My grandfather attended the University of Illinois in Champaign, and commuted between there and the Quad Cities via a Henderson motorcycle. After my grandparents passed away, and I got my drivers’ license in the fall of ’97, I started going down to the law office to “shoot the bull” with Dick. We’d talk in between his phone calls, and we got along famously. He had the amazing ability to carry on multiple phone conversations and our in-office chat without one miss. He would have been in his mid-seventies at the time. He also provided a running commentary on his callers–sometimes good, sometimes not. And then there were the lunches. A big believer in going out to lunch, was Mr. McCarthy.

Oct-Nov 2013 006 (800x533)

A sandwich at your desk? Heaven forbid. No, we wanted to go to a real restaurant, with all the calories we could stand! Harris Pizza in Rock Island was a regular stop, or Maid-Rite in Milan, or Riefe’s in Davenport, or Rudy’s Tacos in Rock Island, and usually, Pete Church, John Callas, Frank Fuhr or one of the other lawyers would join us too. We’d all hop in his Town Car, or John’s 300C, or my Volvo S70, and head to the restaurant. But Harris was probably our most frequent haunt. The Reuben was a favorite, with Harris’ homemade potato chips or waffle fries. I consumed many a Reuben between 1998 and 2007 during these visits.

Waitress: What’ll you have?

Me: Reuben.

Dick: Reuben.

John: Reuben.

Frank: Reuben.

Waitress: Okay, then!

Ironically, today I work for the family who owns Harris Pizza! Small world.

The conversations were always even better than the food. We would talk of current county and city political maneuverings, local idiots, good (and bad) restaurants, and many other intriguing topics. Early on, Dick had a gunmetal-gray ’95 Executive Series (and before that, a silver-blue ’86 Signature that he drove into the ground), but in 2004 he traded it off for a lightly-used Silver Frost 2002 Signature Series. That ’95 was the only 1995-97 Town Car I have ever seen with a cloth interior. At this time, Dick could have gotten anything he wanted–probably even a Lamborghini if he really had wanted one!–but having grown up during the Depression, a lightly-used Lincoln was just the thing. He’d driven them since the early ’70s.

I seem to recall him telling me the first one he got was a brown ’72 Continental coupe. Not a Mark IV-my grandfather had one of those-but the two-door Lincoln Continental. One time, we joked about his trading the Lincoln in on a Hummer H2. “Damn it Tom, maybe I will!” Of course, he didn’t-definitely NOT his style-but we all had a good laugh picturing him driving one, in bright yellow with gigantic wheels and brush guards. Perish the thought!

F2A8180A-6408-4D84-9A6C-19F11A13EE9F_2image: autoquestusa.com

The ’02 looked just like this one (although it had the chrome “Groucho eyebrow” wheel opening trim), Silver Frost with light gray leather. This was our lunch transportation, more often than not. And many times I was the chauffeur. We’d be in his office, and he’d get John Gianulis, a local county political party chairman, on the phone: “Hey John, it’s McCarthy. We’re going to lunch and I’ve got my chauffeur today. Get your ass out front in five minutes or we’re going without you!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And, it was a Cartier. I remember seeing Cartiers on the lot at Strieter Lincoln-Mercury, Maple Leaf L-M and Classic L-M when they were new, but very few were on the road. And the ones that were always had those horrid fake convertible tops on them-oh, and don’t forget the fake luggage rack on the trunk lid! I always liked little things that set the Cartier apart from the lesser TCs. The gold analog clock on the dash, the different seats with the embroidered Cartier logos and the dished chrome wheels were pretty sharp.

The back seat appeared to have never been used. The car sat nice and level, the paint shone brilliantly, Michelin tires were decent, and all it needed was a new, caring owner. And you know what usually happens to cars of this age. Someone comes in, buys it, drives it into the ground and trashes it, because it’s just an old car to them. That would have been a shame. This car was really nice. I thought it over, looked over my books, and realized that, damn, I just might have to buy this car!

So I did. On Columbus Day 2013, to be precise. Shortly after bringing the car home. I found my 1999 Town Car brochure amongst my car brochure stockpile and learned some interesting Cartier facts. For instance: The Cartier (and seldom-seen Signature Series Touring Sedan) got the Limo Package, which included dual exhaust and corresponding horsepower bump from 205 hp/280 lb-ft to 220 hp/290 lb-ft. Cartiers also received heated seats with five settings and cushion/backrest or backrest only settings.

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

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

to pearl white…

…to light honey gold. I’ve seen it in at least four different colors so far. It’s a pretty versatile color.

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

So, this car started out as the nice-day-only, garage queen. I still had my Volvo V50 wagon, and it remained the daily driver. It was a 2006, with the non-turbo 2.4 inline five, and was a great car. I’d bought it as a one-year old CPO from the dealership-the same dealer I bought the 2000 Cartier from six years later, coincidentally.

But then, in the summer of 2015, the A/C started working intermittently. A review of several Volvo forums told me that the HVAC on this generation of S40/V50 was a major pain to get at, and the mileage was getting up there-I’d had it seven years-so I decided it was time for a trade. Luckily I’d had my eye on a replacement. Funny how that happens. Well, frankly I was looking for a reason to trade the Volvo, as I didn’t want to spend another $1200-$1500 on it. Volvos are fine cars, and durable, but parts and labor on them are strictly in the European car category. So it was time to say goodbye. It was a good car though, and I may well have another Volvo some day. The final S80s with the non-turbo 3.2 liter six are pretty appealing.

So then there were two. It was a one-owner 2004 Ultimate (the top trim level, it replaced the Cartier that year) with 53,000 miles, in my preferred color combo of Autumn Red with Parchment leather, optional chrome wheels and moonroof. So today the red car is the garage queen and the ivory one the daily driver. The TC is actually better in the snow than my front-wheel drive wagon.

The car had 93,000 miles on it when I bought it, and today is approaching 134K. It got new tires in spring of 2016 (whitewalls, naturally) and early this year it got new ball joints, myriad replacement front end bushings and an alignment. A couple months ago it decided not to start one morning (it happened at home, luckily) so it got flatbedded to Strieter Lincoln where a konked out starter was replaced. It’s been a pretty good car. Very comfortable. Still quiet and cushy. And as a car nearing eighteen years on this planet, I really can’t complain. These things are pretty robust. And so far the air suspension has been fine. One morning it was sitting a little low and the dealer found that a mouse had chewed through a wire. One solenoid later and it was back in fighting shape.

I have fellow Panther FoMoCo fans Eric Van Buren, Jim Cavanaugh and Jason Shafer to thank for all the great info pre-purchase, and nudging me into buying the first one. If they hadn’t, I might have let this car slip though my fingers. If I hadn’t, Jason’s wife may have made him buy it! I also like to imagine my grandfather and Dick McCarthy looking down on me and these cars and saying, “well, the kid did all right.”

This article, needless to say, is dedicated to Richard W. McCarthy. A great guy, and still sorely missed by myself and my family.

19 Replies to “2000 Lincoln Town Car Cartier: Of McCarthy, Broughams And Other Things”

  1. Felis Concolor

    This was a very good read to wake up to. Thank you very much.

    Missing or not having the chance to say goodbye feels bad, but if you know things are alright between you and your friend, it does lessen the pain of loss.

    When my father passed away, he expended all of 3 words on me between the time I arrived at the hospital and when he finally expired at home under hospice care. I wasn’t too worried about that, as it was clear when he spoke to several others – including my 2 brothers – he was trying to impart as much additional helpful advice and words of wisdom as possible. When I stated, “don’t worry about all the computer stuff; I’ll handle that for mom,” he laughed. I didn’t understand why until a week after we resealed the family crypt and I turned to the task of unlocking the financial information stored within his computer for my mother’s use. The management systems ran themselves flawlessly, but I was the only member who could remember all the various arcane names of the family’s pets, which were used as access passwords throughout his systems.

    Reply
  2. arbuckle

    Nice looking cars. I like the chrome wheels on the 2000, I don’t see that very often.

    I do wish Ford had made the 4.6L 4v standard on all the non-fleet Town Cars (and optional on the GM and CV).

    Reply
  3. Kevin Jaeger

    These are nice cars when they don’t have a Sonata embedded in their sides.

    Seriously, though, these are nice rides but I’m not sure I buy the story that they are better in snow than FWD Volvos. With the right tires these land yachts are no better than okay in snow.

    Reply
    • Disinterested-Observer

      Until I read about Jack’s crash I was considering trying to find a similarly equipped one for my commute, which at the time was 120 miles each way.

      Yes it was a particularly bad way for their car to get hit, but the way the ancient chassis folded up was not impressive. After that I googled around a bit and discovered that as much as the police love(d) them the Crown Vic was really dangerous to it’s occupants in a collision.

      Reply
      • Kevin Jaeger

        It’s certainly true that crash protection has improved a lot since this old platform was developed. I think the modern electronic stability control is probably an even bigger improvement for overall safety.

        But danger is relative. These things are MUCH safer than my first generation Miata, for example, and I happily drive it.

        Reply
        • yamahog

          Danger is relative but there are ways to minimize it. This is probably a relatively safe car – all things considered – but full size luxury cars can be uniquely safe vehicles and this seems weak compared to its competition. Everyone has to do their own risk assessment and I’m sure that sensible people can arrive at the conclusion that this is the right car for them, but these cost as much as an Acura RL or Lexus LS430 and those are very safe cars that offer a similar cost of ownership and similar levels of NVH.

          I wouldn’t trust the air suspension on an LS430 now and I’d wager that the LS430 / RL will be more reliable but more expensive to fix when they break so pick your poison but let’s not act as though the safety tradeoffs are justified because NA Miatas exist.

          Tom – very charming story. There’s something so endearing about the financial conservatism of people who made it through lean times. The paint is amazing on this car, it’s in very condition, good on ya for keeping it that way.

          So what’s the natural progression? Drive old man cars as a young man and then drive young man cars as an old man? Recently, I saw a geezer with white hair driving a WRX STi – the big blue wing really sold it me on the look.

          Reply
          • Tom KlockauTom Klockau Post author

            Yamahog…at this point I have no idea. In a few years when the car is approaching 200K I might look at a certified MKZ or maybe a Volvo S80 or S60. The red car I intend on keeping permanently. I’ve only put about 2,000 miles on it and two years. If the right late model car shows up for the right price I might just have to get it and mothball the 2000 Cartier. A friend has a big warehouse building so I could probably store it there and it could “retire,” only being driven once in awhile. Another possibility is that I’m in the Lincoln and Continental Owners Club so if the right person made me an offer and I knew it was going to a good home I might let it go. I just don’t want to sell it to somebody that is going to drive it into the ground.

    • Tom KlockauTom Klockau Post author

      Well, that’s been my experience. I think it’s partly due to the car having 800 pounds over my old Volvo, and also because I have to go up a big hill to get home and the rear wheel drive actually helps in the winter. With the Volvo, when the road hadn’t been plowed during a snow storm, the wagon would start to slip. I usually had to turn off the traction control to make the hill.

      Reply
      • yamahog

        People don’t know! These big heavy cars actually have pretty good weight distribution and weight transfer + soft suspension work out for them: they squat when they accelerate and they really squish their tires into the pavement when they’re sitting on a hill.

        Reply
      • ArBee

        Tom, that’s my experience as well with my 2008 Grand Marquis LS. Of course, here in central Virginia I don’t see anything like the snow that Midwesterners do. Given that, I’ve found the big Merc with Michelin Defenders to be superior in the snow to either front driver I’ve owned (VW Dasher and Citroen ID19). The Autumn Red looks great on your newest acquistion, and is very similar to the Dark Toreador Red on my car. This story was even better the second time around. Thanks for posting it!

        Reply
  4. John C.

    This was a great story. I wonder if the decline in so many of our smaller cities is we don’t have people like Mr. McCarthy looking after things any more. Whether they were a lawyer, banker, or clergyman, they gave such a feeling of competence. Their Town Cars, Sedan De Villes, New Yorkers, and 98 Regencys were also such a pleasure to see and reminded that there really was a competent establishment.

    Reply
      • ArBee

        I’ll third that opinion. It seems to me that competency and integrity, like literacy, are circling the drain with increasing rapidity. (Yes, I’m a grumpy old man.)

        Reply
    • Disinterested-Observer

      I forgot to compliment the story. I forget if it was Maya Angelou or Gandhi who said, “Car stories aren’t really about cars, they’re about people.”

      Reply
  5. Ryan

    Tom, this is a great story, and one that I can relate to very well. I am 35, and back in September of 2013 I bought my very first second car that I didn’t need. I have also been a car nut since I was two years old, and I planned to purchase some sort of late ’70s to early ’80s GM product, something like the cars I rode in as a child. Instead, after checking out a few older cars, I impulsively bought a 1996 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme coupe with 58,000 miles. Not quite a vehicle of the same caliber as the Town Car, but I always admired the styling. We have had four good, mostly trouble-free years together.

    I still have the Olds, and am weighing my options for what to do with it. I really would like to clear out the space for something different, but I feel an emotional attachment and an odd sense of duty to the Cutlass. It is not nearly as pristine as your Town Car, and would almost certainly be run into the ground by its next owner.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth

      I’ve often thought that GM could bring that tiny-headlight Supreme back TODAY and it would still be ahead of its time.

      Reply
      • Ryan

        Oh, but such an elegant and sleek design would surely maim countless pedestrians. For my latest daily driver, I had to settle for the next best thing: a 2017 Honda Accord coupe. Although I think the Accord is a handsome car, when the two are parked side by side, it’s amazing how tall and bloated the Accord seems.

        Reply
  6. Glenn Kramer

    Tom,
    Good to read it …again! Just got back last night driving my ’07 445 miles straight, no stops, 26.6 MPG on no ethanol gas!

    Reply

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