I called Dad’s ’76 LTD “The Battleship,” and that was not a term of endearment. It was the size of a capital ship, and painted an appropriate shade of gray. Put a couple of aftermarket gun turrets on the hood and a mast on the roof–there was already space enough for the helicopter landing pad on the decklid–and you’d have a fair representation of USS New Jersey as she appeared during the Vietnam war.
The Battleship had a black vinyl landau roof treatment and opera windows. Its interior was festooned with imitation wood and plastic pseudo-chrome. Its engine was an emissions-strangled V-8 mated to a three-speed slushbox, which produced a 0-60 time geologists could relate to. It had no-lateral-support bench seats, soft springs, overboosted power brakes, and steering that employed Ford’s most advanced sensory deprivation technology. The car’s overall build quality reflected the “national malaise” of the 1970s.
In other words, it was exactly the kind of car I hate.
This particular LTD was, however, a car I had to respect. The reason why is because of what that ugly, overweight, underpowered, hulking road barge did for Dad and me on one extraordinary January day 40 years ago, during the Great Blizzard of 1978.