Baby got back: Ford Landau turns 50

LTD appeal: a two-door LTD sounded great in theory; the execution took care of itself...


September 2023 marked 50 years since the launch of Australia’s first locally designed luxury car, the Ford LTD.

That makes it also the 50th anniversary of Australia’s shortest-lived, least-produced and least-acknowledged production car – the LTD’s two-door sister, the Ford Landau.

It’s ironic that the Landau was the brainchild of Ford Australia Managing Director and marketing legend Bill Bourke. Just a few years earlier, it had been Bourke’s idea to make a high-performance GT four-door Falcon, at a time when ‘GT’ everywhere else in the world meant a two-door coupe.

The XR GT of 1967 and subsequent Falcon GT series, which added a two-door coupe in August 1972, put Aussie muscle on the global map.

As early as 1970, as Ford concurrently developed the Fairlane-based P5-series LTD sedan and the new Falcon hardtop, Bourke once again put two and two together and came up with a two-door LTD. This time, it didn’t add up.

Launched alongside the LTD, the Landau used the bodyshell of the XA-XC hardtop, but with a shortened side window opening. This and the obligatory vinyl top were presumably meant to evoke the traditional landau coachbuilding style.

The nose clip, per the LTD, featured vacuum-operated retracting headlight covers, similar to those used on the US Mercury Cougar and Ford Torino. The ornate wheel trims, on 15×6-inch steels, were from the Thunderbird.

Power steering, air-conditioning, power windows, ‘Select-Shift’ T-bar auto and reclining bucket seats all conspired to slake the various desires of a thrusting executive or entrepreneur. The only options listed were Howe leather upholstery ($250) and a stereo cassette player at $140.

Due diligence was needed for the sales brochure’s pitch of a ‘driver’s car’ with ‘the road-holding and precise handling characteristics that belong only to a personal coupe.’

The Landau was up to 200kg lardier than a similarly engined Falcon GT hardtop and its LTD suspension tune even softer than a standard Falcon V8’s. The 5.8-litre V8 came exclusively with the three-speed slushbox and a moonshot final-drive ratio, in keeping with the quiet and cruisy ambience.

A little too quiet, as it turned out: just 1385 Landaus were built before it disappeared in the September 1976 P6 facelift of the LTD. Only in the past few years has the Landau been gaining admirers, in the slipstream of Falcon GT hardtop values.

Revs – who’s counting?

Luxuriating in the Landau meant a face-full of fake burr walnut, fake (or optional real) leather, courtesy lights and cut-pile carpeting, including the boot.

A quirk was the woodgrain-finish steering wheel with its circumferential ‘rim-squeeze’ horn switch, although the missing tacho was an unfortunate departure from Falcon hardtop spec.

Not exactly Falcon quick

Landau’s 5.8-litre Cleveland V8 amounted to Falcon GT spec, with an Autolite 4300 four-barrel carb helping it to outputs of 216kW and 515Nm.

The three-speed slushbox, 2.75:1 diff (with LSD) made for a 17-sec quarter mile, a half-second slower than a Falcon GT 351 auto. The upside of the weight was the fitment of four-wheel disc brakes.

In detail:

Hub cap price$34
New price ($7770 for LTD)$6950
Wheel disc brakes, an Aussie first$4
Kg kerb weight$1719
Total production$1385