Several years ago a friend suggested to me that I had an old soul. I pretended to not understand what he meant even though I watched old television shows, saw old movies and listened to the big band sounds of the thirties and forties.
I’m beginning to come to grips with my old soul though and I need a bit of advice.
A few years ago I bought a 2003 Kia Rio sedan because it was the cheapest car available with the least mileage and most warranty left. I’ve taken the poor thing from 40k to 130k miles on the clock and its just about worn out. At the time I simply commuted to and from work but my job has expanded and I now have to drive about 500 miles a month to and from various stores on the interstate.
I’m now in a position to replace the car for about 3 grand and I’m leaning heavily toward a panther platform because it satisfies my old soul and because I want to be gently wafted along the highways of Texas without arriving at my destination pounded to a pulp by the drive. I prefer the styling of the Crown Vic, but the selection of Grand Marquis’ seems better and priced better in this market. I’ve pretty much discounted the Town Car as being too pricey and/or complicated for the same amount of use.
Most of the cars I’m looking at seem to be about mid ’90s vintage with about 100k on the clock. Is there anything specific that that I should look for as I shop?
You always look for a stack of service records. Always.
Aside from a stack of receipts and clean fluids (especially the transmission), the only big problem with Panthers are the plastic intake manifolds from 1996-2001: the replacement has an aluminum crossover tube from the thermostat (at the bottom of the radiator hose on the intake) and that means you are golden. If not, you need a new intake, sooner rather than later.
Other problems show up in a vehicle this old: worn brakes, bad tires, busted/frozen shocks, fried speaker cones, dissolved window lift motor plugs (video here), tune-up concerns, cloudy headlights, etc. Luckily most of these problems, as part of Panther Love, are somewhat easy to fix and won’t leave you stranded. You can fix these as time permits, while enjoying the ride.
I’d recommend the pre-98s for their superior interior/exterior design and fit/finish: I call them the Fat Panthers because of their “fat content” opposed to the thin and skinny beancounted models afterwards. Just look at the Crown Vic’s rather expansive use of glass in the greenhouse. Even if it lacks the suspension and brake upgrades of the 1998+ models, this right here is a road car.
So is this really an old car? Perhaps…it’s a spaceship like the Jetsons’ retro Mid-Century past, not from our future. But who gives a shit, enjoy and be proud of your Old Soul.
Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.