Friday, August 19, 2016

Burnt Umber Slab

I was ambling along the central PA countryside when I noticed this massive slab and its 4-eyed grin looking back at me. Somehow parked in the lot of the newest looking building in the area this thing begged to be featured.
This is a 1978 Ford LTD II Brougham in Bright Red with a Light Camel landau roof. This thing effortlessly runs the Malaise ticket checking off every late '70s cliche box off the list. Massive yet underpowered 2 door car? Check. Landau roof with opera windows? Check. Brougham? CHECK.
This is the era of "to hell with your aerodynamics" slab design. Look out over that hood to the windshield so far away.
The LTD II was a 3 year only offering from Ford that was somewhat overshadowed by the Thunderbird which was similar in scale but with a storied nameplate. The name is a bit goofy when broken down because it basically means "limited, the sequel" which isn't very limited at all!
This angle gives a better idea of what it took to get a 5mph crash test bumper on a 4,000lb+ car. You could easily rest a 6 pack in front of each set of headlights while tuning the strangled and neutered V8 under the hood. If you had the base 302 engine you could eventually coax this thing up to 103mph the day it left the factory. If you ponied up for the 351 the top speed went up to a frightening 108mph! Fear not speed demons; there was the mighty 400 V8 available too with a top speed of 113mph.
Performance wasn't the point with these rigs though. If you loved your living room couch or Lay-Z Boy this could float you in comfort to the bowling alley. Hard cornering would send this listing like the Costa Concordia, and emergency breaking meant a loud and screaming nose dive with skid marks hundreds of feet long. Buy it for the optional CB radio folks, lean back and relax!
The absurdity of these proportions does intrigue me though, as it does for all its siblings. The Mercury Cougar and Ford Ranchero were identical (though of course the Ranchero had the El Camino style pickup bed). The LTD II was a direct replacement for the Ford Elite which was really this same car with a single round headlight on each side and a bit of a raised rear hip a-la Coke Bottle styling.
Who am I fooling? I'd love to drive around in this yacht. The window shapes alone are worth a few grand and the landau roof looks right at home. The wheel covers are a horrific abomination that need to go asap. Even the plain black steelies under that faux-chrome plastic would be better.
This window treatment stopped me in my tracks. Brougham in script is factory correct, but that rose? Is that an aftermarket add-on or is this some special rose edition Brougham?
I love how this car makes a mockery of the recent parking space dimensions! There is a 2 foot section in the rear where nothing will grow due to the shadow permanently cast by the rear hanging out, and the car just continues onward from the front of the painted stripe so far that it looks cartoonish. Still, if this is your thing these cars remain plentiful and cheap. The very last thing this car can be called is innovative so almost all parts are usable from at least a decade of Ford.If you're not in a hurry to get anywhere, like overly plush luxury, and live somewhere where parking is available I encourage you to grab the nearest $2,000 and take your pick!

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