1997 Lincoln Town Car Signature Series: Family Car, Found!

Note: You may remember my friend Anthony Gucciardo’s immaculate, showroom condition 1997 Town Car. He still has it, but has since not only located the 1997 Town Car his mother bought new, but purchased it and had it restored. How many of us have wished we could have our first car back, or one of the family cars you remember from your youth? Well, Anthony did it! Enjoy. -TK

A few years back, I wrote a story for Curbside Classic about my fondness for the 1995-1997 Lincoln Town Car. It was re-published here at Riverside Green back in June 2017. You might have to read the article to totally understand where I’m coming from.

https://jackbaruth.com/?p=6765

In that article, I talked about my love for the Lincoln Town Car and that up to this day, the love affair continues. Over the years I’ve been fortunate to have had several high-end luxury cars and they’ve all been great. The technology has come a long way since the late 1990s, yet I still get a kick out of a large luxury sedan equipped with self leveling air suspension and thin white wall tires. Nothing rides like a Lincoln Town Car, especially at highway speeds. The wind noise coming from the windshield and sunroof gives the car true Lincoln character. It was obviously a design flaw but as we say in real estate, charm and character is what makes things sell.

1997 Town Car

I recently went to a car show in Saratoga Springs, New York and I could not believe how much cars from the 1950s and 60s were selling for. Corvettes, Mustangs, and Cadillacs seemed to be the biggest sellers. They were bringing over $75,000 at auction and a few went for over $100k. Most of the buyers seemed to be 65 and up. I thought to myself, “There has to be a reason why all of these gentlemen who are approximately my father’s age are buying these cars. Who would’ve ever known that a car that you could’ve bought for less than $5000 would be worth so much?” I’m not a huge fan of Mustangs or Corvettes but back in the Sixties they obviously resonated with a lot of people. Especially guys who were about my age (16), which was about the same time that I was first introduced to the 1996 Lincoln Town Car thanks to Hertz. I think a love of a certain car has something to do with your childhood and memories that you associate with a particular vehicle.

1997 Town Car

My father’s first car was a Corvette and even if I offered him a Mercedes or Jaguar tomorrow, I know he would still prefer his Corvette. He likes other cars, but just has a particular preference with Corvettes. He is a GM fan and I think something is embedded in his brain. I like the look of a lot of cars and will give them credit but some cars just don’t do it for me. My mother just turned in a 2015 S550. It was a tremendously smart car and is certainly the benchmark of luxury.

1997 Town Car

But it lacked something. I couldn’t explain it, but something was missing. I’m not going to start insulting other cars because I know there’s a lot of people who roll their eyes and think that there is something wrong with me when I tell them that one of my favorite cars was the Lincoln Town Car.  Most 16-year-olds back in the mid-1990s wanted a BMW 3-series or some type of sports car-Boxsters, Miatas, BMW Z3s.

1997 Town Car

Not me! I used to call the Lincoln dealers requesting brochures be mailed to me. I still have them too, saved in my Lincoln filing cabinet! The Lincoln Town Car is definitely “What a luxury car should be!” It is what I wanted when I got older even if I was 55 years younger than the average Town Car owner. I certainly didn’t want to be an older guy, I just liked the cars. I might have an old soul but there was something about being comfortable, safe, and luxurious that appealed to me when I was younger. Not much has changed.

1997 Town Car

In 2014 I was blessed to have been able to lease my second Rolls Royce Ghost. It was Arctic White on seashell with black piping and it was absolutely love at first sight. I remember the first time I sat in it. I thought that it had a presence similar to the town cars of the late 90s. The hood was so long and of course it had an emblem.

1997 Town Car

Other than that I think I was being delusional because a 1997 Town Car is a ‘little’ different than a 2014 Rolls Royce Ghost. The wheel bases are similar but Town Car is longer by 8.9 inches. Ha ha, yes the Town Car beat the Rolls in the size department. I’ll always defend the Town Car so don’t start an argument, please! Being the loyal guy I am, I just wouldn’t psychologically end my long time admiration. I don’t drive the Lincoln daily but it’s like your first love. You don’t ever truly forget them! You move on, you have new hobbies, make new friends, have other lovers, but you still remember the first one you clicked with and who gave you those first car butterflies. If you read curbside classic or its re-publishing here at Riverside Green, you know I have a 97 stored in my garage that’s absolutely mint. I take her for cruises once a month on Sundays.

1997 Town Car

For the past 36 months I’ve had the privilege to drive one of the finest hand built automobiles ever crafted. Of course I love the people who tell me it’s just a glorified BMW. Most every car in the world shares some type of technology or underlings with another vehicle. This was the first car I ever leased that I did not want to give back. Over the years I’ve had Mercedes Benzes and Jaguars and I was always looking to turn them in early if the manufacturers were offering incentives. September 2017 rolled around and my lease was just about up. Unfortunately Rolls-Royce financial services do not offer any type of lease extension. Your option is to either buy the car out right or go and lease another vehicle. It doesn’t make sense to own a Rolls-Royce. If you’re involved in a collision and the car has to have bodywork, it will depreciate the car by 60%. It’s a bad investment unless you have silly money to waste which I don’t.

1997 Town Car

Heck, I have to get another car soon and I just wasn’t sure what I was going to get. My Rolls-Royce was a daily driver and I drove it pretty much every day including rain, sleet, or shine. Well not sleet, but you get what I am saying. I put 31,000 very happy miles on it. Soon she would be on some Rolls dealer’s lot for sale or sent to auction. According to my dealer, they told me that any rolls Royce with more than 15,000 miles is considered high mileage. I know it’s a machine but the thought of this gorgeous car being sent to an auction drives me nuts. It’s mint. I washed it every day. She’s been such an excellent car and has not let me down once. It’s only a matter of time before I’ll be tracking her through Car fax to see where she ends up. I hope she relocates to Florida or California. My last Rolls ended up in San Diego however she was involved in a collision recently and had to be towed. There’s something about knowing what happens to your old cars that’s of interest to me. Car fax provides a great way to track vehicles.

1997 Town Car

Speaking of tracking vehicles. You know by now that I have a thing for Lincolns. Back in 2002 we sold my mother’s 1997 white Lincoln Town Car to Bill Campbell. I always regretted selling that car but again, back in 2002 I had no money and certainly couldn’t pay for it. My mother wanted a smaller car and she went with the Mercedes C class. I remember on the way home from Mercedes Benz dealer of White Plains, I was in the car in front of her. When I looked at that Mercedes grill in my rear view mirror, I remember thinking to myself what a traitor I was. The 2002 Mercedes C240 had not a single thing on the Lincoln. OK, it was a cute car but it just wasn’t the Lincoln Town Car. No presence, no squareness, no legendary 4.6 V8. As I’m thinking this, I see all these black livery town cars heading south on 87 and I had such a knot in my stomach. At that very moment on the radio, playing was “Has anybody seen my baby” by the Rolling Stones. It was a sure sign that someday I would need to find her and get her back.  I was a little disappointed at my mother but at the same time I understood that she didn’t want such a big car nor people thinking that she was a grandmother. She was nice enough to buy and drive the car for a few years for her son. She really didn’t have a choice because back then I pestered her for three years to please buy one and told her that if she did I would do much better in school. It definitely helped me in school. I used to take the Lincoln to Hudson Valley community college and I would park in the faculty lot with no faculty sticker. Never once did that car get a ticket. All the Hondas and Subarus belonging to students had yellow ticket violations on their window. Never getting a ticket was the true testament to the power of the Lincoln brand. Those parking lot attendants had to think that white beauty belonged to someone important.

1997 Town Car

Prom night!

So over the past few years I have been tracking my mother’s old Lincoln Town Cars. I’ve always had the vehicle identification numbers (VIN) memorized so it’s pretty easy to punch in the computer and see if they have been any recent repair shops. Unfortunately the 96 met its fate in Rhode Island and was turned over to some junkyard. I have been unable to locate it but it’s safe to say that at around 120k miles the owner started it one day and it apparently made a loud bang. He had it towed away by cash for junk. 😩 I actually spoke with the owner and he told me his wife cried because they loved that car so much. At least she got to spend time near the ocean. I sent an email out to several local salvage yards and no one said they had it.

1997 Town Car

This past month as I begin searching for a new vehicle to replace the Rolls there was only one car that could potentially fill the tires of the Rolls. I thought it would be great to buy my mother’s second Lincoln back. The gentleman I sold the car to was also a Lincoln fanatic so I knew he would be preserving it. I had reached out to him a few years prior but he was not ready to sell it. I told him to please call me if he wanted to sell it and he told me he would. A few years went by and one day I was checking the VIN on Carfax and saw that 1LNLN82W9VY716255 was registered back in New York after spending 10 years in Texas. It showed a new owner and I was puzzled why Bill didn’t call me. I tried calling the number for Bill but it was disconnected. I was able to find his sister. I found out that Bill died suddenly. His sister in Gloversville, NY inherited the car. This is where the story gets interesting. Unfortunately Bill’s sister did not want the car and I missed calling her by two weeks.

1997 Town Car

I do run a business during the day so I usually only search for Lincolns after 10pm or when I am really bored. Two weeks prior she had donated the car to a local church and the church raffled it off.  I asked her to call the church and for them to contact the new owner to see if he wanted to sell it. She was nice enough to do so but unfortunately the new owner did not want to part with it. So back to checking Carfax periodically. For two years there were absolutely no reports on the car. Something told me it was just sitting somewhere either rotting away or hopefully being preserved. A few weeks ago I contacted DMV and did a FOIL request by providing them with the vehicle identification number.

1997 Town Car

Within three days they sent me the current owners name and address. It was a PO Box. Through my investigative resources, I was able to track the current owner’s cell phone down and I called him. He hung up on me twice because he thought I was a telemarketer trying to sell him some type of Lincoln warranty. The third attempt was a success! I found out that was I suspected was true. The car was sitting with about 8 other cars on a lot in Johnstown, NY. Within 45 minutes I was on my way to Gloversville to check out my mother’s old car.

1997 Town Car

Larry the current owner told me that he bought it from a guy who won it in a raffle. He said he hadn’t used it in two years. I took the 40 mile drive from Albany and arrived while it was still light out. I was proud to see that she was in the original state from when I had sold her almost 20 years prior. She was a little weathered from being outside but she sat perfect and the air suspension showed absolutely no signs of any leaks. There’s nothing worse than seeing a low sitting Lincoln. The mud flaps and chrome fenders that I bought were still on it. The leather was a 9 out of 10. It had a cracked windshield and a brake line leak. Other than that the car was good to go.

1997 Town Car

A few days later Larry was nice enough to have the car flat bedded to my house and it arrived. We have finally been reunited after almost 20 years. I paid $4500 for the car and I’ll put about $1500 into it to get it back to 1997 quality. It’s a rather inexpensive hobby.

1997 Town Car

I guess I am like those guys I saw the recent car show. I am not sure I would ever spend 100k on a used Lincoln in 40 years, but it will be fun to see what this body on frame domestic legends will sell for in 40 years. Ford produced thousands of them, but how many are left that are in showroom quality.

1997 Town Car

I wonder if there will be other Lincoln lovers who in 40 years will bid big money on these cars. Even If I sold them someday, all I would do is track them and try and buy them back. They say nothing last forever, but memories certainly do! There are so many people who say, “I sure wish I still had that car back!” but never find it. I did, and got it back. It’s a great feeling!

1997 Town Car

13 Replies to “1997 Lincoln Town Car Signature Series: Family Car, Found!”

  1. AvatarJohn C.

    It is great to read a romance/ detective/old car story.

    I am in agreement with you on people telling you the parentage of your luxury vehicle. In 2000, I had a Jaguar S type with those new long service intervals. So I decided to have an extra one done at jiffy lube. It had the Duratech V6. The guy that meets me first goes out of his way to tell me it was a Ford. Then he shockingly announces that Jaguar have special oil filters and if I wanted an oil change there, I would have to bring him a filter. He was quite deflated and I laughed all the way home. Apparently not enough of a Ford.

    Reply
    • AvatarAnthony Gucciardo

      Yes people love to hate on certain luxury cars… great story. I also had a V-8 S type and absolutely loved that car. Jags are great

      Reply
      • AvatarJohn C.

        I should have got the V8 too. The V6 had enough power (240hp) but you had to rev it to get there and the sound was more strained than a V8 or a proper inline 6 would have been. The V8 also had the 6 speed ZF auto, which was much better than the Ford 5 speed auto (required a rebuild at 27k) in mine. So many of them are kind of ghetto fabulous now, but the S type were really quite the looker when they came out. Also loved the bird’s eye maple trim, which the Ford masters were willing to slather all over.

        Reply
        • AvatarAnthony

          Couldn’t agree with you more. unfortunately they are a ghetto car now. you see them all pimped out with poor suspension and usually repainted but back in the day they were definitely a looker

          Reply
  2. AvatarDanny

    Were there a few rare/desirable color combos for Town Cars of this vintage? I almost always see them in white or burgundy, but they would look really sharp in a dark green or even something like the Lavender Frost available on Nissans of the same era..

    Reply
  3. Avatarsafe as milk

    thank you for sharing some details of your personal life. i love the way you thought through all the scenarios and managed to doggedly achieve your goal.

    funny that you mentioned gloversville. i spent a month their in 1989 working on an independent film. (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102616/) i remember us shooting a scene at a small amusement park that overlooked a lake in the mountains. if i ever wanted to “get lost,” that’s where i’d go.

    Reply
  4. Avatarstingray65

    Very good story – boy meets car, boys loses car, man gets car back and on his way to happily ever after. After a happy experience with a new Rolls, it says a lot about the 20 year old Lincoln that you still enjoy driving it. I suspect an awful lot of those 65+ year olds paying $50-100K for the 60s Mustang or Camaro that they dreamed about when they were 16 are disappointed with the actual experience of driving a car that likely has no A/C, no power steering, primitive suspension and brakes, 10 to 15 mpg, and can be beaten at the stoplight by a 4 cylinder 2018 Camry.

    Reply
    • AvatarAnthony

      Yes 20 years later the town car is still a great car to drive. It still has enough luxury where you don’t feel like your missing out.

      Reply
  5. Avatarmantis2073

    Appreciate the story Anthony.

    In 2001 I was auditing a local Ford dealer’s books to get to the bottom of an embezzlement scheme. I was there for a couple of months and saw a ’97 Town Car just like yours pull up outside. It belonged to the dealership, so I asked the owner if he would mind if I took it home for the night and he threw me the keys. I managed to park it in my garage that evening and my cat, who loved to jump on warm car hoods, made the leap and pronounced it the Party Deck. I remember the car being more than a little bit floaty on the hilly roads that I drove it over that night, but I didn’t care as this was my kind of car just like it is for you.

    If you ever want to complete the package, I have a ’97 Toreador Red Mark VIII with a dingless body, the original air ride that still works flawlessly and only 71K on the clock. The blend door currently does not work, of course, and the neon in the back is out, but those are minor inconveniences to be able to drive a car like this. Pacific NW car, so no rust. It isn’t for sale, but I could be persuaded by someone that appreciates them as much as I do.

    Reply
    • AvatarAnthony

      I’m all set with my cars for now but thank you for the offer. A lot of people I’ve spoken with have stories about these cars.

      Reply
  6. Avatardejal

    That trunk is magnificent.

    The gods of aero have destroyed all that. I believe aero is the reason why SUV rule these days. You make the trunk lids so small that people just say “Bye” and move to SUVs. Doesn’t matter how many cubic feet of trunk space there is if the opening is a joke.

    Reply
  7. AvatarJeff Zekas

    Agree with your statement, “I think a love of a certain car has something to do with your childhood and memories that you associate with a particular vehicle.” What this means: when all the old guys die, the prices go down. My adult kids have no interest in Porsche 911’s from the sixties (the car which I idolized back in school) but they DO like old Acura Integras and Toyota Supras and, of course, Jeeps.

    Reply

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