Spotted: 2020 Ford Explorer ST

Last Sunday I drove over to Dahl Ford in Davenport. One of the owner’s collector cars, a 1959 Fairlane 500 Galaxie Town Sedan, was being sold off to make room for-you guessed it-more vintage cars.

I found the unmistakable pink and black ’59 immediately! More on that car later, by the way, don’t worry.

But as is my wont, I wandered around the dealership for a while after, to see if there was anything else interesting. And in so doing, saw my first 2020 Explorer.

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1973 Capri: Imported For Lincoln-Mercury

While Ford of England first marketed a Capri model in the early ’60s, the Consul Classic Capri, the first one offered in the United States appeared in 1970 and was sold by Lincoln-Mercury dealers. Often called a ‘Mercury Capri’, it really wasn’t. It was just the Capri, as borne out in all advertising and brochures. Sporty, affordable little imported coupes were hitting their stride in the early ’70s, and Ford wanted in on it.

By the time the Capri came to the US market, insurance premiums were beginning to have an effect on sales of cars like the Mustang, Javelin, Barracuda and others. In short order, your choices for coupes were down to two basic types: a big, landau roofed cruiser like the Monte Carlo or Grand Prix, or a small, sporty coupe such as the Capri, Opel Manta or Toyota Celica.

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1966 Ford Galaxie 500: Yep, It’s Got A Four-Speed!

The 1965 Ford was a big change from the 1960-64s, with pretty much everything new except for engines and transmissions. And this same basic chassis, despite major stylistic changes in 1969, 1971 and 1975, essentially carried on until the fall of 1978 when the Panther-chassis LTD and Marquis appeared.

Quite a run! And while Ford couldn’t quite beat GM in the sales race when it came to full-size, bread and butter cars, they still put out some attractive machines.

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1984 Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe: Activate The Turbo Boost!

The Thunderbird has always been something special. And while some are more interesting, cool looking or collectible than others, they always were a cut above basic transportation. Not the usual Falcon, Torino, Fairmont or mini-me LTD.

When the aerodynamically styled 1983 Thunderbird appeared in Autumn ’82, it was a revelation. With rare exception, most 1982 domestic rolling stock were rectangular, with additional chrome edging along the 90 degree angles the higher the trim level you purchased.

This was certainly true for the 1980-82 T-Bird, which could almost have been the box the ’83 came in.

A turbocharged four-cylinder was likely the biggest surprise to traditional Thunderbird buyers. A four-cylinder engine in a Thunderbird? It was a shock to T-Bird customers used to wafting along in cool, air-conditioned V8 comfort and silence in their ’60s and ’70s Nimitz-class Flair Birds and Glamour Birds. But the Turbo Coupe was the new top of the line ‘Bird.

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1971 Ford LTD Country Squire: Vintage Suburbia

Today, most family haulers are silver silvermist or beige beigemist crossovers. But 45 plus years ago, things were different.

Yes, in 1971 Ford was Wagon King. Sure, GM sold tons of wagons too, but despite their being all new, not everyone was sure about GM’s new disappearing tailgate, where it retracted behind the rear bumper instead of folding down. Though GM still trounced FoMoCo in overall production.

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Road Test: 2019 Ford Ranger Lariat

Most of the time, I’m interested in either Volvos, 1970s-era Broughams and modern Lincolns and Cadillacs. This is of course reflected here on this fine site. However, I do try from time to time to expand my horizons. Like last year, when I test drove a new 2018 Subaru Outback Limited, in between reviews for a 2015 Lincoln MKZ 2.0H and 2018 Lincoln Continental.

For instance, recently I decided to try out the all-new Ford Ranger. I thought it would be a good topic for a road test, as a lot of folks have been interested in the return of the smaller Ford pickup, ever since the original was discontinued after the 2011 model year.

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1989 Ford LTD Crown Victoria: Matlock Approved

1979 LTD Landau, spotted by your author in downtown Davenport.

Ford was not nearly as interested in downsizing their biggies as General Motors was in the late 1970s, but CAFE and the unbelievable success of the 1977 B-body GMs meant it had to be done sooner or later.

And so it was that the Panther replaced the Nimitz-class 1978 Ford LTD and Mercury Marquis. The Lincoln Continental and Mark V got a one-year reprieve and were finally downsized along with their Ford and Mercury brethren for model year ’80.

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1974 Thunderbird Burgundy Luxury Group: Big Bird

Today, we will be discussing Maximum Thunderbird. The extra value T-Bird, AKA the Thunderbrougham. Long, low and wide-and proud if it. Yes, that’s correct, the 1972-76 Thunderbird, which shared its ample figure with its FoMoCo sibling, the Continental Mark IV.

59 Thunderbird

1959 Thunderbird

This was not the Thunderbird’s first drastic change, of course. Throughout the iconic premium Ford model’s life, it reinvented itself many times. The 1958 Thunderbird, nicknamed the Squarebird for obvious reasons, was totally redone. The trim two-seat luxury sportster was no more. The big news, of course, was the addition of a back seat. Although fans of the ‘Little Bird’ moaned and gnashed their teeth, sales improved drastically. And with its “cow belly” frame it was still substantially lower than contemporary Fairlanes. It ushered in a new type of car, a luxury Ford.

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1975 Ford Gran Torino And Gran Torino Sport: Gran Coupe

In the 1970s, the watchword for mid-size Ford Motor Company rolling stock was Torino. Gran Torino. Of course, most of us remember a certain Gran Torino made famous on Starsky & Hutch, and who knows how many 1974-1976 Torinos have been saved and restored thanks to that classic detective show? A lot, I’d guess.

76 Gran Torino

That said, I will assure those whose Torino knowledge is limited to late-’60s fastback Cobra Jets and Detective David Starsky’s tomato-red 460 V8-powered hot rod that most Torinos were not at all like those. Back in the ’70s, your typical Torino shopper wanted comfort and luxury–a smaller LTD Brougham, if you will, and certainly not a muscle car. Today, we’re going to learn about non-TV prepped Gran Torinos that likely made up 90% of Torino production. Sedans and coupes, with 302 V8s and full wheels covers!

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Just Right: The 1965 Intermediates

If you’re in the market for a midsize car today, you have plenty of choices. Well, for now, as the ever present crossover is rapidly compelling the manufacturers to kill off the traditional midsize sedan. Several nameplates from which to choose–Camry, Impala, Fusion and Optima and of course Accord, to name a few. And they all come in the same flavor of competent albeit repetitive design and styling. Where’s the flair, man? Once upon a time, before safety standards, emissions and plain old public demand trumped style, a buyer could get virtually whatever their heart desired, right down to colors, options–and yes, Virginia, even a body style other than the now-ubiquitous four-door sedan. Want an aqua Skylark convertible with a white interior, V8 and four-speed? Done! How about a red Lark Wagonaire with a red interior, 350 McKinnon (nee GM) V8, power retractable roof over the cargo area, and automatic transmission? No problem. You could have those cars and everything in between–in 1965. Everything from cheapskate beige two-door post with manual everything to fully loaded sports convertible with a fire-breathing powerplant. So let’s set the way-back machine to Autumn 1964 and see what we can get.

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