Home » So This Is Why There Were All Those Ford LTD IIs Left In Remote Fields: Cold Start

So This Is Why There Were All Those Ford LTD IIs Left In Remote Fields: Cold Start

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There’s a conceit in a lot of car brochures that I’ve always liked, because it’s nice and absurd and the amount of relatability it has to 99% of the people likely to buy these cars has to be about zero. It’s when the car is shown as the vehicle used to take people to some form of aircraft, often just waiting for them in a lovely and remote landscape somewhere. This 1977 Ford LTD II brochure has two of these scenes, which makes me especially thrilled. I’m sure plenty of LTD II buyers just got their cars as a way to get to their airplanes and helicopters which they kept in remote fields.

Look at that top picture up there: there’s two small planes, out there in some verdant hills, seemingly miles from any civilization. What’s going on there? Why are they meeting those planes somewhere so remote? Is this some spy shit? If they’re taking off, are they just leaving that LTD II in that random-ass field? Are they coming back for it? Will they remember where they put it?

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Here’s one with a helicopter. Are they all getting in? Did the guy just land, or is he taking off? Is that a little helipad there? Do the kids just wait in the car for when mommy and daddy get back from the skies, or are they getting crammed into that fishbowl of a helicopter, too?

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The LTD II was from that era where one car model had multiple body styles, something rarely seen today. There’s an interesting choice going on here with the two-door variations. We have a sedan, a wagon, and two coupé-like options, with the only difference seeming to be the addition of an opera window and some roof vinyl, making it a Brougham.

Also, it’s worth pointing out the sort of interior options the LTD II offered, because they are absolutely spectacular:

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Maybe the reason cars come in so few real colors today is because we greedily used them all up in the 1970s? Someone should look into that.

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Dan Roth
Dan Roth
4 months ago

Photos are probably from Boulevard Photographic, and the two guys who owned it loved planes and boats and made them backdrops of their art direction

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago

“Did the guy just land, or is he taking off? Is that a little helipad there? Do the kids just wait in the car for when mommy and daddy get back from the skies, or are they getting crammed into that fishbowl of a helicopter, too?”

Thats… not mommy!

MikuhlBrian
MikuhlBrian
4 months ago

The photos of these LTD IIs were shot at the Warner Springs airport in Warner Springs, CA (east of San Diego)

Ford’s marketing department (or whatever company they have hired to shoot the publicity photos) really loves San Diego and the surrounding area (current Maverick publicity photos are shot in front of the downtown San Diego skyline).

A while back I was browsing old brochures of the Mustang II. This image of a Mustang II Ghia in front of a glider (https://xr793.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/1977-Ford-Mustang-II-V2.pdf Page 6) looked like an awfully familiar location. The moutains and the shubery are distinctly Southern California, and there is an airport out in Warner Springs (mountains east of San Diego) where you can go on glider rides. We had my MIL go on one for a birthday present one year. Checking out the location on google earth, the location matches up to the mountains in the distance.

Any time there is a 70s/80s Ford near an airplane in the mountains, pretty sure that it is shot at the Warner Springs airport. Additionally, this shot (https://xr793.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/1976-Ford-Mustang-II-V1.pdf cover shot) is at the same Warner Springs airport, the row of trees still separates the airport from the road that runs parallel to the runway.

Many other shots out in the desert as well are shot out in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, just east of San Diego.

Iwannadrive637
Iwannadrive637
4 months ago

Did you read the small print? It’s not a seat, it’s an “All Vinyl Flight Bench!” It belongs with all the other aircraft.

ProudLuddite
ProudLuddite
4 months ago

“Maybe the reason cars come in so few real colors today is because we greedily used them all in the 1970s?”

COTD

Christopher Warren
Christopher Warren
4 months ago

Hmmm, the 77 assembly lines must have been interesting to manage, with the station wagon still using the 72-76 Torino body/doors from the windshield back with a minor change in the deletion of the coke bottle bulge of the upper rear quarter panel. Probably why it’s partially covered up by the updated LTD II coupes and sedan.

FleetwoodBro
FleetwoodBro
4 months ago

I’m almost 100% sure the LTD II wasn’t a good car, but I’m also almost 100% sure that if I could time travel I would buy, among other more appealing things, an LTD II coupe with a 351 V8 in green (with the white half vinyl roof) over green cloth interior. I would smoke menthol cigarettes in it while I drove it to San Francisco to see friends and get drunk. The seventies are underappreciated.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
4 months ago
Reply to  FleetwoodBro

Green over green demands absinthe with your newports.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago

“absinthe with your newports.”

And that kids is how you started a Disco Inferno.

Last edited 4 months ago by Cheap Bastard
TheHairyNug
TheHairyNug
4 months ago

I’d love a feature devoted to figuring out which 70s land yacht reached Peak Velour. Information on all the interior options isn’t trivial to dig up, and very few of them have survived

Maymar
Maymar
4 months ago

I know Torch has written about cars that have the face of another car before – this seems reminiscent of when my face is squished in a helmet, but instead it’s the face of a ’79 Ford Granada. It’s either that, or the Granada doing its best Jack Torrance.

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
4 months ago

Remind me to show you the 1973 Chrysler brochure I have sometime. There’s falconry in it.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
4 months ago
Reply to  Mark Tucker

No falcon way!

Maymar
Maymar
4 months ago
Reply to  Mark Tucker

Ford gave up in Falconry by the end of 1970, which must be why there’s none hers.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
4 months ago

It should also be noted that the LTD II is basically an updated Ford Gran Torino.

Geoffrey Reuther
Geoffrey Reuther
4 months ago

I’m sorry, I wasn’t paying attention, I was just looking at all the interior options and colors, and dreaming of days that aren’t so… beige.

Opa Carriker
Opa Carriker
4 months ago

As the occasional curmudgeon in your remarks sections, I will point out the obvious. There is only one airplane present. The other is a glider. This means it needs lots of space to get both airborn. Dad is has parked his LTD next to the runway to await his return from his relaxiing quiet flight.

In the case of the helicopter, we again find Dad being dropped off for his fllight to his business far away in Silicon Valley, after which Mom and the kids will return to their Edwardian style country home to await his return.

As to the dearth of 70’s colors, again quite simple. They weren’t color fast and have simply faded into the bland pastels and washes of today’s cars.

I realize that trying to find logical reasoned responses to a ‘Torch fashioned post is both hopeless and pointless.

Color me irrelevant and gone.

Beached Wail
Beached Wail
4 months ago

It’s nice to see Brenda getting the usual quick smooch from her traffic reporter beau. “Sorry babe, gotta run. My next report’s at 5:38, so we only have…6 minutes. And stop calling it premature aviation!”

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
4 months ago
Reply to  Beached Wail

“And I still need to boink Buffy the weather girl before my report airs”.

Deathspeed
Deathspeed
4 months ago

Ya gotta swap the positions of the high and low beam headlights to be in the 1986 cool kids club. And don’t forget to not adjust the headlamp alignment so you blind your classmates while riding around.

UnseenCat
UnseenCat
4 months ago

Ford, and Ford’s namesake-brand fullsize cars, had an aircraft theme going on in the advertising in 1977. The Thunderbird’s TV ads and brochure were completely steeped in it, to the point of picturing the T-Bird on a taxiway (with its moody-looking mandatory blue lights).

I’ve started to wonder if it all wasn’t a clever way to hide the very specific failing of Ford’s cars, which under the slightly shortened frames and sheetmetal with slightly sharper creases, were still just another iteration of the platforms that Ford had been building since the 1960s. Platforms which underpinned nice-looking cars, but ones in which Ford had really never paid any attention to ergonomics.

While GM had been trickling-down at least the driver’s half of the Corvette’s classic side-by-side cockpits style into multiple iterations of a “driver-centered” dashboard where the controls were within (relatively) easy reach on an instrument panel that often formed a slight arc within the driver’s position, Ford was using and re-using and re-skinning a broad, flat instrument panel that extended low down in front of the driver’s knees — and spread the controls all over those acres of wide, flat real estate. Reaching anything other than the turn signal lever, the shifter, or the ignition key required either extremely long arms or leaning forward, and possibly to one side or the other, unless you ran the seat way up and squashed yourself behind the wheel. The design was lovely to look at, but ergonomically bad.

You know what else at the time had broad, flat expanses of instrument panel, that often required re-adjusting one’s seating position in order to reach all but the most essential controls? Airplanes. Go look at pictures of inside a typical airplane of the era and you’ll find a big, flat instrument panel. Primary instruments are right in front of the pilot’s visual range, and primary controls are close-to-hand just like in a car, but it ends there. Radio stack and auxiliary instruments are scattered about wherever they fit, and often require the pilot to lean forward and over to get to. Ergonomics were coming to aircraft more and more, but it would be a while before it was really common. Aircraft cockpits in the popular imagination were big, flat expanses of round gauges and dials and all manner of impressively technical-looking stuff.

And that was pretty much the effect of Ford’s dashboard designs in the 1970s as well. GM was pushing ergonomic superiority, and Ford’s entrenched platform couldn’t deliver — but maybe they could style it and spin it as high-tech and aircraft-like in advertising! And so we got these sometimes-odd juxtapositions of Fords and aviation scenes.

At least that’s what my observations lead me to conclude.

Somewhat ironically, Ford had a claim to a legend of aviation — the Ford Tri-Motor airplane which was a cutting-edge advancement in commercial aviation in the 1930s. But it was unlikely that the all-over corrugated-stainless “Tin Goose” was going to be perceived as “advanced” enough to associate with the newest, sleekest car lines of 1977.

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
4 months ago
Reply to  UnseenCat

The other connection which full sized Ford products of this generation had to aviation, was their handling at speed on interstate elevation changes. The softly sprung suspensions and huge masses made them want to get airborn if you hit undulations too fast. Slick vinyl bench seats in the wagons made it trivial to get your date to ‘come on over’. Hit a couple whoops, and make a sharp turn into the right lane. Presto!

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
4 months ago
Reply to  UnseenCat

It’s interesting that you have a particular beef with the ergonomics of these cars, because for me it’s quite the opposite – my ’78 Cougar is about the most comfortable and intuitive to operate* car that I’ve ever owned. Which is even more remarkable when you consider that there were many fewer adjustments available compared to modern cars. The split bench seats go forward and backwards, that’s it. No height control, the rake of the seat back isn’t even adjustable. The steering wheel tilts, no telescope. But they don’t need to be – they’re just set right from the factory. This could be a pure coincidence that my body just happens to be the right size for the car, but I kind of doubt it: I’m a big guy, I wouldn’t fall into the 70’s ’90th percentile male’ that they would have designed for. Nonetheless, I find the driving ergonomics of the car perfect – especially the relationship between seat height, windowsill height (and shape) and steering wheel size/position that allowed for hours and hours of ‘elbow on the door, one hand on the wheel’ cruising without any fatigue at all. In that position the turn signal stalk is in perfect finger-reach when driving anything near straight, and the steel stalk and positive turn signal switch haptics make it effortless to push it just shy of the detent to signal lane changes without accidentally turning them all the way on. The cruise control switches are on the steering wheel, ‘on/off’ on one side and ‘coast/set/accel’ on the other – no fumbling with a stalk you can’t see. Headlight switch and HVAC controls are an easy left-hand reach ahead to the dash. High beam switch on the floor means you don’t have to reach at all for the one headlight control you might need to manipulate frequently. Radio and wiper controls on the right. My car wasn’t optioned with intermittent wipers, which is a feature I would have liked to have on misty days. My car is a column shift / split bench car, it doesn’t have the center console, and I love it – the transmission hump isn’t very intrusive, and I can stick my right foot clear over into the passenger footwell if I want to stretch out on a long drive. You can also drive the Cougar at more or less any speed with the windows down and not blow your eardrums out, unlike modern vehicles.
There are plenty of things that you could legitimately find at fault with these cars, but ergonomics isn’t one of them, IMO. Modern car designers could study these cars and learn a thing or two on how to improve their products. When cars were more basic they had to get those basics right, or get out-competed. Now companies seem to just go “look, more big screens! #lifestyle” and call it a day.

*Obvious caveat is that you need to understand how to operate a carbureted car – two pumps of the accelerator before turning the key, let it idle for a little while to warm up and then kick it off the high idle cam, etc… Otherwise anyone can get in, put it in ‘D’, and drive away with no confusion whatever.

Freelivin1327
Freelivin1327
4 months ago
Reply to  UnseenCat

Great comment and interesting points…
(I never thought about that connection to airplanes!)

Just have to add the joke: “Good thing Ford never made airplanes” which I didn’t even know that they ACTUALLY did til’ like a year ago or whenever it was that Mercedes did an article w/ that tidbit in it…it’s really interesting though because it’s part of history…one of the most fascinating parts of car connections history to me is Nash/Kelvinator and how they started out making fridges too
-Now also adding that I just learned that they also made aeronautic components! (So now we’ve really gone full circle)

“The company manufactured cars and refrigerators as well as aeronautic components and helicopters during World War II.”

Last edited 4 months ago by Freelivin1327
Jack Trade
Jack Trade
4 months ago

One of my favorite, slightly less implausible, ad conceits is the scuba diving one.

There’s no 60s or 70s car (almost never a truck) that can’t be driven to a marina, out on a dock, or on a beach so that purposeful-looking people in wet suits can fiddle with tanks and/or hold a spear gun.

Last edited 4 months ago by Jack Trade
Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
4 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

So you’ve seen the 1972 Mercury full line brochure!
There’s the lady who does her abstract painting outdoors in the golden hills of California – right behind her new Monterey Custom 4 door Hardtop!
The other interesting ones are the two handsome hunters who drove their new Cougar hardtop into a heathered clearing near a stream…
…and the two handsome men with their hunting dogs in the field next to their new Monterey two door hardtop
…one wonders what these men were hunting for that day? Each other?
Because they’re nowhere near the beach with the girl and her pet cougar that tends to enjoy lounging on top of her new Cougar XR-7.
Oh – and that glider? The young couple with the Montego GT found it just lying there in a field.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
4 months ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

Man, now I really miss Mercury. Its aspirational but achievable, kinda upper-middle-class mojo made me imagine I too could one day have a basement with wood paneled walls and a wet bar.

The hunting conceit is one we’ll never see again, that’s for sure.

ProudLuddite
ProudLuddite
4 months ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

All that adventure without a single SUV in sight!

LTDScott
LTDScott
4 months ago

As a nerd for the Fox-chassis midsize 1983-1986 Ford LTD (hence my handle), I really wish these actual LTD IIs never existed, because soooo many people incorrectly call the Fox cars “LTD II.” It’s such a common thing online that I have a photo of an actual 1977-1979 LTD II on my phone just to make my point.

Last edited 4 months ago by LTDScott
Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
4 months ago
Reply to  LTDScott

But what would Ford have called the 1977-79 intermediates?
Because LTD was already taken
And Torino was so … downmarket.

Maymar
Maymar
4 months ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

In honour of their size and handling, the LTD Queen Mary.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
4 months ago
Reply to  Maymar

Meh.
Normandie had better food, service and decor.

Maymar
Maymar
4 months ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

I just figured if they were about to go royal and dust off Crown Victoria, to stick with the royalty thing.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
4 months ago
Reply to  Maymar

Berengaria has a nice ring to it.

Marathag
Marathag
4 months ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

Stayed with Elite

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
4 months ago
Reply to  Marathag

That certainly fit w/ the era – and was exactly what Mercury did with extending their Cougar line (Elite being Ford’s version of the 74-76 Mercury Cougar)

Trust Doesn't Rust
Trust Doesn't Rust
4 months ago

I think I’m starting to connect the dots. Brand new cars were driven to a location and just left abandoned. LTD’s were left in fields; Volvo’s were left in photography studios, sometimes with dogs still inside!

Boomers and the Silent Generation couldn’t be bothered to use things more than once. That reeks of communism! Show those reds who’s boss by leaving perfectly mediocre brand new cars to rust in nature.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
4 months ago

There were more than a few Volvo wagons left in the lobbies of IKEAs – loaded with flat pak furniture and small sofas.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago

I tell ya the ashtray was FULL and the warranty didn’t cover it! What was I supposed to do?

Duke of Kent
Duke of Kent
4 months ago

Man, the ’70s were a weird time. The cars were SO BIG yet made so little power.

I recognize that the restricted power was due to new-at the time regulations, and it makes me wonder if history might repeat itself (or at least “rhyme”). In 50 years, might we be looking back at 2020s electric cars and asking: “How were they able to wring so little range out of cars back then?!”

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
4 months ago
Reply to  Duke of Kent

People talk horsepower – but drive torque.
And American cars with their big engines – even detuned – had torque in abundance.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
4 months ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

I’m going to steal that line, it’s so good.

This is why even into the ’90s, this stuff sold…and with short gearing that gave you all whatever power you had right off the line, it would sell even the most otherwise terrible GM products.

AverageCupOfTea
AverageCupOfTea
4 months ago

Ford Pinto comes in 36 colors as i remember, compare that to the few colors some cars have, they are black and white and few shades of gray, the colors are gone for the sake of efficiency, also look at the interior colors.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
4 months ago

My Cougar is a platform-mate of the LTD II. I’d love to find one of the base hardtop coupes, since they’re shorn of all the 70’s brougham frippery and actually shows the clean and handsome body lines these cars have, but I have literally never set eyes on one in my life, on the road, in a show, in a for sale listing, or in a junkyard – and I’ve looked.
According to Wikipedia they sold ~200,000 of the 2-door cars from 1977-79, but I don’t know how many of them were the base cars without the opera windows. Compare that to almost 600,000 Cougars and nearly a *million* Thunderbirds sold over the same time period. To say the late 70’s was a totally different car market from today is an understatement…

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
4 months ago

They appear with aircraft in remote locations because there’s a drug deal going down. I believe LTD stands for Let’s Transport Drugs.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
4 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Speaking for a “friend” here.
This is the correct answer.

“I’ll take invisible drug smuggling cars for 400 Alex.”

BTW, Lyle, you still owe me for the two crashed Cessnas.

Last edited 4 months ago by Col Lingus
Pete Landi
Pete Landi
4 months ago

Regarding the two planes, one appears to be a glider, which would make the other a tow plane. So I’m reasonably sure that in this instance they’ll return to the same field in which they parked the LTD.

Chronometric
Chronometric
4 months ago
Reply to  Pete Landi

Correct. If you look very carefully you can see the tow cable between the two aircraft.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
4 months ago
Reply to  Pete Landi

 So I’m reasonably sure that in this instance they’ll return to the same field in which they parked the LTD.”

Nope – the glider landed back in 1972 behind the Mercury Montego GT.
*time travel*

NewBalanceExtraWide
NewBalanceExtraWide
4 months ago

That first one is a plane and a glider, which is actually really fun- the plane is about to tow the glider into the sky to release it. It does not look like a really well performing glider, unfortunately.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
4 months ago

It’s like he’s never seen the Thomas Crown Affair, where this exact (more or less) situation played out. Though I think McQueen’s ladyfriend was driving a Cadillac convertible, but still…

Chronometric
Chronometric
4 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

Torch channeling his inner Tracy.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
4 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

Yes – She was out driving in the field in her Cadillac to pick him up in the first “Affair”
The second “Affair” the lady was in the glider with him – and they were picked up by a farmer with his cow.

OverlandingSprinter
OverlandingSprinter
4 months ago

Common for gliders to have incomplete landing gear for drag-reduction purposes. Wing walker(s) will steady a glider until the tow craft gets underway, and while the glider is “taxiing.”

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago

“It does not look like a really well performing glider, unfortunately.”

So just like that LTD then.

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