Business executives, limousine and livery service owners are breathing a sigh of relief after Ford issued a press release saying it will continue producing the Lincoln Town Car, by moving production to Fordís St. Thomas Assembly Plant in Ontario, Canada.
As part of Ford's downsizing, the company announced last January that the Wixom Assembly Plant where the Town Car is produced would close in 2007. Fleet dealers, limousine manufacturers, and managers scrambled for a replacement of the car of choice for car services that shuttle executives and dignitaries to work and home.
"The industry was already making deals. You can't get caught like that," said Neil Weiss, editor and publisher of Black Car News. The Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis, and the Chrysler 300 were the closest options to replace it he said, but he added there's no clean choice.
"The problem with the Crown Victoria is the blue Ford emblem. We'd have to redesign the grill. As for the Chrysler 300, they have no trunk space and as great as they are, they don't hold up," he said.
Style and durability
Dealers say nothing compares to the Town Car. In an interview with Bloomberg News, David Yahodah, general manager of Queens-based City Ride Transportation, said he can't imagine what could replace his fleet of 180 Town Cars.
"You can put maybe 400,000 miles on a Town Car, no problem," Yahodah said.
Weiss added, "They drive them hard. You've got all those potholes in New York City but it's durable." He said that maintaining a foreign car is too expensive and Cadillacs have a bad reputation for not being dependable.
Weiss said drivers and passengers like the rear-wheel drive sedans for comfort, room, and privacy. The largest Town Car has an extra six inches in the back, making it about 18-feet, five-inches long and therefore the longest sedan in America.
As for its discreet and dignified presence, when Robert Painter, an attorney in Houston, organized a speech for Margaret Thatcher at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, he said she insisted on being picked up at the airport and chauffeured by an unmarked black Town Car. "You never know who may be in the back," Weiss said.
Despite its durability, the Town Car loses sales each year after dominating the market when Cadillac switched to front-wheel drive in the 80s. In 1994, the Town Car sold 120,121 units, according to Automotive News. For the first six months of this year, Ford has only sold 21,842 units. 2006 models have a base price of $42,055.
Neil Weiss said he doesn't know why more people don't buy the Town Car and questioned whether it's the design or the aged demographic.
In the comment section of an article about the death of the Town Car in Popular Mechanics, a reader wrote, "It's time for the Lincoln Town Car to die. It is a favorite for the older World War II guys who hate the Japanese-made cars and will not drive anything made in Japan or Germany... It is time for Ford to do some updates and to bring the old Town Car styles into line with the future. Make new and exciting cars that both the older generation and the newer generations can drive and admire together without stereotyping the car as an old fogey type or a kid-type car. Make it a people's car that everyone will love!"
Chrysler found success in appealing to both old and young drivers with the rear-wheel drive 300 sedan, breaking the myth that younger drivers won't drive large cars. Chrysler also announced a longer version of the 300 last April which will begin production for the 2007 model year. Rumors are circulating that Chrysler may build an even larger, more luxurious, Imperial off the 300 platform.
Another reader on Popular Mechanic's website commented about the potential demise of the Town Car, explaining that as a retired state trooper, he drove rear