The full-size LTD nameplate was part of the Ford lineup from 1964 to 1991. The LTD designation is thought by some as an abbreviation of 'L
ecor' and by others as limited trim
designation for the Ford Galaxie. It made its debut as the highest trim level on the 1965 full-size Ford range under the name Galaxie 500 LTD and became its own series in 1965. This 'affordable luxury' vehicle represented a large cultural shift that would influence design for many years to come. Even though it was 'affordable', it was not cheap, selling for an extra 20% above the price of the Galaxie 500.
The 1964 Galaxie LTD upscale models were fitted with options such as power windows, power driver's seat, power brakes, power steering, and air conditioning. Other upgrades included more powerful engines, better materials, and different upholstery in a softly-textured synthetic fabric. A period ad by Ford even stated that 'Ford rides quieter than Rolls-Royce.' 'Lots of people find it hard to believe. But it's a fact-in tests by a leading acoustical firm, a 1965 Ford LTD with a 289-cu. in. V-8 and Cruise-O-Matic rode quieter than a Rolls-Royce. This quiet does not mead Ford is
a Rolls-Royce. But it does mean Ford is strong, solidly built, designed to give you luxury, comfort and convenience. Underneath that trim, functional body, it's all muscle. If you doubt Ford is everything we say it is, take a test drive and listen....listen hard!'
When the LTD became its own series, it was offered as a sedan, hardtop sedan, and a hardtop coupe. It was equipped with all the items found in the Galaxie 500 plus the 289 CID/200 HP V8 engine and SelectShift Cruise-O-Matic automatic transmission. The LTD came with flow-through ventilation system, automatic courtesy and warning lights in the doors, plush cushioning in the seating surfaces, pull-down armrests in both the front and the rear, and color-keyed steering wheel. Two-door hardtops had a vinyl top. To help distinguish them from their Galaxie siblings, the LTD received distinctive trim and ornamentation, special wheel covers, and simulated woodgrain on the instrument panel and door panels.
For 1968, the LTD had horizontal hidden headlights and a more formal roofline. It still had the 119-inch wheelbase platform, as seen in prior years, but this would be the final year, as its size grew to 121 inches for 1969. Along with a bigger footprint, the LTD was also given a major redesign. Design changes and modernization continued for the years to come; in 1970, the split grille was discontinued and the LTD received a redesigned front end with a three-segment grille with a prominent center section. The LTDs also received a new Federally-mandated locking steering column and wheel, with the ignition switch located on the right side of the column.
Ford worked on the back of the LTD for 1971, giving them horizontal taillights where the twin round or square 'jet exhaust' taillights used to be. With the discontinuation of the XL series, the LTD received the convertible. They had bucket seats and center consoles.
A major redesign occurred in 1973 in efforts to comply with federal regulations. Larger bumpers were added due to the 5-mph bumper rules.
The final year for the 121-inch wheelbase LTD was in 1978, when it was replaced a year later by the Panther-platform generation, which would remain in production until 1982. It had a shortened length from 224.1 inches to 209 inches. GM had led the way by offering a downsized full-size car and it had proven to be enormously successful. Ford was eager to follow suit. Their new Panther platform was completely new from the ground up. Along with losing nearly 15 inches in length, it also shed some 400 pounds of curb weight, while retaining much of its interior room.
In 1983, the LTD was built on the Fox-platform and available in a four-door sedan and five-door station wagon body styles. When introduced, it shared a common engine with the Fairmont and Granada; a 2.3 L Lima 4-cylinder, a 3.3 L Thriftpower Six inline-6, and a 4.9L 5.0L Windsor V8 (upgraded to fuel injection).By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2016