Things in the American SUV world got a lot more interesting during the late 1990s, when Ford and GM realized that the best way to print bales of money did not involve bringing over their European-market sedans for sale here. Instead, they would take their big sport utility vehicles, pry off the badges of their proletariat-grade marques, and slather them in luxury materials and the latest gadgetry. Ford was first with the Ford Expedition-based Lincoln Navigator in the 1998 model year, with The General transforming the GMC Yukon Denali into the Cadillac Escalade a year later. Today’s Junkyard Gem is an early second-generation Navigator, found in a Denver-area car graveyard.
The second-generation Navigator was built for the 2003 through 2006 model years. It didn’t look much different from its predecessor, but it (and its Expedition sibling) had a brand-new independent rear suspension that gave it a lower rear floor and a somewhat less truck-ish ride.
This generation of Navigator was the first luxury SUV to offer powered retractable running boards. This truck, being a top-trim-level Ultimate, has them.
With an MSRP of $56,140 (about $93,069 in 2023 dollars), the Navigator Ultimate 4×4 was the most expensive new production car or light truck offered by the Ford Motor company in the United States as a 2004 model. The introduction of the $149,995 Ford GT the following year stole that crown from the Navigator, of course.
That’s genuine walnut trim, not the phony wood that went into Malaise Era Lincolns. The dash layout was inspired by that of the 1961 Continental, according to Lincoln PR.
Power came from a 5.4-liter DOHC V8 rated at 300 horsepower and 355 pound-feet. Curb weight approached three tons.
This one looks to have been in good cosmetic condition when it got here. A quick VIN check shows that it was for sale at a Denver used-car joint a few months back, with just under 140,000 miles on the odometer and a price tag of $4,900 (which is about $3,104 in 2004 dollars, or a depreciation of nearly 95% in 19 years). Perhaps the engine or transmission failed soon after that, leading to this grim fate.
That wood-and-leather steering wheel felt … just like a football?
You could operate its power features in time to music, if you so chose.
The 2004 Navigator was forced to share this commercial with the smaller Explorer-based Aviator.