Home » 1995 Town Car Limo or 1988 Chevy Sprint Turbo – Which Odbball Basket Case Would You Save?

1995 Town Car Limo or 1988 Chevy Sprint Turbo – Which Odbball Basket Case Would You Save?


Hello, and welcome once again to Shitbox Showdown! I’m back at the helm at the usual time, after a whirlwind trip to the Midwest. My beautiful, brilliant wife now holds a Masters degree from Purdue, and I spent the weekend wrecking the average MPG readout of my mother-in-law’s Subaru Forester (it went from 41.5 mpg down to 39.2 under my heavy right foot).

But we’re not here to talk about any of that; we’re here to talk about crappy old cars. Let’s see what you thought about yesterday’s rustbuckets:

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The Safari is the less scary of the two to most people. I’m still not sure it’s any less rusty; I worry about what’s under those Pep Boys bottom door trims.

It feels like another Odd Couple day, so let’s take a look at a pair of derelict hulks, one of which is half the length of the other. But it comes with a parts car, so they even out. Here they are. I stuck close to home today, because when you’ve been traveling, there’s no place like it.

1995 Lincoln Town Car stretch limousine – $995

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Engine/drivetrain: 4.6 liter V8, 4 speed automatic, RWD

Location: Portland, OR

Odometer reading: 100,000 miles

Runs/drives? “Beautifully,” but read the fine print

Take a Lincoln Town Car, chop it in half between the doors, add in a section to the middle, plop in a mini-bar and some cool lights, and fill it with drunken bridesmaids or high school kids on their way to prom. It’s a simple business plan, but it seems to work.

But what happens to a stretch limo after its working days are over? Who wants to drive around in something with the tuning raidus of a battleship, filled with the ghosts of a thousand bachelorette parties past? Even worse, what happens to one that gets trashed on the inside, but still runs fine?

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From the looks of it, it gets parked in somebody’s scruffy backyard along with a lot of other junk vehicles. This poor Lincoln Town Car apparently suffered a fire inside the passenger compartment, and was “badly damaged,” but the seller hasn’t included any photos to show just what we’re dealing with.

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The seller does say that you can drive it home, but then what? Where are you going to park it, if you don’t have a huge scruffy backyard of your own? And sure, the Ford Panther chassis on which the Town Car is based is legendary for reliability and toughness, but does that include one that has an extra five or six feet of scorched wasteland between the axles? What, to put it bluntly, the hell is someone going to do with this thing?

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I leave that up to you, Autopians. Tell me in the comments what you’d use an old limo for after you clear out the burned upholstery and crispy carpets.

But first, take a gander at this fun-size project:

1988 Chevrolet Sprint Turbo – $1,500

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Engine/drivetrain: 1.0 liter turbocharged inline 3, 5 speed manual, FWD

Location: Portland, OR

Odometer reading: 62,000 miles

Runs/drives? Runs but not drivable, no specifics given

The Chevy Sprint is a car already known to Autopians from Jason’s deep-dive into its bizarre hood release design. Yes, you push down on that little black rectangle to open the hood, after pulling the inside T-handle. It was immense fun to watch my fellow mechanics who weren’t familiar with it struggle to open the hoods of Sprints when I worked in a garage. But it’s what’s under the hood of this particular Sprint that makes it intriguing:

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Yep, that little 993cc three is turbocharged, intercooled, fuel-injected, and good for 79 horsepower instead of 48. Still not a ton of power, but it’s not a ton of car either. Literally; the Sprint’s curb weight is around 1500 pounds.

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The seller says he has gotten the Sprint to start and run, but it isn’t driveable; my guess is that it’s been parked for a very long time, and still needs some other systems gone through. You can probably count on having to replace everything made of rubber that holds liquid before you even think of moving this car under its own power.

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Like the limo, this interior is trashed, but at least we get a photo of it. This one is easy, though: gut it, pop in a racing seat, weld in a cage, and go have some fun with it. Those quarter-inch-thick door cards aren’t providing any sound deadening in this thing anyway, so why bother trying to find new ones?

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The sale also includes a second Sprint Turbo for parts. Not many details are given about the parts car, but it looks like the drivetrain is there, so at least you have a spare engine and gearbox to work with. Most of the glass is intact too, which is nice to have for a rare car.

So that’s what I found for us today. A stretch limo that runs fine but needs a whole new interior and purpose in life, or a turbocharged roller skate that needs damn near everything but comes with a spare of most things. Which lost cause are you willing to take on?

Quiz maker

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61 Responses

  1. I simply don’t understand the thought process. What to do with the limo? It runs and drives and is probably structurally sound. Use your imagination! All that room… do whatever you want! Turn it into a mother-in-law apartment! I like John Beef’s band van idea a whole lot! Turn it into a rolling pizza restaurant. (Okay, that’s probably how the fire started.)

    But spending all the time, money, and effort to restore a tiny Suzuki economy car in hopes that a couple heads might turn at cars and coffee? Who’s gonna look twice? It’s a Bic lighter of a car; when it runs out of fuel, you throw it away. It was $7700 brand new; apparently each example here is worth 1/10 of that, not even adjusting for inflation.

    I’m glad somebody wants those two Sprints, and I’m equally glad it ain’t me.

  2. I’ll take both!

    The limo will be my Family Truckster, with enough space inside to keep my myriad of children from fighting by keeping them separated. I might be able to afford gas for the Sprint so that will be my commuter.

    Big plus that when I get totally boned in my upcoming divorce, the limo can become my new home!

  3. In front of you there is a burnt-out shell that would be nothing but a useless headache even if it were in perfect condition, and a project that after god knows how much time and work and salvaging and money and could be restored into… a worthless ’80s econo-hatch. You have a gun with just one bullet. Which car do you shoot out of sheer disgust?

  4. I had a hard time on this. Part out and scrap the limo vs one and a half sprint turbos… Once I thought about not fixing up, but rather further destroying the Sprint(s) via the rallycross method the grin resolved my preference.

  5. I’d only eye up that limo because that’s a serious amount of roof for hauling a family’s worth of kayaks. Otherwise, small cars are home. I’d take the Sprint if I had the mechanical capability.

  6. Where is the voting button for: “They are both pieces of shit only fit to become coke cans and I would not want either soiling my driveway?”

  7. I like the Sprint-and-a-half, even with its goofy hood latch, but part of me *wants* a running, driving limousine that’s not rotten in half nor – hopefully – potential evidence in a murder trial.

    A decade ago, I had a coworker named Fred. Fred was a custom-van guy from back in the ’70s, and a real character in general. For a week or so, he rocked up in a rough-but-decent ’80s Town Car limo – I believe a buddy of his was trying to sell it for a grand or so and Fred was keeping the fluids circulating.

    Early 20s me would’ve somehow gotten arrested with that thing, so it’s a good thing I stuck with my $200 Volvo 745T until it blew up and I promptly lost that (just-over-minimum-wage) job.

    Anyway, the Lincoln’s a steal, running, driving, and likely stopping, whether per foot or per pound.

  8. Sprint all day on this one….

    I’m the weirdo, restore it to stock! And be proud of it.

    I’d make do with some type of door cards and other knick-knacks.

    As I grew up in Portland, I understand the weird behind the Lincoln only too well.

  9. I’ll tell you what to do with the limo. Got to a junkyard and pick up a second 4.6 L Ford V8, weld it to the V8 from the limo, and put your new V16 behind the driver’s seat. Mid-engined V16 Lincoln!!! Profits from the youtube video alone will make you a billionaire!

  10. The Lincoln is a body on frame platform. With some cutting, welding and a beefed up suspension you’d have one hell of a long bed….

  11. Turbo Sprint in running condition unworthy to restore to new = SAFARI Turbo Sprint.

    And then for fun, and because you have a matching spare, try a dual engine 4×4 offroad SAFARI Turbo Sprint by putting the second engine in the back driving the rear wheels.

    If that doesn’t work, there’s always LeMons racing.

    Use the two powertrains and miscellaneous parts to make an awesome hovercraft.

    Or put paddle tires huge enough to provide floatation and do a sand car that can drive across a water surface like an insect.

    The Sprint deal has plenty of potential, but none of it involves ending with an ordinary Chevy Turbo Sprint.

  12. I knew a fairly large family who opted for carting the family around in a stretched limo like this as opposed to a minivan/van. They were weird and looked even weirder in the outdated vehicle. So, I couldn’t even imagine this vehicle has any use unless someone needed the parts.
    The Sprint looks like a lot of fun and with spare parts to boot.

  13. I would much rather live with the Sprint, but what if #vanlife became #limolife? Think about how easy a full length bed would be in there, no more worries about high winds pushing you around, and its much easier to access roof storage now!

  14. I’ll take the Chevy, and admit that I wanted one when they were new. I checked one out at the local Chevy dealership and in typical domestic salesman fashion of the time, he knew precisely jack squat about the car. I finally gave up and left when he kicked the car out of disgust after repeatedly failing to open the hood, and I suggested he actually read the owner’s manual. Oh well, I suppose 3-hole tiny turbo ownership wasn’t in the cards for me then- or now.

  15. I already knew this site was special, and have wondered how the commentariat would shape up. Now I know: you people are nuts! Like, inventively demented (or vice-versa). So many great (foolish) ideas.

    I am home

  16. I voted Sprint Turbo because I have fond memories of dinky 1980s buzz bombs and limos don’t interest me. I sent the listing to my son sine he lives in Hillsboro and has a huge garage and a landlord almost as laissez-faire as David Tracy’s, plus he’s almost done with his Suburban’s suspension and needs a new time sink

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