Ford introduced the full-sized LTD in 1965 as a top-of-the-line Galaxie 500 (same year, incidentally, that Chevrolet introduced its all-new Caprice as a top-of-the-line Impala). In fact, in 1965 the car was known as the Galaxie LTD - it wasn't until 1966 that the LTD became a model of its own apart from the Galaxie. The LTD sedan would have a slightly more formal rear roofline than the Galaxie and Custom models, a trait that would continue until the 1973 model year. The LTD would undergo many styling changes throughout the late 1960s and 1970s, and in 1975 when the Galaxie and lower-rung Custom models were discontinued, it would become Ford's lone full-size model.
The LTD would undergo its first downsizing in 1979 and would continue with little change until the LTD would become a mid-size car in 1983. This mid-size LTD would soldier through until 1986 when it was replaced by Ford's innovative new Taurus that same year (the previous full-size LTD, however, would continue on as the LTD Crown Victoria).
There is, and has been, some debate over the years as to what exactly the initials "LTD" actually stood for. The obvious answer might be that it stood for "Limited", but an article from Car Life magazine stated that couldn't be the case, as Chrysler at the time was already using the Limited name and had a copyright on it. The LTD designation is considered by some an abbreviation of "Luxury Trim Decor" and by others as a limited body style classification for the Galaxie. There is evidence that, at least in Australia, it originally stood for "Lincoln Type Design." The original Car Life review at the time the first LTD was released suggests that it stood for nothing and was just three meaningless letters - a method now being practiced by Lincoln today (MKX, for example) among others. Also known as "Lunatic Transportation Device" in later years.
Here's a quick year-to-year rundown:
The LTD's official debut, becoming a top-of-the-line Galaxie 500 model. The LTD was known this year as "Galaxie 500 LTD" (much like the Caprice was known as the "Impala Caprice" this year also). The LTD differed from its lesser Galaxie and Custom brethren by offering fancier trim, more powerful engines, more standard features (as well as a higher sticker price). The LTD was available in 2- and 4-door hardtop models. Base engine was a 289 2 bbl (200 hp) or optional 352 4 bbl (250 hp) or a 390 4 bbl (300 hp) and ultimately a 427 (425 hp manual trans only) in 1965, and a 428 (345 hp) in 1966.
In 1966, the LTD officially became a model independent from the Galaxie 500. The LTD retained the same basic shape as the previous year, but it received a slightly different nose and tail. Bodystyle choices would stay the same.
By now the LTD had established itself as a key player in the upper-level full-size market, being a true competitor to the Chevrolet Caprice and Dodge Monaco. The LTD was completely restyled this year with a sleeker bodystyle. All body panels were new featuring a pointed prow and narrower fenders than before, and the 2-door coupe was now a semi-fastback. Unlike Chevrolet with its formal-roof Caprice and fastback Impala coupes, Ford didn't differentiate its coupe bodystyles from the Galaxie and LTD - they both shared the same design. Interiors were new also with a restyled dashboard and all new door panels and seatback designs. Engine choices were still the standard 289 with the 390, 427 and 428 as options (the 352 was discontinued this year).
Ford again completely restyled the LTD this year, cashing in on the new "longer-lower-wider" craze that was popular in this era. While its interior and exterior dimensions remained largely the same as before, the LTD sported all new sheetmetal for the second time in as many years. Headlights were no longer stacked, they were horizontal and now hidden behind vacuum-driven panels that blended in with the grille as Ford attempted to move the LTD more upmarket with more standard glitz and features. The 2-door hardtop model sported a new fastback design this year that was even more sleeker than the previous year's. Bodystyle choices all continued as before, but the base 289 V8 was dropped in favor of the all-new 302, with the 351 (also new this year), 390, and 428 as options.
Once again the LTD was completely new for 1969 with all new sheetmetal and a completely redesigned interior. The LTD seemed to take after Chrysler's famed "fuselage" style that they introduced this year on their full-size line, which to some made the LTD look less sleek and a bit more larger and heavier than before (which it was). The headlights were still hidden, and a body-colored center divider split the grille horizontally. Taillights (either intentionally or unintentionally) resembled the 1966 model, with an additional red-reflective taillight panel that ran across the rear of the car below the taillights above the bumper. Inside, the new dashboard wrapped around the driver which put many more controls closer to the touch, but many critics derided the radio position, which was now to the upper left, defying convention. Also, the headlight knob was located under the dashboard which defeated the purpose of convenience and the ashtray faced the passenger, so smokers were out of luck.
There was still a 4-door hardtop and 5-door wagon, but the 2-door hardtop was now available in 2 different styles - a formal 2-door hardtop, or a semi-fastback style with a "flying butress" rear window design shared with the XL series ("sportsroof", in Ford speak). The 302 remained the base powerplant with the 351 and 390 as options, but the 427 and 428s were no longer available, being replaced by the 7.0L (429 cid) V8, a 2bbl version rated at 320 hp or a 4bbl "ThunderJet" rated at 360 hp. The front side marker lights were white accompanied by the engine displacement callouts.
The 1970 LTD had the same body as in 1969, but with a different front clip that eliminated the body-colored horizontal divider (but retained the hidden headlights). The tail treatment was revised also - the red reflective tail panel was eliminated and the taillights went from square to rectangular, and they also got rid of the reverse lights in the center, a first for the LTD since its introduction. They were now on the rear bumper. Inside, the door handles eliminated the squeeze-type in favor of a more conventional pull-type. Ignition switches were moved from the dashboard to the steering column this year, like the rest of the Ford line. The front side marker lights were changed from white to amber, and the engine displacement callouts were eliminated. All bodystyles and drivetrain choices carried over from 1969. Brougham models were now the top trim, which included full wheel covers, more ornate trim inside and out among other luxurious touches. Drivetrain choices were the same as 1969.
Read more: Ford LTD - Autopedia Attribution Under Creative Commons License:
|Body Style|| 2-Door Hardtop|
|Transmission||3-Speed Automatic, RWD|
|Engine|| 6.6L (400 cid) V8|
7.0L (429 cid) V8
LTDs were all new again this year, slightly longer than before but with perhaps a bit of a less-bloated look. The new styling featured a raised grille center and heavily sculptured side panels. Headlights were no longer hidden as the LTDs now shared the same front end as the lesser Galaxie and Custom models for the first time since 1967. In the rear, however, the LTDs had a red reflective taillight panel that stretched between the taillights that the Galaxie and Custom didn't have, giving the impression of a center taillight (it also had LTD initials in the middle). Dashboards were all new and flatter than before, eliminating the wrap-around style, and radios were put back to the right of the driver. Coupe models were no longer of any fastback design, as they reverted back to a more formal look. Brougham models carried over as the top trim package. Base engine was now a 6.6L (400 cid) V8, replacing the 390, with the 429 as an option.
1972s didn't change much other than a new larger eggcrate grille, and the taillights were enlarged with a smaller, narrower reflective strip between the taillights (and no longer contained LTD initials). Bodystyles were still the 2- and 4-door hardtop, 5-door wagon (which could still have the Country Squire trim with the wood paneling) and 2-door convertible. Drivetrain choices mirrored 1971 models. Although this bodystyle proved staggeringly popular for Ford, an all-new redesigned LTD would nonetheless debut for 1973.
|Body Style|| 2-Door Hardtop (1973-1974)|
2-Door Coupe (1975-1978)
|Length|| 223.9" (coupe & sedan)|
|Height|| 54.3" (coupe & sedan)|
|Transmission||3-Speed Automatic, RWD|
|Engine|| 5.8L (351 cid) V8 (1973-1978)|
6.6L (400 cid) V8 (1973-1978)
7.0L (429 cid) V8 (1973)
7.5L (460 cid) V8 (1974-1978)
1973 models were completely redesigned from the 1971-72 generation. Dimensions didn't change much, but the body was all new. Convertibles and 4-door hardtops were gone, but the 2-door hardtop, 4-door "pillared" sedan and 5-door wagon were still available. Base engine was now the smaller 5.8L (351 cid) 2 bbl V8, with the 400-2 and 429-4 as options. The 400 was standard on the wagon. Broughams remained the top trim models. Interiors and dashboard designs were all new, but the layout was similar to the previous. To continue LTD tradition, a sectioned red reflective taillight strip ran between the taillights, and the "LTD" initials returned in the middle. For the first time since its introduction, the LTDs now shared the same sedan rear roofline with its lesser Galaxie and Custom brethren. A 3-speed automatic transmission was the sole transmission choice. 1974s had a different grille with horizontal bars, but that was about the only real styling change. The 429 was no longer available this year, replaced by a larger 7.5L (460 cid) 4 bbl V8. All else continued as before.
1975s had a restyle with a different nose and tail. Now that the Galaxie and Custom models were gone (the Custom models, however, continued as strictly a fleet model), the LTD was now Ford's sole full-size offering. As a result, the LTD lost some previously standard features in order to keep the prices down and still remain competitive to the Chevrolet Impala. In the front, the grille was made smaller and no longer surrounded the headlights, and in the rear, the taillights were now vertical and wrapped around the sides of the quarter panel, doubling as the rear side marker lights. On the rear of the trunklid was a stainless-steel panel that was encircled by a red reflective strip that included the reverse lights. The 2-door was no longer available as a hardtop as that bodystyle was unfortunately being phased out of the automotive industry for various reasons. In its place was a new "pillared" coupe, that had a slim vertical window followed by a larger quarter window, which greatly improved rear visibility.
Base and Brougham models continued, but the top-of-the-line model was now the Landau, which included, among other things, hidden headlights (the first time since 1970), cornering lights, fancier interior trim, and optional rear quarter fender skirts. The Landau was available on both the coupe and sedan. The wagon was still available as a base or a Country Squire, which still had the woodgrain and could have the Landau's hidden headlamps if desired.
1976 models differed very little from the 1975 restyle other than the catalytic converter becoming standard on some models depending on where it was sold. Base engine was still the 351, with the 400 and 460 optional, with the 400 still standard on the wagon models. There weren't many changes in 1977 either, other than the 351 becoming available on the base model wagons, but it isn't known if this was actually made standard or as a "credit option" to the 400 V8 that was previously standard. All models now had a catalytic converter and the speedometers now read 85 MPH, down from 120. 1978 LTDs stood pretty much pat for their final year in this present form. Now that GM redesigned their full size Chevrolet Caprice and Impala the year prior and Chrysler dropped their full-size Dodge Royal Monaco and Plymouth Gran Fury models altogether this year, the LTD (and its companion the Mercury Grand Marquis) were the "lone wolfs" of the old-school full-size cars left (unless you include the much-less-popular Chrysler Newport/New Yorker). The LTD would become an all-new smaller redesigned model for 1979.
|Body Style|| 2-Door Coupe|
|Length|| 211" (coupe, sedan)|
|Width|| 77.5" (coupe, sedan)|
|Height|| 55.6" (coupe, sedan)|
|Transmission|| 3-Speed Automatic, RWD|
4-Speed Automatic, RWD
|Engine|| 4.2L (255 cid) V8 (1981-1982)|
5.0L (302 cid) V8 (1979-1982)
5.8L (351 cid) V8 (1979-1981)
Ford finally followed GM's lead and completely redesigned and downsized its full-size LTD this year (Chrysler also finally followed suit with its downsized full-size line also, though to much lesser success). The LTD was now based on Ford's all-new Panther platform, and was about 600-700 lbs lighter and about 7" shorter than the previous bodystyle. Interior dimensions, however, remained largely the same. Ride quality improved as well with the new car, as did fuel economy. With lighter curb weights, engines were smaller than the previous bodystyle - the 5.0L (302 cid) V8 was now the base engine, with the 351 as an option. The monster 400 and 460 V8s were gone for good. Bodystyles were the same as before, starting with a 2-door coupe, 4-door sedan and a 5-door wagon. Base model LTDs (ones most commonly used by police and taxi fleets) had a dual rectangular headlight design with the parking lights in the grille, while premium models had a fuller chrome grille flanked by a quad rectangular headlight setup with the parking lights underneath. Sole transmission was a 3-speed automatic. With this new bodystyle, Ford could now compete with GM on a more equal footing with its downsized full-size entries.
Since the drastic 1979 redesign, naturally there were hardly any changes to the 1980 LTD, except for the introduction of a 4-speed overdrive automatic transmission, a design that would soon be quickly copied throughout the automotive industry. With this new transmission, Ford could claim higher highway gas mileage than its GM rivals (although the feat would be short-lived as GM came out with its own overdrive transmissions a year later). Also, a new top-of-the-line Crown Victoria trim package would debut, easily identified by a targa-like chrome band across the roof, usually paired with a landau vinyl roof. The Crown Victoria name was last used by Ford in 1956, and it replaced the Landau model. In 1981, an imminently forgettable 115 hp 4.2L (255 cid) V8 debuted as the new standard engine, moving the 302 to the options list. An interesting styling move this year was the change from the aerodynamic A-pillar mounted side view mirrors, replaced with more traditional ones and moved further back on the doors.
Changes for 1982 were very slight other than a very subtly revised grille. The 351 was no longer available for civilian use, it was now reserved for police and taxi fleet models only, effectively making the 302 the top engine option. All other drivetrain and bodystyle choices remained as before. In 1983, the full-size Panther LTD would become the LTD Crown Victoria to differentiate it from the all-new mid-size Fox LTD that replaced the departed Granada.
|Body Style|| 4-Door Sedan|
|Transmission|| 4-Speed Manual, RWD|
3-Speed Automatic, RWD
4-Speed Automatic, RWD
|Engine|| 2.3L (140 cid) I4 (1983-1986)|
3.3L (200 cid) I6 (1983)
3.8L (232 cid) V6 (1983-1986)
5.0L (302 cid) V8 (1984-1985)
Ford got into the nameplate "reshuffling" act this year after GM and Chrysler did the same the year before by putting a former full-size name on a mid-size car. The result was a restyled Granada (or Fairmont, take your pick) that was now known as LTD. Unlike the Fairmont or Granada, the LTD was aerodynamically styled with a sleek nose and tail in comparison with its ultra-boxy predecessors. Bodystyles were limited to two: the 4-door sedan and the 5-door station wagon, inheriting the old Granada (again, formerly Fairmont) bodystyle. Drivetrains also carried over from the Granada/Fairmont, starting with the 2.3L (140 cid) I4, with the 3.3L (200 cid) I6 and the larger 3.8L (232 cid) "Essex" V6 as options. The I4 was available with a propane-fuel option. Trim levels were base L, mid-level GL and top-of-the-line GLX.
In 1984, the big news was the debut of the LX model, which was Ford's answer to the successful Pontiac 6000 STE and, to a lesser degree, the Dodge 600 ES. The LX was based heavily on Ford's police package. Like its competition, the LX offered the requisite blacked-out trim and sportier pretensions than a regular run-of-the-mill LTD, but unlike its competition that used I4 and V6 engines and front wheel drive, the LX differed by offering a 165 hp 5.0L (302 cid) V8 with rear drive. Sole transmission was the four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive, 600 lb-in front and 270 lb-in rear coil springs, front and rear sway bars, 10 inch front disc and 10 inch rear drum brakes, and a 3.27:1 rear gear ratio with a Traction-Lok differential. A console with a floor-shift was thrown in as well. It is believed that all LTD LXs were silver. Lesser LTDs continued as before - the 200 I6 was discontinued and the 232 V6 gained fuel injection. Taillights on the sedans also became larger.
Not many changes for 1985 other than the usual new color choices. The LTD (and its Mercury-twin the Marquis) continued to be sales successes for Ford, but with a design dating back to 1978, and in the face of its front wheel drive competition, its age was clearly beginning to show. The interesting LX was unfortunately a sales dud, and was dropped at the end of this year, with a total of only 3260 units sold between 1984-1985. The equally slow-selling propane option for the I4 was dropped this year also (most of those went to fleet sales anyway). Other than another new taillight design with separate amber turn signals and the newly-required Center High Mounted Stop Lamp, changes for 1986 were otherwise very slight in its final year.
While the larger Panther-body LTD Crown Victoria soldiered on, the smaller Fox-body LTD would be dropped at the end of this year. And while the LTD might have grown outdated and, with the exception of the LX, perhaps conventional and humdrum, Ford had an all-new (and we mean all new) replacement up its sleeve that would soon turn the automotive world on its collective ear: the Taurus. Since its introduction, the automotive world has never been the same since.
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