I needed a car that fit the following criteria:
- Needed to be comfortable/luxurious.
- Needed to be able to accommodate a 6'6" person.
- Needed to be able to transport 5-6 people.
- Needed to be reliable.
- Needed to be inexpensive to purchase.
- Needed to be easy for senior citizens to enter/exit.
- Needed to be inexpensive to maintain/insure.
After much research, the Lincoln Town Car rose to the top of the list. I had not owned an American car for over 20 years; I had had many problems with American cars in the past, and overall was always unimpressed with the quality of materials and craftsmanship in American cars when compared to Japanese rivals. But, because it fit all my criteria, I decided to give the Town Car a try.
I found an 11-year-old Town Car with very low miles on Ebay that had been for sale for several months. I emailed the seller and lowballed -- to my surprise, they accepted. Two weeks later, I was behind the wheel.
That was 5 months ago. I'm happy to report that the car has been totally reliable in that time, and just about everything works perfectly. These cars have a reputation for being very reliable, and I have no cause to doubt that, as they are relatively simple compared to most cars built today. In fact, one could even call this car a sort of living fossil -- it's a throwback to another age where you just had a big car with a soft suspension and a big simple engine. That's an oversimplification -- the Town Car has many bells and whistles -- but you get the impression that there's less to go wrong with the Town Car, and that its massive 5.4L engine has been around for so long and is so unstressed by the demands of daily driving, that there's little chance of a major problem surfacing.
Do I fully trust the car? Not yet. I am still leery of American cars. It's not let me down once, but I would not take it on a road trip. This car is strictly for going back and forth to the train station and shuttling my in-laws around. I'd take it 100 miles max from my house (that's the limit to my roadside service!) and I wouldn't consider it for high-stress driving (mountains, desert heat, etc.). It probably would be fine, but I don't want to risk it.
Is this a high-quality car? No. I can't fathom why anyone would put down $50,000+ for one of these. It is not on a par with Lexus or Acura or Mercedes. The interior is comfortable, but not impressive in terms of materials, design, or quality. My '90 Acura Legend felt sumptuous -- this car feels like that really fancy-looking furniture you see in cheap import stores, you know? This car is not too far removed from the cars my parents drove in the mid-to-late 80's.
What is the handling like? Well, I wouldn't even go into that if that is highly important to you. The car steers and gets you where you need to go in comfort. There is no need to expect anything more from such a car.
Fuel economy is about 17 mpg for city driving, which is not great, but commendable for such a massive car.
I bought this car because it fit the bill and was cheap. I'm having fun with it, but I don't love it -- I almost think of it as disposable. My plan is to invest as little as I can into it and then sell it for $1,000 in 3-5 years and get something that gets better mileage or is more versatile. If your criteria fit mine, I recommend it.