IT WOULD BE the perfect Republican car, except that it has bothsoul and passion. Instead, it's a car for Democrats who are out ofoffice, but not out of cash and panache.Have you recently been told to get out of Washington? This is the wayto go -- behind the wheel, or in the back seat of a 1995 Lincoln TownCar, Cartier Designer Series.Your mode of departure is your business, of course. The Town CarCartier is big enough to accommodate anything. And it's so fine, hey,you can cop an attitude: "Yo, taxpayers! Money talks and rhetoric walks,and we ain't walkin'."Yes sir! You can leave with either your head or your feet up in thenew Town Car Cartier, and be comfortable, to boot.What we have here is what poet and author Langston Hughes once called"joy through rejuvenation": fine, sculpted, supple leather seats thattreat your back and butt like royalty; a splendidly crafted cabinreminiscent of the most expensive suites in the Willard Hotel; a panoplyof power options so dedicated to delivering convenience, they would putany congressional staff to shame.Moreover, the Town Car Cartier has something you never had inWashington -- security. Nobody, but nobody can ever vote you out of thisone.Background: The Town Car wasn't always this grand. When it wasintroduced in the fall of 1979 as a 1980 Lincoln Continental, it was abig, wide work of chrome-laden ugliness -- a car so bereft of taste, itbelonged in the Automotive Hall of Shame.Indeed, if you can believe it, that gargantuan, rear-wheel-driveLincoln once was sold as a two-door coupe, which even the marketingpeople at Ford Motor Co. found embarrassing. They tried to cover up theerror by calling the car a "two-door sedan."Ford added two more doors in 1982, a year after it added the Town Carname. With the exception of a few tweaks and fixes, not much changeduntil 1990 when, with the help of computer-assisted design, Ford coveredthat 1979/1980 platform with entirely new sheet metal.The same platform -- the basic under-structure of the car -- remainsfor 1995. And the body remains pretty much the way it was in 1990, withthe exceptions of a new grille, new front and rear body fascias, newheadlamps and tail lamps and the welcome elimination of those verticaldivision bars in the rear windows.But, the interior! My goodness! The interior is radically different,with an elegantly contoured instrument panel, sensibly placed andtastefully presented gauges and dials, and fabrics and materials thatrival anything found in Rolls-Royce. It's a knockout, I tell ya.Practically everything on the Town Car Cartier is standard, includingdual front air bags; a battery saver that shuts off lamps 10 minutesafter they are left on inadvertently; a steering-control device thatallows you to determine how hard you want to work at the wheel; tractioncontrol; power four-wheel-disc brakes with anti-lock backup;electronically controlled, four-speed automa tic transmission; and a4.6-liter V-8 rated 210 horsepower at 4,250 rpm, with maximum torque setat 270 pound-feet at 3,250 rpm.Complaints: I have no problems with this car. In fact, if I everget the chance to bail out of a job in a golden parachute, I'd want onewaiting for me in the drop zone.Praise: Just an all-around fine automobile. Simply splendid onlong trips.Head-turning quotient: A thing of interior beauty. Outside ain'tbad, either.Ride, acceleration and handling: Ah, make that "glide,acceleration and handling." A triumvirate of excellence. A cruise-mobilepar excellence. Hot-rodders will hate it. But the Town Car Cartier wasnever intended for them. Braking was excellent.Mileage: About 23 per gallon in the road test, running mostlyhighway with two occupants and light cargo. Fuel capacity is 20 gallons,which gets you an estimated cruising range of 440 miles on the usablevolume of regular unleaded.Sound system: AM/FM stereo radio and compact disc, JBL AudioSystem with digital signal processing. Excellent.Price: Whoa! The base price, for the Town Car Cartier without thefew available options, is $41,200. Estimated dealer invoice on the basemodel is $36,000. Price as tested is $44,555, including $2,730 inoptions such as the power sunroof, and a $625 destination charge.Purse-strings note: Compare with any full-size luxury sedan,including the Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn. Seriously.
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