Why Can’t I Get Option X with Option Y?

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1973 Ford Maverick-640

Have you ever tried to order a new car or truck exactly the way you want it? Were you able to order the exact specifications you wanted?

Years ago the automakers listed everything that you could get on each vehicle. If you ordered your vehicle instead of making a selection from the dealer’s stock you could build it any way you pleased.

I remember a color blind friend special ordered a 1973 Maverick that was orange with a black top, and had a blue interior. Anything went with anything. Why he did that I don’t know, but I remember the car.

Now everything is in packages. You can’t special order things that are not offered and expect the factory to build it to your specs. Part of the reason is cost. Stocking all those parts cost money. It also slows the line down to make all these special combinations, and that costs time.

Tangent alert! When I worked on the Taurus transmission (AXODE) from 1988-1993 we had a problem at the launch of the 1991 models. We had the Atlanta and Chicago plants on hold to start the 1991 models, but they were still building the 1990s at this time.

Ford Taurus-slider

We crashed everyone that we could get our hands on for three weeks to identify and fix the problem. I averaged 16 hours a day during that time. When we got the fix into production several of us had to go to the Atlanta plant to drive the 1991s as they came off the line to verify the fix worked. It did. The plant manager told us that if it didn’t and he had to stop the line it cost $6,800 PER MINUTE that the line was down. So time really is money.

Back on track: Another reason that sometimes one option isn’t offered with another isn’t very obvious. A good example of this was the 2000 Lincoln LS Sport. The LS offered an audiophile stereo system, but it was not available on the sport. There was a different radio, but it fit in the same spot.


There were different speakers, too, but once again they fit in the same spot as the base radio. There was an additional amplifier that mounted to the bottom of the package tray inside the trunk. Nothing else was in the way, so why couldn’t it be ordered with the Sport package?

The reason was weight. Adding the amplifier raised the curb weight of the car. The EPA gets involved here. Emissions and fuel economy testing is done on an EPA approved chassis dynamometer. The dynamometer has adjustable inertia and horsepower that is used as a load to accommodate any vehicle.

The inertia loads can only be added in 125 pound increments. The LS was already at the maximum for it’s inertia weight class. If the car added one more pound the emissions and fuel economy test had to be run with an additional 125 pounds of inertia to overcome.

The car was also on the verge of being labeled a gas guzzler. This would trigger a gas guzzler tax that would have to be added to the sticker. The EPA does not allow the manufacturer to pay this tax, they require it to be added to the window sticker. Ford had (maybe still does?) a policy that they would not sell anything with a gas guzzler tax.

So if we added the audiophile amplifier to a Sport model the car would not be sold due to Ford’s policy. So you could get the audiophile system, just as long as you didn’t get the Sport option.

Find your options in the forum.>>

Photos courtesy of The Old Car Manual Project and Alden Jewell via Flickr.

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