Ford LTD (Americas)

Ford LTD (Americas)

Ford LTD
Manufacturer Ford Motor Company
Production 1965–1986
Body and chassis
Class Full-size (1965–1982)
Mid-size (1983–1986)
Layout FR layout
Successor Ford LTD Crown Victoria (for full-size LTD)
Ford Taurus (for mid-size LTD)

The Ford LTD (pronounced "El-Tee-Dee," not "Limited") was a car manufactured by the Ford Motor Company for the North American market, with some vehicles made and sold in South America. A range of full-size cars wore various forms of the LTD nameplate from 1965 to 1991 in the United States. The LTD debuted as the highest trim level on the 1965 full-size Ford range under the name Galaxie 500 LTD[1] and became its own series for the first time in 1966.[2]

In 1983, the LTD was split into two distinct lines. The LTD shifted to a mid-size car based on the Fox platform; the top-trim LTD Crown Victoria remained a full-size car. The smaller LTD continued in sedan and station wagon forms through 1986, overlapping with the first model year of the Ford Taurus in 1986, which eventually became its successor. The LTD marque was last used on the 1991 LTD Crown Victoria sedan and station wagon, which dropped it for 1992.

Origin of Name

The LTD designation is considered by some an abbreviation of "Luxury Trim Decor" and by others as a limited trim designation for the Galaxie. Still others, especially enthousiasts of the car, insist that it stands for "Lovely To Drive". 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.


First generation
Also called Ford Galaxie 500 LTD (1965)
Model years 1965–1968
Assembly Louisville, Kentucky
Pico Rivera, California
Atlanta, Georgia
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door hardtop
4-door sedan (1967-1968)
2-door coupe
2-door convertible
4-door station wagon.
Related Mercury Monterey
Mercury Colony Park
Ford Galaxie
Ford Custom
Ford Country Squire
Engine 289 cu in (4.7 L) Challenger/Windsor V8
302 cu in (4.9 L) Challenger/Windsor V8
352 cu in (5.8 L) Thunderbird (FE) V8
390 cu in (6.4 L) Thunderbird Special (FE) V8
427 cu in (7.0 L) Cobra (FE) V8
428 cu in (7.0 L) Thunderbird (FE) V8
Wheelbase 119 in (3,023 mm)

The Ford Galaxie 500 LTD was introduced in 1965, and prompted the Chevrolet Caprice mid-year, the AMC Ambassador, and the similar Dodge Monaco. These upscale models had features found primarily on luxury models from these same manufacturers, but were sold with much lower retail prices. These cars commonly equipped with options like power windows, a power driver's seat, power brakes, power steering, air conditioning, a full or half-vinyl top (called a landau or brougham interchangeably across different models by the same manufacturers). Other upgrades were interiors made of better materials and more powerful engines. Most of these upper trim models were usually hardtops as opposed to pillared bodies. In 1967, the LTD product line became separate from the Galaxie, which became the mid-line offering. The Twin Comfort Lounge Seat (a split bench seat) was a new option.

1968 would be a transition year for the LTD and all full-size Fords. Though the body and frame of the 1965-1967 models were carryover, the 1968 model featured horizontal hidden headlights and a more formal roofline. It was the last model with the 119" wheelbase. The standard LTD interior was downgraded a bit in luxury compared to past versions, but a new "Brougham" option package effectively brought the interior trim up to previous standards of luxury.


A limousine version of the car was also considered, with the extra length at the C-pillar and the rear doors. At least one example was built, by Lehmann-Peterson. This car does not appear to have a B-pillar or a division window.[3] Andy Hotton Associates also built about 10 examples of an LTD limo, in which the extra length was added at the B-pillar and C-pillar.[4]


Second generation
1971 LTD Brougham 2dr HT
Model years 1969–1978
Assembly Canada: Oakville, Ontario, Canada (Oakville Assembly)
United States: Hazelwood, Missouri (St. Louis Assembly Plant)
Pico Rivera, California (Los Angeles Assembly)
Atlanta Assembly)
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door hardtop
4-door sedan
2-door coupe
2-door convertible
4-door station wagon
Related Mercury Marquis
Mercury Monterey
Mercury Colony Park
Ford Galaxie
Ford Custom
Ford Country Squire
Engine 302 cu in (4.9 L) Windsor V8
351 cu in (5.8 L) Cleveland V8
351 cu in (5.8 L) 351M V8
400 cu in (6.6 L) Cleveland V8
429 cu in (7.0 L) 385 V8
460 cu in (7.5 L) 385 V8
Wheelbase 121.0 inches (3,070 mm)
Length 224.1 inches (5,690 mm) (coupe, sedan)
225.7 inches (5,730 mm) (wagon)

For the 1969 model year, the LTD was given a major redesign. Based on a largely carryover chassis, the wheelbase of all full-size Ford sedans now stretched to 121 inches. In a major change for the 1969 model year, Ford eliminated the separate model series for its full-size station wagons; the wood-grained Country Squire became the first LTD station wagon.


1969 Ford LTD
1972 Ford LTD
1975 Ford LTD Landau coupe
1977 Ford LTD
  • 1969: Ford LTD is given a redesign on a longer (121-inch) wheelbase chassis; the hidden headlights and formal roofline introduced in 1968 are retained. An all-new body features a split grille with a horizontal center divider (shared with XL-series Galaxies and Country Squires).
  • 1970: The split grille was discontinued; while its Mercury Marquis counterpart continues its Lincoln-style fascia, Ford redesigned the front end of the LTD with a three-segment grille with a prominent center section (a toned down version of the Thunderbird).
  • 1971: The LTD was given a styling update. In the rear, the long-running Ford styling tradition ended as the twin round or square "jet exhaust" taillights were replaced by horizontal taillights on all full-size Fords. In between the two taillamps was a center "third" brakelight; on the Galaxie 500, this space was an alloy trim panel while Custom 500s had body-color trim. In front, the LTD lost its hidden headlamps to Lincoln-Mercury, but was still distinguished by its grille badging and side trim.

With the discontinuation of the Galaxie XL line, the fastback and convertible were moved to the LTD line. These were produced with bucket seats and center consoles; the console was similar to the console in the XLs and Mercury Marauders of 1969-70, with a "stirrup" style shift handle.

  • 1972: 1972 models were given a new, flush-mounted grille. A new rear bumper integrated the taillights into them; also in the rear, the design of the trunklid was squared off. Due to decreased demand in the segment, 1972 was the final year for the LTD convertible.
  • 1973: In order to comply with federal regulations, the LTD was given a major redesign for 1973. The requirements for 5-mph front bumpers had taken effect, with larger rear bumpers to be added in 1974. While the redesign slightly decreased the weight of the LTD, it still was far in excess of two tons, making agility and fuel economy both key weak points. Four-door models (sharing rooflines with Mercury) were given thin B-pillars for roof reinforcement and branded as "pillared hardtops" (frameless door glass remained on all Ford LTD models).
  • 1974: Five-mph bumpers added to the rear. Mostly carryover from 1973. Mid-year, a non-woodgrain LTD wagon became available.

  • 1975: Following the discontinuation of the Ford Galaxie after 1974, Ford sought to fill its place by expanding the LTD trim lineup. Above the Custom 500 was the standard LTD, the LTD Brougham, and newly introduced for 1975, the LTD Landau. In an effort to comply with pending rollover standards (as well as to differentiate it from the Mercury Marquis), the two-door was converted from a hardtop to a coupe roofline with wide B-pillars with a tall, narrow "opera window". More or less the Ford counterpart to the Mercury Grand Marquis, the LTD Landau featured rear fender skirts and various decor packages for additional luxury; it was distinguished by the return of hidden headlamps (exclusive to its trim level). Hidden headlamps were also shared with the LTD Country Squire wagon. The 429 engine was replaced by the 460 V8 sourced from Lincoln-Mercury for 1975.
  • 1976: Last year for LTD Brougham trim level.
  • 1977: Since the LTD Brougham had been discontinued, the LTD Landau received the former Brougham interior as the base offering. Optional interiors, including the LTD Landau Luxury Group, were still available.
  • 1978: Final year for 121-inch wheelbase LTD, as it is replaced by the downsized Panther-platform generation LTD for 1979.

Approximately 7,850,000 full-size Fords and Mercurys were sold over the 1969-78 period.[5][6] This makes it the second best selling Ford automobile platform after the Ford Model T.

Mechanical Details

For the first time since the 1940s, the full-size Ford line was powered exclusively by V8 engines. The base engine was the 302 cid V8. The next largest engine was Ford's 351 CID V8, the most common choice. Still larger was Ford's 400 CID V8. Topping the range was the 429 cid V8, in 1975 this was replaced by the 460 CID V8. The full-sized Fords remained strong sellers each year during this period, due to their high comfort, powerful engines, good build quality and reasonable cost.


When Ford updated its mid-size product line for 1977, they took on the LTD name as well. To differentiate them from the full-size product lineup, the mid-size cars were called the LTD II. The LTD II served as the replacement for the Torino and the Elite, while the platform was also used by the final generation of the Ranchero. It was discontinued after 1979 without being replaced, as the new Panther-platform LTD was nearly a foot shorter than an LTD II and the Granada became Ford's mid-size product line in its 1980 redesign.

Panther-platform (1979–1982)

Third generation
1979 Ford LTD Landau two-door sedan
Also called Ford Custom 500 (Canada)
Model years 1979–1982
Assembly Oakville, Ontario
St. Louis, Missouri
Valencia, Carabobo, Venezuela
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door sedan
4-door sedan
5-door station wagon
Platform Ford Panther platform
Related Ford Country Squire
Mercury Marquis
Mercury Colony Park
Engine 255 cu in (4.2 L) Windsor V8
302 cu in (4.9 L) 5.0L Windsor V8
351 cu in (5.8 L) Windsor V8
Length 209 inches (5,300 mm) (coupe, sedan)
214.7 inches (5,450 mm) (wagon)
Successor Ford LTD Crown Victoria

For the 1977 model year, General Motors downsized its full-size car lines closely within the exterior size of many intermediates. At the time, Ford marketers took a cynical view that such a radically smaller "full-size car" would turn off buyers; advertisements for LTD and Mercury Marquis touted the "road-hugging weight" of the larger cars and compared their larger dimensions side by side with GM flagship sedan Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham.

In response to the both the sales success found by GM downsizing their full-size cars and upcoming CAFE regulations, Ford was forced to develop an all-new full-size car of its own. Unlike the downsized Chrysler full-sized models for 1979, the Ford Panther platform was completely new from the ground up. The LTD and Marquis lost nearly 15 inches in length and some 400 pounds of curb weight without a significant loss of interior space. Big-block engines disappeared and power now centered on the 302 and 351 V8s. For 1981 and 1982, to further improve fuel economy (while avoiding diesel or 6-cylinder engines), Ford introduced a 255 cu in (4.2 L) variant of the Windsor V8. The 255 proved an unreliable and unpopular choice; at 115 hp, its output was ill-suited for the LTD's two-ton curb weight. In 1980-81, LTDs were available with an variable venturi carburetor, but they proved unreliable and were quickly dropped. The 351 V8 was only offered with police cars after 1980.

In Canada, the Custom 500 continued as the base model through 1981. Low-end cars were identifiable by single square headlamps, while the higher models received duals. For 1980, the LTD S was added as a lower-priced model and the Crown Victoria replaced the Landau on a permanent basis; it had a landau roof with a targa-like chrome band. First introduced in the U.S. in the mid-1950s, the Crown Victoria returned as a trim package for the LTD in 1980; its Mercury equivalent was the Grand Marquis.

In 1982, the LTD got a new grille with the revived Ford blue oval emblem and throttle body fuel injection became available.

For 1983, as part of a major product shift, the LTD and LTD Crown Victoria were split into separate product lines. The LTD was downsized to the Fox platform (and Mercury Marquis) to replace the Granada, while the full-size LTD Crown Victoria became a stand-alone model (along with the Mercury Grand Marquis).

1979–1980 Ford LTD S sedan

Fox-platform (1983–1986)

Fourth generation
1983-1984 Ford LTD sedan (aftermarket Ford Mustang wheels)
Model years 1983–1986
Assembly Chicago, Illinois
Atlanta, Georgia
Valencia, Carabobo, Venezuela
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door sedan
5-door station wagon
Platform Ford Fox platform
Related Mercury Marquis
Lincoln Continental
Engine 2.3 L Lima I4
3.3 L Thriftpower Six I6
3.8 L Essex V6
4.9L 5.0L Windsor V8
Transmission 3-speed C5 automatic
4-speed AOD automatic
Predecessor Ford Granada (1981–1982)
Successor Ford Taurus
1985-1986 Ford LTD Squire station wagon
Interior photo (1984 model shown)

For the 1983 model year, the LTD underwent a major rebranding as part of a major model shift within both Ford and Mercury divisions. As a successor to the unsuccessful 1980-1982 Ford Granada and Mercury Cougar sedan/wagon, Ford gave the two models a mid-cycle refresh with more contemporary styling; as before, they shared the Fox platform with the Fairmont/Zephyr. To move the cars slightly upmarket as well as create downsized models at minimal cost, the mid-size cars adopted the LTD and Marquis nameplates; the Granada nameplate was retired (in North America) while the Cougar reverted to its traditional role as a personal-luxury coupe. In a move upmarket, the full-size cars retained only the LTD Crown Victoria and Grand Marquis; Lincoln followed suit, with the Town Car becoming its sole full-size vehicle in 1984.

As with the Granada, the LTD was available in a four-door sedan and five-door station wagon body styles; in contrast to the Fairmont, Tempo, or the LTD Crown Victoria, no two-door version was produced. At its launch, the LTD/Marquis shared a common engine with the Fairmont and Granada; a 2.3 L Lima 4-cylinder, a 3.3 L Thriftpower Six inline-6, and a 4.9L 5.0L Windsor V8 (upgraded to fuel injection). Inherited from the Granada was a 3.8 L Essex V6; after 1984, the V6 replaced the inline-6 entirely. For 1984, the V6 gained fuel injection in United States versions (Canadian-market versions remained carbureted until 1986). A rare option, seen only from 1983 to 1984, was an LPG (propane)-powered version of the four-cylinder engine; it was largely discontinued due to poor sales and lack of propane fueling infrastructure.

The LTD would meet with far better success than its Granada predecessor, becoming the third-best-selling car in the United States in 1983 and 1984. However, in comparison to its competition, it fast became a dated design; the success of the Chrysler K-Cars and the General Motors X-body cars quickly popularized the use of front-wheel drive in the mid-size segment; the LTD/Marquis was officially replaced by the Ford Taurus/Mercury Sable for the 1986 model year. As a hedge against the potential market failure of the radically designed front-wheel drive Ford Taurus, the company sold both the LTD and the Taurus for the 1986 model year. The last Ford LTD rolled off the Atlanta, Georgia assembly line on December 13, 1985 and the last Ford LTD rolled off the Chicago, Illinois assembly line on January 3, 1986.


During the 1984 model year, Ford introduced a performance version of the LTD called the LTD LX. It came standard with the high output 5.0 L CFI V8 engine, 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. The LX model was the only LTD to have a tachometer in the instrument cluster. The center console and floor-mounted shifter re-appeared, having last been available in the full-size 1972 model year. Roughly 3,260 LXs were produced from mid-1984 to 1985. A Mercury version of the LX, the Marquis LTS, was available only in Canada in much smaller numbers. Roughly 800 LTD (fox body) police editions were also produced. Notable for its bigger sway bars and brakes, it also included bench seats with an automatic trunk opener located underneath the steering wheel. They were a factory option and most were equipped with light bars and police accessories, although some came without.


The LTD was built locally in Brazil between 1967 and 1983, based on the 1966 Galaxie platform. A stretch limousine version was assembled locally as well.[7] [8]


The LTD was introduced into the Venezuelan market in 1976, aiming to compete with Chrysler's New Yorker, with the LTD performing much better than its rivals. Over 85,000 LTDs were assembled in the Ford plant of Valencia, Venezuela, some for exportation to Brazil and other countries of South America.


  1. ^ John Gunnell, Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946-1975, Revised 4th Edition, page 417
  2. ^ John Gunnell, Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946-1975, Revised 4th Edition, page 423
  3. ^ 1966 Ford LTD Limousine as seen in an episode of Mission: Impossible
  4. ^ Ford LTD limousines by Andy Hotton Assosicates
  5. ^ Kowalke, Ron (1997). Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946–1975. Krause Publications.  
  6. ^ Flammang, James Standard Catalog of American Cars 1976–1999 3rd Edition (Iola, WI: Krause Publications, Inc. 1999)
  7. ^ 1976 Ford Full-Line Factory Sales Brochure
  8. ^ 1979 Ford LTD Factory Sales Brochure

External links

  • - Ford LTD World
  • Four Eyed Pride —- A resource for all early Foxes, including 1983-1986 LTD
  • LTD LX Registry and Owners Association —- For the preservation and restoration of 1984 & 1985 Ford LTD LX
  • 1979 Ford LTD Landau
  • Decode LTD and other classic Ford VINs
  • Ford LTD in television and film