By on July 23, 2013

Vic

Photo shamelessly stolen from here  because I can’t actually show the one I drove.

Prior to my current posh post, last year I was posted in the now defunct TTAC Caribbean bureau. It was in Curacao, a small Dutch protectorate just north of Venezuela.

While there, I did have a chance to test drive a “Hard Car.” A 2005 Scaletta Moloney Armored Police Code Crown Victoria. When offered the keys to this unnecessary luxury, I snapped them up faster than the boss could say “what the…”and hit the streets of Curacao looking for villains to mock from behind 2 inch layered ballistic glass like Billy Crystal ala’ “Running Scared.” Alas,’ there were no criminal masterminds. Like most tropical locations, Curacao has a good bit of petty crime, but is a safe place. Instead, I occupied myself by sampling the manners of a unique version of a very common car.

The first impression was “this car is a tank.” The second was thought was “…well duh.”  But it’s not obvious from the looks. The car is designed to be pedestrian and hide in the throngs of dull sedans. The modifications follow the same lines as the original. Open the heavy door and the reduced entry is not apparent, until you actually try to get in. I found a ruler and examined the difference. The door is over 9 inches wide from exterior to the arm rest. All of that mass intrudes into the passenger compartment. Additionally the inside in crammed from armoring from the floor and roof.

Once inside, you can see the expanded A, B and C pillars to accommodate the bullet resistant glass, reducing visibility. At the point the glass meets the pillars; the view is distorted due to the multi layered laminate. So with the smaller interior, porthole view and massive doors, the tank sensation is apparent before you fire the engine.

Which you want to do quickly; even with the reduced exposure area, the ballistic glass accelerates the greenhouse effect, already in overdrive because it’s the Caribbean. You need the A/C going.

The underpinnings are standard Panther code fair. The controls feel, move and click the same. The interior is completely removed during construction, but as often as possible, original components are reused. You sit on the flat tweed buckets. The dash, stereo, window switches are our old friends from FoMoCo.

Anyone who has been to Florida knows asphalt near the ocean is made using crushed coral. This makes very slick pavement, especially when it rains. Given the mass of this particular Vic and reduced traction, I feared for the worst. As you would expect, the mass is obvious once moving. Unsure if this model had upgraded brakes, I mentally adjusted my stopping distance.

Then a sinister thought crept inside my adolescent brain. If it slides when stopping, it should slide from a stop. Mwahahahaha! Leaving the parking lot going is a slight uphill right turn. Killing the traction control, I pressed the brake, slid my foot on the gas, cranked the wheels and released.

Nothing. Dangit!

The next intersection was freshly paved, slick and involved a left turn. I took the same steps and even killed the AC. Still nothing. Aw man. I thought for sure that the suspect traction, run flat tires and big honking V-8 would get the pig lose, but every attempt resulted in brisk acceleration, but no hoonage.

This was a shame, because it leads to other ridiculous behaviors. Curacao has fewer Crown Vics than you have toes. Most of the actual police vehicles are Nissan pickups. The two unmarked vehicles on the island are a black 4 Runner and Accord. They are not used for issuing tickets.

Even with a rare silhouette, Victoria still gets her respect. Cars instinctively heel to the right at her approach. I resist the urge to hit the flashing blue lights.

And I fail. It was a blank stretch, avoiding an international incident. Still awesome.

The next morning the keys go back to my boss (who I hope you have figured out, didn’t actually work for TTAC.) The car was overkill for this work, but I understand why we had it. It’s as cool. As my time in this line of work stretches into its third decade, I find that is often the impetus for a lot of purchases and probably a subtle subtext of our current economic crisis.

So even if it isn’t a tropic location, should anyone offer you keys to an armored Panther Victoria, take them. You may not hoon, but you’ll enjoy it.

 

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24 Comments on “Capsule Review: Ford Crown Victoria P71 – Bulletproof Edition...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    So the “bulletproof” panther is really, um, bulletproof… Does it come in a brown diesel wagon?

  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    Can you give a little background on what you’re doing abroad?

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Remember this when you hear someone call an old car a “tank.” Hope the tires had kevlar belts too or all that armoring was for naught.

    • 0 avatar

      Hmm, he says they are runflat tires. So this would be a valuable test for the Consumer Reports people to take on: How many punctures/bullets can runflat tires take before becoming just flats?

      Of course in any instruction/training with bullet/blast resistant vehicles they stress that your main focus upon attack should be extracting the vehicle as far from the situation as fast as possible.

    • 0 avatar
      Kosher Polack

      I always wonder about the radiator, myself – but I suppose you could still pretty far from the action on a busted radiator before you have to get out.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Yes and now, I don’t remember when Ford added fail safe cooling to the Panther chassis. If it has the fail safe cooling system then once the cylinder head temp gets too hot it will go into air cooled mode. That alternates the cylinders that get fuel, so it becomes a 4cyl. Then the speed limiter switches to something like 60 MPH and push it until the cylinder head temp gets high enough the engine will shut down.

  • avatar
    71charger_fan

    I hate having to ride in the armored Crown Vics. They are so cramped. The Land Cruisers are hard to get into and out of without cracking your head, but once your in, there’s at least some room to sit.

  • avatar
    David Hester

    “Even with a rare silhouette, Victoria still gets her respect. Cars instinctively heel to the right at her approach. I resist the urge to hit the flashing blue lights.

    And I fail. It was a blank stretch, avoiding an international incident. Still awesome.”

    Heh heh. Yes. Yes it is.

  • avatar

    Not going to talk about the time I dumped one of those into a rice patty while I was out on a drive with the niece of a former Japanese Prime Minister…

  • avatar
    -Nate

    And just why not ? .

    =8-) .

    The _STORIES_ , Man ~ that’s why us Old Guys hang out here….

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    We need more Crown Vic reviews. I love these cars so much.

  • avatar
    Elena

    I love Crown Vics too! In Miami “car feels like a tank” is a great sales point.

  • avatar
    84Cressida

    I work at a rental car company. I never met a customer that liked these things. They really made you appreciate your own car. No branch wanted them and they were always constantly one-wayed to get them out of their fleet. Enterprise probably still has a few kicking around somewhere, I saw an Avis one on Sunday. The last one my branch had was in January. I have some respect for them due to their duty as cop cars and my town is starting to phase them out for Caprices and I will miss them since they’re easy to ID at night. That said, they’re a total crap box to drive. Terrible seats, unadjustable lumbar that jabs your back, awful interior, and terrible handling. I find it funny “enthusiasts” love these things simply because they’re BOF but waste no time calling the Camry a “beige mobile” or “boring”. A Camry is a Supra compared to these.


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