1978 Ford LTD Landau: Over the moon(roof)
I’ve always liked the 1975–78 Ford LTDs. For years, they were a staple in Quinn Martin-produced TV shows, like Cannon, Barnaby Jones, and The Streets of San Francisco. In those shows, the vehicles featured were always provided by Ford Motor Company, resulting in a cornucopia of Lincolns, Thunderbirds, Mustang IIs and, naturally, LTDs.
While it was essentially a facelift of the 1973–1974 Ford, the LTD’s new, more formal grille, vertical taillights, and hidden headlamps (complete with filigreed trim) lent it an aesthetic more evocative of the Lincoln Continental than of its immediate predecessors.
As a child of the ’80s, there were still many of these cars around my Midwestern home city, ranging from immaculate, loaded examples to plain-Jane rustbuckets. Coupes, sedans, and Di-Noc woodgrain-clad LTD Country Squire station wagons. As the late ’80s gave way to the early ’90s, though, the selection rapidly dwindled. Today, a 1975–78 Ford LTD is a rare sight, though a few nice survivors appear at local cruise nights and car shows.
This loaded, gorgeous example was recently in the shop of a friend of mine, Jason Peters, who runs Mid-Century Motors and Restoration in Portland, Oregon. At any given time the shop has several interesting vehicles, and a while back I was thrilled to spot this fine example one on its page.
I asked Jason about this car’s story, since I had never seen a ’75–78 LTD with a sunroof, let alone a glass moonroof! That made me do a major double take.
As Jason relates: “The interesting this is I looked at this car when it was offered on [Facebook] Marketplace and did a double take myself! Like you say, I knew Mercury and Lincoln offered them, and Thunderbirds too—but a final-year, ’78 sedan?! The car was listed by the son for his dad, a former Ford dealer in Olympia, Washington who ordered it new for himself.
“It has everything—power windows, power seats, leather, automatic parking brake release (also unusual for an LTD), and of course the sunroof. I love a car with a great story and this car had it. Unfortunately I had just brought home another Edsel so I passed on bringing it home—the guy that bought it, though, gave it a great home and tracked me down through a mutual page after seeing work on my 1977 LTD.
“I believe the number I heard was approximately 5000 out of all 78 LTD models sold took home the sunroof option. (That explains why I never saw one! —K) I love these too—growing up, an aunt in Iowa owned one and I’ve just always loved the elegant styling and striking color combinations offered during that era. Their styling has a formality that seems unique and special out of all the full-sized Fords.”
Jason is no stranger to LTD addiction, either. “This was my ’77, I paid $600 and it sat in a field for years. I polished it, completely detailed it, did a complete tune-up and put about 4000 miles on it over six months before selling it for $3500. It was a real peach of a car. I named it Butterscotch.”
Ford built 39,836 top-of-the-line LTD Landau models like this one, with a base price of $6055 and weighing in at 4081 pounds. The Landau coupe was slightly more affordable, at $5970. A total of 27,305 two-door versions were sold.
1978 was last call for a truly large, full-size Ford. The “Panther” chassis, following the lead of the downsized 1977 GM B- and C-bodies, would have trimmer dimensions and would never again achieve the regal dimensions of the 1978 version.