THE LINCOLN Town Car is not a car. It's a yacht with a chassis. This car is so ridiculously big, so stupendously cushy, it's embarrassing.
Why any auto manufacturer would want to mass-produce a passenger car this size is baffling. Why anybody would want to buy a car this size is equally puzzling -- to me.
But that shows you what I know. The Ford Motor Co. sold more than 111,000 Town Cars during the 1985 model year. That was an all- time record. I suppose that explains why Ford keeps rolling them out.
But, golly, this rear-wheel-drive leviathan smacks of automotive nonsense.
Sure, it seats five people comfortably. But there are a number of front-wheel-drive, mid- size cars that do just as well by eliminating the front-to-rear driveshaft hump and thereby increasing interior space.
Yes, the Town Car has ample cargo space. But so do many mid-size cars. Anybody needing more trunk space than that offered by, say, the compact Ford Tempo or the new, mid-size Ford Taurus probably should buy a van or a bus.
The Town Car has an overall exterior length of 219 inches -- 181/4 feet! That's enough parking space for nearly three Honda Civics, or two Chevrolet Cavaliers.
Forget a gas-guzzler tax. Town Car owners oughtta be charged road rent.
Outstanding complaint: The size! The size! The humongous size! If bigger is better, then better was never bigger than this.
Outstanding praise: This massive classic is crafted well. Everything, including the ubiquitous fake woodgrain, fits perfectly. All of the electronic gadgetry is quality stuff. The power seats move back and forth the way they're supposed to. The windows go up and down at the touch of a button. (You can even have a bit of fun with the power windows, raising one slowly, then raising another before the first one is all the way up, and then reversing the process. It creates a sort of "window ballet.")
Ride, acceleration and handling: Ride? What ride? The Town Car doesn't ride. It floats. People prone to seasickness should stay out of this car. Acceleration is marvelous. What else would you expect from a 5-liter, V-8, electronically controlled gasoline engine? Handling? Try turning around a boat in the C&O Canal. You won't be darting in and out of traffic with this car.
Head-turning-quotient: From side views, the Town Car is as beautiful as it is large. The rear end is decent, too. But that bulky front is Detroit arrogance at its worst. There, a little humility and streamlining is needed.
Sound system: Excellent, and getting better. The test car was equipped with top-of-the- line Ford factory sound. But Ford is installing a superb-quality, 12-speaker, JBL Audio System in Town Cars now in production.
Mileage: Rated at 16 miles per gallon in the city and 23 on the highway. I got a combined city-highway average of about 21 mpg, running lightly loaded (kind of a contradiction of terms in this car) most of the time.
Price-as-tested: $24,703. If big cars wow you, this one is yachts of fun.