I have always loved the Ford LTD. The top trim full-size Ford. Top of the heap. The most Broughamtastic. But what does LTD stand for? There are many opinions. One favorite is “Luxury Trim Decor.” But no one is certain. Ford never truly defined it. But no matter what one’s opinion is on the lux-Ford acronym, one thing it most certainly meant was luxury.
If I start talking about the LTD’s history, we’ll be here all night. And I want to focus on my favorite, the 1975-78 models, so let’s try to be concise, shall we? The Ford LTD first came on the scene in 1965, as a deluxe trim Galaxie 500, available initially in two- and four-door hardtop versions.
In that same record-sales year for Detroit of 1965, its arch-rival, the Chevrolet Caprice, also appeared, initially as only a four-door hardtop.
It was an interesting time. Muscle cars and pony cars were still going gangbusters in the mid Sixties, but Brougham was just starting to make incursions into the buying public’s mind-beyond the expected Cadillac, Lincoln and Imperial mindset, of course.
The ‘Low-Priced Three” suddenly had luxury! Power accessories, padded top, ample chrome, whitewalls and all the expected finery. Even Plymouth got into the act with the VIP, a super-deluxe trim Fury, but it only lasted through the 1969 model year. But the LTD, now that had some staying power.
From 1965-67 it was largely a deluxe Galaxie, with premium trim, “panty cloth” deluxe upholstery, luxury wheel covers and padded top. Starting in 1968, hidden headlamps were added. And the top of the line Ford wagon, the Country Squire, added the LTD full width grille with those aforementioned hidden lamps.
And so it went. The LTD was always the premium big Ford. By the early 1970s, it was an institution. Standard Ford, full deluxe trim, hidden headlamps, premium interior, full power. A Lincoln Continental. Not quite, but not bad.
The Galaxie 500, formerly the belle of the ball, slowly but surely became second banana. The LTD reigned supreme.
The final year for the Galaxie 500 in any way, shape or form was in model year 1974. By that time, it was clearly not the flossy, gadget-laden motorcar it had been in say, 1964. Still a nice car, no doubt about it, but not strictly first cabin.
When the 1975 Fords debuted in model year 1975, the Galaxie 500, that bastion of upper-middle class standard of upper-middle class suburban modernity, was no more.
In its place were LTDs. Lots of them, in three trim levels. Base LTD, the middle class Bloomfield Hills-approved LTD Brougham, and the top of the line, first cabin LTD Landau.
The Landau was as close as you could get to a Lincoln Continental Town Car at your favorite local Ford store.
True, it was still a Ford, but the resemblance to more formidable and Broughamy FoMoCo luxury sleds was unmistakable.
It may not have been a Continental Town Coupé, but it still had about 75% of the look, with its opera window, fender skirts, padded vinyl premium bodyside molding, and Landau roof…
And luxury cloth interior, with deluxe embroidering on the seatbacks, plush carpeting, power you-name-it…
Opera windows, and full six-passenger accommodations!
And if you wanted plush, top-tier LTD Landau featues, but preferred to omit the fender skirts, that was no problem whatsoever! In that case, the deluxe vinyl bodyside molding simply followed the rear wheelwell outlines, and carried on to the rear bumper.
And if you preferred glove-soft vinyl to cloth, that was also no problem.
In fact, a special cream and gold two tone vinyl was available to LTD Landau buyers, a very comfortable-and compelling-choice.
At any rate, the Ford LTD was a favorite among luxury (or is that near-luxury, in today’s terms?) full-size buyers in the mid Seventies.
The 1976 LTD Landau retailed for $5,613 as a coupe and for $5,560 as a sedan.
The ’76 Landau coupe stood in at 4,346 pounds. 29,673 were built.
Alongside 35,663 Landau sedans.
1977 LTD Landaus were largely the same as the 1976s, but with one distinction. The 1977 Caprice Classic, the LTD’s cross-town rival for years, was newly downsized.
Not everyone was totally enamored of the shrunken Chevies (at least, not yet) and so LTD sales got a bit of a bump sales-wise.
1977 Ford LTD Landau sales went from 35,663 to 65,030, at $5,742 a pop. Curb weight of these fender-skirted, hidden-headlamped yachts was 4,319 for the sedan and 4,270 four the Landau coupe.
1977 Ford LTD Landau coupe sales, by the way, were 44,396. Price? $5,717 each.
The final year for these Broughamtastic FoMoCo yachts was 1978. Changes were few. Which was good. Because they were so excellent.
I have to confess. I’m biased. I’ve always loved these LTDs. Especially in Landau guise, with hidden headlamps, extra chrome, and interior plushness. I saw the featured car, a triple Jade Green 1977 Landau sedan, at the 2018 Nauvoo Grape Festival car show this past Labor Day weekend. As soon as I saw it, I fell deep in lust with its Jade Broughaminess, and knew I was going to write it up.
It was, with apoligies to Ferris Buller, so choice. True, it had some rust, the door panel on the front passenger side was AWOL, and the fender skirts were absent as well. But who cares, in this color? This FoMoCo jade green is one of my most favorite automotive hues, and I couldn’t help but love it.
My mom’s parents had a 1977 LTD II when I was a toddler. Even then, cars were a big deal to me.
I even called my Grandma Mae “Grandma Green Car” way back when, circa 1982, because of their car, which was identical to this one.
So you might understand why I went all gaga when I saw this Jade sedan at the show. It took me back. Wayyyy back! And so, I always treasure seeing these 1970s Jade Ford products, whether an LTD, LTD II, Thunderbird, Continental Town Car or even a Fairmont. It’s just the way I am. I don’t apologize for it! And it’s why whenever I hear the name “LTD” I think, love to drive!