the view through the windshield
1979 Lincoln Town Car - The Last Giant

Lincoln downsized the Town Car in 1980, reducing overall length by 14 inches. Cadillac downsized its full-size sedans and coupes in 1977; the last big Chrysler C-body was the 1978 model. Therefore, the '79 Town Car was truly the last of the gigantic American luxury cars, with an overall length of 233 inches.

In 1970, the Town Car designation was used to denote a trim package option, including leather seating surfaces and deeper cut-pile carpeting. For 1971, a limited-edition (1,500 produced) Golden Anniversary Continental Town Car commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of Lincoln. For 1972, the Town Car was introduced as a sub-model of the Lincoln Continental model line. On nearly all examples, a vinyl top covered the rear half of the roof, with a full-length configuration optional. A raised molding over the roof incorporated coach lamps on the B-pillars. As part of the 1975 redesign of the Lincoln roofline, the Town Car adopted the oval opera windows of the Mark IV coupe.

Sales rose substantially in 1977, when the Lincoln Continental Town Car was given the upright Rolls-Royce-style grille similar to the ones used on the Mark Vs. Lincoln sales grew by over 53% in the 1977 model year. Changes between 1977 and '79 were relatively minor. Town Cars of that era rode on a 127.2-inch wheelbase and weighed over 4,600 pounds. In 1979, pricing for four-door Town Cars began at $13,093.

In 1979 the only engine for the Town Car was a 400 cubic-inch V8, which produced 159 horsepower. During the '79 model year, Lincoln sold 16,458 four-door Town Cars and 16,142 two-door Town Coupes. Total Lincoln brand sales were about half those of Cadillac.

I have warm feelings about these big old behemoths. In late 1992, I purchased 'The Barge' - a 1979 Lincoln Continental Town Car. The model I bought was the Williamsburg Edition which had special paint and trim. It was painted light silver metallic over dark gray metallic and had a deep-red leather interior.

The Sherlock's 1979 Lincoln Williamsburg Edition Town Car featured every wretched styling cliché from the 70s, including fake Rolls Royce grille, gunsight hood ornament, padded vinyl roof, B-pillar opera lights, oval opera windows, hidden headlights and faux wire wheels. While it looked like an ungainly beast, it was quite comfortable to drive - rode very well on the highway and had no squeaks or rattles even after 150,000 miles. Disco music poured from its many speakers, compliments of the eight-track player mounted in the fake-wood dash.

Our '79 Williamsburg Town Car rode and drove wonderfully and its big V-8 engine never missed a beat. It was a one-owner car from Montana and was in excellent shape. We took it everywhere, including two trips to Canada.

The Barge was the roomiest car we've ever owned. Of course, at almost 20 feet long, it was a bear to park and it sucked gas like there was no tomorrow - 12 miles to the gallon on regular unleaded in the city and the exact same on the highway. Nevertheless, it was a comfortable and pleasing Interstate cruiser and we kept it for almost three years. I sold it to a friend and fellow Lincoln enthusiast who cleaned it up a bit and picked up some serious car trophies at various Lincoln meets and shows.

By the beginning of the 1980s, all cars had shrunk in size. The world became smaller and we never saw the likes of the huge American luxury cars again. The 1979 Lincoln Continental Town Car truly was the Last of the Giants. (posted 2/27/20)

Remember When: 1979
auto blogIn 1979, the United States and the People's Republic of China establish full diplomatic relations. In March, an overheated reactor at the Three Mile Island nuclear facility in Pennsylvania threatened to melt down. China instituted its One Child Policy. The U.S. Voyager I space probe photos revealed Jupiter's rings.

In April, a tornado hit Wichita Falls, Texas, killing 42. In May, an American Airlines DC-10 crashed during takeoff at O'Hare International Airport, killing 271 on board and 2 people on the ground.

The USSR invaded Afghanistan. For the first time in history, a woman, Margaret Thatcher, is elected as U.K. Prime Minister. In November, the Iran Hostage Crisis began when 'students' invaded the American Embassy in Tehran and took 52 diplomats and American citizens hostage.

In the Fall of 1979, several General Motors front-wheel drive small cars debuted as 1980 models including the Chevrolet Citation, Buick Skylark, Oldsmobile Omega and Pontiac Phoenix. In December, Chrysler Corporation received government loan guarantees at the request of CEO Lee Iacocca. The Oldsmobile Cutlass was, once again, America's favorite middle-class car in 1979, with 518,160 examples finding happy buyers.

At the Indianapolis 500, Rick Mears won the race for the first time, and car owner Roger Penske for the second time.

New products included the Sony Walkman, quiz game 'Trivial Pursuit' as well as the Commodore VIC-20 and Apple II computers. In June, McDonald's introduced the Happy Meal.

New buzzwords and phrases for 1979 included 'log off', 'first world problem', 'balloon angioplasty', 'quality circle', 'tiger shrimp', 'affinity card', 'compact disc', 'laser printer', 'la-la land' and 'hip-hop'.

Top songs of 1979 included The Knack's 'My Sharona, 'Tragedy' (The Bee Gees), Blondie's 'Heart Of Glass', 'I Will Survive' (Gloria Gaynor), Donna Summer's 'Bad Girls', Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?' (Rod Stewart), 'Reunited' by Peaches & Herb, Kenny Rogers' 'The Gambler', Billy Joel's 'My Life' and 'Y.M.C.A.' by The Village People.

In January, Pink Floyd released 'The Wall'. In August, Michael Jackson released his first breakthrough album, 'Off the Wall'. It sold 7 million copies in the United States alone, making it a 7x platinum album. In December, eleven fans were killed during a stampede for seats before The Who concert in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Top 1979 movies included 'Alien', 'Apocalypse Now', 'Escape from Alcatraz', Monty Python's 'Life of Brian', 'Rocky II', 'Mad Max', 'The Jerk', 'Being There', 'Kramer vs. Kramer', 'Star Trek: The Motion Picture', the James Bond flick 'Moonraker' and 'The Muppet Movie'.

In February, 43 million viewers watch Elvis, an ABC TV movie starring Kurt Russell as Elvis Presley. C-SPAN is launched in March. New television shows appearing in 1979 included 'The Dukes of Hazzard', 'The Facts of Life', 'Hart to Hart', 'Knot Landing', 'Benson', 'Trapper John M.D.', 'This Old House', 'Angie', 'Supertrain', 'Antiques Roadshow' and 'Archie Bunker's Place'.

Deaths in 1979 included cartoonist Al Capp, former First Lady Mamie Eisenhower, politician and former U.S. Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, actor Jack Haley, hotelier Conrad Hilton, sad clown Emmett Kelly, composer Richard Rogers, Catholic icon and 1950s television star Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen and tough-guy actor John Wayne.

The Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 4 games to 3, to win their 5th World Series Title.

More AutoSketch car drawings can be found here.

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The facts presented on this page are based on my best guesses and my substantially faulty geezer memory. The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and are protected by the U.S. Constitution. Probably.

If I have slandered any brands of automobiles, either expressly or inadvertently, they're most likely crap cars and deserve it. Automobile manufacturers should be aware that they always have the option of trying to change my mind by providing me with vehicles to test drive. I'll dutifully report my road test impressions on this car blog.

If I have slandered any people or corporations, either expressly or inadvertently, they should buy me strong drinks (and an expensive meal) and try to prove to me that they're not the jerks I've portrayed them to be. If you're buying, I'm willing to listen.