They don’t get very much attention now, but the big #FordLTD
was a staple of 1970s America; typically a top five seller and often vying with the full-size Chevys for the top spot early in the decade. The LTD had first appeared in 1965 as a luxury option package on the Galaxie 500, quickly becoming a popular stand-alone model. Although there had always been loaded full-size Fords, the LTD resonated as a “luxury” car; with standard equipment not previously the province of “regular” Fords.
The LTD quickly supplanted the Galaxie 500 as Ford’s top spec car. After the big Fords were redesigned and enlarged for 1969 (major style updates came in 1971 and 1973), the Galaxie was gradually de-emphasized and dropped after 1974. At the bottom end of the lineup, the Custom 500 remained for buyers who wanted a no-frills “standard size” car; but these too faded away as smaller vehicles displaced “economy full sizes” as the big cars got bigger. “No frills” big cars were the first casualty of Opec 1, and Custom 500s were fleet only after 1975.
But in the Alfred P. Sloan model, you still need a ladder of models - so instead of having Custom/Galaxie/LTD, the 1975-78 lineup had LTD, LTD Brougham, and LTD Landau (intro. 1975) in escalating levels of opulence. The gas crisis took a big bite out of sales - plunging from ~950K sales in 1973 to ~391K in ’75; but memories faded quickly. Sales were up to ~465K in 1976; the last year that of the big 3 fielded really massive full-sizers. Even the lightest ’76 LTD was ~4,300 lbs., 224” (5.7M) long, and nearly 80” (2M) wide; all were V8s (302, 351, 400, 460). The cars got terrible MPG but were often reliable and tough, though all 1970s Fords tended to rust.
Big and comfy, they were not to be hustled - LTD’s were often seen flailing around in the hands of TV henchmen in shows like “The Rockford Files,” but they were built to be comfy middle class cars, not sports cars. When GM downsized its big cars in 1977, Ford’s own program was 2 years from completion - so it specifically advertised the size of the aging design as an advantage (the market preferred the GMs); but undercut itself by also offering the LTD II on the former Torino chassis.