The Guilty Pleasure Cruise
As many of you already know, in my personal opinion, the Toyota Avalon is the best car to hail in New York City. However, I am here to tell you that this was a lie. I have recently come to terms with certain feelings I have for a particular car, and I am ready to tell the truth. This particular car is one that on paper, is not really special, but in reality is quite special and rare. This rarity made me realize that the feelings I have for this car are not unjust. I get an excited feeling when this car rolls up to pick me up. Not quite the excitement that a pubescent teenage boy gets when his high school crush acknowledges his existence, but one more similar to meeting your favorite band backstage at a concert. A feeling that the Toyota Avalon could never make me feel. I would even go as far to say that this car is like a Rolls Royce compared to the Avalon. Have I built up your anticipation enough? Well, I hope I do not disappoint you when I tell you that the car that makes me feel so special is none other than the Lincoln Town Car.
Yes, you read that right, the Lincoln Town Car. The name of the car alone yields you to yawn and fall asleep, right? However, that is kind of the point, and the reason why this car is so great and under appreciated. Let me explain. The Lincoln Town Car was designed to do one thing, carry passengers as comfortably and efficiently as possible. I should clarify, when I say efficient I do not mean fuel economy, because the car only managed 19 combined MPG from the big ole’ 4.6 liter V-8 engine used in the car from 2003 until production finally ceased in 2011. Efficient for the Town Car means cheap, streamlined, and no nonsense.
The Town Car historically featured a boxy straight lined silhouette from its formal birth in 1981, up until a rounder third generation of the car was introduced in 1997. While I cannot say much about how the styling compared in the 80’s (as I was not alive then), the generation I have the greatest memory of left little to be desired. The car had presence without standing out too much, a desirable characteristic for most diplomats and company executives. Which is why the car was one of the most popular liveried cars in its heyday. This somewhat sleek understated sedan flawlessly wafted big wigs from meeting to meeting, and airport to office over the course of three decades. That is why when you get in a rare one today, they have hundreds of thousands of miles on the odometer.
For example: a few months back on one late evening I called an Uber from the West Village,
tired and eager to get home, an angel heard my cries and sent a Lincoln Town Car from the heavens. Begging that the car would not switch on me, I eagerly awaited its arrival. As it appeared and slowly floated across the ordinarily bumpy cobble stone street I waved it down. It stopped, and I awaited the much anticipated spring and metallic click of the rear passenger door swinging open. I confirm my name to the driver, get in and reach effortlessly for the wide looped synthetic leather handle that outlines the length of the door. It slams shut with a secure and solid seal that says, “I just closed a successful deal, time to close another”.
I get comfortable in the cushy rear seats that are like an old beaten couch that has been passed down through the family for generations. The rear seats are still supportive and welcoming as I add my imprint and contemplate the thousands of butts that have bestowed this bench seating. While imagining the lives of those who have rested here before me I notice the upright posture of the seat back, and recall that there is no slouching as an executive. My gaze drifts towards the driver and the familiar solid green dashboard, with dials and indicators like the numbers making up The Matrix. I try to make out the mileage on the odometer, something I always enjoy making note of in these cars, but I can barely put the numbers together. The driver seat seems like another zip code compared to the rear passenger seat, as if to prevent the driver from breathing the same air as its passengers (social distancing you could say).
I ask the driver how many miles are on the car. He looks back to me in the rear view mirror with a smirk, and tells me to guess. My first guess, 175,000 miles. Wrong, he tells me, and offers me 2 more guesses. My second guess, 250,000 miles. Wrong again, and he offers me a buffer of 30,000 miles. For my final guess, I consider the buffer, and opt for a conservative 300,000 mile increment. He laughs. I was out of range by only 6,000 miles, and in a Town Car with 336,000 miles. A lot for a big V8 engine. I proclaim the impressive mileage on the car, while acknowledging the several warning lights decorating the green dashboard. I ask how the car drives, to which he happily claims that the car drives “beautifully”, a word I never would have thought to use to describe a Lincoln Town Car. He proceeds to rave about the car's capabilities and pleasure to drive, and takes pride in the work he has done to maintain the car over the 8 years and 200,000 miles of his claimed ownership (he was the second owner). He proceeds to share my sentiments of the Town Car being the best livery car, and insults the several other Toyota Camry’s Ubering alongside us. Admitting the only fault of the Town Car being its ability to handle the slightest snowy and icy conditions.
As we float down the FDR as if it was newly resurfaced, the conversation about our love for the Town Car wanes. He breaks the silence to assure me a five star review, and I him. Satisfied with the bonding experience, I proceed to revel in the Town Car’s glory and reminisce about the few childhood memories I shared riding to the airport in the car for some family vacations. As a family of four, and with a father who packed more clothes and shoes
than my mother, you can imagine the size of our luggage. I was always amazed by the endless gaping pit that is the trunk of the Town Car. From the outside you expect a rather large trunk, but not one that goes to the center of the Earth. The deep canyon that is the Town Car trunk is 21 cubic feet in capacity. For comparison, that is a whole 7 cu. ft more than the Toyota Avalon, 5 cu. ft more than the Toyota Highlander (with 3rd row seats up), and 2 cu. ft more than a Rolls Royce Phantom! When you do the math, that is only around $2,500/cu. ft for the top of the line Town Car versus the Phantom’s $20,000/cu. ft. If that is not considered efficient, then I do not know what is!
The Lincoln Town Car is a car that makes you appreciate it for what it is. When you sit in the Town Car you sense the care that went into making your experience as the passenger pleasurable. In a world today with cars built in the traditional definition of “efficient”, the passenger’s experience has been traded for economics. There have been few cars since the heyday of the Town Car that have provided a similar sensation when I bestow their rear seats. Like I had said, the Lincoln Town Car was designed to do one thing, carry passengers as comfortably and efficiently as possible, and it knocked it out of the park. You better hope that you are lucky enough to experience a rare one on your next trip around the city or to the airport while they are still around. Matter of fact, you better demand one. You will not regret it.