APRIL 2024: 1979 FORD LTD II—THE 70S DISCO ERA ENDED IN SPECTACULAR FASHION WITH THIS CAR

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The cars of the 1970s are starting to climb in interest and value after decades of lukewarm reviews—that’s a good trend because the 70s were definitely an interesting automotive era.

Detroit was in a battle over bumpers and smog rules, so the cars paid a price–but that didn’t mean they didn’t build some cool vehicles.

Jerry Sutherland

This 1979 Ford LTD II is a piece of history because they didn’t build many of them and even fewer survived. Jeff Nicholson is the proud owner of this 57,000 km (35,000+ miles) survivor. This was the last year for the LTD II because this model was squeezed out when the Fox-body platform debuted. 

Jeff knows the history of the LTD. Its ownership goes back to Ontario, Canada—then the car moved west where Jeff bought the car from a guy who had lost his job. The LTD II came with all its documentation right back to the all the manuals and invoices—including the build sheet. Jeff said he still has sales brochures and photos of the original owner with the car. 

The previous owner crossed the country in the car, and he told Jeff the car easily made the trip. That’s why Jeff was confident he could make the 200-mile drive home. Jeff called the previous owner when he got back and he said the guy told him, “I knew it would make it”.   

The interior is mint, and the car still has its original spare tire. The LTD still wears its original paint thanks to careful storage over the long Canadian winters, so Jeff knows he is the caretaker of a well-preserved rare classic. The finish is so good on this car Jeff gets asked “Is that new paint?” every time he takes it out.  

Jeff explained how these cars came with the 351-M engine. He said they were basically 351 Cleveland motors with some internal modifications from the 400 cubic inch V-8. They were all two-barrel carburetor equipped engines, so Ford was squeezing mileage and power out of the traditional Ford V-8 at a time when both factors really mattered.

This car came with the Sports Appearance package, so it has the 1979 version of the Starsky and Hutch Torino stripes.

Jeff gets asked all the time about the stripes—they assume it’s a custom job, so he has to explain how the stripes were an option back in 1979.

The stripes are a huge draw because the LTD II sucked people in like a vacuum. This is the kind of car you would drive to a disco back in ’79 because that’s how the late 70s rolled.

Detroit punched up the appearance to offset the strangulation of heavy-handed regulations on engines and appearances—it worked because this car has its own fan base over 40 years later.

Jeff doesn’t put many miles on the car because it’s such a low mileage example of a ’79 Ford. He does enjoy every mile when he’s behind the wheel because this car is a dream to drive. Jeff said it “floats down the road and it easily runs with traffic”. 

The disco era may have produced some incredibly bad music, but at least it produced some cool cars.   

Jerry Sutherland

By: Jerry Sutherland

Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post,  Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.

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