A Local Inspiration. . .
Ford's existence in Australia had been present since approximately 1918, with the famous Model-T. Some 40+ years later, an era began when Ford Australia released the XK Falcon in September 1960, based on the American Falcon in certain ways. The XK was an immediate hit with the Australian public. The Falcon was to continue to be a huge success in Australia, eventually taking on its own design and independence away from its American counterparts. Seven years and five models later, Ford Australia saw the introduction of its own Fairlane, designed to replace the US sourced Fairlanes, and was based on the XR Falcon. Fairlane was available in two models, the Custom, and the 500. Various cosmetic, technological and interior advancements created the independent Australian Fairlane, and gradually phased out the US versions.
Up until 1972, the only luxury model available from Ford Australia was their own Fairlane, as previously stated, initially based on the US model. The only other luxury option was the US imported Galaxy, which bared little resemblance to any other member of the Ford Family. To add to this, GM were competing strongly with the Chevrolet Impala and the Dodge Phoenix. What was a sticky wicket for Ford became a success, when in August 1973 the P5 LTD & Landau was released. Upon release, these two new models caused a big sensation among the public, particularly those who had already experienced Fords in Australia.
A Fashion Craze. . .
The P5/Landau was not only a popular design, but it proved to be a huge advancement in technology, passenger comfort, power and appearance from previous Fairlanes, etc. Such examples of this include all wheel electric disc brakes, more interior space, headlamps concealed by the grille and of course the powerplant, which was a 5.8L V8 in the case of the Landau, and in the case of the LTD, a 216kW 351 5.8L V8. Yum! Power assisted steering, electric windows, air conditioning and a heater all came standard on the P5, as did the foot operated park brake, interior courtesy lights, a clock and front seatbelts, all of which was state of the art at the time, and was never thought about for a car. Space was catered for with the 3080mm wheelbase.
By 1975, when the LTD had made a name for itself among the buying public, Ford released a limited edition of the P5 LTD, known as the "Town Car". This was accepted very well by fans of the LTD, which sold many more units than that of its smaller counterpart, the Landau. Though the "Town Car" only came in a choice of two colours (Burgundy or Classic Grey), extras included coloured pinstriping, special badging and a vinyl roof. To increase interior luxury, one's P5 LTD Town Car came with a leather bound owner's manual, an LTD umbrella with a unique stowage compartment. Leather seats were standard, as were a lot of other features that were usually optional. Not surprising, considering the price of $12, 600.
The Landau was essentially a two door, pillarless, sleek and sporty version of the Falcon, yet it shared the same front as the LTD and could boast all the luxury features of the LTD also. It came across as a high performance, fast luxurious tourer. The Landau was available in six colours, two of which were LTD exclusives (Grecian Gold, and Nightmist Blue). One could choose the colour of one's interior, too. A choice of four colours; parchment, saddle, black or white, with a black, white, navy, brown or green vinyl roof. The Landau was never a big success.
End of an era. . .beginning of another. . .
Many were sad to see Ford discontinue production of the Landau, however Ford had little choice seeing that it only sold 272 sold nationally. (!)
To the approval of many, Ford came back with the P6 LTD in September 1976. Again, the LTD bared no resemblance to any other member of the Ford family. The popular 5.8L V8 now had a four barrel Carter carburetor, to comply with emission requirements at the time. With a wheelbase of 3077mm, the P6 LTD was the longest (passenger) car in Australia.
P6 LTD was available in two variants; the normal LTD, and the LTD Silver Monarch sedan. The Silver Monarch came with some luxury extras such as Silver exterior paint with a specially made vinyl roof, and velour seats. All paint was metallic.
At this point, the LTD had a good reputation thanks to the standards set by the P5, so the P6 had a good start to sales.
Although the it appeared totally different from the P5, the P6 had little difference mechanically, and the bulk of the difference was within the interior and exterior appearance and presentation. Customers now had a choice of leather or velour seating, and more creature comforts were included, such as dual aircon with more vents, nicer seats, etc.
Handling of the big Ford also improved in the P6, due to better shock absorbers, improved suspension and an increased ride height. The P6 was also more capable of towing heavier loads. Despite a vast range of improvements, an AM/FM stereo was still an optional feature.
The LTDs are a changing. . .
The P6 LTD was an overall success for Ford, and was manufactured up until June of 1979, which also saw the release of the all new Fairlane and LTD, just 3 months after the release of the much publicised XD Falcon. The FC LTD, was different in almost every way. This was proven to be well received too, considering the sales of it. Yet, it was 172kg lighter, 342mm shorter and 92mm narrower than the previous P6. Although smaller, the FC offered a greater amount of interior passenger space, and also featured more comfortable seats, and a tightened turning circle. The grille bared a much crisper appearance on the FC, also. The Ford badge was now located in the bottom right hand corner (front view perspective), and the headlamps were built into the body.
The LTDs new panel contained warning lights to indicate system failures, such as brake failure, lights, parking brakes, alternators, and various others.
Despite hopes by Ford at the time of the FCs release to increase sales and popularity of the LTD, the FC sold nearly 2,000 units less than the P6, which sold 5896 units. This fact seems strange considering that the FC got better reviews than what the P6 ever did.
To follow suit with the P5 and P6, Ford released a special edition of the LTD, called the "LTD Cartier". This was intended to match up with the 1975 "LTD Town Car" of the P5, and the "LTD Silver Monarch" of the P6 range. It had just that little bit extra than the usual LTD, the seat upholstery was nicer, it came with a special wallet and keyring, etc.
Despite a vast range of improvements, additions and advancements throughout the interior and exterior, the FC was not a huge success. Production ceased in March 1982, which also saw the introduction of the FD, a revised FC.
Many at the time didn't realise that Ford had actually released a new model of the LTD, the FD, as it looked virtually identical. Due to this, advertising for the FD was much stronger, in order to notify potential customers and shoot sales of the Ford flagship up once more.
One of the only visual additions from the FC to the FD was alloy wheels, which were now standard. Other standard external features on the FD were lower profile Michelin tyres, and a chrome bumper lining.
The 4.1L 6 cylinder Alloy Head powerplant was now revised and had improved acceleration and fuel consumption. When new, the FD used 13.5 L/100km city cycle, and 10L/100km highway cycle.
Ford gave its flagship a nicer and more plush interior to add to the changes, apart from the revision of the powerplant. Seats were now leather upholstered, the rear seats were now fitted with head restraints for increased passenger safety. A Phillips AM/FM radio, cassette player, Dolby noise reduction features and graphic equaliser system accompanied by four speaker sound made up the LTDs audio system.
In the end, the FD LTD, although visually an FC and vastly improved, was an extremely good car, as far as reliability and value went. It did what Ford wanted - boosted LTD sales, however it was still not as popular as intended. However Ford changed this in October of 1984, when the FD had sold 3436 units...
Redemption. . .
Ford's FE model LTD was the flagship of the Ford fleet between October 1984 and June 1988. It was primarily based on the XF Falcon/Fairmont, as was the ZL Fairlane. Although the previous FD had been refined from its predecessor, and considered to be relatively reliable, Ford wanted better sales of its flagship, and opted for a all new visual appearance as well as a revised powerplant. Although the first models (up until early 1986) were unreliable and known for certain problems, the FE LTD became Ford's best selling LTD since the P6. The 4.1L Alloy Head 6 cylinder engine was now standard, as the V8 was no longer made by Ford. Nevertheless, the 4.1 6 was more than powerful enough for the LTD, as the car had certain advancements that meant that the car would not be underpowered, such as weight reduction, fuel injection, which was now standard on all new LTDs.
A more attractive body arrangement gave the FE as much class as the FD, due to a different lighting arrangement. The headlamps now filled all the space between the side edge and the grille, and the turn indicators were now part of the headlamp system and had a clear glass covering. The grille now appeared more elegant with the statuette towering in the centre, along with the alloy wheels which now were solid out to the circumference of the rim.
Out of the huge addition of standard features, some of the most impressive ones included cruise control, a 16 function trip computer, climate control and deeply padded velour trim. An all digital panel displaying Speed and RPM as their own displays and other gauges as vertical indicators.
In early 1986, Australia began to use Lead free fuel in all new cars, as a move to help secure the environment. Ford had planned ahead on this, and (partly) due to this, the 4.1 6 had initial problems running on Super (Leaded Fuel), although Ford claimed that the engine could operate on either fuel. Unleaded petrol (ULP) has been known to be better for FE engine operation rather than Super. By the time production of the FE ceased in mid 1988, it had sold 4156 units and was known to be a very reliable and efficient car. Some sources at the time termed it "the best LTD ever made".
After a very successful run with the FE LTD, the LTD shell and floorplan had to be changed. An all new design came from Ford in June of 1988, with the release of the DA LTD.
The DA featured a 3.9L OHC (Over Head Cam) as well as the EEC (Electronic Engine Control) System from the FE, accompanied by the usual 3 speed automatic transmission. In October of 1989 the DA Series II was released, which had a 4 speed automatic transmission. To add to performance, the DA was more aerodynamic than any LTD ever before.
Included in countless changes, the DA LTD initially was minus the usual bonnet mounted statuette and bootlid badge, however both were quickly added to the DA II after the buying public had statuettes installed. Because of this, the DA II featured a new design statuette, changing the LTD logo for the first time ever.
Another meantionable feature in the DA out of the many, was unique alloy rims with "LTD" engraved in the centre. This was good to improve the image of the car an emphasised its upmarket impression.
New interior decorations included LTD badging, wood paneling and leather trim in the DA II. The LTD was now more secure with the addition of a special theft deterrent system which made the car almost theft proof. Electric seat adjustment remained the same as what it did in the FE.
Dozens of advancements and improvements from the FE made the DA and DA II a success, however sales didn't match up to that of the FE. In total, Ford sold 3350 DA LTDs. (Includes DA Series II.) NEXT PAGE (CONTINUE)