|Body and chassis|
|Layout||rear-wheel drive, body-on-frame (1908-2011) |
front-wheel drive/all-wheel drive (2005-2019)
|Vehicles||see listing (1908-1978)|
Ford Panther platform (1979-2011)
Full-size Ford is the popular term for a long-running line of Ford vehicles in North America with a shared model lineage. Beginning in 1908 with the Model T, the line ended fifteen generations later in 2019 with the production of the final Ford Taurus as Ford withdrew sedans from the North American market. With the exception of the Taurus (which entered production in 2005 as the Ford Five Hundred), all models of the lineage shared body-on-frame construction and rear-wheel drive; the Ford Crown Victoria was the last body-on-frame car in mass production at its 2011 discontinuation.
During the first half of the 20th century, American automobiles were typically identified by manufacturer and model year (such as a 1952 Ford); excluding trim lines, manufacturers typically produced one distinct vehicle line each model year. As automakers began to augment their vehicle lineups, manufacturers began to market nameplates to distinguish vehicle lines. The term "full-size" came into use in the early 1960s as Ford introduced compact and intermediate-size cars alongside other manufacturers. The term full-size does not necessarily indicate it was large relative to its competitors, but that it was the largest and most complete model offered by Ford; at 134 inches long, the Model T is 20 inches shorter than a Ford Ka, the smallest Ford sold worldwide (as of 2019).
If the fifteen generations of the full-size Ford are considered a single shared lineage, it was the longest-running in automotive history worldwide, including over 60 million vehicles across 111 years. By comparison, the longest-used single nameplate in the industry, the Chevrolet Suburban, has been in use for 84 model years.
Over a century's time, full-size Fords from North America have been updated to keep pace with contemporary technology and tastes. In addition to the status of largest Ford vehicle, they were distinguished by a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout, live rear axle, and body-on-frame construction; unibody construction was introduced in 2005 with the Ford Five Hundred. From 1932 to 2012, a V8 engine was available, being standard from 1935 to 1940 and from 1973 to 2012.
Where the newest generation of full-size cars produced by Ford (those derived from the 2010-present Ford Taurus) fit into this lineage is contentious; though similar in many dimensions in comparison to their Panther-platform predecessor, they are front-wheel drive with a monocoque design, independent suspension, and a V8 engine is unavailable. Likewise, the European Ford Zephyr, the Ford Falcon, and other internationally produced large Ford sedans of the past have major mechanical and cultural differences from the American full-size lineage.
|Generation||Model T||Model A||Model B/Ford V8||1935 Ford||1937 Ford||1941 Ford||1949 Ford||1952 Ford||1955 Ford||1957 Ford||1960 Ford||Galaxie/LTD
Since the rear-wheel-drive full-size Ford moved to the Panther platform for the 1979 model year, approximately 5,000,000 units have been produced under the LTD, LTD Crown Victoria, Country Squire, Crown Victoria, Crown Victoria P71, and Crown Victoria Police Interceptor nameplates.
Police forces of North America have heavily used full-size Fords for decades because of their preference for V8 power and torque, the pulling power provided by rear-wheel drive, and the robust body-on-frame construction that can be cheaply repaired (important for American police due to usage of the PIT maneuver). However, with the demise of any vehicles with these characteristics from General Motors and Chrysler, the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor has held a virtual monopoly on police cruisers sold in North America since 1996. The Crown Victoria has become equally commonplace as a taxi cab.
In September 1908, the lineage of the full-size Ford began as the Model T entered production. The successor to the Model N and Model S, the Model T would become the first Ford to utilize mass production techniques. Produced in over fourteen body styles, over 15 million would be produced in 19 years of production. Although its predecessors introduced the front-engine, rear-wheel drive configuration to the company, the Model T was the first Ford produced in left-hand drive.
Throughout its production run, the Model T saw relatively few changes. In addition to changes to refine its production (which dictated its specification of black paint), technological upgrades were made along the way. Ford added electric lights (in 1910), electric starting (1919), balloon tires (1925), and wire wheels (1926).
As the Model T aged in comparison to its competition, the market share held by Ford began to erode by the mid-1920s. At the end of 1927, the Model A was introduced as its replacement.
Introduced in December 1927, the Model A borrowed its name from the first car produced by the company in 1903. As with the Model T, the Model A used a front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout with body-on-frame construction; an all-new 4-cylinder engine was introduced. As before, the Model A was produced in a wide variety of body styles; in contrast to its predecessor, the car's bodywork was designed by an in-house styling predecessor headed by Edsel Ford. Produced from 1927 to 1931, approximately 4.8 million were produced.
As the Model A was the first all-new design in 19 years, many features were upgraded. The Model A introduced Ford buyers to conventional driver controls; it now had pedals for the brakes, throttle, and clutch as well as a separate gearshift. Safety glass made their automotive industry debut when Ford used it for the windshield.
For the 1932 model year, Ford introduced a revised version of the Model A. The Model B was introduced with a modernized powertrain and chassis and slightly restyled bodywork. Only five years removed from the last Model T, the Model B introduced Ford and the entire automotive industry to yearly changes for model styling. In 1933, the exterior was redesigned while the 1934 wore a new front end of its own; all three versions rode on the same basic chassis.
For 1932, Ford introduced an option that would remain in the full-size Ford line for seven decades. Developed as a response to the 1929 introduction of the Chevrolet "Stovebolt Six", the Model 18 offered a 65-hp flathead V8 engine for a $10 price premium over the standard Model B. Demand for the V8 was so strong that Ford struggled to keep up. After 1934, the 4-cylinder engine was discontinued; the next 4-cylinder Ford in North America would be the Pinto in 1971.
For the 1935 model year, the Ford lineup was powered exclusively by a V8 engine. Styling changes introduced the first integrated trunks on sedan models and suspension changes increased interior room. In 1936, further updates included the introduction of solid wheels and the integration of the horn into the bodywork.
For 1937, Ford updated its car lineup with minor styling changes. However, the introduction of the De Luxe Ford marked the beginning of expansion of the Ford Motor Company brand lineup. De Luxe Ford was marketed as an upscale sub-brand to bridge the gap between Ford and Lincoln-Zephyr. In 1939, the Mercury was launched; although sharing a chassis with the Ford, it wore a body six inches wider with a wheelbase four inches longer; Mercury would supersede De Luxe Ford as a brand.
As buyer tastes began to change in the late 1930s, certain body styles were pruned from the lineup. 1939 would be the last year for the 4-door phaeton and for single-seat coupes and convertibles (and their rumble seats). A conventional "alligator" hood replaced the "butterfly" hood with its lifting side panels. Ford also made several safety-related changes as well. The dashboard was redesigned (to feature recessed controls) in 1938, hydraulic brakes were added in 1939, and sealed-beam headlights were introduced a year later.
For 1941, Ford introduced an all-new generation of cars and trucks. These would be the final generation of cars produced in the lifetime of both Edsel Ford and Henry Ford. Due to the success of Mercury, De Luxe Ford was changed from a sub-brand back to a trim level within the Ford lineup. The width of the body had now increased to the point where running boards had become vestigial. For the first time since the Model K of 1906, an inline-six engine was available (as a base engine).
From February 1942 to July 1945, civilian production was discontinued as Ford manufactured military products for World War II. As production resumed, Ford released the 1946 model with few changes aside from a new grille. Under the hood, the V8 engine was now shared with Mercury, allowing Ford to break the 100-hp barrier for the first time. In 1947, the last Ford trucks based on the car chassis were produced. For 1948, the F-Series was introduced as a dedicated truck chassis.
For the 1949 model year, Ford redesigned its car lineup with a number of significant changes. The transverse-leaf suspension, seen since the Model T, was replaced by independent front suspension and longitudinal leaf springs. Fenders and running boards were completely integrated into the bodywork.
In 1950, the Ford model line expanded itself further as the division added model names to the lineup (as opposed to Ford Standard or Ford Custom). A year later, an automatic transmission appeared for the first time. Wood-paneled station wagons were now available as Country Squire. 1951 also saw Ford enter the youth market with a new Victoria pillarless hardtop-convertible, a direct competitor to the Chevrolet Bel Air.
For 1952, Ford updated its cars with mild exterior updates; this generation is distinguished by the introduction of a single-piece windshield. The pedals were remounted from the floor to below the dashboard.
Mechanically, power brakes and power steering became an option in 1954. In 1954, the overhead-valve Y-block V8 replaced the Flathead V8 seen since 1932. At 130 hp, the Y-block produced twice the horsepower as the original 1932 V8.
In 1955, the Ford car lineup was given a mild update over the previous year, although several features made their first appearance in this generation. Air conditioning was now available as a factory-installed option. The Lifeguard option package, introduced in 1956, featured front and rear seat belts, a padded dashboard, and redesigned door latches. Although this was the first generation of Fords to undergo crash testing, the Lifeguard package was not well received by buyers. Several nameplates in the Ford lineup made their first appearance during this time. Ford introduced the Fairlane, Crown Victoria, and Ranch Wagon as part of the 1955 lineup. Station wagons were now a separate model series from 2-doors and 4-doors.
For the first time since 1949, the 1957 Ford lineup was built on an all-new chassis; a new frame allowed for the use of lower-mounted bodies. As part of the convertible lineup, the Skyliner introduced a new feature: the retractable hardtop. The Ranchero, introduced in 1957, was the first coupe utility pickup sold in North America, predating the Chevrolet El Camino by two years. The Ranchero was developed from the Courier sedan delivery with the bodywork above the cargo area removed.
In 1959, the Galaxie nameplate was introduced.
For 1960, the full-size Ford chassis was lengthened one inch to a 119-inch wheelbase. Coinciding with the redesign, a long-running precedent within Ford came to an end. Since the introduction of the Model T over a half-century before, Ford had largely produced a single model line of cars (as well as trucks, before 1948), with individual nameplates denoting a trim-level hierarchy. With the 1960 introduction of the Ford Falcon compact, the previous line of Fords (ranging from the Custom to the Galaxie and station wagons) became the full-size Ford model range of cars. For 1962, Ford used the Fairlane nameplate for a third model range, sized between the Falcon and Galaxie (sharing components from both model lines); named an intermediate, the Fairlane was an ancestor of the mid-size car segment of today.
Following the expansion of Ford chassis, several Ford body styles ended their production during this generation. Following a large decline in demand, 1960 marked the final year of the Ford Courier sedan delivery (largely replaced by the Ford Econoline van, derived from the Falcon) and 1961 marked the end of the two-door Ranch Wagon (with all Ford station wagons becoming four-doors). The Ranchero shifted to the compact Falcon chassis for 1960, ending its commonality with full-size Fords. For 1961, Mercury downsized its model line; in what would be a precedent through 1978, Mercury full-size sedans became mechanical counterparts of the full-size Ford, distinguished by a slightly longer wheelbase.
The 1960 Ford chassis saw a number of drivetrain revisions. While 1960 saw engines carried over from the previous generation, 1961 marked the first use of the long-running Windsor V8 engine family, with a 289 V8 replacing a 292 Y-block V8. The 390 FE-series V8 was introduced, marking the first big-block V8 (ranging from 352 to 427 cubic inches) in a Ford sedan.
The 1960 Ford saw several nameplate shifts. Following the discontinuation of the Custom/Custom 300, the Fairlane served as the standard Ford for 1960 and 1961. As a replacement for the Skyliner retractable hardtop, the Starliner fastback hardtop served as the flagship hardtop, with the Sunliner convertible making its return. For 1962, as the Fairlane was established as a free-standing model range, all full-size Fords were Galaxies; with the introduction of the Galaxie 500 and Galaxie 500XL submodels (replacing the Starliner/Sunliner), the bucket-seats-and-console 500XL served as a competitor to the Chevrolet Impala Super Sport. As a base model for fleets, for 1963, Ford introduced the Ford 300, which was renamed the Custom for 1964.
The three-model station wagon series remained unchanged from 1960 to 1962. For 1963, the base-trim Ranch Wagon was adopted by the Fairlane model range.
For the 1965 model year, the full-size Ford platform underwent a complete redesign. While sharing the 119-inch wheelbase of the previous generation, Ford redesigned the frame and suspension in an effort to upgrade ride and handling. The longitudinal rear leaf springs (used since 1949) were replaced by a three-link coil-sprung live rear axle, becoming the first full-size American car fitted with four-wheel coil springs. In modified form, the design was used through the production of the 1979-2012 Panther chassis (and the Ford Aerostar van).
To comply with federal safety mandates, in 1967 the full-size Fords were updated with a padded dashboard, recessed controls, collapsible steering column with padded steering wheel, and 3-point seatbelts; 1968 models gained side marker lights. For 1968, the front fascia underwent a revision, shifting from vertically-stacked headlights to horizontally-mounted headlamps; the XL, LTD, and Country Squire were given hidden headlamps.
The 1965 Ford saw the introduction of the Ford LTD. Initially a 1965 submodel of the Galaxie 500, the LTD became a full model line for 1966. Adopting many of the convenience features available on a Lincoln or Mercury, the Ford LTD was introduced before or alongside sedans such as the Chevrolet Caprice and Dodge Monaco. The Ranch Wagon returned to the station wagon line, based upon the Custom.
For 1967, the Ford Galaxie 500XL was rebranded as the Ford XL (sportiest of the full-size Ford line).
In 1969, full-size Fords were given another all-new platform. The vertically stacked headlamps seen on the previous generation were replaced by horizontally mounted units. Lincoln-style hidden headlamps distinguished LTDs and XLs from Galaxies and Customs. Similar to the Mercury Marauder, SportsRoof "fastback" versions of the Galaxie 500 and XL were sold for 1969 and 1970. LTD and Custom two-doors featured a formal hardtop roofline.
With the declining market for full-size performance cars, the XL was discontinued after 1970. In 1971, as part of a redesign, the LTD became one of the first cars equipped with a third brake light (this was dropped in 1973). With the impending threat of federal rollover standards coupled with declining demand, 1972 marked the final year for the convertible. 1972 marked the final year for the Custom; the Custom 500 would remain, sold nearly exclusively as a fleet vehicle.
For 1973, the Custom 500, Galaxie sedan, LTD, and station wagons were given an all-new body. In response to federal regulations, the front ends were fitted with large 5 mph bumpers; they would be fitted to the rear for 1974. Two-door hardtops were also redesigned with thick B-pillars and fixed rear quarter windows. Four-door and wagon models were marketed as "pillared hardtops"; while still wearing frameless door glass, they were reinforced with thin metal B-pillars. To deal with the added weight, only V8 engines were available (for the first time since 1940).
As emissions standards eroded the output of the powertrains under the hood, Ford refocused towards features such as comfortable ride instead of outright performance. To do so, Ford began to move its full-size line gradually upmarket. After 1974, the Galaxie and its companion Country Sedan station wagon were discontinued, integrated into the LTD line. With the Custom 500 essentially relegated to fleet and police sales, the LTD/Country Squire became the sole full-size model available at dealerships.
Necessitated by federal fuel economy standards, the full-size Ford lineup underwent downsizing for the 1979 model year. The full-size Fords were redesigned on an all-new platform. Losing fifteen inches of length and 800 pounds of weight, Ford's full-size car now had smaller exterior dimensions than the mid-size LTD II. In spite of the smaller size, interior dimensions and trunk space increased over its 1978 predecessor. In a move upmarket, the Custom 500 became a Canada-only model, which was deleted in 1981. As the LTD was introduced, Ford began development on its intended replacement, the front-wheel drive Ford Taurus. As fuel prices stabilized and demand for full-sized cars remained, Ford made the decision to continue to produce the Panther platform alongside the Taurus. In 1983, as part of a major model shift throughout Ford Motor Company, the LTD and LTD Crown Victoria were split apart. The LTD Crown Victoria (and the Country Squire) became the sole full-size cars, while the LTD nameplate took over for a facelifted version of the slow-selling Granada sedan.
For 1992, the LTD Crown Victoria was replaced by the Crown Victoria and the Country Squire was discontinued. Styled like a larger version of the Taurus, the Crown Victoria borrowed a nameplate from the mid-1950s Ford lineup. Many features, such as four-wheel disc brakes, ABS, and dual airbags were all-new, and the Windsor V8 was replaced by the Modular V8, the first overhead-cam V8 in an American full-sized sedan.
In 1998, in what would be the final exterior redesign of the Crown Victoria, it received the roofline of Mercury Grand Marquis. For 2003, the frame and suspension were redesigned to improve its handling. After 2007, it was no longer sold to retail customers in North America. On September 15, 2011, Ford produced the final Crown Victoria; it was sold for export to Saudi Arabia.
For the 2005 model year, Ford introduced the D3 platform, its first all-new full-size car design in 26 years. A modification of a Volvo large-car platform, the D3 chassis introduced several major design changes to full-size Ford cars. In place of body-on-frame construction, the D3 became the first full-size Ford in North America to adopt unibody construction; rear-wheel drive was replaced by front-wheel drive (with all-wheel drive as an option). For the first time since the 1931 Model A, no V8 engine was available, with a V6 as the exclusive engine (making its first appearance in the full-size line). In all-wheel drive models (from 2005 to 2007), an automatic transmission was replaced by a CVT.
Officially intended as the larger of two vehicle platforms replacing the D186 chassis, the D3 was sized between the D186 and the Panther platform in many dimensions. Largely marketed to replace the Ford Taurus, after its 2005 launch, the Ford Five Hundred also unofficially began to serve as a replacement for the Ford Crown Victoria (in retail markets). While marketed as a crossover SUV, the Ford Freestyle (based upon the Five Hundred) would functionally become the closest successor to the Ford LTD Country Squire station wagon, marking the first time since 1991 that Ford offered full-size vehicles in multiple body styles.
As part of a mid-cycle redesign, the Ford Five Hundred and Ford Freestyle were rebranded for 2008 as the Ford Taurus and Ford Taurus X, marking the shift of the Ford Taurus into the full-size segment; at the time, Ford management cited greater recognition of the Taurus nameplate as a factor of the rebranding.
For 2010, the sixth-generation Taurus was introduced on the D3 platform, coinciding with the discontinuation of the Mercury Sable and 2009 introduction of the Lincoln MKS. As part of the redesign, Ford produced its first full-size Taurus SHO, featuring a twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 and all-wheel drive. As part of a 2013 update, a 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine was added, becoming the first 4-cylinder Taurus since 1991 and the first full-size Ford available with a 4-cylinder engine since 1934. To replace the long-running Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, Ford introduced the Ford Police Interceptor Sedan police patrol/pursuit car. Derived from the Taurus SHO, the Police Interceptor Sedan features the all-wheel drive and twin-turbocharged V6 as optional equipment.
In 2011, Ford ended production of the Panther platform, with production of the Ford Falcon (by Ford Australia) ending in 2016. Since the 2017 model year, the Ford Mustang is the sole Ford car produced worldwide with either rear-wheel drive and/or a V8 engine. Production of the D3 Taurus ended in March 2019 as Ford shifted vehicle production in North America away from sedans.