As it is spoken in English, “Town Car” is a literal translation of the French term “Sedan de Ville”, a nameplate introduced by Cadillac. Both nameplates refer to a style of limousine popular in the 1920s that featured an open chauffeur’s compartment with either a fixed or convertible roof for the rear passengers; in 1922, Edsel Ford purchased a custom-built Lincoln L-Series town car as a personal vehicle for Henry Ford.
In the 1950s, Cadillac and Lincoln would introduce the de Ville/Town Car nameplates, though the companies would take different design paths. While Cadillac styled the de Ville series as a hardtop coupe and sedan, in 1959, the Town Car was introduced as a limousine variant of the Continental Mark IV four-door sedan. In place of the Continental’s reverse-slant roofline, the Mark IV Town Car was given a formal profile to its roofline with a padded vinyl top (one of the first cars to do so); in place of extending the wheelbase, the change in the roofline allowed for the rear seat to be moved rearward. Due to its formal nature, all Continental Town Cars were sold in black.
As only 214 Continental Town Cars were sold from 1959 to 1960, the nameplate went dormant for a decade, becoming an option for 1969; in place of a sub-model, the Town Car returned as a trim package. As part of the 1970 redesign of the Lincoln Continental, the Lincoln Continental Town Car trim made its return (“Continental’s Town Car Interior option”, to quote from the 1970 deluxe catalog), remaining through 1980. As an option package, the Continental Town Car featured additional standard equipment and an extra plush interior (Media velour cloth). On nearly all 1970-1979 Lincoln Continental Town Cars, the vinyl roof covered half the roof, aft of the B-pillar (though the fixed roof over the driver remained). To suggest a partition, a raised molding sweeping over the roof was added, featuring coach lamps. As an option, some models of the Town Car featured a full-length padded roof. From 1973 to 1981, two-door Lincoln Continentals were available with a similar option called the Lincoln Continental Town Coupe’.
The Lincoln Town Car is a full-size luxury sedan that was sold by Lincoln from the 1981 to the 2011 model years. Marketed primarily in the United States and Canada, the Town Car saw exports worldwide.
In 1981, the Lincoln Town Car and Lincoln Continental became separate models, with the Town Car remaining a full-size sedan. Produced in three separate generations, the Lincoln Town Car has been produced exclusively on the Ford Panther platform, shared with the Mercury Grand Marquis and Ford (LTD) Crown Victoria.
Following the demise of the Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham after the 1996 model year, the Town Car became the longest (though not the heaviest) mass-produced sedan assembled in the Western Hemisphere, at nearly 216 inches long for in a standard-wheelbase Town Car and 221 inches long for a long-wheelbase L Edition.
From 1981 to 2007, the Lincoln Town Car was assembled at Wixom Assembly, at Wixom, Michigan, alongside the Lincoln Continental, Mark Series, and Lincoln LS. Following the closure of Wixom Assembly, production of the Town Car was moved to St. Thomas Assembly in Southwold, Ontario, Canada, alongside the Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis. In 2011, production of all three Panther-platform vehicles ended as the St. Thomas facility ended production in September 2011.