By on September 15, 2011

[Editor's note: Today, at 12:25 pm, the very last Panther-platform Crown Victoria rolled off the line at St. Thomas Assembly Plant. Ryan Paradis, a.k.a. "86er," has the honor of eulogizing the beloved beast in his first-ever contribution to TTAC] 

It has become beyond trite by this point to say that, with the end of the Crown Victoria, Grand Marquis and Town Car, an era comes to an end. And yet it is thus: the last of the body-on-frame, rear wheel drive and eight cylinder engine passenger cars, once a species unique to North America, have now reached the end of an 80 year span that commenced with the advent of the 1932 Ford V-8.

Having transported generations of Americans through some of the nation’s finest decades, full-size cars like the Crown Victoria, Grand Marquis, and Town Car are now an anomaly. While large V8-powered sedans made a comeback in the 21st century, the Ford Panther chassis was one of the very few full-size, rear-drive sedans that never left. And today we bid it farewell.

Let us be clear before we go any further: increasing CAFE standards will mean that, barring a phenomenal advancement in engine technology, all large cars in their current form will be phased out before long. New realities are coming that automakers will find impossible to avoid. At the same time, without vehicles like the Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis, and Lincoln Town Car, cars so steeped in our notions of a limitless frontier and freedom from tyranny (of the mobility and engine displacement varieties), we lose a potent symbol of the domestic industry’s raison d’être.

The Ford Panther chassis is a rolling respite from traffic anxiety disorder. If your only experience with one has been riding in a taxicab, or careening through city streets, you’ve been misled. Truth is, the Panther’s driving personality is far more sedate. While some cars vie for your down payment by touting driver involvement, the big Ford goes the other way, trumpeting maximum driver isolation. It regards the world around it as uncouth, bumpy and loud, and lovingly insulates you from the indignities of crumbling roads and the frenzied pace of traffic. Only when breezing along without a care in the world do these vehicles truly come into their own, not only transporting you to your destination in isolated comfort, but under the right conditions, even taking you into view of a past that is on the brink of being irrevocably lost.

Prodigious torque, smooth power delivery and the isolation of riding on (frame) rails will now become the sole purview of those who have signed the paperwork for a truck or traditional sport utility vehicle. Those loners, those holdovers clinging to a time that has passed them by, will now have to join that swollen cohort of automobile purchasers who have savored the qualities they continue to find rewarding, from a higher perch.

But I come not to praise the body-on-frame passenger car but to bury it. Aficionados of this type of automobile have had ample time through various stays of execution and luck to sample the last vestiges of what make North American motoring a unique island unto itself for the vast majority of the 20th century. Indeed, through various twists of fate, the body-on-frame passenger car has held on longer than it would seem it had the right to, and that in of itself is reason enough to observe its passing today with pride, solemnity and recognition of a notable landmark.

After today, the remaining holdover from a completely globalized design movement led by the world’s automakers remains the pickup and traditional sport utility vehicle. Can this segment, in particular pickups, remain the top sellers? Or will they too fall victim to changing tastes and new regulations that threaten their existence?

For now, the American Truck reigns supreme. Today, we honor what once was and observe the demise of the American Car. In truth, the Panther has no peer, no competitor. It is the last vestige of the American car. Let’s not kid ourselves; pretty much everything else is international in form and function.

A part of me hopes they put the last Crown Vic or Town Car in the Smithsonian, with an inscription on the plaque reading: “Once we built cars, and we were not ashamed.” But another part of me is OK with the notion that the passing of the last traditional American sedan will go mostly unnoticed. After all, it befits the nature of this car; going about its business day in and day out, stoic and laconic, its qualities unheralded except by those who came to rely on it for the past 33 years.

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94 Comments on “Requiem For The Last American Car...”


  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Amen, amen, I say to you…

    I am happy that I was born soon enough before it’s demise to enjoy it. My next car must fit this traditional American mode. I shall become one of the custodians, one of the keepers of the flame. So that small children may ask me… “Mister, what was a Mercury?”

    • 0 avatar
      TonyJZX

      don’t you mean ‘keepers of the frame’?

      • 0 avatar
        56BelAire

        I can now accurately say, “I’m clinging to God, my guns and my frame rails”. LOL

        I live in Utah, I own guns, I cc, and I own not 1 or 2 but 3 frame rail vehicles; Ford P/U, ’67 Pontiac and ’10 Grand Marquis.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        And let me qualify my love a little. I believe someone who is a true “automotive enthusiast” should have room in their heart for the automobile in all it’s forms. Otherwise you are not an “automotive enthusiast” you are a “sports car enthusiast” or a “Corvette enthusiast” or “muscle car enthusiast” or “auto-cross enthusiast” ect… but not a full blown car enthusiast.

        Now would I want to drive a Panther for the rest of my life? No. No more than I would want to drive my F150 everyday for the rest of my life, it is a tool one that has it’s purpose. The Panther (and BOF V8 RWD American Isolation machines) serve a purpose. They isolate, they float a little, they leisurely roll along, they gobble up miles of interstate. I admire the Panther for being the last of it’s breed and being so dang versitile. You think the way that it rides is too stiff or to soft? Just go into the Bone Yard or the catalouge and pick out a different ride quality. I mourn for the Panther because of it’s uniqueness at the end of it’s life. The car’s it was designed to compete with are long gone.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I’ve driven Panthers, road tripped in Panthers and ridden in the back of Panthers (fortunately, sans handcuffs).

    Sorry, but I just don’t get all of the sentimentality for these things. I see why they make for good livery vehicles, but they’re awful to drive and I would never, never, never want to own one for regular driving. They had their place, but no tears here.

    • 0 avatar
      KalapanaBlack

      Agreed! I’ve driven more of these things than I care to remember (working in rental cars). I even got a speeding ticket in a Grand Marquis. No panther love from the State Trooper – I suppose since I didn’t actually own it. But I’ve always found the ride unsettled and jiggly, the rear suspension awkward in its movements and far too happy to break loose under certain circumstances (sure, you’ve got icy/snowy or wet roads, but almost going ass-end over a hill because of some sand? Only car ever to have trouble, and I was simply driving, not even quickly), and – particularly with the Town Car – the highway ride shockingly loud due to wind noise. The TC’s self-closing trunk is neat, and the undeniable cool factor of a black-over-black extended-length Town Car exists, but overall, I think these fleet queens are due for euthanization, despite the very vocal minority who enjoy them (I’ve loved some quirky cars in the past, believe me, so I understand your pain).

      As the poster below states, I certainly can also appreciate the almost absurd reliability of the things, but as actual cars they’re simply outmoded by most everything else.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    While there is nothing about the Panther that makes me desire one in the least, I have to respect their durability. I do not understand how Ford can see fit to abandon a platform that generates so many fleet sales in police, taxi and limo service. That’s a lot of willing buyers to turn away. If this is a “niche” market, it’s a pretty substantial one. I have no data to support it, but I would bet that total Panther sales would be close to or better the number of E-Vans sold.

    • 0 avatar
      ehaase

      I have purchased only two cars in my life – 1989 LTD Crown Victoria (purchased 10/9/89) and a 2004 Crown Victoria (purchased 4/1/2004), and they are wonderful to drive.

    • 0 avatar
      donkensler

      You really can’t make a business case for a car that’s 90% fleet sales, because the margins are thin, too thin to justify the updates necessary to meet safety standards. By contrast, I suspect the E-Vans, as commercial vehicles, don’t have near the regulatory requirements.

  • avatar

    I’m sorry but I just don’t get the appeal.

    After reading so many positive things about the panther platform on here I was starting to think I was missing out on something, so imagine my surprise when the friendly people at Avis handed me the keys to a Mercury Grand Marquis Ultimate Edition a few weeks ago. I was going to be on a 5 hour drive up RT 95 and figured what better way to get there in silence and comfort. Boy was I wrong. The ride was nothing special, the wind noise was terrible, the V8 accelerated no better than a 6 cylinder engine, and the interior made a Cozy Coupe look luxurious by comparison. And those seats! They were huge, flat, and uncomfortable.

    I will say this, gas milage on the highway was pretty good at approx. 28 MPG.

    • 0 avatar
      56BelAire

      strange, my ’10 Grand Marquis that lived its early life as a rental does not fit that description at all. What is your regular ride?

      • 0 avatar

        An Acura TSX and Mazda Miata.

        I’d say the worst aspect were definitely the seats. No matter how I adjusted them I just couldn’t get comfortable. I think if you can’t get comfortable behind the wheel it makes it really hard to appreciate the good qualities a car has.

        I had a Cadillac CTS rental a few weeks later and it was much quieter and nicer inside.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      Me too, almost exactly. Was a passenger in a rental Grand Marquis the last two days, riding between Pittsburgh and middle PA. This car is an unrefined, low cost people hauler intended for fleet sales. I really wonder why and how old people drive this car. The wind noise was horrible, though the 4.7L engine was very quiet for its size. I think my F350 flatbed rental from Home Depot had a more compliant rear suspension. Even the most moderate bumps produced an unsettling, underdamped “thud”. I could go on…

  • avatar
    crinklesmith

    http://i779.photobucket.com/albums/yy74/crinklesmith/Cars/DSCF0271-1.jpg

    I shall carry my torch with pride. (And continue to spew my hyperbolus delusions of it’s vehicular superiority to any automotive enthusiast that does not recognize the subtle majesty of the Panther.)

    BTW, only fat Panthers are good. Any Panthers built after 98′ are crap. With the exception of Marauders. And maybe HPP’s. And all P71′s are crap. And any Panther built before 96′, with the exception of the P75 Touring Sedans are crap. Aw hell, their all crap, we just like feeding the denial.

  • avatar
    brettc

    Well then, I guess that means the days of looking for Crown Vics on the road are coming to an end. The State Police in Maine are have at least one silver Mustang with blue racing stripes as a cop car. So I guess they’re still sticking with Ford. Although the Mustang can’t easily accomodate rear seat passengers so it’ll be interesting to see what becomes the new fleet vehicle. Sad that it means more job losses in Southern Ontario.

    • 0 avatar
      56BelAire

      That Mustang was probably a seized vehicle from a drug bust or something like that.

      Out here in Utah the police are using alot of Dodge Hemis and both Ford and GM SUVs.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    I learned to drive in and grew up driving BOF Yank Tanks. I have to say, I don’t miss ‘em and I find it hard to be sentimental about them. Even the very first one I drove — a 1963 Bel-Air — seemed absurdly large and ponderous to my 15-year old sensibilities. And I’m a pretty large person myself (6’4″).

    They remind me of nothing so much as driving a big powerboat, but not as noisy.

    De gustibius non disputandum est and all that, of course!

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    “New realities are coming.” So far they’re just new regulations. Get rid of the totalitarians, and we will be free to do as we please again.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Regulation is not what killed the Panther, just like regulation did not kill convertibles in the 70′s. The market killed the Panther. Sales were just too small to justify the resources to build and update it. If Ford could sell 70K a year of these, they would do just that. CAFE wouldn’t kill it either as this volume would have little effect on the total average.

      I, for one, will miss these, though I have no interest in owning one. Not really sure why BOF is such a pivotal point in the criteria; the full size Chrysler Yank Tanks made do with subframes and offered much the same experience. In fact, a better experience because the Chryslers weighed several hundred pounds. Perhaps less isolation though…

      Funny that this story posted today. Yesterday at work we were talking about the Malaise Era with the young-uns…and these big cars were a large part of that era. The “kids” had no idea of how bad America’s morale was back then…

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I’m not sure how much worse the malaise era was than the obama era is. The confusion about how bad malaise was exists because Reagan pulled us out of it. Current dogma is that he caused today’s problems, not that he provided a respite from the reality of living under progressive influences.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Can’t say that I blame any one particular president for all the ills of the present or past. Sometimes they are in a position to scoop up the credit (or blame) through no real action of their own. But if you want to give Reagan credit for undoing the Malaise Era** then Clinton deserves the credit for undoing the economic evils of the George HW Bush era.

        **As much as I loathe almost every facet of Reagan’s way of thinking, he does deserve unwavering merit for making America feel good about being American, no apologies required. The images of gas station lines, Ayatollas, hostages and failed rescue attempts, industrial collapse, etc was so very much present back in 1980. Looking back, I guess there was no other place to go but up from where we were. As far as Obama goes, the very economic environment that ushered him into office will now be his demise. He gambled that he could get the economic indicators to improve enough to offset any worries about debt. Hell, your hero Reagan had debt numbers that were unprecedented in his day. But Obama’s gamble did not give the payoff that he wanted so he will pay the price. Still, had we done nothing but stand back and let the dust settle, I am convinced we would have had another Great Depression. Unfortunately you can’t win the White House on that.

    • 0 avatar
      PintoFan

      One has to wonder at the mindset of an individual that would immediately equate any minimum pollution or safety requirement with totalitarianism.

      I guess if they were truly sincere in their beliefs, they would only buy cars built before 1966. After all, unregulated industry always produces “better” products, right? Practice what you preach.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Minimum pollution and safety requirements are eqauatable with CAFE existing and then doubling in a few years? Don’t bother replying. You’re out of your depth.

      • 0 avatar
        PintoFan

        Oh my gosh, you’re right. You’re just 2deep4me. I’ll cease posting immediately and stop calling you out for the intellectual equivalent of copy-pasting line items from Newsmax. If you have such a huge problem with CAFE, then there’s a long line of pre-1975 vehicles for your choosing.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @CJ:

        If the car was in demand, I’m sure Ford would have done what it needed to do to bring it up to spec for the upcoming regulations. That’s the problem – it wasn’t in demand. Your attempt to make this into an anti-government rant is pretty lame.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Bullshit. No one regulated this car out of existence – the MARKET did that. It’s a Carter-era design that people didn’t want to buy anymore.

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    Well, even the mighty dinosaurs eventually becomes extinct.

    Since the last Mitsu Eclipse was auctioned off, will the last Crown Vic be auctioned off as well? I’m sure there are many within TTAC who would bid!

    I too, am the one who “didn’t get it”. My only experience in panthers (besides in the back of the ubiquitous taxis) is a Grand Marquis rental a few years back. Wasn’t impressed at all. Despite having V8, mashing the throttle to the floor produces nothing. Plus seats (sofas?)that you sit on top of, and was very uncomfortable.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      For what ever reason the last Panther off the line was a Gulf Council States spec Crown Vic that is destined for Saudi Arabia. It would be interesting to see the reaction of the dealer/buyer when they open the hood to see all the signatures on it’s underside. The floor pan, door panels, frame rails and lots of hidden areas are covered in plant workers signatures as well. Here are pictures of the last one to ride the STAP assembly line. http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.219563578097992.59854.125597924161225

  • avatar
    Amendment X

    Great article

  • avatar
    Signal11

    I learned to drive in a sky blue 1982 Ford LTD station wagon.

    I remember road trips all over the US as a kid. For the longest time, I identified US states with National Parks. A few years later, the old man got stationed in Germany and shipped the car there. We road tripped to every country in mainland European country west of the Iron Curtain in that old land yacht, including all the fly speck countries, with the single exception of Portugal. I remember driving into West Berlin some time in the late 80s when we got pulled over by East German police. All American service personel driving POVs between Checkpoint A and B were given these little binders with what to do in this case – roll up windows, lock doors, show the page that says, “Call the Russians.” (That’s how my 12 year old brain remembers it.) After sitting on the shoulder of the highway for a while, they just let us go. That wasn’t the only trip into the Communist East for this vehicle, either. We had Czechoslovakian and Hungarian shields on the long line of tourist bumper stickers, too. It was a genuine curiosity in the US when it got shipped back, right around Gulf War I.

    Oh, how I hated that car. The old man offered me that or the equally old Chevy Malibu when I went off to college. I thought the 2-door Malibu was less embarrassing. He sold the LTD right afterwards. Now I know I made the wrong decision. At the very least, we should’ve kept the bumper/tailgate with it’s unique history.

    That’s my eulogy for the Panther.

  • avatar
    play3rtwo

    Sajeev, stop crying. seriously man, you are staining the interior.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    I wonder where the last one is going. Will we even know it’s serial number.

    The last Corvair ended in an even 6000. No one knows where it went. Most likely crushed by GM. Will this Panther have the same fate? (Except by Ford)

    • 0 avatar
      TCragg

      The last Crown Vic’s VIN is: 2FABP7CW8CX104292. It was a white 2012 export model destined for Saudi Arabia. 2011 MY production ended on Aug. 31. Every car since then cannot be sold in North America due to non-compliance with 2012 crash standards. Here is a link to the window sticker:

      http://services.forddirect.fordvehicles.com/inventory/WindowSticker.pdf?vin=2fabp7cw8cx104292

    • 0 avatar
      TCragg

      The last Crown Vic was a white export model destined for Saudi Arabia. Here is a link to the window sticker, complete with VIN:

      http://services.forddirect.fordvehicles.com/inventory/WindowSticker.pdf?vin=2fabp7cw8cx104292

    • 0 avatar
      MadHungarian

      I thought I read somewhere that the last one is going to a customer in Saudi Arabia, of all places.

      • 0 avatar
        KalapanaBlack

        I’m shocked it isn’t Avis. We have a royal f-ton of 2011 Crown Vics in the fleet. Of course, nobody wants them when they get to the counter… Even to a rental customer, what’s the point of an 18-mpg (city) full size V8 sedan if it’s uncomfortable, hard to park, AND slow? The ’11 Charger, however, remains insanely popular, despite the drastically smaller trunk and marginally smaller cabin dimensions.

      • 0 avatar
        friedclams

        I have rented a Marquis. I have rented a ’11 Charger. I loved the latter. If I had to own the former I’d shoot myself for the reason others have mentioned.

  • avatar
    slance66

    I second jpolicke’s points on durability and suitability for long term survival in harsh environments. I’m not sure what can replace it as a suitable taxi. The Camrys don’t hold up.

    I also found a rented black Town Car to be the ideal vehicle for four guys at a bachelor party in Scottsdale. Tinted windows, A/C that could freeze lake Erie, comfort and plenty of room, huge trunk and it presented the right message at strip clubs and spring training games.

    That said, I never wanted one for myself.

  • avatar
    mistercopacetic

    Excellent write-up of a historic moment in American history. Cars made this country, and the Panther platform underpinned many important American cars. I cannot claim to have owned one, nor has anyone in my family, but I remember cab rides and rentals. I remember seeing parked in my driveway a giant blue dinosaur of a car, whose wheelbase alone seemed longer than my entire Japanese “family-size” sedan. Then I stepped inside the brute and marveled at simple features I have yet to see on many other cars: two visors for each front seat. Now, every time I drive a car with the sun shining in my face, I wish I had a second visor to block both the front windshield and side windows. Not to mention the front bench seat/armrest/storage compartment. Now, every time I get in a car with bucket seats all I can think about is all the wasted space between the front seats.

    Surely we cannot discuss the death of the Panther platform without mentioning the development of the last remaining affordable, full-size, RWD, V8 American sedan: the Chrysler 300/Dodge Charger? This new platform represents an entirely different generation of engineering, but appeals to the same audience, I would think. Whenever I see a Charger sedan I wonder what it would be like to own one, except for two hang-ups: fuel costs and parallel parking. As it turns out, these same two problems are what will likely keep me from ever owning a Panther, though I can certainly appreciate them from afar.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Nice first article, Ryan.

    I appreciate – but don’t feel – the love for the Panther.

    I owned an 82 LTD full size 2-door for a while in the mid-90s. White exterior with red velour seats, red plastic trim bits inside. It required some work to rid it of the variable venturi carburetor and fit it with a proper 2-bbl Holley and dual exhaust, but there’s only so much an ’82 302 will give you.

    Rust claimed it at the same time my wife tired of loading kids into the 2-door’s back seat, and then we moved on to minivans as family movers. The minivans have much better manners.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I like the Panther because I can’t think of any other car that matches its availability, aftermarket, ease of DIY, low insurance cost, low initial purchase price, ease of finding parts, minimal electronics, good durability, V8 soundtrack, and kitsch value.

  • avatar
    dvp cars

    another site claims the last Crown is destined for Saudi Arabia with little or no fanfare, just another car, albeit with dual air. But in the same blog they make anecdotal reference to 5 units left unfinished on the line due to missing parts (“last minute” deliveries in the extreme). This begs several questions:
    …will they complete assembly tomorrow using management staff?
    …will future fanboy(no, make that fangeezer) historians
    incessantly quarrel over which of these 5 is the real
    “Last Panther?”
    …will this controversy result in last minute entry withdrawals
    and multimillion dollar lawsuits at Barret Jackson 2066?
    …is nobody paying attention…..does anybody care?

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Given the looney zeitgeist in the US these days, I probably won’t have to wait long before some conspiracy theory emerges as to why the 5 jobs were left unfinished…

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Given the looney zeitgeist in the US these days, I probably won’t have to wait long before some conspiracy theory emerges as to why the 5 jobs were left unfinished…

        I demand to see the Smog Certificate (which is not to be confused with the Certificate of Live Smog.) I’ll bet that the last car was built in Kenya, so it doesn’t even qualify to be an American car.

    • 0 avatar
      MadHungarian

      The way I read that story, it seemed to me that there were 5 cars left unfinished on the line yesterday (Wednesday) baceuse some parts to finish them were not there yet, so the workers were sent home, and they came back today to finish those last few cars. So I don’t think there are 5 “extra” cars.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        You are correct that they went home early on Wed and then had a funeral procession on thur with the last 5 with everyone present signing the last one to ride the line. Here it is http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.219563578097992.59854.125597924161225

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      The Final Five? Are we talking Crown Vics or Cylons?

  • avatar
    Syke

    Good riddance to the most over-rated car ever put out by Detroit. Sorry guys, I don’t know what kind of drugs are in the kool-aide you’re drinking; but based of your recommendations I took a Grand Marquis on our annual Richmond-Bangor trip last year. That was the biggest piece of shit I’ve driven since my 1979 Chevy Monza wagon. Halfway up, and I was fervently wishing that I had the last generation Sonata that I had used the year before.

    Crush ‘em all. We need more Fiesta’s and Sonic’s.

  • avatar
    Nick

    Baloney about the last five, I suspect. Trying to generate excitement to distract from the rather prosaic truth which is that the last few weeks of assembly all went to the Middle East. The last Panther won’t even find a home in NA.

    In any event, although I too lament the demise of the rear wheel drive, body on frame sedan, I’d feel much worse if it had been a different car. My father had a Crown Vic, and was a lemon from the outset. And this was well into it’s production run where one would reasonably expect every last bug to be well and truly sorted. I mean, seriously, wipers that don’t work?

    If Ford wanted to be the torchbearer for this type of car, they could have done it with a lot more panache.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The reason the last of the production were export spec is that those dealers were the last to cry uncle. The CV was non-retail only in the US since the 08 model year.

      When Ford originally announced the end of the Panthers Livery companies and LEO threw a fit. So Ford opened a window to order those vehicles only, LM dealers who did retail some GMs and TCs cried so 2011 MY versions of those were authorized and a short order window was opened up for those. Then they extended the Police and livery version windows. The Gulf council states Ford dealers then cried WTF you’re producing a full model year run and we can’t get any? So yet another window to order specific vehicles was opened. Which is how the last few weeks ended up being all export spec vehicles.

  • avatar

    Count me as another person who appreciates panther love without feeling that emotion towards that car. It is obviously a great car for certain types of people, and more power (and better gas mileage) to them.

    For those who love body on frame, and the beloved yank tanks of yore, don’t be missing Murilee Martin’s wonderful Impala from Hell series.

  • avatar
    Marko

    RIP Ford Crown Victoria, 1992-2011

    The final Crown Victoria has basically been around since I was born, so I literally cannot imagine life without it.

    What will it be like, associating some shape OTHER than a Crown Vic with a speed trap?

    The Crown Vic, for me and for most other American drivers, was like a Pavlovian stimulus to slow down…

  • avatar
    JerseyDan

    sniff sniff…. great eulogy 86er.

    My first job was as a taxi driver, I had a Town car; dependable as the sun rising and setting, never needed anything except bushings and ball joints. I never commented before on TTAC, always read it, twice at work, once before going to sleep. when I saw this article I had to comment.

    PS: PLEASE KEEP Z71 SILVY AWAY.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Have the GM and the TC reached Job-Last too? If not, when?

  • avatar
    Bruno Balestra

    I trust America to find a middle finger to the world at large, especially CAFE rulers, big enough to grant the world the gift of a true American automobile. Brazilian as I am, I love America with fervor. I shall return to San Francisco to finish college. When I do, I hope to be able to enjoy one.

  • avatar
    Trend-Shifter

    I think the demise of the Panther is due to the fact that if they did a compelling rebody and interior it would cannibalize sales rather than add sales, especially Lincoln and Taurus.

    Myself I would have done a retro 63 Ford fastback (but with 4-doors)and bring back the signature 4 round light grill and round rear tail lights. Not a bloated Taurus, think Mercedes CLK. And yes, it would be renamed the Galaxie 500 with a special XL model. It should have been launching about now for this to work!
    You could have watched them fly off the lot to the aging baby boomers. Then kill the line on a high note after 4 years of yearly grill and tail changes knocking off the the other round tail light years. Think model years 61, 62, and 64. Each yearly change would grab that buyer that liked the earlier model year. Create that secret design and unveiling like the old days. Each year could be exciting rather than waiting for a typical 5+ year design cycle.

  • avatar
    tallnikita

    Red 1983 Grand marquis, red leather, chrome power switches for the seats, absolutely effortless 85 mph cruise, proof that cars can float over the road, that was good stuff.

  • avatar
    Forty2

    Avis somehow picked up a train-load of Grand Marquis and was trying to foist them on me every week as some sort of upgrade over a Sonata or Optima or whatever. No. Thank. You. Those old boats still have cassette players in them. Column shift? Bench seat? Playskool HVAC controls? Wheezy gutless V8: the power of a four with the fuel economy of a 12. Mallomar suspension. WHITEWALL TIRES!!!

    Good riddance.

  • avatar
    PintoFan

    I do enjoy these cars, having learned to drive in one, but keeping a BOF car around is fairly silly at this point. All of the disadvantages of unibodies have pretty much been negated for passenger cars, especially in regards to crashworthiness. It was a good car, but well past it’s prime.

  • avatar
    400 N

    You all are aware that St. Thomas in Canada, right? I guess this proves that the “American car” is a state of mind as much as anything else.

  • avatar
    mazder3

    I really wish Ford had the temerity to offer a “Final 500″ line of Panthers like Oldsmobile did with all of their models after 2001. The Final Grand Marquis should have been a De Sade edition, pearl black with black full grain leather and a 5.0 V8. Final CV white on red, turbo 3.5. Last TC pearl white, white leather, 6.2.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      That would hae diverted scarce development resources from cars that need to be coming to market sooner than later, and with what it costs to develop and certify new vehicle and engine combinations, it would have een a drain on scarce capital resources too.

      Although unpracticable, a nice dream…

  • avatar
    Sutures

    “Once we built cars, and we were not ashamed.”

    What a great line, and so true… so horribly true.

    Proud owner of a white 2008 Town Car.

  • avatar
    skor

    1955 Crown Vic

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/aa/%2755_Ford_Crown_Victoria.jpg

    John Hammond tells you about his “Slick Crown Vic”.

  • avatar
    alexndr333

    I’d guess that the comments on this article are divided between the lamentors over 50 and the whatevors under 50. (I get credit for that new word, by the way.) I’m one of the lamentors who experienced a good bit of the body-on-frame world. We’ve changed a lot in our expectations of a car, most ways for the better. Yet, I can say that I miss the times when what mattered most was how the metal was bent inside and outside the body – ’58 Impalas and ’64 Galaxies, ’65 Grand Prix’ and Rivieras, Cadillacs and Lincolns – all of which worked for nothing more than a smooth ride down a long highway. For those of you who didn’t experience those years and can only think of them as dinosaurs, you missed a fine time. I’m glad we have DOHC engines, multi-link independent suspensions, dual-clutch transmissions, anti-lock brakes, radial tires, seatbelts, airbags, XM radio, and all the rest. We are living in an incredible time for automobiles. But for all the simplicity of the mechanicals (by comparison today) the 1950′s and 1960′s were a pretty sweet time, too. Look at a 1962 Oldsmobile Starfire convertible and tell me those weren’t cars worth lusting after.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    As a young(er) man in Circle Pines, MN (circa 1992-93) I remember when our local PD switched from the ‘boxy’ Crown Vic to the P71. That along with then-recent episodes of Cops made me interested.

    That year my mother got me several pictures of police interceptors, with several early Panthers included.

    I’ve had the pleasure (and displeasure…) of riding in and driving these over the years. He’s right in saying they truly are the last ‘American Car’.

    RIP Panther.

    P.S. I might forgo buying a Honda/Hyundai in favor of a grandpa-spec Vic…

  • avatar

    I wouldn’t call myself a Panther lover but every now and then I get the urge to buy an ex-cop Crown Vic since they’re cheap to buy and basically bulletproof. But then I think of the poor gas mileage and notice the way the cops drive them, and the urge goes away.
    The thing is I could care less about the grandpa crown vics that so many profess their undying devotion for, but that’s just me.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    These seemed like good car, but when I shut the door one one (rental) it sounded like a soda can being crushed.

    My Audi, Outback and Tahoe all sound like bank vaults.

    • 0 avatar
      chuckrs

      That probably has more to do with Dynamat than any real difference. When my old Audi was ‘lightly’ T-boned the body shop didn’t put enough deadening in the door panel. Sounds just like a tin can when you shut it.

  • avatar
    400 N

    St. Thomas is in Ontario, so the last American car was actually built in Canada.

  • avatar
    Szyznyk

    When you do pretty much nothing but Florida highway driving, it is the perfect car. I can feel confident that, when my ’98 Grand Marquis is ready for the scrapper, there will be a late 00′s with low miles in an old guy’s garage waiting for me. And if I’m feeling particularly swanky, I may upgrade to a Town Car.

    • 0 avatar
      don1967

      When you do pretty much nothing but Florida highway driving, it is the perfect car.

      Funny you should say that. My first (and last) Panther driving experience was a brand-spankin’ new ’92 Hertz special on the highways of Florida.

      All I can say is that it was a white-knuckle experience just trying to keep the POS between the lines at 59 mph. If I ever want that sort of driving pleasure again, I’ll rent a base Impala and drop the tire pressure to 12 psi.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    If these cars could have been sold for a reasonable sum over here in Norway, I might have understood this love better. As a ‘real’ car enthusiast I do like or appreciate every car ever made in some way or another, but the Panther may have outlive itself just too much. It was introduced as a late afterthought after Ford had really started making good unibody cars. It was as mentioned a direct ascendant of the 1932 Ford, allthough in the end it had some modern add-ons. like a late 50′s suspension, post war plastics and modern injection on the 50′s engine. Sometimes it’s better to die at your height, like James Dean, Instead of going on to be a joke or shadow of your former self.
    On the other hand, James Dean would have been about as old as Clint Eastwood now…..I miss Edsel and Desoto tbh….

  • avatar
    dwight

    Goodbye Crown Vic. The news of the demise of the Crown Vic brings me back a year or so ago when I was disheartened to hear the news that the Mark I VW Golf went out of production in South Africa.

  • avatar
    Marko

    Wasn’t the Crown Vic one of the last cars with a mechanical odometer? The newest one I’ve been in was a 2006 or so, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Crown Vic with a digital odometer.

    Edit: The last one with a mechanical odometer was a 2005 – still, most other cars had switched to digital before that.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      It’s tiny but blow this pic up and you’ll see that the last Panthers had not only a tachometer but also a digital odometer. http://moldyrabbit.com/liquid/web/06CrownVic_gaugesm.jpg

  • avatar
    BOF

    As a true Body-on-Frame enthusiast, this is a sad day indeed. Will have to keep the ’06 MGM going as long as I can and keep on BOF’n!

  • avatar
    Andy D

    Meh, what is so GD hot about uni-bodys ? Especially wrong wheel drive appliances? It is the end of an era. Sorta like the passing of steam locomotives or the horse and buggy.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    The only requiem I can really think of for the panthers is: Please buy your local police force lots of donuts, as they’ll be lost without these.

    • 0 avatar
      mazder3

      No, they won’t. There is the new Chevy Caprice. It looks SOOO HOT dressed in police livery. Its like a busty woman in a tight police uniform. My town got theirs today. H-O-T!

  • avatar
    eldard

    Is that a still from a late 80s movie?


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