In the vehicles that are the zeitgeist of the time, the various Ford LTDs are vastly underrated as symbols for the time. Starting as yet another push by Ford upmarket, it calling into question the reason behind the Mercury brand yet again in 1965.
By the early 70’s it was a reputable status symbol for those that wanted style, comfort, and isolation along with size without the expense of traditional posh offerings. As luxury efforts moved down market, there was little reason to upgrade beyond the whisper silent LTD.
1972 proved to be a bridge year. The traits and ethos of what had been traditional spectrum offerings of Full Sized cars was rapidly coming to a close. In a number of ways, this was the swan song season to the variety once well known, and offered most resplendently at the top of the Ford line.
1972 would be the last year Ford would offer both a Convertible and a 4 door Pillarless Hardtop sedan in its fullsized line-up. Of course most people that sought out an LTD were looking for living room quiet on wheels.
Air Conditioning take rates were as high as sedan sales, and few buyers minded, or cared for a styling affectation that had its glory days in the 2nd half of the 1950s. The buyers that had flocked to Fairlane Victorias in their 30’s where now pushing into their 50’s. With the worries of losing toupees and wigs to the breeze, many happily smoked their cigarettes with the windows rolled up, praising the gods of flow-thru ventilation.
The LTD had gotten a major styling update to its circa 1969 fuselage redesign in 1971. Similar to the beak that found its way to the face of the Thunderbird in 1970, the Bunkie Knudsen inspired “Raccoon Eyes” influenced by Pontiac look saw its 2nd season as the face Ford showed the world on its fullsized offerings. It may be weird to say, but after General Motors gargantuan restyle of their B and C body full-sized cars, the Ford full sizers were perhaps the tidiest looking of the Big 3 big offerings in 1972. The combination of the chopped top more reminiscent of the Chrysler Fuselage offerings with squarer profile lines than either rival corporation combine to achieve a certain level of tidiness. Well, as much tidiness can be afforded to a baroque barge sitting on a 121 inch wheelbase that stretched just an inch shorter than the magic of an Electra 225.
Lowered compression ratios and detuning for new emissions equipment made the LTD less that stellar in the performance department.
Although a V8 was standard in 1972, the detuned 302 Windsor V8 struggled for oxygen under the bulk. For tolerable performance, it was recommended to move up to at least the 351 block, if not the available 400, 429 or 460 V8, the last of which had enough locomotive torque to make these Levitz sofas on wheels fun in a straight line.
Combined with particularly decent for the times build quality and a sturdy sense of comfort, these Fords appealed to gluttonous appetites of American buyers despite the challenges of the times. Although the styling became more ghastly as the decade wore on, the inherent goodness that appealed to American customers continued as the root system for the big D. The 1972 version captured a snapshot of acknowledging everything that had been fun about being a big Ford from the past, while facing the sober realities of survival for the years to come.