Ford’s bigger than big LTD goes gold

You know time is slipping by when the Ford LTD P5 model reaches its 50th anniversary. 

I saw a P5 model not so long ago in Newcastle. 

It was white, so I guess it was an ex-government car. 

Did you know that ‘LTD’ stands for Lincoln Type Design?

I know quite a bit about LTDs. My parents owned one.

It was dark blue with a black vinyl roof and light blue leather interior. 

It was a sensational car to drive and for its day, powerful and luxurious.

And so many gadgets to fiddle with. 

The air conditioning controls, in the centre console, were sliding levers. All very airplane like. 

But the LTD’s greatest asset was the rear leg room. 

Sitting on a 121 inch (307.34 cm) wheelbase, which was 10 inches (25.4 cm) longer than a Falcon, gave the LTD an extraordinary amount of rear seat legroom. 

Make no mistake, an LTD was big.

And still is.

It made my parent’s previous car, a Statesman, feel compact in comparison — and that’s saying something.

I had the pleasure of chatting with the LTD’s creator, David Ford (no relation), for my Design to Driveway book and TV series.

David told me that reason for the LTD replacing the American sourced Galaxie can be found in impending changes to Australia’s local vehicle content rule and import tariff regulations in the mid-1970s. 

David said that: “When combined with exchange rate fluctuations at the time, it was clear that the profitability of the Galaxie was in question. 

“I calculated that we ought to be able to create a long wheelbase car with a huge rear seat package and replace the Galaxie. 

“We obviously could not afford a totally unique design but I thought we could use the Fairlane as a base and build up its specifications with existing options and with some minor sheet metal changes get it locally manufactured.”

But he had to talk long and hard to convince Ford boss, Bill Bourke, to approve the LTD.

You see, Bill was fixated on selling an Australian Thunderbird.

His idea was to create such a car out of the Falcon coupe.

It was to be called Landau.

David was not so sure it would be a sales winner.

He reckoned there was a much bigger market for an LTD type car.

So, Bourke approved both.

History records that the Landau coupe sold 1385 units and lasted just two years on the market.

By comparison, the P5 LTD went to 7003 buyers. 

At a list price of almost $8000 per car, it was very profitable for Ford. 

In today’s dollars it generated almost $750 million of revenue. 

Big money from a big car!

David Burrell is the editor of retroautos


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