Road Ready: 1976 Ford LTD Custom 500 Station Wagon

If the badges that adorn the front of this 1976 Ford LTD Custom 500 Station Wagon are any indication, its owners have ventured far and wide across our big blue marble. You can be sure that some of those journeys involved travel across the vast expanses of the United States aboard this exceptionally tidy classic. The owner has reached the point where they don’t want to sell the vehicle, but they have faced the reality that they have nowhere to store it. Therefore, they have listed it for sale here on Craigslist. The LTD is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the seller is asking $7,000 for this slice of motoring magnificence. I have to say a big thank you to Barn Finder local_sheriff for referring this fantastic survivor to us.

The owner only supplies this single photo that provides an overview of the LTD, but it paints a positive picture. The Medium Bright yellow paint holds a winning shine, with only a few blemishes or issues. There is a dent in the driver’s side front fender, but repairing this should not be challenging. The rest of the vehicle looks pretty straight for its age, and I am struggling to spot any rust problems. The panels appear clean, while the owner doesn’t identify any issues on the wagon’s underside. I’m not sure whether I would class the glass as perfect, but there are no major scratches or defects. The chrome is in good order, and the roof rack is a practical addition to this classic. When you consider the type of life these vehicles can lead at the hands of a growing family plying the suburbs and car parks of shopping malls and markets, its condition is well above average for its age. Achieving something close to perfection looks like it would be easy and wouldn’t break the bank.

If this Ford packs a surprise, it reveals itself when we open the doors and examine the interior. This is an aspect of most family wagons that is a virtual battlefield. Children with sticky fingers and kicking feet, the family dog, luggage, and groceries, can all exact a heavy toll on trim and upholstery. I’m sure that most of us have seen more than a few wagons of this type with interiors that are battered and bruised. However, this one offers a refreshing change. The brown vinyl upholstery is in excellent condition, with no signs of wear or physical damage. The dash and pad show no evidence of cracks, while the carpet looks incredible for its age. The owner keeps us guessing about features and luxury appointments. I can spot what appears to be a pushbutton radio, but it isn’t clear whether the original owner ordered it with such niceties as air conditioning.

If the passenger compartment of this wagon is impressive, the cargo area continues the trend. Floating luggage and all manner of odds-and-ends can slide across the carpet and slam into the trim. That can cause some horrendous damage, but this wagon looks close to perfect. You get the impression that it has been treated with total respect since Day One. The owner doesn’t provide much information on its mechanical configuration, but we know that it is equipped with a V8 engine and a three-speed automatic transmission. Ford offered this model with either the 400ci or 460ci units. The “baby” produced 180hp, with its big brother delivering 202hp. While it isn’t a muscle car, a sub-19-second ¼-mile blast remains acceptable for a wagon that is nudging 5,000lbs. The owner states that he has recently drained and flushed all of the fluids, treated the wagon to new tires, and has inspected the vehicle from end to end. It is mechanically sound and is ready to tackle a cross-country adventure with its new family on board.

Classic station wagons are always highly sought by enthusiasts, and potential buyers are willing to grab them enthusiastically when they hit the market. This LTD looks like a survivor in above-average condition, and the asking price undoubtedly allows it to fall into the affordable category. If anything surprises me, it is that an eager buyer hasn’t already snapped it up. When you look at what’s on offer, that could happen at any time. If you are in the market for a full-size family wagon, you might need to act soon to secure this one.


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  1. Stevieg Member

    The banana boat!
    I didn’t know they made this body as a “custom” instead of a LTD.
    That front fender will still have a crease after fixing it, but it isn’t too bad as it is, I think I would just leave it be as it is.
    Could be a great road trip car, if you can afFord to keep it fed (see what I did there with the word afford? Darn “Dad” jokes).

    Like 10
  2. Will Fox

    Just an FYI: Even though this wagon is LTD based, those letters never adorn the flanks of these when trimmed in Custom 500 trim.

    Like 2
    • ChiTownJeff

      The Custom 500 was to the LTD what the Bel Aire was to the Impala.

      Like 3
  3. DavidC

    I had got one just like it in 1978 except mine was blue. Pretty good car until the wife wrecked it.

    Like 1
  4. S

    Wasn’t this model called the “Ranch Wagon”? I thought Ford had 4 trim levels for their full sized wagons during this time period. Ranch Wagon, Country Sedan (which is a name that makes no sense), LTD, and Country Squire. I thought the Custom 500 name was only used on sedans and coupes (?)

    • Larry

      The wagon models for 1976 were: Custom 500 Ranch Wagon, LTD, and LTD Country Squire. This model for sale appears to be the Custom 500 Ranch Wagon … not one of the two LTD models.

      Standard engine in full size Ford wagons was the 400 with 180 bhp.

      Like 3
      • Chris Commans

        The Ranch Wagon name was dropped after 1974. For ’75, the wagon models were Custom 500 (fleet & Canada sales only), LTD & (LTD) Country Squire.

  5. Tom

    Had an ’71 LTD Squire wagon with a 400 engine. Was a great car but on the thirsty side. Friend of mine said LTD stood for “Long Term Debt” and it was a bit pricey in 1971. Ride and performance was very good and kids loved it.

    Like 2
  6. EJ

    I am thinking it is a 400CI (no dual exhausts visible). The side view mirrors may not be correct for the year. No hood ornament?
    Fleet/Public service vehicle?

    Like 1
    • Chuck Dickinson

      The mirrors are aftermarket accy. mirrors, and the wheelcovers are Olds wires

      Like 1
  7. Vance

    My Brother was an Engineer for Ford when these came out, he was in emission controls, so you can blame him for the choked motors. His boss was always complaining about the gas mileage on his wagon. They had it in a dozen times to no avail. Finally my Brother went out and dumped 10 gallons of gas into it once a week. It solved the problem and was a great story.

    Like 4
  8. david R

    Had a LTD years ago. I miss that car, they are indestructable.

    Like 2
  9. JudoJohn

    I, too love these wagons. a friend’s parents had several in the ’70’s. held lots of kids for carpool. I had a ’71 Mercury Monterey wagon that I bought cheap used for a tow vehicle. I wish i still had it. better than a small truck (except fuel mileage), better ride, tons of room inside to carry tools and spares. and you could sleep in at the track.

    Like 2
  10. markp

    We all live in a yellow submarine, yellow submarine, yellow submarine. What a glorious boat!

    Like 1
  11. Margaret A. Soucie

    I loved the Ford wagons. I had a ’68 LTD, a ’72 Torino plain Jane and a ’85 Crown Vic. We took the Torino wagon to Watkins Glenn and used the back to sleep in. We took the ’68 and used it to tow the ice racer all over Maine. The Torino and the ’85 Crown Vic were the same car. The Torino platform became the full size Crown Vic, Country Squire. I could get 21 MPG on long trips and 12-15 daily. The Torino died in 1999, 225,000 miles. The Crown Vic died in 2012 with only 185,000 miles. Miss the wagons.

    Like 1
    • Larry

      Great cars, Margaret, but the 1972 Torino had nothing in common with the 1985 Crown Victoria other than a blue oval. The Torino was a unit-body style construction, while the Crown Vic was a body-on-frame design built on the Panther platform introduced in 1979. They were vastly different designs.

      Like 1
  12. bone

    You can thank demo derbies for their scarcity ; I alone must have derbied a dozen of these monsters when you could pick them up for 50 bucks or less.

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