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In the Garage: 1978 Ford LTD

The 1978 Ford LTD four-door pillared hardtop is

The 1978 Ford LTD four-door pillared hardtop is owned by Gregg D. Merksamer. Credit: Handout

1978 Ford LTD four-door pillared hardtop owned by Gregg D. Merksamer

At almost 19 feet long and over 4,200 lbs., the 1978 LTD was Ford’s top-of-the-line luxury model and it marked the company’s 75th anniversary. Merksamer’s ride accentuates its length and heft with an unusual factory green color combination that would do itself proud at any St. Patrick’s Day parade.

“My LTD exemplifies the last, true full-sized Ford passenger cars available before the ‘downsized’ 1979 versions debuted,” Merksamer says. “Its $5,410 base retail price was boosted to $7,933.10 as-delivered by several unusual options, including a 400-cubic-inch V-8 engine with a two-barrel carburetor, four-wheel disc brakes, a heavy-duty trailer towing package and special-order ‘Pale Jade’ exterior paint normally used on Ford trucks. The color code is still written in grease pencil on the radiator bracket and the inner lip of the hood.”

Since October 2006

Merksamer spied the 22,000-mile LTD for sale in Pennsylvania as he was heading home from a classic car meet.

The Ford had been delivered new to a couple in Palmyra, Pennsylvania and had spent much of its time stored in a garage. “The car drove almost like new in spite of the lack of exercise,” he says, “and the artifacts that the original owner’s stepdaughter and son-in-law included with the sale were no less astounding. These comprised two copies of the original build sheet, the original window invoice, the original odometer statement and temporary registration certificate, the original paper key tag with the dealership’s stock number, a paper loop of starting and safety belt instructions that slips over the sun visor, a complete set of service manuals, and a license frame, ashtray and leather key fob from J.C. Hess Ford (the delivering dealer).”

“My LTD had a $5,000 asking price when I initially encountered it, and the $4,000 deal I struck with minimal effort meant this 4,215-lb. auto ultimately cost me less than a dollar a pound,” he says. “Having spent another couple of thousand since on servicing and new tires in the six-and-a-quarter years I’ve had it, I’m confident I could recoup my purchase and maintenance expenditures were I actually inclined to sell.”

“When I was growing up in Scarsdale, New York, my parents were General Motors loyalists,” Merksamer says. “In spite of what was in my parents’ driveway in my youth, I developed a strong affinity for full-sized Fords, Lincoln and Mercurys through their prominent placement in the Quinn Martin TV series I grew up watching, such as ‘The FBI,’ ‘Cannon,’ and ‘Barnaby Jones.’ Though I decided to name the car ‘Myra’ to honor the first 28 years it spent residing in Palmyra, Pennsylvania, my wife Lisa immediately took to calling it the ‘mint condition car’ on account of its unusual color as much as its remarkable state of preservation.”

 If you have an antique, classic or collectible car to be considered for this page, please send your information and a jpg photo (at least 200 dpi) to David Fluhrer, Optimum Autos; e-mail:

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