The car in Bad Grandpa is a 1981 Lincoln Town Car. Driving a Lincoln has been a status symbol since the company’s inception in 1917. Unfortunately, the brand has become associated with the elderly and Bad Grandpa does nothing to help that. Here are a few facts about Lincoln Motors and the 1981 Town Car.
Lincoln Motor Company
In order to understand the origins of the Lincoln Motor Company, we have to go back to 1902 and start with Cadillac. In 1902 Henry Ford and the majority of his partners left the Henry Ford Company. This left Ford’s financial backers in dire straits, necessitating the need for liquidation. To finalize the sale of all company assets the backers, William Murphy and Lemuel Bowen, called in engineer Henry M. Leland for an appraisal. After inspecting the plant and equipment, LeLand persuaded Murphy and Bowen to continue manufacturing using his single-cylinder engine. The resulting company was the Cadillac Automobile Company.
That story leads into the founding of Lincoln Motor Company in 1917 by Henry Leland and his son, Wilfred Leland. The company is named after Abraham Lincoln, LeLand’s hero and a president for whom he had voted in 1864. The company did not jump into automobile production as you may expect. Initially, Lincoln assembled Liberty aircraft engines for use during World War I. At the end of the war, the company retooled to produce exclusive luxury automobiles. In 1922, after a series of financial setbacks, Lincoln was purchased by Ford Motor Company for $8,000,000.
1981 Lincoln Town Car
The Town Car nameplate has been in use since 1959 to denote Lincoln’s top trim level, but became a stand alone model in 1981. Production of the series continued through the 2011 model year.
The 1981 Lincoln Town Car was part of an effort by Lincoln to produce less bulky vehicles. It was 900 lbs lighter, fourteen inches shorter, and narrower by 10 inches. It had also become a middle-level vehicle. The Mark VI was the new top-of-the-line Lincoln. Despite the many size changes, the interior of the Town Car was expanded, the Rolls Royce-ish grille was retained, as was the distinctive blade fenders. There was only one engine available in 1981: a 302 cu in(4.9L marketed as a 5.0L) Ford Windsor engine. It featured the new TBI fuel injection system and the EEC III engine management system. The combination was meant to improve performance and fuel economy. The V8 managed 130 hp and 230 lb-ft of torque. Despite the steps taken to improve fuel economy, the ’81 only managed 15 mpg on the highway and around 11 mpg in the city. While those numbers are horrible, they compared very well with other luxury brands of the time.
Known as a stodgy, gas guzzler for the elderly, Lincoln eliminated the Town Car nameplate in 2011 in an attempt to revitalize the entire brand. New models such as the MKZ, Zephyr, MKS, MKX, and MKT were introduced to make the brand more ”hip” and up-to-date.
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