: Test Drive Review: 1986 Lincoln Town Car Signature Series



I~LUV~Caddys8792
10-21-10, 01:00 AM
So my buddy Brandon bought this real nice '86 Town Car from an old man a few months back, and I got to drive it across town last night after he bought Dave's (Bro-Ham) real nice '92 Roadmaster Limited Sedan as a winter car so his Town Car can stay in storage all winter.

http://i83.photobucket.com/albums/j313/Chadillac8705/f5fcb45b.jpg
http://i83.photobucket.com/albums/j313/Chadillac8705/cf2d9cc4.jpg

Exterior design: 8/10.
It's very cool in that classic "over the top, gaudy, tacky" late '70s way. It's definitely a throwback, but the lines and proportions aren't quite right when compared to the late '70s Lincolns or the '80s era Broughams. I like how the late '70s Town Cars had the squared off rear wheel well and skirt, it looks a lot more formal and more put together than the 80-89s with the totally open and rounded rear wheel well. This is something that the Brougham has on it as well. I really do like the big vertical chrome-laden grille on the Town Car, especially on the 86-87's when they had the eggcrate style as opposed to the waterfall style on the 88-89's.

So basically, it's nice, but I like looking at the Brougham more.

http://i83.photobucket.com/albums/j313/Chadillac8705/3fe77b67.jpg
http://i83.photobucket.com/albums/j313/Chadillac8705/73e22440.jpg
Interior Design: 8/10.
The seats are awesomely comfortable. Extremely soft and deep in the centers, but a little thicker and more firm around the outsides, so it keeps you very much "IN" the seat as opposed to sitting on it. These have to be some of the most comfortable seats I've ever sat in, and I've sat in a LOT of luxury cars. The digital dash is cool because of all the information it offers (it has the full trip computer), but I myself prefer to look at the square, chrome laden analog gauges because it's easier on my eyes at night, and seems more natural in an old boat like this. Loads of room all around, and I like the dual armrests for driver and passenger. However, like I said before, I think the Broughams interior is laid out a little better and has a more symmetrical dashboard setup, but the Town Car Signature Series has more comfortable seats than any Brougham, D'Elegance or not. I will say however that I definitely prefer being in this than the Mark VII LSC I looked at last weekend, and it offers greater visibility and better seats than that Mark V I drove a few weeks back.

Engine/Drivetrain: 8.2/10
It wasn't nearly as quick as the LSC I drove last weekend (150hp v. 225), but it was very good for a car of it's size and age. It was however MUCH better than a 307 Brougham, in power, acceleration, fuel economy and throttle response. As a matter of fact, I'd venture a bet saying that a 86-89 Town Car is as quick and responsive as a 90-93 Brougham with the TBI 350. The 302 is really a champ in this respect, it never feels like only 10 more horsepower than a measly 307, and 35 down from a TBI 350. The magic is all in that sequential port fuel injection....8 fuel injectors mounted in the intake ports as opposed to two in the throttle body....big difference. The 302 doesn't have the rip-roaring low end torque of a TBI 5.7, but it's much smoother and has a much more plentiful mid-range. I think out of the hole, a TBI 5.7 would pull away from the 5.0, but the 5.0 would catch up to it once it hits second gear.

The 5.0 is much, much quieter than a 5.7 as well. You really can't hear the 5.0 when inside the cabin, but the 5.7 is always there, sounding nice and manly. This 5.0 was much quieter than the 5.0 in the LSC, and it seems as though this 5.0 offered more low end torque. Once again, the AOD lets me down in comparison to the 700R4. The only difference between the AOD in this one v. the AOD in that LSC is this one isn't going to get as beaten as hard because it's not in a fast car.


Steering/Handling: 8.5/10
The '86 Town Car is surprisingly....nimble...for a car of it's size and age. It's much, much nicer to drive than that Mark V, much more "firm" and "direct" steering (boy it's odd to say that about an '86 Lincoln), and you feel much more in control of this. Because the visibility is so much better, you feel a lot more confident maneuvering this around tight city streets and alleys. The hood, while is still long, is about six inches shorter than the Mark V's (so about 5-5.5 feet overall), and it's peaked edges make it very easy to put down a highway at speed, and it's cool to watch the fenders rise and fall with the road.

Ride: 9.5/10
This thing rides amazing. It's just enough float to keep you extremely comfortable and happy during a ride of any duration, but it's not numb or nauseating. I seem to recall the early '90s models riding softer and more isolated than these, and by comparison, that '77 Town Car is like a soundproof tomb. When you hit a bump or undulation in the road, it floats for a second or two, but doesn't really bounce you back and forth or side to side like a Brougham does. The Brougham sways back and forth and side to side a lot more. We all agree that the 86-89 Town Cars ride better and are more enjoyable to drive than any Brougham of that era, and they've all owned them both.


Would I buy one?
No, probably not. I prefer to look at the '70s models or the Broughams. The Town Car, while nice overall, is a second class car to me compared to a Brougham. The Brougham just feels "right" to me. They always have, and they probably always will. Too bad they were underpowered for so long. I like the Town Cars, but if I want to spend some time in one, I'll just use theirs.

Jesda
10-21-10, 01:26 AM
Its funny how manufacturers retain their heritage and character even decades later. Your comparison between the 302 TC and the Brougham 307 and 350 sound similar to what I would say about the 03-06 Navigator vs the 02-06 Escalade. The Navigator had more supportive seats and top-end power and stiffer handling, while the Escalade has softer seats with looser steering and a softer and less stable suspension.

The Navigator was slower off the line while the Escalade hauled ass.

orconn
10-21-10, 01:37 AM
I always thought those '80s Lincoln Town Cars looked like Ford's interpretation of a Wells Fargo stagecoach. I was really happy when the next generation came out, to me it was such an improvement.

Never drove one though, by the 1980's even the old folks, in California, had moved on to foreign cars!

Aron9000
10-21-10, 02:11 AM
I gotta say I like those 80's Town Cars and would snap one up for the right price. However, the dashboard is just a big letdown IMO, it just looks parts bin Ford, like the same dash in a Grand Marquis. I feel the same way about the Mark VII as well. Otherwise I love both of those cars, and Lincoln was building much better cars than Cadillac in the mid-late 80's IMO.

Jesda
10-21-10, 04:11 AM
I'm amazed that you keep finding these clean old cars in the rustiest part of the rust belt.

I~LUV~Caddys8792
10-21-10, 08:33 AM
I'm amazed that you keep finding these clean old cars in the rustiest part of the rust belt.

Brandon has a keen eye for the hidden gems and there are lots of old people around here that are just getting ready to kick the bucket, but they wanna sell their car before they do.

drewsdeville
10-21-10, 10:09 AM
Never hear a panther's handling described as nimble. Hah!

But I guess, like you state, it was probably pretty good for '86. It just became intolerable as the platform went on without updates and consequently a 1996 TC handled just as poorly as a 1986 :annoyed:

Bro-Ham
10-21-10, 10:25 AM
I'm amazed that you keep finding these clean old cars in the rustiest part of the rust belt.

Lots of folks put their good cars away for the winter, just like their boats, so there are, amazingly, many nice vehicles to be found in the north. :)

Night Wolf
10-21-10, 02:28 PM
I like the 80s box Town Cars a lot, the styling is a throwback to the 70s, especially the front end. My grandfather has a black '87 growing up. Personally I prefer the later style "waterfall" grille myself.

Overall, I was really happy with my '96 Town Car Signature Series. There was never an emotional attachment to that car - but I just liked it for what it did. I think the design, both inside and out, was the peak the Town Car ever reached since the 70s and quality took a dump on the latest ones. It was an all around good car that was cheap to maintain and easy to fix. Mine just had every single common, and not so common Panther/Town Car problem - which I fixed, and kept the car in perfect working order.

I had it for about 2yrs and put 27k miles on it... ended up getting full asking price, and making $1,000 from the purchase price - though I put an incredible amount of work into it. Besides the e30 convertible getting an entire overhaul, that car received the most amount of work from me. When I purchased it at 93k for $3500, other than the solid drivetrain, it was mechanically trashed.

I enjoyed driving it - it was bought so I could put 1,000 miles in 3 days on it every other weekend, and that is exactly what I did. I told myself I would keep it if I actually used it and enjoyed it, but when the 325iC was still driving, and I just purchased the Jeep - I wasn't driving the Lincoln, any time I did - I wanted to be in the e30 or Jeep. My taste in cars moved on, but I still respected and enjoyed that car for what it was.

One of the big let downs with that car was the initial purchase. I wanted a marshmellow on a pillow ride, and I was in many '90-'94 TC that rode and felt just like that. The '95-'97 was revised, both seats and suspension. My car didn't float, in fact it rode fairly firm which took a while to get used to - because that isn't what I wanted. It had the "Ride Control Package" which included a thicker front sway bar, stiffer shocks and springs, 16" "slotted" alloys (which I much prefered) and lower profile tires along with true dual exhaust, aux power steering cooler and 3.27 gears between the base 3.08 (IIRC) and tow package 3.55.

All in all - it was a package that could handle quite decent - for what it was... I remember taking it on my favorite driving local driving road and being impressed with how it performed as a car - but it just left me totally bored and wanting more. In comparison my '94 Isuzu Amigo which was much slower and didn't handle as good was very fun to take on that road because of the 5spd.

But for what I purchased the car for - to cover vast amounts of interstate, across states - it did superbly well, and for that particular style of driving, I didn't mind the automatic. Which is why if I am going to get an all out "proper" luxury car with an automatic, then it will be one with focus on comfort and long distance travel - not a hybrid "sport/performance" luxury car. Much like the 80s BMW, it was a very nice blend of old and new technology in a package that was increibly easy to live with day to day.

I met up with Ian and he drove the car for a bit and made a small review on it:

http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums/community-lounge-introductions-general-discussion/170408-mini-test-drive-review-1996-lincoln.html

http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e363/InoventionsEast/Lincoln/misc/8-23-08042.jpg

Taken the day I sold it:

http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e363/InoventionsEast/Lincoln/Final/8-9-09092.jpg

http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e363/InoventionsEast/Lincoln/Final/8-9-09095.jpg

It did make cool sounds

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I really liked the interor, both in style and function, it was superb for long distance highway travel.

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Every known part or problem on those cars, happened to mind. Not knowing - most of the problems were there when I bought it, they were all mechanical problems as the body/paint/overall interior were in incredible condition. There was quite an extensive maintenace log from my ownership.

http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e363/InoventionsEast/Lincoln/misc/4-21-09123.jpg

Early on, the miles were getting put on it like crazy. The car was bought to make the trip down to the Tampa area every other (3-day) weekend as I was still dating my ex-gf. Once we split up the car really didn't have much of a purpose... towards the end I hardly drove the thing, it just sat in the driveway under a car cover.

http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e363/InoventionsEast/Lincoln/misc/4-21-09126.jpg

Every now and then I think about getting another - but then I realize the truth - just like the one I had, after the initial bit, I just wouldn't use the car. I much prefer the open and airy feeling. Most of my trips with the Town Car consisted of windows down and A/C off, but that wasn't the proper way to enjoy that car. Now for long distance travel, I prefer convertibles. Besides that of the '95-'97 Town Cars which were my favorite, 1996 was the year of choice and I'd be hard pressed to find another in as good of condition as mine was in - cosmetically and of course mechanically. I'm sure there is some mint low mileage '96 Cartier out there but not for me.

If I was to get another car of this "type" - it would probably be a '95 Eldorado ETC, a car I've wanted since 2003 when I still had my '93 Coupe DeVille.

Koooop
10-21-10, 04:16 PM
In the OP, that car looks to have very few options for a Signature. Cloth seats, Hub Caps, sans automatic climate control. At a glance it appears to be an Executive, which was a very good handling car from 85 forward. I seem to recall the signature had better suspension than an Executiive among other things.

Whichever series it is, that's a great find on what looks to be a super clean old hoopty! That is the first or second year of the updated fuel injection on the 5.0, the transmission and the suspension was improved as well. It's leaps and bounds better than the 83's or 84's. You can mod that motor if you want, with good shocks, tires and a sway bar it's a very decent car to drive. I think the Signature probably came with a sway bar, 4 wheel disc brakes and a heavy duty alternator back then.

In the second generation, you would intentionally buy a Signature to get away from the traditional Lincoln ride. The signature evolved into the sport model if you will.

Is the passenger seat power or manual?

drewsdeville
10-21-10, 04:43 PM
Hahaha nice lengthy list Rick.

How was replacing that heater core? It's a bear on the panthers, not a fan of the job myself. Nothing like completely removing the whole dashboard in your car to replace a $30 heater core.

I don't see any mention of replacing the intake manifold or timing chain tensioners on that car, the engines biggest flaws (though I do see the water pipe under the intake...who's the @$$ that designed that, hey?). Looks like you got off easy in that respect.

BTW, if I remember correctly, the panthers suspension didn't get a significant update till '98 when watts linkage was introduced. Before that, I don't there hadn't been updates since the beginning, 1979.

gdwriter
10-21-10, 04:51 PM
As I think I mentioned in another thread where this car showed up, the seats look divinely comfortable. But I'd hate looking at that dash all the time. Fugly.

My ex-mother-in-law had a '90 Town Car (Executive Series IIRC) that I drove a couple of times, including 100-mile road trips from their house in Boring (I'm not kidding) SE of Portland to Corvallis. I was surprised that it wasn't too clumsy on winding two-lane highways, but it also didn't have that riding-on-a-cloud feeling I would have expected (and wanted) in a Town Car. This was the last year of the 150-hp 5.0, and it was only adequate at moving the car with any alacrity. A 4.9 DeVille would easily outrun it.

I~LUV~Caddys8792
10-21-10, 09:29 PM
In the OP, that car looks to have very few options for a Signature. Cloth seats, Hub Caps, sans automatic climate control. At a glance it appears to be an Executive, which was a very good handling car from 85 forward. I seem to recall the signature had better suspension than an Executiive among other things.

Whichever series it is, that's a great find on what looks to be a super clean old hoopty! That is the first or second year of the updated fuel injection on the 5.0, the transmission and the suspension was improved as well. It's leaps and bounds better than the 83's or 84's. You can mod that motor if you want, with good shocks, tires and a sway bar it's a very decent car to drive. I think the Signature probably came with a sway bar, 4 wheel disc brakes and a heavy duty alternator back then.

In the second generation, you would intentionally buy a Signature to get away from the traditional Lincoln ride. The signature evolved into the sport model if you will.

Is the passenger seat power or manual?

On top of the base Town Car, the Signature Series had:
Different, softer, deeper seats with map pockets
luxury, half vinyl roof with frenched rear window
wide, bright lower bodyside molding
headlamp convinence system
keyless entry system & illuminated entry
wire wheel covers
power trunklid pulldown
six way power passenger seat
articulated front headrests
AM/FM stereo, electronic search, cassette, premium sound, six speakers
thicker, softer carpeting
dual illuminated visor mirrors
full size spare
front and rear floor mats.

No mention of a different suspension, and the 302 went from TBI to MPFI in '86. 130hp -> 150.

Night Wolf
10-22-10, 02:54 AM
Hahaha nice lengthy list Rick.

How was replacing that heater core? It's a bear on the panthers, not a fan of the job myself. Nothing like completely removing the whole dashboard in your car to replace a $30 heater core.

I don't see any mention of replacing the intake manifold or timing chain tensioners on that car, the engines biggest flaws (though I do see the water pipe under the intake...who's the @$$ that designed that, hey?). Looks like you got off easy in that respect.

BTW, if I remember correctly, the panthers suspension didn't get a significant update till '98 when watts linkage was introduced. Before that, I don't there hadn't been updates since the beginning, 1979.

The first dash removeal sucked, the second time it was frustrating to do over, the 3rd I was so familer with it I could get it done quick.

When I test drove the car, it was a hot ~95* Summer day in Tampa Bay, Florida. I was checking if the A/C worked - not the heat. Now that I am quite familer with all the problems of the cars - I know to check the heat. Anyway, the A/C cranked out cold air so all was well.

It wasn't until the following night it cooled down and I turned the temp up, and it stayed full cold. The Blend Door Actuator was broke and someone manually pushed it to max cold.

So once I got back home, I bought a new one and at the time, it was my only driving vehicle - as I drove the Isuzu to Florida and left it at my (ex)-gf parents house to pick up on a return trip (worked for airlines and flew for free). After reading up, I told myself I should replace the heater core, but it was late and I needed to drive to work the next morning, so I said to heck with it and put it back together.

I was quite excited to first change the temp and have a working BDA... which quickly turned to quite pissed to have the windshield fog over and smell coolant as soon as the door moved to heat - trashed heater core.

So, I went to O'Riley auto parts and bought a new one, IIRC $35.... soo.... dash comes out again and I replace the heater core, get it all back together and I now have heat! Well, for a week and a half.... On the following trip down to Tampa it was a cool night and I'm relaxing with the girl in the car when - BAM! more fog and the sweet smell of glycol... I was pissed the POS heater core failed but it was my fault for using a POS part. Once I get back home I order a Motorcraft heater core from Ford for $75 or so and return the POS thing to O'Rileys. I was then reading that due to the design of the cooling system, too much pressure was ran through the core and killing them, and that for a while Ford made a restrictor to cut down pressure. Well not dealing with this again I used my own restrictor, a (5/16"? don't remember now) washer on the inlet side of the heater core. After that I never had a problem again.

This was time 1 of 3, I got it down to just a couple hours. Once the location of the various bolts/screws is known and the correct assorment of tools are used, it really wasn't that bad.

http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e363/InoventionsEast/Lincoln/4-16-07/PDR_1029.jpg



The upper drivers door hinge bushings were shot (only vehicle I ever owned with bad door hinges) so I first bought a brand new entire hinge from Ford for around $100. This also required dash removeal and when I had the dash pulled back, I couldn't figure out where the bolts were. I ended up returning the hinge minus restocking fee and it turns out an F-150 bushing kit from the HELP section works perfect, but required purchase of a dremel with small cut off wheel to cut the currnt hinge pin in half to remove.

Intake manifold - is one of the things I knew about before hand and learned to check - for the aluminum corssover. I did, and the car already had the updated crossover. I also knew to check the rear air springs, as those are the two commonly known "OH NOES!!!!!" Town Car problems... the rest? Who knew! It's also interesting to note that of all the main TC problems, the two most well known - intake and air springs and also of the most easy and cheapest to replace - go figure.

The under intake manifold hose did start to leak at the end - and yes, it was a stupid design. I was going to swap in a PI intake but it required its own under IM hose and it was after 30 days for me to return that one to Ford, so I just left it.

At 93k, the ENTIRE front end was trashed.... I mean ball joints were literally clunking around from excessive gaps, idler arm was trashed, lower control arm bushings totally shot, tie rod boots torn... I replaced it all - piece by piece chasing one squeek or alignment problem after another. At the end, the only stock parts were the pitman arm and upper control arm bushings, which were worn, but not trashed yet. That is what really made me learn that when it is time for more than 2 components of the front end to be replaced - do it all at the same time. In the case of the 528e, I can tell some bushings were replaced in the past and the rest, though torn boots, are still still - and it was just the one ball joint on the drag link that was trashed, so that is all I replaced.

Then all 4 power window motors - Ford used plastic nylon "plugs" between the motor and regulator which get trashed. 1 at a time failed and I replaced 1 at a time (needing to drill out the pop rivets holding the motors to the door) with HELP! replacement nylon plugs. These all lasted 1 week until, 1 at a time, those new plugs were ate up. To finally fit it, a double stack of 1/4" (IIRC) nuts fit perfectly in place of the plugs and never broke again.

Night Wolf
10-22-10, 02:56 AM
In the OP, that car looks to have very few options for a Signature. Cloth seats, Hub Caps, sans automatic climate control. At a glance it appears to be an Executive, which was a very good handling car from 85 forward. I seem to recall the signature had better suspension than an Executiive among other things.

Whichever series it is, that's a great find on what looks to be a super clean old hoopty! That is the first or second year of the updated fuel injection on the 5.0, the transmission and the suspension was improved as well. It's leaps and bounds better than the 83's or 84's. You can mod that motor if you want, with good shocks, tires and a sway bar it's a very decent car to drive. I think the Signature probably came with a sway bar, 4 wheel disc brakes and a heavy duty alternator back then.

In the second generation, you would intentionally buy a Signature to get away from the traditional Lincoln ride. The signature evolved into the sport model if you will.

Is the passenger seat power or manual?

That car does have automatic climate control. If you look on the temp slider, there are numbers in deg F for temp selection and on the fan speed switch the lowest position is outlined in white and says "auto"


No mention of a different suspension, and the 302 went from TBI to MPFI in '86. 130hp -> 150.

lol, prior to '86 Ford managed to get 9hp more from a 5.0 V8 than BMW with a 2.7 I6...

I~LUV~Caddys8792
10-22-10, 08:33 AM
And nine more horsepower you had the TBI 351 in 1980.