The Ford LTD (1965-1982) was the Ford Motor Company’s full-sized car in America throughout the 1970s and beyond. In its first television ad it was simply called “the Ford” since it was just the sort of car Ford has been making for years, the only kind there was before 1960.
The LTD came from the Galaxie of the 1960s. In 1983 it became the LTD Crown Victoria and then, in 1992, just the Crown Victoria.
Unlike most cars from before and after its time, it had a square, box-like front.
Note that the Ford LTD in America is not the same car as:
- the LTD in Australia
- the LTD II (a sort of Torino)
- the LTD after 1982 (a smaller car)
“LTD” does not seem to be short for anything, except maybe “Lincoln Type Design”. It is a marketing name, not an engineering one.
The first LTD appeared in 1965 as a high-end Galaxie. It was called a Galaxie 500 LTD. In 1967 that was shortened to just LTD.
The Galaxie was a high-powered car that won races at Daytona. It did not win design awards like the Mustang, but to some it was the better car.
The LTD was a Galaxie for your mother. She would not win any races, but it drove smoothly and quietly and had a lot of room for people and bags. It was a car she could count on: it was very well built, much better than cars today. But even for its own time it was a hard car to turn, stop or parallel park.
The LTD was a heavy car with a high-powered engine. In the 1960s that was considered a good thing, but in the 1970s the price of oil went through the roof and it became a very bad thing. When oil was cheap it did not matter that burning a litre of petrol only took you 4 to 6 kilometres down the road (known as 10 to 15 miles a gallon in America). Now it did.
In the late 1970s Ford made the LTD lighter and gave it different sorts of engines to bring down its running costs. But it had already fallen way out of fashion by then – it was no longer Ford’s bread and butter. Worse still, in Ford’s attempt to make it a car that was cheaper to maintain – and that also polluted the air less – it became a large car with a weak engine.
In the early 1970s the LTD’s engine went up to 167 kW (224 horsepower). By 1979 only the police could get one with an engine that did better than 101 kW.
The estate car (station wagon) was called the Country Squire.
The last LTD convertible came out in 1972.
You see LTDs in films from this period (or set in this period). A blue one is the hero’s car in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977); Lois Lane is killed in a red one in “Superman: The Movie” (1978). Sigourney Weaver drives a 1972 Country Squire in “Ice Storm” (made in 1997, but set in 1973).