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Lincoln Town Car
Lincoln Town Car in Encyclopedia Encyclopedia
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Lincoln Town Car

The Lincoln Town Car is a full-size luxury sedan that was sold by the upscale Lincoln division of Ford Motor Company; it was produced from 1981 to the 2011 model years. Often converted into a stretch limousine, it is the most commonly used limousine and chauffeured car in the United States and Canada.[1]

The Town Car nameplate was first introduced in 1959 Continental Mark IV lineup as a top-of-the-line 4-door sedan; the nameplate became a permanent part of the Continental lineup in 1969, denoting its highest-trim interior package. In 1981, the Town Car became a stand-alone model in the Lincoln product line, superseding the Continental as the flagship for the Lincoln brand as well as for Ford Motor Company.

Featuring a standard V8 engine, body-on-frame design, rear-wheel drive and large exterior and interior dimensions,[2] the Town Car was based on the Ford Panther platform. This gave it powertrain and suspension commonality with the Mercury Grand Marquis and the Ford LTD Crown Victoria (later the Crown Victoria). This design made them durable even in the rough conditions taxi and livery cars are subjected to, and easy and cheap to repair when they did suffer damage.[3] Town Cars are typically operated in commercial service for at least 400,000 miles.[3]

Its large dimensions made it the largest car in production in North America. From 1997 to 2011, the Town Car was the longest car (but not the heaviest) built in the Western Hemisphere, measuring nearly in length for a standard Town Car and for an L Edition.[4]

After its discontinuation following the 2011 model year, the Town Car was left without a direct replacement. Technically considered a full-size car, the Lincoln MKS is marketed more as of a successor to the sportier LS as well as the 1995 2002 Continental than as a Town Car replacement.



Detail of vinyl roof styling (1978 coupe) In English, "Town Car" is a literal translation of the French term "Sedan de Ville", a nameplate introduced by Cadillac in 1956. Both names refer to a classic style of limousine popular in the 1920s which had an open chauffeur's compartment in the front. While the Cadillac was a styled as a four-door hardtop, Lincoln made its modern models visually suggest their older namesakes. Many examples from the 1970s and 1980s had a vinyl roof style that swept down the center pillar as part of a raised molding, complete with opera lamps, suggesting a partition between front and rear seats while no vinyl was applied to the front section of the roof over the driver. Other models had a full-length vinyl roof.

The Town Car name first appeared in the Lincoln line in 1922, on a custom-built Lincoln made for Henry Ford.[5] The name reappeared in 1959, on a special limousine-like version of the Lincoln Continental Mark IV; it was available only in black and was identifiable by a unique padded vinyl top, a rarity at that time. After 1959, the Town Car name went dormant for 10 years, reemerging as an interior option package for the 1969 Lincoln Continental. It next appeared as a trim option in 1970 ("Continental's Town Car Interior option", to quote from the 1970 deluxe catalog), and thereafter continued through 1980 as the top-line trim option package for the Lincoln Continental. Again, the Town Car trim featured an extra plush interior (Media velour cloth) along with more standard equipment. The Town Car badge has always been applied to sedans, but from 1973 to 1981, there was a similar option for coupes called the Lincoln Continental Town Coupe.

In 1981, the Town Car became a separate model from the Continental in preparation for further downsizing of the latter; aside from the closely related Continental Mark VI, it became the last full-size Lincoln in the lineup. Since its introduction, there have been three generations of the Town Car, introduced in 1981, 1990, and 1998. Each of these received a substantial refresh approximately halfway through its production cycle, in 1985, 1995, and 2003.

First generation (1981 1989)

After lagging behind Cadillac and Chrysler, Lincoln became the final American manufacturer to downsize their full-size cars in 1980. The 1980 Continental shared the Panther platform with full-size counterparts from Ford and Mercury, which adopted it for the 1979 model year. In comparison to the 1979 Continental, the 1980 model shed approximately , in width, in length, and in wheelbase. Despite these dimensional regressions, engineering changes (such as the lack of sufficient engine compartment room to fit a big-block engine) allowed an increase in trunk space. As the 1970s Lincolns had sold well towards the end of their production run, much of its styling was carried onto the Panther platform, including its blade-like fenders, fake vent windows, and the Rolls-Royce grille shape. In contrast to 1970s models, most models wore exposed headlights, with the exception being the Mark VI models.

The downsizing of the Continental marked the beginning of an expansion of the Lincoln lineup. As the division had relied nearly entirely on full-size cars, Lincoln split the Continental and the Town Car in 1981 into separate models. The Town Car remained the traditional full-size Lincoln, while the Continental became a mid-size car to replace the slow-selling Versailles. When the Mark Series was redesigned in 1984, it too was redesigned; instead of a landyacht, it became one of the most advanced cars ever sold by Ford Motor Company.

From 1980 1983, the script "TOWN CAR" appeared above the headlights; this script was removed for the 1984 model year. A leather-grained vinyl full-roof covering with center pillar coach lamps was standard on base Town Car, while the padded vinyl coach roof (covering only the rear half of the roof) with a frenched (smaller) rear window opening was included on Signature Series and Cartier models (and optional on base Town Car). A cloth (Canvas) roof re-creating the look of a convertible was optional on all except Cartier. Inside, Signature Series and Cartier models featured 6-way power seats (and manual seatback recliners) for the driver and front passenger. All models now featured a 50/50 split front bench seat, replacing the traditional full-width bench seat.


The 1981 Town Car featured many advanced luxury options for its time. An optional full-function trip computer with digital displays showed the driver "miles to empty" and (based on driver input) an "estimated time of arrival", among other features. Another new feature, the keypad entry system, allowed access to the vehicle via a factory-programmed (or self-programmed alternate) five digit combination. From the keypad, the driver could lock all four doors, or after entering the code, unlock the vehicle's doors or open the trunk lid. With this system being linked only to the vehicle, rather than a satellite, the need for drivers to share their identity with an operator in a potentially unsecure environment was not required. This popular feature is still in use on many Lincoln, Mercury and Ford vehicles.

1985 facelift

1986 Lincoln Town Car 1988 Lincoln Town Car 1989 Lincoln Town Car For 1985, the Town Car received minor design updates. Like previous years, the scheme included a reflector running in between both taillights above the bumper mounted license plate a design feature kept for the second generation 1990 1997 Town Car. But now, a single, wide reverse lamp was mounted in the center of the reflector panel (the lamps moved up from the previous bumper location). All four corners of the vehicle were slightly rounded, and the new, narrower bumpers were flush mounted with the sides of Town Car. Inside, the 1985 dashboard used satin black trim on the lower dashboard fascia and a slightly revised steering wheel with a padded center panel including a horn button the previous year had a hard plastic center piece, with the horn button located at the end of the turn signal stalk. The large wood-tone applique used on each door panel through 1984 was replaced by an insert matching the seat upholstery.

In 1985, Cadillac DeVille and Fleetwood were both downsized, the former converted to front-wheel drive. Lincoln, however, continued to field the Town Car as a traditional-sized luxury car. In response to the downsized Cadillacs, Lincoln began running a series of ads in late 1985 titled "The Valet" which depicted parking attendants having trouble distinguishing Cadillacs from lesser Buicks, Oldsmobiles, Pontiacs, and even Chevrolets, with the question "Is that a Cadillac?" answered by the response "No, it's an Oldsmobile (or Buick, Chevy, etc.)." At the end the owner of a Lincoln would appear with the line "The Lincoln Town Car please." The commercial saw the emergence of the new advertising line, "Lincoln. What a Luxury Car Should Be." which was used into the 1990s.[6] The mildy-revamped 1985 Town Car sold well in comparison to the newly re-styled GM vehicles that not only all looked like each other, but also too similar to lesser GM models. While the Town Car retained its traditional layout and large size, fuel prices dropped to a contemporary new low at the time, and operating economy became less of a concern to buyers than a decade prior.

Visually, 1986 was a virtual re-run of the popular 1985 model, but with the addition of the federally-mandated third brake light, mounted on the parcel shelf in the rear window. The dashboard featured more wood-tone accents (in simulated blonde walnut burl), whereas the 1985 model held satin black lower dashboard panels. Tall, four-way articulating front seat head restraints arrived in many Ford vehicles for 1986, including Town Car. The biggest mechanical change for 1986 was the switch to multi-port fuel injection for the engine. This replaced the throttle-body fuel injection system that had been used previously. The MPFI engines are easily identifiable visually, by their cast aluminum upper intake manifolds with horizontal throttle body (vertical throttle plate), replacing the more traditional-looking carburetor-style throttle body with top-mounted air cleaner of previous Town Cars.

1987 was more of the same for Town Car, and changes were minimal. The top-notch Cartier model which was previously only available in two-tone arctic white and platinum silver, changed to dual shades of platinum (a metallic beige), along with a new interior color in a revamped sew-style, with a sandy beige color ("Titanium") replacing the former white and gray upholstery. Also new was the available JBL single-slot CD Player.

A very minor facelift occurred for the 1988 model year, which saw an early release in the spring of 1987. Town Car now included a wide brushed metal panel on the rear of the vehicle just below the trunk lid opening. The reverse lamps, previously located in the center, now moved to the outer edges of the reflector panel. On the front end of the vehicle, Lincoln returned to the waterfall grille versus a crosshatch design from 1985 1987. Inside, the standard dashboard held a new cluster featuring round gauges set within the square bezels. The burled walnut wood-tone trim was replaced by American walnut applique, and the horn pad changed slightly with more detailed plastic trim.

For 1989, Town Car's grille featured satin black paint on the sides of the segmented grille blades (similar to Mark VII), and now included the "LINCOLN" logo (in a larger, more contemporary font), on the grille itself down from the header panel above the headlight. Parking lamps were changed from clear to amber, and the background of the Lincoln medallions in between the headlamps was changed from clear to black. In back, the brushed metal panel above the center reflector held a series of fine horizontal pinstripes, and the new "LINCOLN" logo and "Town Car" script emblems moved up from above the tail-light panel (where they had been since 1988), back onto the trunk lid itself. The standard vinyl roof on the base model featured a smaller, more formal "frenched" rear window this year, and did away with the exposed trim surrounding the glass. Large, chrome Lincoln "star" emblems were embedded onto the opera window glass on base and Signature models.


The introduction of the Panther platform Town Car in 1980 was also the first year without the V8, initially optional in 1977 (standard in California) then standard in 1978 ( optional). The V8 engine was last available in the 1978 model year. These were replaced with the smaller V8 (throttle body fuel injection, replaced by Port Fuel Injection in 1986 through the 1989 model year). This engine was marketed as a "5.0" model. For the 1980 model year only, an optional V8 was available. The transmission also changed to a 4-speed automatic with overdrive. All Town Cars from 1980 1989 featured an optional trailer towing package which included: dual exhausts, a shorter-ratio limited slip differential and an improved cooling package for the engine as well as transmission.

Second generation (1990 1997)

1993 1994 Lincoln Town Car After ten years on the market (nine of them as the Town Car) relatively unchanged, Lincoln redesigned the Town Car inside and out for the 1990 model year. While the Panther platform was retained, along with the powertrain, every body panel on the outside was changed; the angular design seen since 1970 was abandoned. The front half of the Town Car echoed that of the Mark VII and the 1988 Continental, with the Rolls-Royce grille given a far more aerodynamic shape and the exposed halogen headlamps replaced with a wraparound composite design. Other sheet metal gave Town Car a decidedly contemporary look, while styling cues like those of the trunklid and taillights, remained somewhat similar to the 1980s model. The revised interior featured a new dashboard, seats, and door panels.[7]

Town Car was still available in three trim levels: Base (renamed "Executive" in 1991), Signature, and Cartier in increasing order of price and appointment of features. Cartier was now available in several interior and exterior colors (up until now, it had only been available in a single paint scheme every year).[8]

The second generation Town Car was an overwhelming sales success and became one of America's best selling full-size luxury sedans. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Town Car sales regularly exceeded 100,000 units with 120,121 Town Cars being sold in 1994 alone.[9]

Features and Changes

Introduced in 1990 were several new options that had never been available before on Town Car. A two-position driver's memory seat was an optional on Signature (standard on Cartier). Electric seatback recliners with power inflatable lumbar support were available as well. The Electrochromic Dimming Mirror was also a carryover option from the 1989 Town Car, but now wider than before. A revised digital instrument cluster (standard on Signature and Cartier) featured a more advanced message center, but lost the "estimated time of arrival" feature (it returned in 1995).

Many advanced safety features were now featured on Town Car. For 1990, dual air bags became standard. However, problems with sourcing the passenger air bag module caused many cars to be delivered without the passenger side module. A credit, shown on the window sticker, was issued for the missing component. Upon request from an owner, the credit would be taken back and the passenger side airbag module would be installed. For the first time since 1979, 4-wheel disc brakes were standard on the Town Car; ABS was optional. Rear air suspension was added as standard equipment. 1991 saw the introduction of Ford's new Modular V8, a 4.6 L SOHC design replacing the Ford 302 Windsor, as well as new lightweight front and rear bumpers. 1992 saw the standardization of ABS braking along with dual airbags.

The 1993 model year saw a minor facelift on the front grille, and a new checkerboard pattern to the tail lamps. An electronic automatic temperature control (EATC) unit with digital display replaced the analog unit from the previous year. The electronic instrument cluster was now standard on all three models, while the automatic headlamp dimmer (part of the headlamp convenience group) was discontinued, the autolamp system became standard. An orange-toned walnut applique graced the dashboard and door panels. In 1994, was added to the engine, bringing the total to . The torque was increased as well, by ten, bringing the total to of torque. As a result, the highway mileage decreased by one, bringing that to city and highway.

1995 facelift

1995 1997 Lincoln Town Car The Town Car underwent a minor exterior facelift for the 1995 model year. Changes to the exterior included smaller, clear headlights as well as additional running lights in the rear. Larger door mirrors were body-colored (formerly chrome), and were moved slightly forward on the door itself. Updated bumpers front and rear, new body side moldings, and the deletion of the small fixed window in the rear doors completed the exterior changes. The antenna was removed from the outside of the car and integrated into the rear window.[7]

The interior was extensively revamped. Town Car received a new dashboard, seats and interior door panels. The angular interior shapes from the 1990 to 1994 model's interior were replaced by a curved dashboard that flowed into the front door panels, in fashion with the so-called "organic" design. 1995 also saw the introduction of a new steering wheel, which was used in all Panther-based sedans from 1998 to 2004.[7] In addition to the cruise control buttons, which had been steering wheel mounted since the 1970s, some models (Signature and Cartier) featured remote audio and climate control buttons as well.

Also introduced in 1995 was a new digital dash layout (replacing the unit used since 1993) that featured a more italicized look to the readouts, while the exterior temperature readout moved from the dash cluster to the climate control panel. A "miles to go" trip computer feature was added. Dual power recliners with lumbar support as well as a three-position driver's seat and mirror memory function became standard (formerly optional) on Signature Series which could be assigned to the keyless entry remotes as well as the up to four personal keyless entry codes. Heated seats were a new option, and door panel switches now featured (slight) illumination from a lamp located below the interior door handle. Power door lock switches were back-lit, and were mounted high up on the driver and passenger door panels. The fuel door release (previously mounted in the center dash panel) and trunk release button moved from inside the glove compartment to the lower driver's side door panel. Similar to the previous year, Signature and Cartier models featured dual clamshell storage armrests up front with cassette storage, coin holder, and an optional Cell phone. The 1997 Cartier models held dual cup holders in the rear center armrest.

With the demise of the Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham after 1996, the Town Car became the last of its kind: the last American full-size, rear-wheel drive luxury car. The demise of the Fleetwood also made the Town Car the largest mass-produced car available in North America.

Third generation (1998 2011)

For the 1998 model year, Ford gave its full-size cars for all three divisions major redesigns, with the Town Car receiving the most attention. The straight-lined body seen for eight years gave way to a curved design scheme with a downwards sloping trunk lid, and cat's-eye headlights. The C-pillar opera windows and Rolls-Royce grille seen since the 1970s were left off, as was the hood ornament. In the front, the new Town Car wore a waterfall grille much like the Navigator that was introduced alongside it for 1998. While it lost in overall length, the new Town Car was wider, taller, with a slightly longer wheelbase as well.

1998 2002 door panel
1998 2002 door panel
The interior received major changes as well. Door and instrument panels as well as the radio face, switches and controls were redone. Additional wood trim was added to the newly designed dashboard and the door panels. The power seat recliner and lumbar controls were moved to the door panels. Lincoln emblems remained on the door panels and the seatbacks, as well as the rear tail lights, making the 1998 2002 models the last Town Cars with that feature. The Cartier model also received a version of the Modular V8.

Seat-mounted combination head and torso side airbags became standard during the 1999 model year. In late 2000, the Touring Edition featured a more powerful version of the Town Car's Modular V8 engine, dual exhaust pipes and unique 16" alloy wheels with larger tires.

According to Consumer Guide the car scores above average in the premium luxury segment for comfort, room and materials but scores below average for acceleration, steering and overall technical performance.[10] Otherwise, the Town Car has frequently received negative reviews with the car being considered "out of date." The Town Car is, however, still considered one of the best chauffeured vehicles[11] as it receives high marks for being among the most comfortable, quiet riding and roomiest luxury cars available.[11][12] Forbes car writer Jerry Flint attributes the Town Car's falling sales since the 1998 redesign to the reduction in length and smaller trunk.[13]

Image:LTC interior.jpg|1998 2002 front cabin Image:LTC interior rear seat.jpg|1998 2002 rear cabin Image:LTC exterior rear.jpg|1998 2002 rear|1998 2002 stretch limousine

Town Car L

A new "L" designation was used on Lincoln Town Cars with extended wheelbases from 2000 to 2011. The L editions offered an additional of rear-seat legroom, as well as remote access audio and climate controls mounted in the rear center armrest. Also included was a two-way travel switch for the front passenger seat base (a feature shared with the extended-wheelbase Jaguar XJ). This L designation was similar to that used on other luxury flagship sedans such as the BMW 7-Series or the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The L designation was applied to the top-of-line Cartier (2000 2003), Ultimate (2004 only), and Signature (2005 2011) trim levels. For the 2000 02 versions, the "L" edition can best be identified by a wide, stationary gloss-black panel bearing the Lincoln "star" ornament, mounted forward of the window glass on the elongated rear doors. The "L" version from 2003 and onward features extended-width fixed opera windows. Fleet buyers got a version of the "L" under the Executive trim designation.

2003 facelift

2003 2011 Lincoln Town Car In 2003, coinciding with a major update of the Ford Panther platform, Lincoln facelifted the Town Car inside and out. The front and rear sheet metal (hood, front fenders, trunk lid, and rear fenders) as well as the bumpers were squared off, with a new grille and headlights (in the style of the Lincoln LS) added to the front end. After 5 years without one, the Town Car gained back its hood ornament; however, the Lincoln emblems were removed from the taillights. Suspension changes necessitated the use of wheels with a high positive offset (flush-spoke). To improve its handling, a speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering system was added to the Town Car. Also new was a power trunk lid that opens and closes at the touch of the driver's door mounted button or through the keyless remote; this was known as "Trunk at a Touch." The Modular V8 now produced .[14]

On the inside, the seats were replaced with a new design (with larger head restraints) and the dashboard received satin metal in addition to the standard woodgrain. The radio face, including the climate controls, received an update with the addition of an analog clock. A DVD-based satellite navigation system designed by Pioneer became available late in the 2003 model year; it was later paired with THX sound processing. The factory-equipped rear ultrasonic park assist (with two rear bumper mounted sensors) became standard on all except the Executive Series.

The 2003 redesign would turn out to be the last for the Town Car; all changes since then have consisted of minor yearly changes. In 2005, the steering wheel was updated. For 2006, the instrument panel received was updated with the addition of a tachometer (becoming one of the last American cars to adopt the feature). On the exterior, the parking sensors became hidden. Also for 2006, Lincoln offered a 25th Anniversary Edition package to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Town Car.

For 2008, many previous options were included in the base price. The Town Car was available in two models: the Signature and the extended-wheelbase Town Car Signature L. As Town Car production began to ramp down, many optional features were standardized in an effort to use up existing stock, ease assembly line procedures, and position Town Car as a better value against the competition. Leather upholstery had been standard since 1998, and the 6-disc CD changer was included in the base price. The only four remaining options were HID (High-Intensity Discharge) headlamps, chrome-finish 18-spoke wheels (in place of the standard machine-finished 10-spoke wheels), a white-wall tire option, and the trunk organizer a three-bin storage tray underneath a hard carpeted cover for Town Car's deep center trunk well (which allows the Town Car to have a temporary flat, albeit considerably shallower, loading floor).

The 2009 Town Car was available only in Signature trim, with a choice of two wheelbases. The four options from 2008 continued for 2009, in both price and availability.

For 2010, the Town Car is again available in two forms Signature Limited and the extended wheelbase Signature L. The few remaining options include High-Intensity Discharge headlamps, Trunk organizer, and a set of four 17" 18-spoke chromed aluminum wheels. The whitewall tire option was discontinued, but Daytime Running Lamps became available. Also available only on Signature Limited was the Continental Edition package. This is somewhat ironic, as the Town Car was originally the upscale edition of the Panther-based Lincoln Continental. The package adds Continental badging, chrome 17" wheels, and chrome B-pillar accents to the car's exterior, while inside, the Continental name is embroidered on the front seats and front floor mats.

Of interesting note, some time after 2003, the Executive (and Executive L) became equipped with single exhaust while the Signature Series and Signature L were equipped with dual exhaust. This created for the fleet-based Executive, while the Signature got . Most coach builders convert the Executive's single exhaust into a dual exhaust setup when building a limousine, to give the vehicle some added power on top of having to stretch the exhaust to accommodate the stretched frame.


Calendar Year American sales
1998 97,547
1999[15] 84,629
2000 81,399
2001[16] 66,859
2002[17] 59,312
2003 56,566
2004[18] 51,908
2005 47,122
2006[19] 39,295
2007 26,739
2008[20] 15,653
2009[21] 11,375
2010[22] 11,264
2011[23] 9,460

659,128 Town Cars were sold during this period.


In spite of declining sales, the Town Car remained one of the best selling American luxury cars; it was the United States' and Canada's most used limousine and chauffeured car.[1]

In 2006, as part of The Way Forward, Ford considered ending production of Lincoln's largest model as part of the 2007 closing of the Wixom Assembly Plant.[24] Industry observer George Peterson said "It blows everybody s mind that they are dropping the Town Car. Just think what Ford could do if they actually invested in a re-skin of Crown Victoria, Grand Marquis and Town Car."[25] Ford ultimately decided to keep the model and move assembly to the St. Thomas Assembly Plant in Ontario, Canada; this was home to the Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis; both models also used the Ford Panther platform. The Town Car's manufacture resumed at its new location in late 2007.[1] The first Canadian-assembled Town Car was built on January 10, 2008.[26] However, in Canada, Town Cars were sold exclusively for fleet and livery sales, having been discontinued in retail markets after the 2007 model year.

In 2009, the fate of all three Panther-platform models was determined when Ford announced the 2011 closure of the St. Thomas Assembly Plant. For the limousine and livery markets, Ford had promised availability of the Town Car through the 2011 model year;[27] retail sales continued on a limited basis in the United States and for export. On January 4, 2011, the Town Car became the last Panther-platform variant available for retail sale as the final Mercury Grand Marquis was produced (the last Mercury-brand vehicle). On August 29, 2011, the final Town Car rolled off the assembly line, without any fanfare or announcement from Ford.[28]

With the discontinuation of the Town Car, Lincoln has moved to remain in livery markets by developing a limousine variant of the MKT full-size CUV.[29] The MKT limousine will be available around the second quarter of 2012 and will be called "MKT Town Car."[30] Lincoln is also believed to be preparing a true Town Car successor on a rear-wheel drive platform to rival the Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7-series.[31]

Trim levels

Signature Series Identification Label
Signature Series Identification Label
In 1981 the Town Car was introduced in three trim levels: the base model, the mid-range Signature Series, and the top-of-the-line Cartier Series. In 1991, the Executive Series became the designation for the base/entry model. In 2004, the Cartier name was dropped and replaced by Ultimate, and the Executive Series name was now only used for fleet vehicles going forward. This left the Signature Series as the entry level model. In 2005, however, the lineup was changed again and all three trim levels carried a Signature badge: Signature, Signature Limited, and Signature L. In 2006 and 2007, a Designer Series was added to fit in between the mid-range Signature Limited and the top-of-the-line Signature L. Starting in 2008 and through the end of the model run, the Signature Limited and Signature L were the only retail trim levels available.

Signature (1981 2011)
The Signature Series was the mid-level, and also most popular, trim level from 1981 through 2003. In 2004 the trim levels were renamed, and the Signature Series was now used to describe the base trim level and Ultimate was now used to describe the upper level trim. In 2005 the Ultimate was dropped and all trim levels were changed to a version of Signature. The base trim level for 2005 was called Signature, the mid trim level was called Signature Limited and the top-of-line trim-level was called Signature L. The trim level designations were revised again for the 2006 model year with a Designer Series being added between the Signature Limited and top-of-line Signature L. By 2008, with only two models remaining, the Signature Limited became the base model, while the Signature L badge was used for the extended-wheelbase model.

Cartier (1981 2003)
Cartier was used on the top-of-line Town Car from 1981 through 2003, including LWB or "L" versions 2000 2003. The Cartier also featured the designer's logo stitched onto the seats in place of the Lincoln star. Golden Lincoln emblems on the tail-lights also became a staplemark on the Cartier Edition on 1998 through 2002 models.

Executive (1991 2003 for retail and 2004 2011 for fleet)
The Executive Series was the base trim level and thus the most affordable Lincoln Town Car from 1991 through 2003. After 2003, the Executive Series designation continued on, but for fleet vehicles only and included both SWB and LWB versions.

Limited (2000 2004) and Signature Limited (2005 2011)
"Limited", as an option package, was available on Signature trim models from 2000 to 2003 and on the Ultimate in 2004. Starting in 2005, Limited (known as Signature Limited) became its own trim level.

Ultimate (2004)
Ultimate was only used on the 2004 Town Car. The Ultimate designation replaced Cartier for 2004 and was used for the top-of-line model. Like the Cartier, it was offered in SWB and LWB versions.

Designer (2006 2007)
The Designer Series was an upper-middle trim level in between the Signature Limited and Signature L. This trim included two-tone interior accents, a special higher quality leather called Provence leather. The rear seats also included four way adjustable head restraints exclusively on this trim for the standard wheelbase. On the exterior special chromed B pillars and chrome wheels were included.

Trim level timeline

Lincoln Town Car Timeline
Trim level 1980s 1990s 2000s
'81 '82 '83 '84 '85 '86 '87 '88 '89 '90 '91 '92 '93 '94 '95 '96 '97 '98 '99 '00 '01 '02 '03 '04 '05 '06 '07 '08 '09 '10 '11
Entry Base Executive Series Signature Series Signature Limited
Mid-level Signature Series Signature Limited
High-end Cartier Series Ultimate Designer Series
L Cartier L Ultimate L Signature L
Fleet Executive, Executive L

Special editions

Sail America Commemorative Edition
This special edition 1987 Signature Series model came in white with a blue carriage roof and had white leather interior with blue piping and special badging. Ford Motor Company was one of the corporate sponsors of the "Sail America Foundation" syndicate, owner of the 1987 America's Cup winning yacht Stars & Stripes 87.

Special Edition
The 1989 Town Car Signature Series was offered with a Special Edition package featuring a carriage roof, JBL audio system, and "Special Edition" badging. This replaced a Gucci edition Town Car that had been in the works.

Jack Nicklaus
1992 to 1997 saw a special Signature Series sedan come to market: the Jack Nicklaus Signature Series, which featured a green body with a white vinyl top with white leather interior trimmed in green. Another version came with white exterior paint and a conventional roof and a similar white leather interior with green carpets and trim. Most of these editions have ornaments and wording on the exterior trimmed in gold including green and gold "Golden Bear" badges on the front fenders.[32] Options included on the 1992 to 1997 Jack Nicklaus Signature Series included: Memory Seats with Power Lumbar/Recliner, Leather Seats, and Monotone Paint.

Spinnaker Edition
1995 also featured another special Signature Series edition called the Spinnaker Edition which featured tri-coat paint, two-toned leather seats, the Spinnaker logo on the floor mats, and 16" spoked aluminum wheels.[32]

Diamond Anniversary
To celebrate Lincoln's 75th anniversary in 1996, the Town Car took on a "Diamond Anniversary" edition. This edition was applied to Signature Series sedans only. Features included unique accent stripe, leather seats, wood instrument panel trim, window badging, cellular telephone, power moonroof, JBL audio system, auto electrochromatic dimming mirror with compass, and traction assist.[33]

Cypress Edition
Also in 1996, Lincoln offered a Signature Series Cypress Edition which featured Cypress Gold Frost exterior paint, two-toned leather interior, and red Cypress tree badging.

Touring/Touring Sedan option packages were offered on Signature trim level models from 1996 to 2002. Specific options varied through the years with latter packages becoming more focused on sporting performance and handling features.

Pro Series
In 2005, a Pro Series edition/option package was available on the Signature Limited and included embroidered "Pro Series" logos on driver/front passenger seat backs, 9-spoke chrome wheels, chrome B-pillar, two-tone instrument panel, and floor mats with "Pro Series" brushed aluminum badges.

25th Anniversary Edition
Lincoln commemorated the 25th anniversary of the Town Car by offering a 25th Anniversary Edition package on the 2006 Signature Limited. The package included chrome B-pillar and door handles, unique Eucalyptus wood applique and matching steering wheel with wood inserts, scuff plates with "25th Anniversary Edition" and "25th anniversary" badging, Provence leather individual 40/20/40 lounge seating with individual comfort, shirring, contrast piping and rear seat adjustable headrests, foglamps, and 9-spoke chrome wheels.

Continental Edition
Offered in 2010 and 2011 was the Continental Edition package; available as an option only on the Signature Limited trim. The package added Continental badging, chrome 17" wheels and accents to the B-pillars. On the interior, the Continental name was embroidered on the front seats and front floor mats.

Ballistic Protection Series
Starting in 2003, the Lincoln Town Car had been available featuring ballistic protection from the factory. Adding nearly $100,000 to the base price, the armored body and bulletproof glass raised the curb weight of the Town Car to nearly 7,000 pounds.[34] Other changes to the suspension and brakes were intended to preserve the handling of the Town Car.

Throughout the entire run of the Town Car, numerous aftermarket companies and Lincoln-Mercury dealerships offered unique "trim packages" that typically included special roof treatments, grilles, wheels, and badging. These were especially popular in the 1980s and 1990s.


The Town Car has received several awards and recognitions.

  • Forbes magazine repeatedly named the Town Car one of the best cars to be chauffeured in along with other, often more expensive flagship sedans, such as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7-Series and Lexus LS.[11] The Town Car Signature L features a rear seat comfort package which not only provides rear seat passengers with audio system and rear compartment climate controls, but also features a control function which allows for the rear seat occupants to move the passenger seat forward, a feature exclusive to few ultra-luxury sedans.[11] In addition to its many amenities, the Signature L also features an unrivaled of rear legroom, and of rear shoulder room.[4]
  • In 1990, upon the introduction of the second generation Town Car, the vehicle was named Motor Trend Car of the Year.[35] However this award was later included by Car and Driver in a list of poorly chosen car of the year award winners.[36]

Engine specifications

Trim level Year Engine Power Torque
First Generation
1981 4.9 L 5.0L Windsor V8 at 3400 rpm at 2,200 rpm
1982 at 3400 rpm at 2,200 rpm
1983 at 3200 rpm . at 2,000 rpm
1984 1985 at 3200 rpm at 1,600 rpm
1984 1985 (Dual Exhaust) at 3600 rpm . at 2,000 rpm
1986 1989 4.9 L 5.0L Windsor V8 at 2,000 rpm
1986 (Dual Exhaust) at 2,200 rpm
1987 1989 (Dual Exhaust) at 2,200 rpm
Second Generation
Executive Series 1990 5.0 L Windsor V8 at 2,000 rpm
1991 1996 4.6 L Modular V8 at 3,250 rpm
1997 at 3,250 rpm
Signature Series
1990 5.0 L Windsor V8 at 2,200 rpm
1991 1997 4.6 L Modular V8 at 3,250 rpm
Third Generation
Executive Series
Signature Series
1998 2000 4.6 L Modular SOHC 16V V8
2001 2002 at 3,500 rpm
2003 2007 at 4,100 rpm
Signature Touring
Signature Limited
Designer Series
2000 2002 at 4,100 rpm
2005 2011
2006 2007
Cartier 1998 2000 at 3,500 rpm
L Edition 2000 2002
2003 2011 at 4,100 rpm

Safety concerns

Fuel tank

see Fuel Tank Safety Concerns section of Ford Crown Victoria article.


On 2004 models, the accelerator and brake pedals are close together. This has been blamed for accidents caused by driver error where the driver presses the accelerator instead of the brake. On NHTSA safety complaints, some drivers reported that their foot was not on the accelerator at all, and the car still lurched forward. Despite numerous complaint submissions, NHTSA has not issued a safety recall.

Door Latches

On 2003 and 2004 models, the front door latch handles are secured with plastic only and may break and become disengaged from the internal mechanism, preventing the door from opening except by operating the external door handle. Previously, the repair required replacing the entire door trim panel (about $950 for the part alone). The trim panel is no longer stocked, making it impossible to repair the door handle, rendering the car unsafe due to emergency exit concerns. A similar problem in Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigators resulted in a recall, but thus far, NHTSA has not issued a recall for the Town Car.

Intake manifold defect

Model years 1996 through 2001, which use an all-composite intake manifold, are subject to coolant leaks in the component. Late in 2005 Ford settled a class action lawsuit. See Intake Manifold Defect section of the Ford Modular engine article for details.

See also


External links

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