In October 2013, I broke my predictable pattern of driving Volvos and bought a Lincoln, my first. It was pure chance. I didn’t set out to get it, and wasn’t even looking for a car to buy. Serendipity plays a part in many of life’s memorable events, it seems.
At the time, I was driving a 2006 Volvo V50 station wagon, serviced and purchased as a CPO with 14,000 miles at McLaughlin Volvo in summer of 2007. Since I’ve always been a car nut, I’d stop by for no reason whatsoever to check out the rolling stock, grab brochures, and glom a cup of coffee.
And so it was that I discovered today’s subject on their website. It had been recently added, so there were no pictures. “2000 Town Car Cartier, 93,XXX miles, call for price.” I saw that and thought well, it’s probably had the bark beaten off of it, but maybe I’ll go take a look.
It turned out to be in much, much nicer condition. Nicer beyond my wildest expectations, as a matter of fact. It was a one-owner car, sold new at Maple Leaf Lincoln-Mercury, in Geneseo, IL. Anyway, long story short, I sought advice, opinions, gathered information and bought it.
It was originally supposed to be a ‘keeper’ car, and the Volvo would be the daily driver. And it filled that role from autumn 2013 until late summer of 2015. But a funny thing happened, and I really loved the car. And driving it.
So much so, that in August 2015, when an even nicer 2004 Town Car Ultimate was traded in at Strieter Lincoln with a mere 57,000 miles on the clock, I traded off the Volvo for it. The Cartier became the new daily driver, and the Autumn Red Ultimate (AKA Big Rhonda) became the garage queen.
One thing that really sold me on these Lincolns is the reliability of them. And when they need stuff done, even if you take it to the Lincoln dealer, it is still much cheaper than any of my Volvos were. Volvos were, and are, fine cars (well, except for the Chinese built ones; I’m not rolling the dice on one of those), but when they need parts and service, you will pay. I remember about a year after I bought the Cartier, I took it in to Strieter for the 100,000 mile service, which included the transmission fluid change, new plugs and a whole laundry list of other things. Due to my Ovlov service experience, I figured it’d be around a grand. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be around $275-300.
So, what has this car needed in five years? In March 2016 it got a new set of Continental whitewall tires. A solenoid was replaced on one of the air springs. New front suspension bushings and new ball joints about two years ago. An A/C compressor last July. A fan control module last autumn. One air bag for the suspension was leaking a little bit, that was replaced with a new one in late 2017. Most recently, it got another new set of tires, this time Goodyear Assurance Comfortred touring tires that made it drive like a brand new car once again. I would have gotten whitewall tires again, but the OEM-style ones had been discontinued. But I don’t mind it with blackwall tires; that’s what it had when purchased.
Other than regular service, that’s about it. Not bad in my opinion, for a car that was bought for six grand in 2013, now is approaching 152,000 miles, and is still a pleasure to drive. It’s been on many excursions as well. Just in 2018 it was driven to Chicago 3-4 times, to Racine, Wisconsin for an LCOC meet, to Cary, IL to pay tribute to a friend of mine who sadly was in an accident, to Iowa City 6-8 times for car show stuff, to Nauvoo, IL for the most excellent Grape Festival car show, and probably two or three other excursions. It’s been a steady, solid ride for a car of its age.
Will I keep it forever? Probably not, but who knows? Eventually, I will likely succumb when the right CPO Lincoln, Caddy or Ovlov presents itself on the local dealer lots.
There are a few old online chestnuts about these cars which I’d like to address. Back in 2004, I was in the process of selling my 1991 Volvo 940SE and was looking at newer Volvos, and Town Cars as well. Similar vehicles, right? Ha ha! But I came close to buying a gunmetal gray 2001 Town Car Touring Sedan, with black bird’s eye maple trim, chrome wheels, and light dove gray leather. It was sitting out at Sexton Ford, and I test drove it, and liked it. Liked it a lot. But then I went online. Now keep in mind this was 15 years ago, but even then, there were myriad posts about “HEAD GASKETS (correction, I was thinking of the intake manifold, whoops) BLOW UP!” “AIR SUSPENSION UNRELIABLE!” “BALL JOINTS HAVE TO BE REPLACED ALL THE TIME KEHD!” As I had no prior experience with Lincolns, I took the safe route and got a 1999 Volvo S70 AWD sedan instead. I liked that car, but it had several issues my 940 didn’t, and I traded it in after three and a half years, the shortest time I’ve owned a car.
Now I know better. The air suspension/plastic head gasket/ball joints are one of those internet targets, much like Northstar Caddys. Sure, some have issues. But some don’t. My car will be officially 19 years old next month, and she still has the original intake manifold. And that air spring that had to be replaced was probably due to a minor accident I had late in 2017. But the questionable air spring was on the non-damaged side of the car, so I had to pay for it. But I haven’t experienced any of the common worry points these cars get in online forums. And despite being an old car, it’s STILL been cheaper to maintain than my former late-model Volvo wagon.
But for now, I enjoy it too much to get rid of it. Plus, it’s pretty much bottomed out depreciation-wise, so I’m essentially driving it for free at this point. Who knows what might tempt me into a trade? I don’t know, but for now, I’m hanging onto it.