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Low-Mileage Personal Luxury: 1976 Ford Elite

It hasn’t been that long since American auto manufacturers had personal luxury cars in their lineups, but the thought of them having such an offering today feels rather archaic. If you yearn for those times, this 1976 Ford Elite may be as close to a new personal luxury car you’ll find. It can be found here on eBay in Fort Lee, New Jersey with a buy-it-now price of $38,000. Those waxing nostalgic but who feel the ask is a bit high have the opportunity to make an offer.

Even though I said this may be as close to new as you’ll find, other low-mileage examples have recently sold and there’s currently an even lower-mileage 1975 model on the market. Both of those units fetched and/or asked a much lower price. Since their years of production pre-date your author, I’m left to wonder why finding a rarely driven Ford Elite isn’t uncommon. They seem like a reasonable alternative to Ford’s own Thunderbird or any of the other big three personal luxury offerings. During their 2-year standalone production run, Ford built almost 270,000 Elites, so maybe it’s just a law of percentages that’s left us with some clean, low-mileage examples.

I love when vintage car colors evoke the era in which they were built. This Ford Elite earns extra points in that category with its Dark Yellow Green Metallic paint and contrasting Creme half-vinyl roof and Creme body side stripe. The original Firestone whitewalls wrapped around steel wheels with wire wheel covers make me wonder if the original buyer of this Elite was hoping for that Thunderbird feel without the sticker price, as the Elite started nearly $3k less than the Thunderbird — a difference of more than $15k today. The seller describes their car as “straight and solid all around” as well as being rust free and showing no signs of body damage.

The interior is described as “original” and “complete.” Keeping with that near-Thunderbird theme, according to the original 1976 brochure, Ford said you could “go super-luxurious” by adding the Interior Décor Group, as the original buyer did here. The 100% nylon knit fabric features a split-bench up front. I’m typically a bench seat fan but front bucket seats do look nice in these. The goldy-cream colored interior has held up exceptionally well over the past 47 years, appearing to need nothing more than a thorough cleaning. The burled wood dash houses a clean layout with big gauges.

Powering this behemoth is the original 400 cubic-inch V8 backed by a column-shift automatic transmission. The seller offers no insight as to the running condition but based on the setting of the photos I’d assume it at least moves under its own power.

I’ll speculate there aren’t many people clamoring for a 1976 Ford Elite in any condition…or, really, any vehicles from the late 1970s. Be that as it may, this car offers some niceties that help its case. Does the case made above tempt you to make an offer and start living the personal luxury car life?


  1. Avatar photo Bob_in_TN Member

    Good write-up Jonny. I too have a soft spot for personal luxury cars of this era. Maybe because this type of car isn’t available now, but perhaps more because of their presence and high style.

    This is an excellent example, complete with attractive period-correct colors. I agree, the ask is really big.

    The Elite wasn’t a bad seller. But what amazes me most is that a restyle, and naming it Thunderbird, made for a huge sales success.

    Like 18
    • Avatar photo bone

      That’s kind of its younger sister , I’d say the ugly LTD II was it successor

      Like 2
      • Avatar photo Rick

        The LTD II wasn’t a bad looking car at all. I wouldn’t mind owning one today.

        Like 4
    • Avatar photo Grant

      Not sure I care for this colour, but over all an incredibly beautiful car. As long as the emission controls didn’t interfere with the way they ran, these were wonderful cars. The pollution controls were early on, but we had no choice, it had to be done. Any of us over, say, 60, can recall the pale brown haze hanging over any major city in those days. I do not miss them.

      Like 0
    • Avatar photo Brad460 Member

      What people miss nowadays are cars with some style, sophistication, and a sense of grandness. Everything now is either ultra performance or bland. This car exudes classy. Luxury style and trimmings without the thunderbird price. Sharp car

      Like 6
  2. Avatar photo Frank

    My uncle bought one new, gold with tan interior. Rode nice and had reasonable power. Nice cars along with the Lincolns of the era

    Like 11
  3. Avatar photo Pete R.

    Wow! Why am I so impressed by this? I never found anything from this era all that attractive back when I was growing up in the 80s. Everything made after 1972ish seemed crappy to me, but now it’s just so darn nostalgic and simple. Ah the good old days…

    Like 14
  4. Avatar photo Zen

    Nice car for sure, but not worth anywhere near $38,000! He would be very, very lucky to get $10,000, and probably closer to $5,000-$6,000. I think the owner will be keeping this car for another 50 years.

    Like 36
    • Avatar photo theGasHole

      This looks like the Elite I saw for sale about 3-4 years ago here in NJ for a couple thousand dollars. $38k is insane, and I love these cars.

      Like 0
      • Avatar photo Randy jones

        38k..dreams. on….5 grand..if it runs maybe…get a old LTD…200 bucks

        Like 0
  5. Avatar photo CCFisher

    If the law of percentages was driving the number of low-mileage Elites out there, we’d be seeing more than twice as many low-mileage Monte Carlos for the same model years, with over 612,000 sold.

    Like 5
  6. Avatar photo Big Bear 🇺🇸

    Yes it’s beautiful for it’s age. Just like the 73 Plymouth satellite Sebring Plus….But that price. I am sorry he or she been watching to many BJ Auctions..$22,000 is more in line. First if anyone was a teenager back then . I knew people who had this one with the same interior … you better be clean to sit on this material. I seen coffee stains couldn’t come out! Sometimes it felt like glue you couldn’t move around.😂 They offered leather interior. That would be a better option. At least it didn’t have a 302. Good luck to the seller. 🐻🇺🇸

    Like 7
  7. Avatar photo Stan

    Never heard of the Elite model 🙌😃

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo Chuck Dickinson

      Then you must be a “young-un”!

      Like 5
  8. Avatar photo Tommy T-Tops

    Gorgeous for a 70s car. Reminds me of my parents 77 T-Bird that I learned to drive on and took my drivers test. GLWTA but I think 25k is all the money and then some.

    Like 3
  9. Avatar photo Jim

    I bought one new. Black with black vinyl half roof, red interior. Only kept a few years and really liked it but company policy had turning over cars every few years.

    Like 2
  10. Avatar photo Troy

    Lots of guys out there looking for mid 70s cars. It was a great time to be alive.

    Like 7
  11. Avatar photo Piper62j

    Ford dropped the Gran Torino Elite name in 1976 and just went with the Elite. I have one and it rides smooth and quiet.. It will pass anything but a gas station.. LOL.. Love the luxury.

    Like 6
    • Avatar photo Robert Rulison

      Thanks for this info. I thought it looked like a Gran Torino. I, too, have never seen one of these before. Really good looking car for the age.

      Ditto to all the comments about the price.

      Like 2
  12. Avatar photo Old Ford Man

    I like it but not enough to drop more on it than I paid for my new Subaru legacy, there have been a lot of low mileage cars and trucks from New Jersey popping up on the auction sites lately and I have always been reluctant to buy one from that state

    Like 3
  13. Avatar photo Ben L

    They are only asking 30,000 to much

    Like 13
  14. Avatar photo Hank kaczmarek

    Every Jack-Wagon with a car in decent shape and low mileage sees paying off their Mortgage or Balloon payment by selling the car.
    One thing about a 47 year old car. Even if Garage Kept, every piece of rubber in the front and rear suspensions are GONE. Bunch of expense and work just to get an alignment.
    The seals in all 4 shocks ARE GONE. Another expense for a smooth and proper ride.
    Samey same all the vacuum and water hoses. Probably out of protecting the interior, the heater core should be replaced.
    Got to do calipers, wheel cylinders, brake hoses and check all lines, and replace the Master Cylinder,.

    Of course, this is only if you want to actually drive the thing safely.

    Like 11
    • Avatar photo theGasHole

      I agree with you 10000% on everything you just wrote!

      Like 0
  15. Avatar photo Azzura Member

    I agree Hank. It may look new on the outside but every rubber piece is failing or has failed.

    Like 5
  16. Avatar photo Paul N

    maybe his keyboard stuck, and an extra 0 stuck onto his asking price. I might be in at $3800

    Like 1
  17. Avatar photo Jay McCarthy

    I remember these car particularly with the 400 loved gasoline

    Like 1
  18. Avatar photo Big C

    If you look through the classic car dealer section of Hemmings? You’ll see where sellers get their crazy prices from.

    Like 0
  19. Avatar photo mike

    very nice car how many mile are on the car i want to know and other people that may want to bid on would feel the same way . why no pic of the trunk hmm? if you want to sell this car more info pls have a good day very sharp car i have not seen this color before any have a nice day to all and take care

    Like 0
  20. Avatar photo Mark P

    Ah the mid to late 70’s. Between Elites, Torino’s and TBirds of this era I installed seemingly hundreds of CBs in them. Very popular cars. All basically the same. I had it down to less than an hour and that included mounting the K40 antenna on the trunk lip and wiring up to the dash where the CB was usually mounted on one of those slide in anti theft mounts. I worked at a Lafayette Radio, remember them? A smaller rival to Radio Shack. This job was the kick off to a nearing the end of a 40+ year career in electronics.

    Like 5
  21. Avatar photo William Maceri

    Yes I remember these. Personally I would much rather have a 76 bird, especially for the big money this one is asking
    Although the birds were more like Lincolns than Thunderbirds. But I loved those big Birds. There was an understated classyness about those in the mid-70 birds. This Elite is a very nice car, they were considered midsized at the time. That says it all about what we liked back then. I admit I like the big Fords from back then, although the color on this one does nothing for me, if you ever saw an Elite in all black you would understand. The rear end on this one is nice, it was very detailed and I like the way its full horizontal taillights continues around each rear fender. The beauty in this one is it’s handling and very comfortable, and quite interior I had a 77 downsized bird that shared the dash and doors panels with the Elite. That same uncle had a red 75 Monarch, also a nice car, kinda a poster child for the Malaze era. Before the Monarch, he had a 73, also red, 4 door hardtop Marquis, which was probably the nicest of all this 70s Fords. I think my uncle loved Fords and Mercurys as much as his son and I did. I liked that he did.I thought those thick color key body moldings was a unique Ford signature that Ford put on most of the 70s cars.

    Like 1
  22. Avatar photo Petroliapete

    I had one of these back in the day. Loved it. Can’t see $38,000 though.

    Like 1
  23. Avatar photo Edward Trojan

    I also bought a new 75 Elite… ebony black with black leather as a high school senior. My friends were getting cameros & firebirds, yet they all loved criusing in my Ford. I now have a 2020
    Linncoln Continental & would trade it in a heart beat for the Elite. Looks, ride, luxury & value. I miss those days.

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo Piper62j

      Ford did that to save money because the trim levels were expensive to produce.. Opera windows, landau roofs, wire wheel covers.. Window regulators and handles got eliminated..

      Like 0
  24. Avatar photo JoeNYWF64

    I’m surprised the side rear windows are fixed in place.

    Like 0
  25. Avatar photo Mike

    OK, not sure why, but I am in love with this car…not $38k in love, but definitely love it.

    Like 0

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