The Exterior: The Same, Only Different The vehicle has undergone some changes, however, the overall dimensions are very close to that of the present car. The roofline of the 2003 Town Car has not changed. However, the front and the rear have been significantly updated.
“We enhanced the present car and added a lot of things that customers wanted,” says Mike Bedard, Limousine & Livery Manager for Ford Motor Co. “The exterior enhancements are primarily to the front and rear, with most changes taking place under the skin. The change to the new model was evolutionary rather than revolutionary.”
The notable changes to the exterior are to the trunk and the front end. In an effort to maximize the amount of space available, the trunk lid is taller and drops off later. In addition, the distance between the taillights was widened and the loading height was lowered.
The storage space was reconfigured, and the mini-spare now mounts in the right, rear quarter panel so it’s up and out of the way, which leaves the upper tray area open for luggage. Due to its large size, the full-size spare is still mounted on the tray.
“The redesigned trunk adds approximately two to three more cubic feet of space, however, it adds a lot more usable space,” Bedard says.
In addition to the lower trunk lip for a lower and wider loading area, Ford has brought back the power trunk closer. Chauffeurs will recall this feature from prior models and no longer have to slam the trunk down.
The front of the vehicle has a taller flatter hood, creating a more square front end.
“It has a sporty and aggressive LS look,” Bedard explains. Also, back by popular demand, the Lincoln Star hood ornament will return to the hood of the car.”
The vehicle also has new reflector headlamps with higher light output.
The GVW Capability: Increase in Capacity The enhancements to the new vehicle allow Ford to increase the Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) from its present QVM standard of 7,100lbs to a new GVW of up to 7,500lbs.
“It’s a significant 400lbs increase in GVW capability,” Bedard says. “This will give a lot more flexibility and freedom to the coachbuilders for adding option content to the vehicle while staying within QVM weight.”
The Interior: Comfortable, Adjustable and Safe According to Bedard, most of the new features on the interior were implemented with the safety and comfort of the driver in mind.
All of the comfort and safety features in the 2002 vehicle are carried over into the 2003.
“It will carry over the power adjustable brake and accelerator pedals, the 8-way power seat control and the power lumbar support,” Bedard explains.
However, new to the 2003 interior is extended length front seat tracks in order to allow more adjustment range for the driver.
Another significant safety feature of the vehicle is that it is also equipped with smart airbags. The air bags deploy at a rate determined by the weight and size of the driver. It deploys aggressively for a big person and not as aggressively with a smaller person.
The present Town Car has a Five Star Safety Rating for driver and passengers from the National Highway Safety Association. Bedard expects that with the added safety enhancements the 2003 will achieve the same safety rating.
More Interior Enhancements The interior features upgraded leather seats similar to that of Lincoln’s Cartier series. An instrument panel, with more displays and both a digital and analog speedometer, as well as a built-in analog clock, is mounted in the dash.
Ford has also gone with a nickel satin interior. All switches have a nickel satin finish instead of the current plastic or chrome with wood tones.
New for the 2003 model is an AM/FM cassette, single CD player, which will be standard in the vehicle.
A unique feature of the vehicle is rain-sensing digital wipers. The wipers operate at the rate needed to clean the windows based on the amount of rain.
In regards to interior climate control, the 2003 has dual-zone automatic temperature control. The audio, climate and speed controls are all mounted on the face of the steering wheel.
It also comes with a standard, universal garage door opener molded into the sun visor.
As an option, Ford provides a Telematics navigation and concierge-type communication system. This is a system similar to GM’s OnStar. “But with more information and options,” Bedard says.
Braking and Suspension Systems: Safer Stopping The 2003 model is equipped with more safety features in the way of a new “panic braking system.”
The vehicle features all new front frame rails, which are hydro-formed because of their complexity, contributing to an all-new front suspension. It also features power rack-in-pinion steering instead of the present vehicle’s recirculating ball.
It continues to have the adjustable air-bladder suspension in the back, only increasing the spring rate to what is necessary to level the car.
Bedard explains that the benchmark for this vehicle’s handling and ride was the European and Japanese luxury imports.
It has the all new 17-inch aluminum wheels and tires. The tires are larger and, with a wider track, and therefore slightly farther apart from each other. “The new model really fills up the wheel wells now with larger wheels and tires,” Bedard explains. “It has a much more aggressive, more of a muscle car stance.”
The L Series: Seeing Some Enhancements Since the L series makes up 85 percent of Lincoln’s livery sedan sales, the 2003 body style will be available in the Executive L Series (factory 6-inch stretch).
It has all of the new enhancements to the interior of the 2003 as well as the current redundant audio and climate control, the dual vanity mirrors, four Power Points and the power seat control in the rear of the vehicle.
Also, something new this year is the long door will have full-length glass instead of a wide “B” pillar. This enhances both driver and passenger visibility
The Present Vehicles: What About Existing Fleets? “The nice thing is that these are great enhancements, but they won’t antiquate the present fleet,” Bedard explains. “It’s a subtle change, not as drastic as the change from ’97 to ’98.”
Significant incentives have been placed on the 2001 and 2002 models. On the limousine, Ford offers a cash rebate of $3,000 on 2001 and $2,000 on 2002 models. The rebate can be used as a down payment to the coachbuilder. The livery sedan offers $6,750 on 2001 models and $5,750 on the 2002 models.
The new vehicle also has Ford’s 3 year 100,000 mile ExtraCare extended warranty. It’s able to be upgraded to 3 years/150k miles or 6 years/100k miles.
The Timeframe: When Will We See It? According to Bedard, Ford plans to start building the new model in the spring (approximately mid-March). However, availability will not likely be until May for the sedans and the summer for the limousine conversions. Ford will be working with the coachbuilders to have 2003 conversions available at the LCT Show in March.