Official dealer introduction date was November 26, 1997
A new era has emerged in the limousine industry. In April of 1997, Ford North American Fleet Operations debuted its all-new 1998 Lincoln Town Car at the New York Auto Show. Ford began Shipping 1998 Town Cars in limited quantity to coachbuilders in late October, with the numbers growing in ensuing weeks.
By now, operators across the country have seen or read about the 1998 Town Car. As with any major product release, there are always questions that need to be answered. The following information should answer in detail many of the lingering questions about the all-new Town Car.
1998 Lincoln Town Car Features
The product development focus of the 1998 Town Car was to maintain key Town Car attributes. These include a luxury focus, best-in-class ride performance, comfort, and convenience, while incorporating evolutionary changes. These changes focused on modern and distinctive styling, world-class functional performance, and improved reliability.
The debut of the 1998 Town Car was made at a special viewing at the New York Auto Show. Many of the interested onlookers were limousine business owners who were very impressed with the new vehicle.
“I had the great pleasure of viewing the 1998 Lincoln Town Car at the New York Auto Show,” says Mark Wright, president and CEO of Right Limousine in Trumansburg, NY. “The livery operators who attended the meeting loved the new style. I was so impressed that I will be ordering new vehicles as soon as they become available.”
The 1998 Town Car features an all-new front braking system that has 40 percent more brake pad area than its predecessor. Other improvements in the front braking system include:
- Rotor diameter increased one inch.
- Rotor thickness increased 8 percent.
- Brake lining area increased 40 percent.
- Brake swept area increased 25 percent.
This new braking system will improve heat dissipation, reduce war page and run-out, increase service life, and significantly improve brake performance.
There have also been major design improvements in the rotor/calliper hardware, friction pad size, ABS system, and rear drum shoe adjustment (limousines only) resulting in smoother and more confident braking, improved brake pad life, lower maintenance costs, and less downtime.
The front and rear suspension systems have also seen design improvements. The front suspension systems have also seen design improvements. The front suspension features all-new lower control arm bushings. The new bushings improve steering precision, feel, and braking characteristics; increase isolation from road input and front end alignment durability; and reduce vehicle/wander drift.
The rear suspension features Watt’s Linkage which improves straight ahead tracking, cornering confidence, road feel, and control; and reduces vehicle lift and squat during acceleration and braking.
The transmission has been upgraded, as well. The oil-to-air transmission cooler reduces the transmission operations temperature 15 degrees to 30 degrees Fahrenheit and dramatically improves durability.
“The mechanical diode clutch is an all-new design,” says Dave Hamernik, Ford limousine QVM program engineering manager.
“The clutch gives you faster shifts and reduced shift delay and that, in turn, improves durability. That, coupled with revised shift points, will significantly improve the transmission’s durability and performance.”
Additionally, the new transmission oil reduces heat-related fluid breakdown. Further, the transmission oil improves shifting and transmission function during cold weather. This contributes to decreased wear on the transmission.
KEY NEW TOWN CAR FEATURES INCLUDE:
- Adjustable rear air conditioning outlet ducts
- Rear seat armrest with cup holders
- 16-inch wheels/tires
- Larger air conditioning system
- Fail-safe engine cooling
- SecuriLock system
- Rear center 3-point seat belt
- Relocated rear map lights
- New extended-life battery
- New bodyside moldings
- Engine knock sensor
- New air conditioning system fittings
- New radio antenna system
- Side view mirrors that fold to prevent damage
- Impact resistant grill
Design Requirement Highlights
In keeping with the continuous improvement philosophy of the QVM program, several revisions have been established for the 1998 Lincoln Town Car conversion program. The revisions focus on ensuring compliance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) and other conversion requirements.
Meting the established requirements of the QVM program are mandatory. Non-compliance can result in expulsion from the QVM program.
The new requirements focus on the use of OEM components in critical conversion areas, require the removal of the front passenger seat on conversions over 100 inches, and require the QVM manufacturers to incorporate special equipment during the conversion process.
Customer Service a Top Pririty
Since QVM’s inception, the program initiatives and efforts have resulted in the establishment of numerous support programs such as purchase/conversion incentives, a fleet service hotline, Lincoln Limo Care dealer program, Extended Service Plan (ESP) coverage, annual QVM product/technical exchange meetings, credit assistance and advertising programs, and customer satisfaction surveys, among others.
“We know there will be many questions concerning the new Town Car,” says Hamernik. “There is always a constant open line of communication with our engineering, marketing, sales, and customer service divisions. Ford’s number one priority is its customers.”
According to Hamernik, Ford is constantly working with the industry to ensure critical conversion components are available in the right quality and the appropriate supply. “This is crucial to our customer support,” he says.
“We also conduct customer satisfaction surveys every four months,” says George Zigas, limousine and livery manager at Ford North American Fleet Operations. “The results are then reported back to the coachbuilders.”
Additionally, Ford has initiated “Voice of the Customer” meetings, which goes one step beyond the coachbuilders. “These meetings are held directly with the customers of the conversion companies,” says Zigas. “We get feedback directly from owners and operators of limousines.”
All of these programs are designed to directly benefit the limousine industry. They are staffed with knowledgeable people and focus on the unique aspects of the industry and how to address its specific requirements and demands.
“We really are in a partnership with the coachbuilders and the industry to present a superior product to the customer,” says Hamernik.