Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Town Car Lives On

Thank goodness, I did not want to drive an orphan. After much speculation and rumor, Ford Motor Company announced that it was continuing production of the Lincoln Town Car at least for 2007.

As one can imagine, sales of the big girl are down as big luxury cars slip out of vogue. If you want big luxury now, you get a big SUV. Yes, a luxo-truck. I can't really accept that, but I guess most of the big spenders do. Smaller "sport-lux" cars like the BMW, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and Cadillac CTS are much more popular today. The Town Car remains alone in its perch. A rear wheel drive anachronism, long in the tooth. A car for the 60-death crowd.

Why the turn around? Simple. Ford needed cash. The Town Car, despite all the critical ranting and pooh-poohing, is very profitable. The design dates back in many ways to 1979, the body since 2000. The engine has been around since 1991. She is paid for in other words, every sale is high profit.

A second reason came from the limo makers. The Town Car is still the prime source for limo conversions and both the standard size and long production versions are popular for airport livery service.

That in itself has created a proverbial catch-22 situation; buyers of luxury autos don't want to see their prized possessions plying the streets as taxis and cars for hire. Sales to the public dropped, but the limo market carried on.

Whatever the reason, the Town Car marches on. She is going to be built in Canada now, as Ford closes its Wixom, MI plant that was built in the 50s to build the first unit body cars made by Ford. Oddly, the Town Car is almost the last body on frame built car in the US. While everyone else went unit, the Town Car went back to body on frame to ensure quiet and smoothness.

While I do not own a new Town Car, the Queen Mary, my 1988 cousin (as mentioned, she shares a lot with the 2007 version) carries me where I want in smooth, reliable and luxurious fashion. I would not trade her ride and seats for anything. She is getting a bit rough, but in her sleek straight lines, she still exudes a sense of elegance.

Long may she live, and her new cousins too!

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