Surf Wagon: 1981 Ford LTD Estate – SOLD!

Mar 2021 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Wagon Wednesday

March 23, 2021 Update – we confirmed the seller of this “Classifind” deleted their listing, so we’re now able to call this one “SOLD!” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call Rudy directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

It’s always sobering to run through the list of improvements made to a vintage and/or hobby vehicle and total up the investments against what it will likely bring on the used car market. The seller of this sweet 1981 Ford LTD station wagon has done just that in his listing from March 2021 on Craigslist in St. Petersburg, Florida, with several upgrades listed and lots of recent maintenance for an ask of $4,000.   Comparing this price against the NADA Price Guide reveals this seller may be undercutting his potential profits (or return to neutral) by a few dollars, as the “High Retail” is valued at $5,700 and “Average Retail” at $4,475.

The Ford LTD is perhaps one of the most iconic shapes and names in the automotive universe. It’s been equally loved and hated by teenagers – loved by those that see the value of a car you can’t kill and can haul nine of your friends (along with a few kegs); hated by pre-pubescents who would rather die than be seen in the back of dad’s family truckster. Speaking of dad wagons, who can forget the transformation an LTD made in the must-see Chevy Chase classic, National Lampoon’s Vacation, a movie car that still has a huge following today? That’s why it’s not entirely surprising to see one undergo a modest restoration, especially as the nostalgia factor for 80s vehicles continues to grow. That said, the most positive ROI will likely follow a survivor-grade final year LTD Country Squire with wood paneling and the venerable 5.0L under the hood.

Still, there’s nothing wrong with chasing an older model like this, even if it doesn’t have those fake wood overlays slathered across the door skins. Based on the description, it seems like the seller is slightly consumed by the line-by-line improvements he’s made to the LTD, including some items that simply amount to accessories like a thermos set and key fob. It’s too bad, as it obscures some of the very real work done, including a fresh paint job, new carburetor, rebuilt air conditioning system (that has since stopped working, but is hopefully an easy fix), new exhaust, and “Bullitt”-style wheels from a late model Mustang, among numerous other improvements. The LTD is said to run and handle well, and comes with the optional fold-away third-row jump seats and numerous custom touches, like a vintage surfboard painted to match. Kudos to the seller for having some fun with a vehicle that when found in a place like Florida, is more typically used for carting grandkids than heading to the beach. Good luck with the purchase if you decide to take this surf wagon home!

Here’s the seller’s description:

“Amazing 75K original miles car !  302 / 5.0 V8 – Auto trans. Original Interior excellent. Third row disappearing jump seats. Original headliner, No damage interior.  Original AM pushbutton radio. Includes new dual shaft radio and 4 speakers retro period stereo. Power door locks. Non power window / cranks. Power rear window. Non power seats approx. $8 K spent on upgrades and new parts upgrades include; 80’s Mustang GT OEM Leather Wrap steering wheel (restored /dyed to match) ($250), tinted windows ($200), new a/c R134A system will freeze you out ! ($1500), new brakes incl. brake lines ($350), new brake master cylinder ($75), new Holley carb & chrome Holley air cleaner ($350), new headers and dual exhaust system (exit one each side) ($900), new chrome exhaust tips ($50), new alternator ($95), new voltage regulator ($35), new distributor and spark plug wires ($150), new battery ($85), new paint incl all door jambs ($1800), new emblems  ($85), new roof rack moldings ($90), new 2015 Mustang Bullet 20” rims w/ new Nitto tires ($1500), new lug nuts ($50), new custom LTD wheel center emblems  ($75), new wheel spacers ($100), under dash gauges ($100)

Show accessories
Vintage Surfboard painted to match ($150), vintage aluminum cooler ($85), vintage thermos set ($50), vintage travel cases ($50), new surf theme pillows (3) ($65), vintage Boombox painted to match ($75), new Surf Fink Rat Rod custom front license plate ($50), New LTD vintage key fob ($25); New in box retro dual shaft stereo  $150, New blue 6×9 speakers and spkr boxes ( $95), Front surface mount speakers dyed blue to match = $75; Rat Fink on Surfboard dash figure ($60), New blue center console ($30) Runs EXCELLENT !  – handles GREAT ! gets LOTS OF LOOKS =THUMBS UP! The original SUV hauler ! email with questions or offers. Lowballs will be ignored – so don’t waste your time or mine !

Ive owned the wagon about 3 yrs. Ive only put approx 2500 miles on it as I have 2 other vehicles. doesnt burn any oil. The A/C was all replaced / upgraded to R134A before I bought it and would freeze you out. It just quit working about 3 mnths ago- compressor is good. It has a new rust spot on the drivers side rear window – about 2″. the tailgate has a bad dent on left side – needs body work. Pros- It runs excellent – very fast even loaded down handles great with the 2106 Mustang Bullet rims & tires (new take offs cost me $1000 ). I have a very nice new in box stereo and blue carpet covered speaker boxes and 6×9 speakers and wires (not installed-not shown in ad-$350). The Mustang GT leather wrap steering wheel cost me $200 -plus I restored it -painted spokes silver and dyed leather to match- ($300 value)

Do you have a Ford LTD story you’d like to share?  Comment below and let us know!


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