1970 Ford XL

The LTD was romping along at over 300,000 annual sales. The Ford XL's days were clearly numbered, and they ran out after 1970.

Changes were minor in this final season. The GT option was gone, and you could no longer get a four-speed manual transmission at any price, but tradition returned as the 351 V-8 replaced the big six as standard XL power.

Prices rose to $3,293 for the SportsRoof and $3,501 for the convertible, but production tumbled by 46 percent to only 33,599. Considering the barge-like standard Fords of the 1970s, it's probably just as well that the XL was allowed to pass from the scene with at least some of its former glory intact.

1970 Ford XL SportsRoof hardtop.
Model year 1970 marked the end of the Ford XL, represented here by the SportsRoof hardtop.

There's no mystery about why the XL died when it did. By 1970, the sporty full-size class had been on the wane for a good five years. Performance buyers had moved to mid-size muscle machines and fired-up pony-cars, while the family market was much more receptive to posh than pizazz.

The public was clearly tiring of "go-go" cars, aggravated by increasingly heavy insurance premiums on younger drivers and the hotter iron. Then, too, the manufacturers were losing interest as they faced a horde of federal safety and emissions legislation that not only seemed to rule out enthusiast hardware but also made it increasingly costly to develop.

It was thus no accident that demand for sports models of all types took a nosedive in the 1970 model year. At least the XL was not alone. Chevy, in fact, had dropped the Super Sport package for its Impala the previous season. Once the XL vanished, only Plymouth was left with a sporty big car, and then for only one more year.

1970 Ford XL convertible
The 1970 XL convertible looked little different from the 1969 model.

Today, the XLs are far and away the most collectible full-size Fords of the 1960s. While all are desirable for their fancy trim and buckets-and-console interiors, the 1962-1964 models are the ones to have because they're seen as the closest relations to Ford's successful stock-car racers of the period.

The 1964s have special appeal for their "Car of the Year" status and as part of that year's "Total Performance" stable, aside from being arguably the most durable and refined of the early XLs. While the 1965-1966 models are now starting to come into their own, it will probably be a while yet before the later ones do.

Few cars benefited more from racing production than the Ford XL. On the next three pages, read about how Ford used the XL's success on the racetrack to help boost sales.

For more information on cars, see: