Last Call for the Lincoln Town Car

D.J. Auto Sales sits behind a metal fence topped with razor wire in Long Island City, a gritty swath of industrial wasteland in the shadow of the glittering towers of midtown Manhattan. "Specialist in Lincoln Town Cars," reads the bannerlike sign out front. "Lincoln Parts Sold Here At Wholesale Prices. All body parts, lights, switches, sensors, pumps & more. Bad credit. No problem. We finance all." Nearly four dozen Town Cars are parked on the lot. Black ones. Silver ones. White ones. Sedans and stretch limos. Some lightly used and some beaters with a quarter-million miles on the odometer. Cars offered for outright sale or on a pay-by-the-week basis. Cars in for routine service. Cars getting overhauled. In one of two bays in the open-air garage, a long-wheelbase Town Car is up on a lift getting new brake pads and rotors while a body man replaces a crumpled fender. Inside the mobile home that serves as an office, co-owner John Rodriguez has just negotiated the purchase of a low-mileage Town Car from Saint Louis. "I've got about 400 cars," he says. "Ninety-five percent of them are Town Cars. I'm not interested in Toyotas. They can't go 400,000 miles."

Rodriguez is one of the prime suppliers to New York's unique "black car" industry, the generic term used to describe the city's huge livery and limousine trade. Some high-end operators prefer Mercedes-Benzes and Cadillac Escalades, and there are bottom-feeders that get by with Toyotas and Ford Crown Victorias. But for the past quarter century, the black-car industry has been dominated by the venerable Lincoln Town Car, so much so that "town car" has become a term interchangeable with "black car." The Town Car's distinctively understated shape is as much a part of the city's landscape as jaywalking pedestrians and street-corner hot-dog carts. "Not only are Town Cars cheap, but there's a huge supply of aftermarket parts to keep them running," Rodriguez explains. "There are whole warehouses full of nothing but Town Car parts. An engine is $1200. A transmission is $600. As long as you maintain them, they'll last forever. I've seen Town Cars with 600,000...700,000 miles. Nothing kills them, other than an accident."

1 of 8
Another Ford blunder. Ford priced these cars to insane prices over the years, dealers didn't want to carry them anymore. The market for a stretched limo does still exist. A stretched unibody Lincoln MKT with a 4 banger isn't the answer.
I agree with Daye. They should have kept it and made it to compete with the German luxury market. I own a 1998 Lincoln Continental (much better looking and 270HP)and still enjoy the space and comfort a large four door rear drive V8 sedan provides. The MKS is nice inside but is uglier than the Town Car on the outside. Sales reflect it. Ford still keeps cutting corners and thats fine for economy cars but does not work in the luxury car market.
Ford has made a huge mistake, very similar to the mistake it made with the Explorer. Ford should have built an all-new modern Town Car that performs and looks more like a Mercedes-Benz. Such a car could have spawned a coupe, roadster, and SUV (look at what Nissan did with the Z car platform) and brought Lincoln back from the dead. As Hyundai and others have proven, there is still a market for a RWD V8-powered sedan.
It's about time this dinosaur became extinct. As a resident of NYC, I'm sick of these gas hogs taking up space. Diesel-powered vehicles make up the majority of taxi fleets in most world capitals. Crown Vics and Town Cars are also not very capable in snow, and that's a recipe for disaster when driven by reckless NYC cabbies. A lot of these guys come from places where they've never seen winter.

New Car Research

our instagram

get Automobile Magazine

Subscribe to the magazine and save up to 84% off the newsstand price


new cars

Read Related Articles