D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, who began his term with a leased Ford LTD as his official car and traded last year to a more expensive Mercury Marquis, rolled out in higher style yesterday with a luxurious 1983 Lincoln Town Car that the city has leased for $3,000 a year.
"It's a bargain, a bargain. That's a $22,000 car," smiled Barry after taking his first official ride in the "signature series" four-door with a "midnight blue mist" exterior and "academy blue leather" interior.
The leasing arrangement, which includes routine maintenance at an auto dealership in Marlow Heights, Md., costs the city about $600 more than Barry's Marquis, which officials said was too small to handle the security and communications equipment in the mayor's car.
The Lincoln weighs about 300 pounds more than the Marquis, has an inch more headroom and two additional inches of foot space, according to a Ford spokeswoman.
Both cars were leased from the Ford Motor Co. at a discount rate under that company's public relations program to offer the cars to government officials.
"The Lincoln has more luxury items than the Marquis," the spokeswoman said. "They had the option of keeping the Mercury a second year, but most agencies order a new car every year." CAPTION: Picture, Mayor Barry's new leased car, a Lincoln, sits in front of D.C. police headquarters. It will cost the city about $600 more than the Mercury Marquis Barry leased last year. By James M. Thresher -- The Washington Post