By on August 22, 2014

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The late model Panther cars offer a unique combination of fairly modern driving characteristics and the classic feel of RWD, body-on-frame vehicle. With their longevity and durability, cheap parts and surprisingly frugal 4.6 Modular engine, they are even quite cheap to run. Of course, that’s all true if you believe the hagiography of the Panther so earnestly propagated by this site, and other outlets. But does it have any grounding in reality?

Last fall, I had the fortune of getting my hands on nearly exactly the car I’ve wanted to try. Even better was that I didn’t just borrow it for a while for a review – I got a chance to drive it for extended period of time. In fact, I’m still driving it.

The car in question is a 1998 Lincoln Town Car Signature Series. The first year of the new, much more rounded (dubbed “Hyundai-look” in Czech US car enthusiast circles) and brutally decontented model. Electric trunklid pull-down? Fuggetaboutit. Keyless entry keypads on the doors (the feature which was always one of the reasons why I wanted to own a Lincoln)? No way. You don’t even get a storage box in the passenger door with the model year, although there are fake shut lines.

So, in some ways, this could be a prime example of “how the mighty have fallen”. Proud name, once-proud-badge and huge size, but inside, the materials, fit and finish of a cheap econobox from somewhere in South East Asia.

Now add the chassis and suspension, still based on that of the 1979 Panther, and the big V8 with a meagre 200 horsepower, which wasn’t exactly stellar performance in late 1990s. Not to mention the four speed slushbox. It seems you have every reason to declare this car an antiquated piece of junk and move on. But as you probably already guessed, my opinion is quite a bit different. Why?

Being a broke motoring journo in Europe with a taste for big V8s, is the running costs. Forget everything you have ever heard about European engines being frugal. They’re frugal because they’re small and fitted in small cars. If you compare them pound for pound and horse for horse, the outcome isn’t nearly as favorable. The Town Car is, in gentle driving, able to get 8.5 l/100km (27mpg) on European roads, and I’m sure that there’s still some room for improvement – 30mpg seems totally doable to me. And even when you don’t do an economy run, it still moves at 9 – 9.5 l/100km pretty comfortably.

A similar-era Mercedes 220CE (famous W124) got pretty much the same fuel mileage as the Lincoln – even in city traffic. And although the V8 power doesn’t help the Lincoln to be any quicker than the four-cylinder Benz, the whole notion that you can drive a big, smooth V8 and use as much gas as the rough four-cylinder gives one pause.

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And then there are the spares. For many people, the fear that spare parts for an American car will be hard to get in Europe is one of the main reasons not to buy one. They’re also right in one respect – if you need your car to be ready at all times, and spares to be available within 24 hours, you have to look elsewhere. That little pond between us still doesn’t help with quick delivery, and you will wait for your parts for about a week (specialised US car part vendors here in CZ), a few days (RockAuto, quick but terribly expensive shipping) or up to two months (container transport, extremely cheap). Compared to the fact that most parts for common European models can be had within the aforementioned 24 hours, it is a major downside of owning an American car here. But the upside is that the parts are really cheap.

Remember that those fragile European cars with expensive spares are the norm here – and parts aren’t any cheaper for them in Europe. In fact, when you include taxes, even spares for European cars are sometimes cheaper when you get them from US. Things like getting a whole set of shocks for $50 in US, which means some $100-120 with postage, custom duty and tax? People don’t believe me when I tell them how much I paid. They usually think that spares for US cars have to be outrageously expensive when they’re shipped overseas (like other spares weren’t shipped from China) and they’re flabbergasted when they find out that stuff for the Town Cars costs half that of the parts for the locally produced Škoda Octavia of similar vintage.

So, is it all about the Town Car being a huge car that is affordable to drive? A way for someone who’s broke to brag about his car being bigger than the S-class Mercedes? It’s not even that big on the inside – except for the sheer width, the short version of the Town Car is not that much more spacious inside than a Ford Mondeo. So, is it just the “mine is bigger than yours” thing?

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I may be lying to myself, but I don’t think so. No, for me, the real reason to drive a Town Car is the way it drives, the way it feels on the road and how it feels inside. Some of you may remember my older article about the Chevy Caprice and the magic of RWD, body-on-frame sedans/wagons. I loved the GM B-bodies and old Panthers because of their unique way they drive – the combination of soft-sprung suspension, huge torque on tap, super-light steering wheel and lots of lock, making it more akin to steering a motorboat than driving a car.

The last generation Panthers promise to preserve the old-timey driving characteristics, and add much better roadholding, higher mileage and modern comforts. But the thing I always wondered about was whether the suspension and steering improvements didn’t spoil the unique character of the old BOF sedans.

And after several months of using it daily, I can say that both my hopes and fears were fulfilled, in some ways.

The first good thing is that with all the suspension improvements, like sway bars front and rear, Watts link and stiffers springs and shocks, the modern Panther is stable enough at any normal speeds. I have never tried to go really fast with it, but I’m sure it can stay planted at 100mph on highway.

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Another good thing is that it has kept lots of the old Panther’s character. It’s still a big boat, with that unique feel coming from the combination of driver’s position being near the middle of the car, long overhangs, great lock and so on. Add the light, numb steering and sofa seats, and you still have a car that makes you want to go slowly and gently – which is perfect for when you want to get to your destination relaxed and with great mileage, as opposed to being stressed from high-speed run provoked by the sporty suspension of some modern European car.

The bad thing? Chasing the handling improvements, Ford engineers decided to fit much sitffer springs to the front of the Town Car. The outcome is the loss of much of the typical “floatiness”, without gaining significant high-speed handling imrpovements that weren’t already there thanks to the sway bars and Watts link. I even looked at replacing the springs with softer ones from the older model.

Another bad thing is the engine’s need for revs – it’s not as effortless as the old 302 was. On the other hand, the fuel economy is more than enough to make up for that.

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But overall, those are small things. The main point of owning a Panther is that it still offers more than just a whiff of the “classic American feel”, while being totally useable and reasonable as a daily driver. The fact is that if you’re used to driving an 80s Panther – or even its prefecessors from 1970s or even 1960s, you will still feel right at home in this car. As Murilee once put it, when describing his old 1990s CrownVic Police Interceptor – this car is what the 1960s fullsize sedans should have been.

Myth or Legend?
Definitely a legend. Last of the body-on-frame fullsize sedans. The unique combination of modern handling and amenities with classic land-yacht feel.

Do I need to drive it?
By any means, yes. If only to find out what all us Panthers Lovers are blabbing about.

Should I buy it?
If you like old car feel and don’t like the old car handling and unreliability, certainly. As a reasonable transportation? Not so sure.

@VojtaDobes is motoring journalist from Czech Republic, who previously worked for local editions of Autocar and TopGear magazines. Today, he runs his own website, www.Autickar.cz and serves as editor-in-chief at www.USmotors.cz. After a failed adventure with importing classic American cars to Europe, he is utterly broke, so he drives a borrowed Lincoln Town Car. His previous cars included a 1988 Caprice in NYC Taxi livery, a hot-rodded Opel Diplomat, two Dodge Coronets, a Simca, a Fiat 600 and Austin Maestro. He has never owned a diesel, manual wagon.

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164 Comments on “Myths and Legends: Lincoln Town Car...”


  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    “I have never tried to go really fast with it, but I’m sure it can stay planted at 100mph on highway.”

    Maybe (if you have the cop package from the Crown Vic), but don’t even think about touching the steering wheel at that speed. Baruth found that out the hard way in one of his periodic brushes with death.

    • 0 avatar
      madman2k

      My 2005 P71 package Crown Vic saw about 122 a few times on long, straight roads in the desert, but I always slowed down to much closer to the speed limit when the slightest bend in the road was ahead.

      It was a good car, but I don’t think I’d want another one. Gave it to my father-in-law with 240k miles on the odometer after it started having a few problems, but his driving style killed the transmission after a few months. It’s probably sitting in his field providing shade for the dogs right now.

      Even though the ride was pretty smooth, those cop seats are not comfortable. I feel a lot less beat-up after a long drive in the Prius I have now.

      Being basically a truck (body-on-frame) came in handy a few times, though. My wife used it to push me down the road in my old F250 when it died, far enough to get into a parking space. I also used it to push an old Hyundai out of an intersection enough for them to jump start it. The bumpers always bounce back, and what’s a couple more scratches when the Ford paint falls off all on it’s own after 7 years anyway.

      And I always kept a cargo strap in the trunk for times I needed to carry something big enough to keep the trunk from closing.

      These days, the hatchback is good enough – I’ve hauled water heaters and various household goods in the Prius with the hatch closed easily.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    The panther love cannot be stopped!

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      ..and yet I still don’t understand it. Too big, too floaty. I guess if you like riding around in your living room then this is the car for you.

      One of the things I hate most in vehicles is the lack of steering feel. My father’s TrailBlazer still suffers from this, you can move the wheel about an 1/4 of turn and NOTHING happens. I want to feel some resistance indicating I’m attempting to move rubber tires against a surface that has traction. I’ve played video games in which a plastic controller offers more feedback then steering wheel of such land yachts. Maybe its because my first car was a ’85 Honda Civic that had power NOTHING. Once fitted with wider tires turning in a parking lot was like trying to open a stuck jar of pickles.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheatridger

        That’s really key to my enjoyment of a car, too. I want a car that knows its zero bearing and wants to aim there. That makes driving so much easier, if you don’t have to constantly adjust your direction by visual cues alone. Yes, I do a lot of driving on straight roads, which magnifies this issue, but it matters anywhere.

        Sloppy steering, full of “play,” may have its place when you’re out beating the bush on primitive roads, or no roads at all, but on a high-speed highway, it’s the worst!

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Someday it’ll have to once mechanical failure, rust, accidents, etc. remove all but a tiny fraction from service. I still don’t see much of the attraction for these cars beyond the cheap & durable aspect, but I’m glad they can find love somewhere.

      I wonder what automobile Panther fans will find acceptable now that this platform is gone and they will, someday, have to replace theirs.

    • 0 avatar
      VanillaDude

      A little less than a year ago, I landed a pristine ’03 Matador Red Crown Vic LX Sport. I wasn’t looking for one, I just needed a car that would seat five or six and not cost a fortune. This one was a garage queen owned by an engineer who kept a maintenance diary detailing everything.

      The LX Sport is not a floating rear driver like the other Panthers. It has the Police Interceptor suspension instead. So it rides like the Marauder. It still has everything I love about the big rear drive BOF sedans, but with the handling and suspension upgrades, it feels incredibly different from a Grand Marquis, a Town Car or a Crown Vic.

      The whole car seems solid and it is incredibly fast, while still being whisper quiet inside. It came with the original tires, and I ended up buying new ones when I raced the old ones and separated the treads doing so.

      I have always had small sensible cars. I come from a generation that was told to shun these kinds of machines. But I have made a lot of children and I am not a fan of a minivan. This car was made for a horny dad who has responsibilities during the day and needs to appear respectable, yet punch it when there is no one in the car except me and I want to have fun.

      Panther love. OH – Yeah.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Thank you for sharing — interesting article.

    But (as an American who has driven plenty of Panthers in their natural habitat and ridden in more) I can’t agree the ride and handling are acceptable. They’re just too bouncy and floaty for me, even with the 2008+ suspension changes, and you can also feel the lack of structural rigidity very clearly. It’s like shepherding a loose collection of parts down the road, not a whole car.

    I much prefer the “bank-vault structure, very good damping” school of soft rides that you might find in an Audi A8 or S-Class, or even in a 2010+ Buick LaCrosse for a more manageable price.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      “you can also feel the lack of structural rigidity very clearly”

      Jumping between my recently purchased ’85 Marquis and ’92 Volvo 240 I know what you mean. The Volvo feels like a vault while the Marquis a metal shack.

    • 0 avatar
      ellomdian

      I hate ending up in the back of a Lincoln with squishy suspension when I get driven around any city without decent roads – the ride around NY or Chicago is awful. Give me the back seat of an S-Class any day.

      Double that for highway miles. Nothing more terrifying than a driver getting cut off at 70, it’s like being below decks in a boat.

  • avatar

    I never liked the downsized Fullsize Ford platform going back to all the way to 78(?). the wheelbase and track were off, and the front suspension was weak and couldn’t take curbs, and the rear frame couldn’t take a hit without bending.

    Now the GM downsized platform of 77 now that was just about perfect to me. I would dearly love to see GM take inspiration and update the engineering for the new Fullsize Cadillac of my dreams.

    • 0 avatar
      zenith

      ’78 was still the big boat. The ’79 was the first year for the Panther.
      Having owned a ’79 Caprice and having ridden in many a Panther ( the back seat areas are surprisingly skimpy for such large cars), I side with the “B-bodies forever” crowd.

  • avatar
    mikeg216

    Sounds like you need to buy two police interceptor for $2500to keep yourself in spare parts for 20 years and a 3.55 rear end with limited slip to wake it up, and a pushbar on the front end don’t hurt either

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      I don’t think you can get cop-spec Vics in Europe.

      • 0 avatar
        Vojta Dobeš

        You can, but they cost at least as much as the Town Car, usually even more (unless they’re totally clapped-out, rendering them useless for parts).

        As long as RockAuto and eBay exist, I have no need for headaches in form of crappy parts cars :)

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          Never knew that, though for the money you’d be better with the Town Car.

        • 0 avatar
          mikeg216

          Depending on what country you are in, you can get a 53′ container shipped for $1100

          • 0 avatar
            Vojta Dobeš

            I was in business of importing US cars for a while. You need to factor in some other stuff, like 10% custom duty, 20% VAT, shipping from the port etc.

            In the end, $2500 car ends up being $6k+ in here. Nothing under $10k is worth importing, unless it’s vintage and thus unavailable here.

          • 0 avatar
            turboprius

            So, bringing a FWD Nissan Rogue SL or a 2014 Odyssey Touring Elite to Europe is worthless at this point in time?

            Dang it. :(

          • 0 avatar
            Vojta Dobeš

            I don’t think so. New cars are quite commonly imported – the VAT applies to all cars, not only American ones, so the only real difference between buying a new European car and a new American-imported one is the custom duty and shipping costs, plus registration. the Odyssey may very well make sense, since we don’t have minivans this big in Europe. A lot of Chrysler minivans get imported for sure.

  • avatar
    dtremit

    “Electric trunklid pull-down? Fuggetaboutit. Keyless entry keypads on the doors (the feature which was always one of the reasons why I wanted to own a Lincoln)? No way.”

    Though the ’98 was decontented, I think a lot of those features were always optional anyway. They “recontented” it a bit later on — by the mid-aughts, the keypad was standard and you could get a full-power trunk lid.

    • 0 avatar
      Vojta Dobeš

      Yeah, 2001 already had the keypad as standard. But 1998 really didn’t have it even as option.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        I bet you could get it dealer installed though.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        You are right that in 1998 the keyless entry was not available. Remote entry was the cool thing at the time so Ford thought they didn’t need keyless entry anymore so it was dropped across all model lines. Many faithful consumers complained loudly and it was brought back for 1999.

        No trunk pull down well that is because you were obviously driving an Executive model which is a the cheapest model in the bunch. Get a Cartier and it has the electric trunk pull down. Go a little newer and it has a full electric trunk push the button inside or on the remote and the trunk closes.

        • 0 avatar
          Vojta Dobeš

          It’s not Executive, but a Signature Series (the mid-level). I’m pretty sure that older years had pull-down even on Signature, or whatever it was called then.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            Nope the pull down was a stand alone on the mid level Signature you had to get the Cartier for it to be “standard”.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          The other day I saw an MKZ (I think) which had been landaued and had chrome put on the door pillars. Chrome which rectangle had cut-outs for the door number pad. Oh my God it was terrible.

    • 0 avatar
      Firestorm 500

      The dropped the electric trunk pull-down for safety reasons. Cadillac did too.

      Too many people were getting their fingers chopped off or mangled.

  • avatar

    I don’t really have a reason for a Town Car, but if I was going to get one, I’d go for one of the post-facelift (2004 and later) examples. The interior was just far more streamlined, as was the exterior. And you could even get it with a factory sat-nav system at that point…

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      You would also get some chassis improvements with the post 2003 models that would make a significant difference in handling and especially that “metal shack” feeling. The last few years of the Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln versions were the best.

  • avatar
    ry6puwh7vybo8ghot8nowo9ly4ne4deth5ca7ghe6bo7he7gyc

    Now I added this to my list of must-drive used cars. Phaeton I went to see last night was SOLD an hour before I got there.

  • avatar
    jfbramfeld

    In 1989 I was looking at used Town Cars. Then the 1990 came out and I decided to wait. I paid $21,000 for a one-year-old leased or rental Towncar in 1990 with about 20,000 miles. What a great car. We could pack all three kids and luggage galore. It was fun to drive, especially compared to the big old 98 it was replacing. The 98 had red velour, one of the most indestructable materials known to man. The Town Car had red leather, which, since not technically a shade of gray or brown, is no longer available. In 1998 the car was just shy of 100,000 miles and I decided to replace it; I was still afraid of 100,000 back then. I sold it to my neighbor for $7,500 and bought the only new car I have ever had (I don’t count the two new Escorts as new, because the feeling isn’t there). It was the car mentioned above-exactly. No luggage compactor in the trunk, not a lot in the way of frivolity, and by then, no non-browns or grays allowed in the interior. But what a great highway cruiser. While I drove this wonderful car, my neighbor drove the 90 Towncar to about a quarter-million. I sold the 98 Town Car to him about five years ago at 140,000 miles for the same $7,500. It still looks new, parked out on the street. It hasn’t seen a garage since 2008. On our last big car trip; Champaign, Illinois up to Mackinaw and then back down again, I slowed down to about 60 miles per hour a few miles outside of town on the way back and watched average fuel consumption go from 24.9 to 25 for the 800 mile trip.

    Today I’m driving my wife’s PT Cruiser because the Jaguar I replaced the Town Car with has apparently fried it’s computer. Maybe I’ll borrow my neighbor’s Towncar.

    John

    P.S. And what a great name.

    • 0 avatar
      olddavid

      I feel the same enthusiasm you felt every time I take my laterally related MarkVIII for an extended drive into the Rockies. It barely turns 2500 at 100 mph and returns 25 mpg at speed. Considering this is my sixth Lincoln I find complaining about anything would be foolish. My target for a fun car is cheap to buy, with owner serviceability a must. Check. Even the airbags are no big deal to replace. The blend door? #@&*#@ is all I have to say about that, but it is fixed now. My wife has a phobia about being seen in my cruisers, but this one is the exception. I’m really kind of stupid when it comes to automobiles because I always let my eyes and emotions buy – not my brain. This time it has worked out, but there have been a few disasters. Suffice to say I know now why the Omega, err, Catera is always priced so cheap, no matter how low the miles. Everyone who sees us out ask just what exactly is it? I am amazed most of the public do not remember this car. If you see an old guy with a sh*&-eating grin go by in a Toronado red Mark with F1’s on it, please wave multiple fingers. It’s just me and Shannon, heading back home. PS – didn’t any of the Town Cars get air springs?

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        “PS – didn’t any of the Town Cars get air springs?”

        Yes, most have self-leveling rear air springs. No 4 wheel air suspesnion like the Mark though.

        • 0 avatar
          bumpy ii

          Most have non-functioning self-leveling rear air springs, which the 2nd or 3rd owners lack the financial means to repair or replace.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Coil spring conversion kits including shocks from Arnott are $250 for those that can’t afford to replace or maintain the air suspension components.

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            $250 total or per corner? $250 for an entire suspension swap seems suspiciously low, unless it’s just a bracket kit and you’re supposed to source springs from a junkyard.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            $250 to delete both rear air springs and replace them with coils and new shocks. The Town Cars only came with rear air suspension, so that’s really all there is to it. They also offer just the rear coils that are a direct fit for $189 a pair.

            For those that want a functioning rear air suspension, they also sell a complete rear air suspension kit for them for $429. So either way, they aren’t too bad to keep going.

            http://www.arnottindustries.com

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            Very few have non functioning air suspension. 9 times out of 10 the only problem is dried out O-rings and that fix is cheap. You’ll find los of Mark VIIIs with bad suspension since the air-overs used up front the bag do tend to fail and since they include the shock the aren’t that cheap to replace.

        • 0 avatar
          olddavid

          Too bad, I have come to appreciate the Mark and its suspension. I was able to lower it very conservatively (1 inch) merely by changing the sensor mount. Simple things modify performance and handling, and just a wheel and tire upgrade made it “my” car. An old two door with rear drive and a V8 – perfect old car for an old guy. Every time I hear that weird F1 exhaust note I appreciate the sound of my car.

    • 0 avatar
      mikeg216

      What were you high on when you replaced the benchmark for reliability with its polar opposite? Or were you just feeling masochistic that day?

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Just this past weekend I grabbed a 2004 Town Car Ultimate (in the obligatory pearl white) for a 6hr road trip with 3 other guys and all our stuff for a long weekend.

    I was reminded why the Town Car, especially the upper trimmed versions, is a prime choice as a highway cruiser. That quietness and comfortable ride at speed is like few others. Dat Body on Frame Ride. I averaged 25mpg at mostly extra legal speeds, fully loaded. To answer Vojta, you can be doing 100mph and easily not realize it. The long drive was no big deal at all at the helm of The Canoe is it was dubbed, even after a weekend blowout.

    • 0 avatar

      So why do people tell me there is no market for an improved / updated size, bigger even,and type Body on Frame, sandwiched mass, car today.
      I know what I’d prefer to drive 90 miles of bad roads.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        A Chrysler 300C is a suitable replacement, I recently did another road trip in one of those and it was nearly as comfortable a ride. The only thing that wasn’t up to Town Car comfort levels were the seats. I did however average over 31 mpg in the Chrysler with the 8 spd/pentastar combo.

        There is a market for this type of car, but the explosion in popularity of crossovers has eaten into their share. I find large sedans every bit as versatile as 2 row midsize CUVs, so I think their benefits are overblown.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          I think the 300C isn’t just a suitable replacement — it’s a vastly better car in every respect, particularly with the V6/8-speed combination.

          That said, its big weakness (like the Panther) is packaging. The rear seat is way too small given the hugeness of the car. For truly good packaging in this class, the FWD alternatives are better. The back seat of an Avalon feels like the one in a LWB S-Class. I haven’t sat in an XTS but I imagine it’s the same way.

          • 0 avatar

            I don’t think the 300c is better in abuser friendliness.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            The back seat of the 300 is pretty spacious. Comparing spec sheets, the back seat of the 300 offers more leg, hip and shoulder room than the Avalon. Headroom is equal.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            I can’t edit my previous comment, but looking further, the back seat of the 300 is also larger in each dimension than that of the XTS. The Town Car’s rear seat offers more room than all of the previously mentioned cars, even in non L form.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            I’ve sat in both for extended trips, and this is an example of where interior dimension specs are slippery. The current 300C back seat is fairly cozy, especially for the car’s size — it feels like a Camcord back seat. The Avalon back seat gives you miles of legroom, even with a six-footer in front. These measurements tend not to be consistent between manufacturers.

            The Town Car seat, like the 300C seat, doesn’t match up to expectations from the car’s size, except in L form where it is truly limo-like. Every other DC cab is a Town Car so I’ve sat in the back of plenty of them.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Dude I saw a convertible 300 yesterday. I just now thought about how rare that was. Fully chromed and ghetto as well. Rolls-Royce style grille.

        • 0 avatar
          Vojta Dobeš

          Agreed. I’ve driven a diesel Lancia Thema (Euro market 300) and I loved it. And with the Lancia Thema prices falling down – Lancia withdrew from most European countries, Lancia guys don’t want a Chrysler, US car guys don’t want a Lancia badge – I see a Pentastar/8-speed 2012 Thema in my future.

      • 0 avatar
        Hillman

        They call it a Tahoe, Suburban, and Escalade . No reason to have a sedan when the BOF SUV can handle more passengers.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      You must have been on some really smooth roads. I find the combination of shudder and wallow nauseating on the highway in these things. Hertz has blessed me with a number of them as “upgrades”. I find them hilariously awful. Not quiet, not roomy for the size of them, slow, the handling of a steamship, and the ride literally makes me ill. NP one should have to drive one of these that is not being paid to do so, and wearing a uniform.

      But if this floats your boat, well, they say there is an @ss for every seat.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s what I’m thinking. On a smooth, straight road, very good. On some curves and broken pavement, you just have to slow down. But it is fun. Sadly, or not, it’s not wht people look for anymore.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          These days “fun” is less about wonky handling characteristics and moreso about the illusion of sporty dynamics, and fake engine noise.

          • 0 avatar

            Hey Ryoku, I get what you re saying but don’t necessarily agree. What I tried to say was that a Panther is very comfortable on a large, well maintained highway. It can even be “fun” in a city full of pot holes if the speed is slow. But the faster you go, the lesser the return.

            There are still well-sorted, nicely balanced cars out there. They are not necessarily fast, but to me what makes a car enjoyable is a competent suspension system. Which to me means, competence on curves and straights, but some give so as to be intolerable. Other people disagree.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          I see, another thing to consider is that what makes a car “fun” is pretty subjective.

          I understand why you’d want a competant suspension though, driving a Citroen 2CV I feel like thats the car that Americans copied driving dynamics from. Comfy on smooth roads, comical around turns.

  • avatar
    willbodine

    I’m a Lincoln lover from way back (have had 4 ’62 thru ’65s) but was sort of lukewarm to these last generation Panther TCs. The 2003 redo was very needed (stiffer frame, rack and pinion steering & styling refinements) but even these are seriously ugly cars and that has to count for something.
    While having my daily driver 540i unbent at the body shop for 6 weeks in ’06 I got real familiar with an ’05 stretch TC rental. Came away quite impressed. Firmer, more Euro, drivimg experience. Very rigid body-frame structure (felt like a unibody) the hush, and the good mileage. Not so great were the front and rear seat bottoms that seemed to sag more the longer one occupied them (and I only weigh a buck forty.)
    These black cars are legendary with the livery companies. 500K miles not uncommon. I occasionally peruse the used car listings for late oughts privately owned (sub 100K) stretch versions, waiting for them to drop to “cheap wheels” prices.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      The standard post-2002 Town Cars were basically slightly longer and slightly wider than the midsized cars of the late ’60s. My ’68 Mercury Montego was just 6″ shorter (206″) with 2″ less wheelbase (116″) and 2″ narrower (76″) than a Town Car Signature. Rounding the corners and making the fattened car more aerodynamic did nothing for its looks.

  • avatar
    RogerB34

    Cars on Line has several Lincolns that vintage.
    Pick your porker for $9k to $12k less than 25k miles.
    One sedan, one coupe.

  • avatar
    ry6puwh7vybo8ghot8nowo9ly4ne4deth5ca7ghe6bo7he7gyc

    oh. three words. FRONT BENCH SEAT.

  • avatar
    Pebble

    I would still be driving my ’04 Town Car Ultimate and loving it if some idiot in a Corolla hadn’t totalled it in his attempt to turn left in front of me as I passed through an intersection. It was comfortable, plush, easy on fuel and made a fantastic highway cruiser. I would recommend these cars to anyone–scrap your Camcord and join the Panther generation. I’m in Vegas, and they’re everywhere on our local roads, like in South Florida.

  • avatar
    kefkafloyd

    Panther cars have been a fixture for me, since my grandfather had a lovingly cared for beige 1984 Grand Marquis, as well as the other friends I had who owned Crown Vics during college. I never really had the opportunity to drive one for an extended period of time, much less a Town Car.

    A few years back, I was attending the wedding of one of my best friends, and I was his best man. It was somewhere around Akron, Ohio, and I flew into CAK ready to have a good time. I rented a car from Enterprise, choosing a compact since I wasn’t really planning on driving all that much, just when necessary. Upon my arrival, the helpful counterperson informed me that they were all out of compacts and that I could upgrade to a midsize for no charge. Hey, good for me! She handed me a key and said the car was in stall nine. At said stall I found a sensible Hyundai Sonata. I walked over and pressed the button on the fob to pop the trunk, but nothing happened. Perplexed, I kept pushing it expecting the result to be different. I looked around and saw the car diagonally over had its trunk wide open, and it was a freakin’ Lincoln Town Car. I did a double take, thinking “is this what qualifies as a midsize these days?” as a joke.

    I dumped my luggage in the expansive trunk and settled into the behemoth. The TC had a full leather interior with bench seat up front, CD changer, power everything, you name it. I cranked the motor and it roared to life, ready to act as my chariot. It drove like a big floaty boat (as expected), and we all referred to it as the Land Yacht. The drives from Akron to Cleveland and back again were softly sprung plush trips insulated from bumps and noise. It reminded me of a coffin.

    It tuns out that this was a very fortuitous change for this trip, because aside from being a kind of classy vehicle to drive to a wedding, I wound up hauling an astounding amount of people and stuff. Bridesmaids and groomsmen were four across in the back, with someone sitting in the middle seat up front. Suits and wedding gear stashed in a trunk that we figured could hold three bodies. It wasn’t too bad on gas, though it wasn’t great. It did everything I asked of it without complaint and with gusto. The compact would not have cut it. I had an appreciation for Panthers before, but actually having to live with one for a week got me to truly understand them.

    Would I have it as a daily driver? Absolutely not. The downsides are numerous and I’ve always been more of a B-body Impala SS kind of guy. But, for a week, I was the captain of a ship, and it was good.

  • avatar
    marmot

    Your gas mileage is amazing. 99.999 percent of Town Cars will not approach what you achieved. After driving a ’99 Signature for many thousands of miles, both city and highway, I can say that you have found a 1 in one million engine.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Might be the gas itself, do they water down the petrol in Europe as they do the US?

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      According to the trip computer I averaged 25.3 mpg over about 800 miles of freeway last weekend in an ’04 version never really descending below 75mph. I didn’t calculate the mileage by hand, but the fuel bill was definitely in that ball park. 30mpg in one of these is very unlikely, but 26-27 might be plausible.

      A Grand Marquis I once had could net 27mpg, but they’re lighter than the Town Car and it had a 2.73:1 axle ratio versus the 3.27:1 in the Town Car I recently drove.

    • 0 avatar
      Vojta Dobeš

      The best I saw was a 8,0 l/100km (steady driving, 55mph) – that’s 29.4mpg. It was a few days back.

      Of course, that’s nearly ideal conditions – from my town to a neighboring one, about 30-40 miles there and back, four-lane, highway-style road with 90kph (55mph) speed limit, no traffic.

      The best I saw on a longer, more varied trip, was something like 8,5 l/100km (27 mpg) indicated.

      The best I have checked pump-to-pump, without relying on trip computer, was about 9,5l/100km (25mpg), in cold winter. And with old spark plugs and leaky exhaust.

      The Panther mileage seems to be a big question – I think I’ll do a follow-up article, focused on the mileage testing. I’ll to it from full to full, describe the driving conditions etc.

      But the whole magic seems to be in driving style – I tend to drive like an old man with this car. Slow, usually at the posted limit, braking very soon, using the car’s inertia as much as possible, just gently touching both brakes and gas.

      If I drove a Ford Focus this way, it would probably get 50mpg. And I would go insane. The magic of the Town Car is that I LIKE driving that way.

      • 0 avatar

        How much is that in km/l Vojta? Yeah, you baby’d it and I understand ‘cuse that’s the best way to drive these floaty things. But, then again, if a Focus got get lmost double, how many would a 0.9L modern Fiat get? Economy is not all, I get that, but it is a consideration and a big one in a car like this.

        • 0 avatar
          Vojta Dobeš

          No idea about km/l. I use Google to convert mpg to l/100km, I think it will know km/l as well.

          And yes, the Focus is (of course) more frugal. But the Focus is nowhere near the Town Car’s level of comfort. The Mondeo 2.5 V6, which still isn’t on par with Town Car, but is at least comparable, would get mileage within 1l/100km from the Town Car, rendering the difference irrelevant for someone who drives 10 or 15 thousand kilometers per year.

          As for the 0.9 Fiat TwinAir – I’ve seen that piece of shit consume 14 l/100km (less than 20mpg) in city traffic, and something like 7 l/100km (slightly over 30) out of town. It would probably be super-frugal if driven gently, but I would die of old age before I would get anywhere with that thing.

          And yes, I hate that engine – it was fun on track, but elsewhere, it was terrible. Also, it was fitted to one of the worst cars I’ve ever encountered, the Lancia Ypsilon. With a robotized manual transmission, which is probably the work of Satan himself.

          • 0 avatar

            Lol, you didn’t like it? Tough luck, that’s where we are going.

            And that’s exactly the point, if it was doing 14l/100 (that’s how you write that?) te TC and other V8s would be doing 30, 40l/100? That’s the point exactly BTW. Smaller engine, smaller consumption. Can’t run, can’t hide from that fact. In cities like São Paulo where traffic means everybody sitting for hours idling going no where, the point is specially proven.

            Speed, braking, accelerating this is what affects driving. Yes, a bigger engine is more fun, but to most there is a sweet spot. 1.6s really hit a sweet spot for many people where gasoline is expensive. In the US the 2.4s seem to deliver an ideal balance.

          • 0 avatar
            Vojta Dobeš

            First of all, I’m not arguing that a TC is an economic choice in any way. It’s just really frugal for being a damned huge V8 sedan.

            It dwarfs S-classes and 7-series. It wafts, it floats, and it seems like from another world on European roads. And it gets mileage comparable to a Mondeo or Passat with a V6. Which is cool.

            I wouldn’t recomend it to anyone who doesn’t lust for a big V8 floaty boat.

            The car I recommend to people most often is a Ford Focus II 1.6 – which is also what I would buy, if I were totally rational.

            As for the TwinAir:
            1) To drive a Town Car in the same way as I drove the Ypsilon would be impossible. I hardly ever use full throttle with the TC, and if I do, I do it for maybe a few seconds in town. If I tried to emulate my driving style with the Ypsilon behind the wheel of the TC (and I don’t think the TC is especially fast vehicle), I would end up doing 100+mph in city streets. And yes, it would probably mean some outrageous fuel consumption like 30+ l/100km.

            If I drove the Town Car behind the Ypsilon, mirroring its speed, I don’t think I would get much over 20l/100km (something like 10mpg). Because acceleration that means full throttle in the Ypsilon would mean maybe 30% throttle in the TC.

            And what’s more important, if I followed the Ypsilon, being driven in this way, in some normal car with non-stupid engine (Fabia 1.2 TSI comes to mind, but even that Focus 1.6 would do), it would probably get much better mileage.

            The 0.9s problem is that, like many downsized engines, it only works when you driving slooooowwww. When pushed, it sucks (gas, and overall).

            I love Ford 1.0 Ecoboost, I really liked VW’s 1.2 TSI, I could live with most anything N/A four-cylinder that’s being put in the superminis these days.

            And the TwinAir was pretty cool with its off-beat sound. Maybe, with a manual transmission, in a Fiat 500, I could like it. But in that Ypsilon… no. Terrible thing.

          • 0 avatar

            Yep, agree auto and small engine never! I agree the Focus is a pretty good answer for most people’s automobile needs. Recommend it a lot too. Unless they want or need something smaller and cheaper to maintain, then here in Brazil it’s the old power trio Fiat Uno and Palio and VW Gol.

            Now, I agree with everything you just said in this answer to me. I understand your thinking better and can agree. Guess different things for different folks.

            Have you driven the up? I like that a lot, much more than the Polo for some reason. Here it comes with a 3 cylinder 1.0 good for almost 80 hp. The new Ka has the same setup and produces 85 hp on ethanol. And torque right around the figures from 1.6 from 15 yrs ago. That’s progress and I like them a lot. I think they could soon replace the 3 cars I mentioned as the cars I’d recommend.

          • 0 avatar
            Vojta Dobeš

            Yes, I have driven the Up!, and I loved it. I think it’s best in its class (haven’t driven the current Panda, though).

            As for the Ka, I didn’t like it very much (the one based on Fiat 500, some kind of gasoline engine, doesn’t remember which – 1.25, maybe?).

            As for the car recommendations – people around here usually buy Skodas, which makes Skodas quite expensive on used car market. And with influx of cheap used cars from western Europe, nearly everyone can afford a “proper” small car – e.g. older Fiesta etc.

            I was wondering – how expensive are cars in Brazil? Here, when I’m recommending someone to buy a Focus II (say 8-10 years old), we’re talking about $5,000 car, about 5 months of average salary.

            The 1998 Focus I can be had for something like $1,500.

            And typical family car tends to be at least Focus-class, often Mondeo-class. Or, most typically, the Skoda Octavia, which is about Jetta-sized.

            The use of small cars (e.g. Skoda Fabia Combi, Renault Clio Combi) seems to be shrinking, and is reduced to people who want a new car (Fabia costs about $10-15k new) and can’t afford a bigger one. But with cars like Dacia Logan and its upscale alternatives, like Skoda Rapid, Renault Fluence etc., people who want new usually buy these, and those willing to go with used cars usually choose at least Focus – or Octavia, maybe Mondeo, Passat etc.

          • 0 avatar

            Yes, the Up is something. Don’t know what they did there, but it is very good (probably best in class, i agree). Now, the Ka I’m talking about is a new one, not the 500 twin. There will be an article of mine on it soon. Keep your eyes peeled.

            Cars here tend t be smaller than there I guess. The most common car is Polo size, hatch, and serves everyone from student to families. A little more gets you the sedan of these cars and that market is growing. The Dacia Logan and Sandero (here Renault) have been growing and bringing some space for these people and launched a whole new segment.

            The further up the later you go the more expensive it gets. A new Focus can cost almost 30k USD and a 10 yr old example will still fetch around 10k USD. A ten yer old Palio or Gol cost about 5k USD.

            Car ownership has grown. From 2 million 15 yrs ago to more than 3.5 million brand new cars sold every year. During the time used car prices dropped a lot but there is still alot of demand and new cars have risen prices. We should experience a new growth spurt next year that could push us over 4 million new cars sold. That would help bring used car prices down.

          • 0 avatar
            Vojta Dobeš

            Oh, the idea of a Ford Focus being difficult to maintain due to expensive parts is hard to swallow for me.

            I guess the EU helps in this way, although cheap parts are often imported from China or somewhere else in the East. In any case, any EU Ford, Volkswagen, Opel, Renault, Peugeot, whatever, is fairly cheap to maintain here, without internet ordered parts or anything like that – just walk into the nearest parts store, and buy stuff.

            Internet ordering, container shipping and so on are basically reserved for those crazy enthusiasts maintaining their US or JDM cars, or maybe those trying to keep up a Jaguar or a Porsche on a budget.

            The Camaro vs. Mustang style arguments are usually one-sided here – it’s the “Skoda vs. the rest of the world”. With just one domestic brand in a 10 million country, Skoda has a lot of fanatic supporters, who will keep blabbing about their Octavia TDI going 200kph on just 3l/100km, smoking Ferraris and Porsches with its massive turbo acceleration, all the while carrying six six footers, a baby elephant, five beer kegs and quarter ton of mulch (I’m exaggerating, but not as much as you may think).

            Naturally, everyone else gets fed up with this, and large part of people now hates Skodas with passion, considering them worthless pieces of shit, with their brand of choice (anything from Peugeot 301 to 15-year-old BMW 750iL) completely superior.

            Writing anything about Skodas in this climate is both fun and annoying, because you’re always going to piss of at least one side – and sometimes both. If you write anything good about Skoda, you are obviously on their payroll, and if you write anything bad, you just hate it any are on your personal vendetta. And with realistic opinion (Skodas being great cars in many respect, but a bit boring and sometimes expensive), you can get the flak from both sides :)

          • 0 avatar

            Hey Vojta! (hope you see this, no way to know where it’ll end up on the thread)

            I know the feeling exactly! I’ve often lambasted VWs, the ones made here have often beem cost/benefit nightmares while imported ones try to compete with BMW. Not! Now the up comes along and I love it. Write an article saying it’s probably the best small car in Brazil. Get all sorts of hate comments, the least offensive suggesting VW paid me something (I wish!). In general, I have been supportive of Fiat. Lately, they have fallen back. My articles start to reflect that. Hate comments galore! Lol! What can we do, right? Write it like we see it, with an open a mind as possible, trying to see where others may like this or that, even if we don’t particularly see it. And the world spins.

            Great to hear of your battles in the Czech Republic. I love your articles and would like to see more. I know we are enthusiasts cut from different cloth and that’s more than ok, it’s desirable! In the end, we just get to celebrate cars. All cars! From Panthers to Ups, there is just so much to love out there. Great time to be n auto enthusiast.

          • 0 avatar
            Vojta Dobeš

            BTW, you were saying that people in Brasil are so used to driving small cars that they wouldn’t go for bigger ones even if they could afford them.

            I don’t think so. Until the “Velvet Revolution” in 1989, Czechs could pretty much only buy Skodas (which were quite small), or other Eastern cars – the biggest cars normally available here were Ladas and Wartburgs, which are still no huge vehicles.

            Even through nineties, the most popular family car was Skoda Felicia, which was about the size of a Renault Clio or something like that (also available as Combi, like the Clio).

            Nowadays, cars in Czech Republic are generally bigger than in France (where they love tiny cars) and fairly similar to those in Germany – just older, and with typical family maybe buying a cheapo-spec Fluence or Skoda Rapid instead of a loaded Octavia or Mondeo.

            The small, expensive cars (Minis, small BMWs, DS Citroens…) are not very popular here, people tend to buy the biggest they can get.

        • 0 avatar
          Vojta Dobeš

          Yeah, it seems that our cars are bigger. Basically, Czechs try to buy the same size as Western Europe (say, Germany), they just have to buy used more often – and the cheap cars from Germany, Italy or France are a huge help.

          And even those buying new try to go for bigger cars – the Dacias are viewed as “low-cost” brand even here. Most people would probably rather buy a used Octavia, or pony up a bit more for a new Mégane or something, than buy a Dacia.

          Also, the interesting result of Germany imports is huge availability of cheap German premium stuff. Basically, people don’t buy used BMWs and Benzes because they’re afraid of maintenance, not because they’re expensive.

          With $5,000, you can have 7 years Ford Focus, or 10 years old BMW 3 series. Or a 2000 MB S500.

          If you’re willing to put some effort in – finding spare parts, finding good mechanics or working on a car yourself, it’s totally doable to drive a 530i, or E-class, or something, with just average income.

          That’s also the reason why car enthusiasts here nearly never drive new cars, unless they’re affulent enough to buy “cool stuff”. Usually, if you someone in new Octavia, it’s a “user”. A car enthusiast usually spends the money on older 330i, Alfa, Focus ST, Volvo… something. A Town Car, if he’s really nuts.

        • 0 avatar

          We’re closed off Vojta. No such thing as chep parts and or parts imported over the internet (gets blocked at the port and slapped with taxes). Also, no importation of used cars, so high prices we have. That explains the success of the power trio I mentioned. A 10 year old Focus can be very difficult to maintain (because of prices of parts, not availability). Buying a car, any car, specially a brand new one, even if tiny, is still a big achievement. Something that is celebrated. This is changing and massification has been happening. So much so that the average Brazilian (at least in cities and more in the central and southern parts of the country) is now considered a car owner. That would not be the average Brazilian, anywhere in the country, even 10 years ago.

          That said enthusiasts come in all stripes here. Cars like Gol, Uno and Palio have enthusiastic followers and the wars between them sometimes resembles Mustang x Camaro discussion. Guess you make do with what you have.

          The small car is so ingrained here that if we became affluent tomorrow, or opened our borders wide, the small car culture would surely diminish, but would still exist as I don’t see the market for them disappearing any time soon.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Back when you could get unadulterated gasoline I’d regularly get 26.5 on my HPP equipped (3.23 rear gears) Crown Vic while cruising across Montana back in the days of reasonable and prudent which meant that the cruise was set at 90 mph. E10 will easily knock 8-10% off the MPG of that era Ford.

  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    By “modern handling and amenities” I’m assuming you’re referring to the handling of a modern Sabre 36 Express?

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Sabre’s steer much more precisely. Actually they ride better too! One of my favorite boats, and built not too far from me.

      I think the Pacific Princess is a better comparison…

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    I just replaced my 2003 P71 which was a great car but too harsh and rattly with a 2005 Grand Marquis just a week ago. I love it, its got an eerily quiet interior, marshmellow springs, quiet revving motor (that’s the lack of dual exhaust), a couch. Gas mileage is far better, I beleive the Vic ate around 22 and this eats gas a lot more slowly, so its in the higher 20’s. It has more body roll, but that’s fine, its easily worth it for how much more refined it is. I can’t imagine driving anything else, especially at this price point (3500 for a creampuff with 64,000 miles). I’d be happy with a Chrysler 300, but the only ones even remotely affordable are problematic early model years.

  • avatar
    LambourneNL

    How do these compare to the last of the b-bodies? I’ve owned two of those but I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a Town Car. I’ve always preferred the look of the 90-97 Town Cars though, so that would be my first choice.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I’ve owned various iterations of Panthers and B-bodies. In general, they really drive quite similarly, but I feel the Town Cars (especially the ’95-’97s) had the most supple ride. If we’re talking 90’s versions, I feel the GM B-bodies have an edge in handling over their Panther counterparts of the same vintage, but the dynamics of the ’03+ Panthers with the updated frame, suspension and steering really are a few steps better than the 90’s versions of both the GM and Ford cars and are woth seeking out as a daily driver if you’re in the market for such a car.

    • 0 avatar
      Vojta Dobeš

      I haven’t driven many B-bodies, but they seem to be smaller inside, much, much faster (LT1 FTW), worse on gas, better handling…

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        The 4.6L Ford was definitely no match for the LT1. Few sedans of the era packed that kind of power. Heck, the standard 4.3L V8 in the last iteration of the GM B-bodies would pull on the 4.6L.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          I dunno how Ford got such little power out of a SOHC V8 of decent displacement, but they did it…

          Took until 1999 to even break 250 hp in the SOHC motor.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            They made good power and were very modern when they were introduced in ’91, but by the end of the decade they were definitely being outclassed. The Power Improved cylinder heads helped a lot, but the 2Vs never flowed all that great. They were good workhorses without too many issues, that was about it. Actually, I just came in from replacing the timing chains on one. Tensioner gasket blew out.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            At least it’s a better motor than that damned 3.8 OHV V6. Glad my Thunderbird came with a V8, no design flaw-instigated head gasket failures for me.

            http://www.autosafety.org/ford-38l-head-gasket-trouble

  • avatar
    william442

    I still want one.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    My grandfather had a succession of Town Cars throughout the 90s, a ’92, ’94, ’96 and ’98 IIRC. I remember him being dissatisfied with the decontented ’98 after coming out of the very well equipped ’96. He too found the ride harsher and particularly despised the traditional analog gauge cluster in place of the full digital unit he had been used to. He never drove another Lincoln after that. A DHS replaced the ’98 TC.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    If you decide on owning a Panther, is it also advisable to get a Barcalounger for your den at the same time?

  • avatar
    tonycd

    Sorry to interrupt the lovefest, but there is what happened to Baruth. Not only when the car didn’t turn, but how poorly it sheltered the occupants from the impact. There are real downsides to 25-year-old technology.

  • avatar
    Cabriolet

    Before the s**t hit the fan back in 2008/2009 i used to ship these cars converted to 38 ft limo’s. We shipped sometimes 3-4 a month to the UK. Purchased from a firm in Atlantic City with many of them having over 200,000 miles. One of the 40 ft containers containing 1 Lincoln Limo arrived in Felixstowe with the both ends pushed out a few feet. My agent called me in a panic wanting to know how to handle it. I told him to unload the container and let me know if there was any damage. He called me back a few hours later and said the car was out of the container and both the front and back bumpers were damaged. When the car was loaded into the container it was never strapped down and rolled back and forth in the container during the voyage. I called my warehouse in NJ and raised hell and they admitted that the fellow who loaded the car in the container dropped dead and in all the confusion in the warehouse no one checked to see if the car was strapped down. After the body was removed they just closed the doors of the container and delivered it back to the SS terminal. I had to fly 2 used bumpers along with various plastic parts to the UK to do the repairs. With all the costs added up it was close to $10,000.00 dollars for repairs and they told me they were shocked that the car was not destroyed. My warehouse picked up most of the tab so everyone was happy. They told me they made a fortune with those cars in the UK and Germany.

  • avatar
    EdTilley

    Panther Rules!

    I currently own a Corvette, a Lotus, a Volvo with a Vette LT1, a C230 4Matic wagon, and a 2005 Lincoln Town Car. When I want to just drive, without having to think too hard, or over long distances, I will always choose the Town Car. I’ve had other Lincolns, and a P71, and these cars are very hard to beat. I will have a Panther in the fleet as long as clean ones are available.

  • avatar

    I grew up in a fun-car family: MG, Healey, a couple of Corvettes, a Challenger. My first new car was a CRX, followed by another CRX, 88 Mustang LX 5.0, Firebird Formula 5.0 TPI, and current 2002 Z28, all manuals, all autocrossed, that sort of thing. Sneered at Panthers. But this May (2014) I inherited a cherry 2004 Grand Marquis, 64k miles. Dear God that car is wonderful. I love it. The quiet, the room, the epic trunk and heroic hood, the cushy ride, the isolation from the road, the numb steering, the great fuel economy, the scale, the low insurance, the confident unhipness. What a joy.

  • avatar
    DrGastro997

    I remember every time I drove and rode in the Town Car I would get car sick. No matter if I’m in the front or back, I’d get sick. I never get sea sick, car sick or any other motion sickness, but step inside the Town Car and I’m floating with sickness…

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    “get to your destination relaxed and with great mileage, as opposed to being stressed from high-speed run”

    This is off-topic. Speed limits were recently increased on some of our highways from 110kph to 120. Owners of luxury cars seem to be using this to use those highways as though there are no speed limits. Part of it may be their wish to rub it in that they have cars that can go at those speeds (150kph+, which is close to 100mph) safely and comfortably. Is it relaxing, even in a European luxury car/suv, to travel at such speeds for hours on end?

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      My car isn’t European, but an Australian clone of a European sport sedan. Its most relaxed cruising speed is around 90-95 mph (145-155 kph). At that speed it is very stable, responsive, and in a good part of the powerband in top gear. The brakes are more than good enough to haul it down without drama if some other vehicle gets in the way.

      Unfortunately, law enforcement frowns on such speeds, even on clear roads in good weather. I recently was ticketed for 89 mph in an 80 mph zone. And places where it is safe to drive 95 mph in the United States are very few and far between.

    • 0 avatar
      Vojta Dobeš

      Most any modern car can go at 100+mph safely, and usualy even comfortably. And yes, travelling at 100+mph can be comfy and relaxing.

      When I travel on a highway (the Czech equivalent of “Autobahn”), which I almost never do with the TC (I only use the highway when I go to and from Prague, usually picking up or returning a press car), I usualy keep at 140kph or more, depending on how much I want to save gas.

      Even if I went with the TC, I would go at least 130, unless it was weekend or night.

      The reason? Trucks. With trucks in the right lane and most cars going 130 in the left, going anything between the truck speed (90-100kph) and the speed of most cars (120-130) is a royal pain. You have to overtake trucks all the time, watching your mirrors for faster cars.

      The most comfortable speed on Czech highway is, say, 140-180kph (85-110mph). You only watch what’s in front of you, braking when necessary. Over 110mph, it becomes a bit too fast paced, but up to 120-125, it’s still fine. Over 125, it starts to be a bit stressful to watch the traffic ahead of you.

      Going 100mph in a VW Golf is still fairly comfortable and relaxing. Going 100mph in a BMW 535d? Relaxing, maybe even boring. 120 in a 535d? Still pretty fine.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      I used to travel for hours on end in my 120k+ mile (>195,000km) ’92 Jetta (1.8L, 100 hp when it was new) at 130-150 km/h. While it was noisy, it was perfectly stable and even during brief bursts to 160 km/h+, I’d have no problem taking a hand off the wheel to play with the radio. Hell, the door jamb sticker even listed a tire pressure spec for when you planned on exceeding 160 km/h. Just last night I was given a lift back to my hotel in VW’s 1.0L mini-car, the Up, and the owner told me it was good for 170+ km/h, something she says she uses regularly when she drives from Frankfurt to the Swiss border.

      The original VW Beetle was designed in the 1930s with a brief of taking 4 passengers down the (newly-constructed) Autobahn at 100 km/h with its 30ish hp.

      If you think any modern car has trouble cruising at 130+, you grossly underestimate today’s cars.

  • avatar

    I don’t understand the attraction of these vehicles. I’ve never owned one but spent plenty of time in the back of them and they seem to offer no redeeming features. Dynamics and performance are rubbish and there is only the facade of luxury

  • avatar
    Joss

    Airport gandu.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    arent there any cheap rwd LS1 powered saloons around?

    i would think an LS1 with a good 6 spd would crush the panthers in every metric

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      That particular combination never existed in North America. LS1s were for Corvettes, Camaros, and the first year of the Monaro–>GTO. GM’s V8 sedans in the LS era were mostly FWD except for the Cadillac CTS-V, STS, and Pontiac G8, and those were sport sedans rather than comfort cruisers. There are a few ex-police V8 Statesman–>Caprices floating around now, but those are nowhere near Town Car territory.

      In all honesty, the true successor to the Town Car and its ilk is the Lexus LS.

    • 0 avatar
      Vojta Dobeš

      No. If GM continued their B-body platform beyond 1996, and made a new generation, it would probably be just great. I love LS engines, and I loved B-bodies. I would probably take a 1998 Fleetwood over the Town Car any day.

      Unfortunately, no such thing exists.

      • 0 avatar
        TonyJZX

        well over here we have LS1 powered sedans but the early ones have the generally awful 4L60 4 spd auto

        T56 6 spd manual is the go if you can handle it

        of course we have the rhd Chevy SS under $20k for early models

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        @Vojta

        Technically, a 1998 Cadillac Fleetwood does exist although its not one you’re going to want (LWB K-body Deville FWD). I actually saw one of these 781 examples in person in the fall of 2002 pulling into a Red Lobster parking lot, didn’t know what to make of it at the time.

        “A car that began as a Cadillac DeVille sedan was stretched six inches in the rear and six inches in the trunk by Superior Coachbuilders (Accubuilt) under contract with Cadillac and became the 1998 Cadillac Fleetwood Limited. Only 781 were made for the 1998 and 1999 model years, and one of them is listed on LimoForSale.com, making it this week’s LimoForSale.com Editors’ Pick of the Week.”

        “This classic is a collector’s dream, and with a listed price of $30,000 that includes door-to-door shipping, it’s not going to last long, so find out more information and purchase details by clicking here: 1998 Cadillac De Ville – $30,000 (description explains it’s a Fleetwood Limited).”

        http://www.lctmag.com/vehicles/news/41836/low-mileage-1998-cadillac-fleetwood-limited-sedan-listed-for-sale

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      Best B-body sedan? Buick Roadmaster LT1.

      The least sporty LT1 B-body makes for the best sleeper. I’d love to stuff a LS376 into a Roadmaster sedan and go around confusing Mustangs.

      • 0 avatar
        Vojta Dobeš

        A friend of mine had one. I can’t say much about handling and ride, as the suspension was totally worn out, but I loved the power. On the other hand, the rear seat legroom sucks.

  • avatar
    Panther Platform

    I think the attraction of Panthers for some of us is the witches brew of comfort, toughness, and longevity. A Panther is a tough bastard, but nothing is better for a long relaxed road trip. The lazy detuned V8 purrs while you enjoy the massiveness and simplicity of the car. 300,000 miles here I come.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    Fetishization of the Panther on TTAC notwithstanding, let’s face it…these cars are to any modern large sedan what Checker Marathons were to Panthers, 25 years ago.

    I’m 57, my dad worked in Ford and L-M dealers, as did I starting in 1977 up to about 2003, and I drove a million of these cars, and as devices to be maintained and parts procured for, they’re pretty OK, but as cars, they suck.

  • avatar
    otaku

    Panther Love > Brown eurotrash turbodiesel hatchback silliness

    Always has been. Always will be.

    Deal with it.

    • 0 avatar

      Ummmmm, let me try to come to grips with your deep and insightful comment. Let’see, Euro style and Euro driving hatches, turbo or not, diesel or not, even brown or not, are available at many dealers representing many different brands near you. Panthers are available now at, buy here pay here lots? Junkyards?

      Ok, I confess, can’t really wrap my head around the concept, so yes, Panther love is bigger than any Euro trash anything. I’m convinced now.

      • 0 avatar
        otaku

        I was referring to the love/affection/respect many drivers, including myself, have gained over the years and continue to express for panther platform vehicles. Whether or not they are available at dealers near me (or anyone else for that matter) doesn’t really factor into the emotion.

        My first car was an ’86 T-Bird Turbo Coupe. I don’t have the car anymore and I can’t buy another at my local dealer, but it doesn’t change how I continue to feel. I’ll never love another car the same way. My late mom is no longer with us either, but I will always carry wonderful memories of her, as well. Sorry if this is such a strange concept for you to wrap your head around. Perhaps the double-posting is further evidence of your utter confusion when attempting to grasp such abstract ideas.

        In any case, I’m glad to hear you’re now convinced by my persuasive argument. So, I guess we’ll agree to, um…

        agree, or something

        • 0 avatar

          Ah, ok now you make you sense and I can respect what you say. See, 2 or 3 words more go a long way. Originally, what you basically said is a Panther di.. is bigger than a Euro-trash (really?) hatch di.. and then I said no, cause Eurobrown hatchback sh.. is still around, while your cat sh.. is dead. Therefore the love for Eurotrash managed to survive somehow and Panther love, though so big, didn’t. To add to that you added a challenge. That I took up.

          Your comment would have been valid and worthwhile and quite incontestable had you added a simple “to me” or “in the US”. As originally stated, you threw too big a net for a poor Panther.

          And now maybe you can wrap your head around that. Or something. Or not. Cheers.

  • avatar

    Ummmmm, let me try to come to grips with your deep and insightful comment. Let’see, Euro style and Euro driving hatches, turbo or not, diesel or not, even brown or not, are available at many dealers representing many different brands near you. Panthers are available now at, buy here pay here lots? Junkyards?

    Ok, I confess, can’t really wrap my head around the concept, so yes, Panther love is bigger than any Euro trash anything. I’m convinced now.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Having driven these cars and owning several brands of rear wheel drive full size and midsize cars I honestly don’t miss them. I see plenty of old Crown Vics and Marquis still on the road. I liked my wife’s 2000 Taurus much better with the 24 valve V-6–quicker acceleration, smoother ride, roomer inside, better handling, and larger trunk. The only benefit to these Panthers were they would run a long time and were inexpensive to maintain but the ride was jittery. Their time has passed.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    Vojta, Rockauto rocks. I’ve used them before coupled with a mail forwarding service using sea shipping.

    The issue of getting parts for cars that don’t “belong” to a certain market can be summarized with a single word: planning. There are some skills that the owner needs to have, like cross referencing, BSing (useful with local parts resellers) and lots of creativity.

    The problem with the US barges (I’m a B-body fan) is that the Aussies found a way to make a big car that handles and is comfortable at the same time.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I think the Panther Love theme is misunderstood. I owned a CV wagon in college, loved it. One of the best cars I have ever owned from a cost of ownership standpoint. Overall, put about 40k miles on the car, bought for $1200 and traded in upon graduation for $200. Not a bad return.

    Why they are so great is. For people who do not want to spend greater than 10k, either by choice or economic reality/hardship, you can own a quiet, efficient, pleasant vehicle that will return years and many miles of service with little brain damage.

    I fully understand these are not a ‘drivers’ car. Not everyone can afford a BMW/Lexus/Benz but would like to be in a luxury car.

    I still contend these rigs (TC and Grand Marquis) represent an exceptional value for your dollar if you desire to have a plush ride that you would not be embarrassed to have your boss ride in.

    • 0 avatar
      jim brewer

      Not so cheap, it seems to me. I see 2006 Towncar for $12,xxx. I realize used car prices are up, but a big part of the attraction is bang-for-the-buck and that’s not particularly there anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      Vojta Dobeš

      Exactly. Ideally, I would like to have a Miata NA parked beside the Town Car. Now, I have to get my fix of driving enthusiasm in press cars.

  • avatar
    GS 455

    Vojta that was an excellent review of the appeal of the Town Car. How would you compare the ride of the 98 TC and the Ram? Which one absorbs bumps and potholes better? Which is quieter and more isolated from road and wind noise? How about the handling?

    • 0 avatar
      Vojta Dobeš

      The Ram is more comfortable, the Town Car is maybe just slightly better handling – or you are at least a bit more confident, as you don’t sit sky high like in the Ram.

      Unlike the 2010 Suburban, the Ram Ecodiesel would be a worthy replacement of the TC. Similar in size, more spacious inside, more practical, equal or better fuel economy, 4×4 etc.

      If only I didn’t hate the idea of driving a truck.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    Right around the time the Panthers went out of production, I went out of my way to rent a Town Car for a weekend trip to Ottawa, to sow the fire of Panther Love that had been lit by my grandparents’ ’86 Crown Victoria.

    I loved it – it had presence and character, it felt like an anachronism, but one worth keeping around. That said, I suspect towards the last couple years, Ford must have stiffened up the ride in an attempt to make it handle, meaning it wasn’t really great at either. I mean, it wasn’t torturous, but bumps were absolutely transmitted into the cabin, and it still wasn’t a corner carver (totally adequate for the task at hand though). And, gifted with rather stubby legs, the seat cushions were a little long for me.

    On the other hand, as I recall, I averaged somewhere in the 23-24mpg range on a mostly highway journey (and wasn’t trying to baby it). That said, a year or two later, I rented a 5.0 Mustang for a similar journey, and got similar mileage from nearly twice the power.

    I still longingly eye surplus P71’s, but I don’t have the space to park one, and my driving is far too urban to afford the mileage it would inevitably get. Rationally, they’re far from perfect cars, but then it’s Panther Love and not Panther Respect.

  • avatar
    50merc

    One thing going for Town Cars and MGMs (Park Avenues, too) is they’re “Dead Peoples’ Cars”. Often they are for sale because the original owner has passed on or is close to it. Though sheltered by garages and babied on the road, these cars are often unwanted or unneeded by heirs. So you can get a lot of luxury for the price. Here’s an example from Craigslist: 1999 Town Car Executive “This is Grandfather’s Lincoln Town Car that was passed to me. Excellent condition and upkeep over life of the car. All systems work, leather interior, everything power, drives great, mechanic verified. $3000 OBO.” With only 119K miles, there is lots of life left in it.

  • avatar

    Isn’t Toyota Camry/Avalon the modern incarnation of classic American car?

  • avatar
    sketch447

    My parents have owned Town Cars for decades. My conclusion? The Town Car is junk. Especially the version seen in the in the photos above.

    It is absolutely true that the TC is little more than a whored-up Crown Vic, for $15k more. There is very little room inside. The leather stinks of solvent or glue, and feels like a vinyl beach ball. The engine guzzles gas, with lotsa roar but no motion. The tranny is primitive. Handling is a joke; the steering wheel has no idea what the tires are doing and doesn’t care.

    The TC is a scam. Livery companies loved the thing because it could take lotsa punishment, plus bootleg parts from China are cheap and plentiful. Plus the engine is reliable. Sure, the TC lasts forever, but so does herpes.

    I’m a big advocate of buying American….but the TC is one POS that shows everything that was wrong with the American brands.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Gotta say if I’m TC shopping, I’d first look for a 95-97 (pref 96) in Cartier or special edition (Cypress, Spinnaker, Diamond), followed by the 03+ with the clean styling, preferably in Platinum L or whatever that higher trim was. I’ve never been a fan of the pinky-taupe color you chose. Any particular reason for that, and for a Sig rather than a Cartier?

    • 0 avatar
      Vojta Dobeš

      Yeah. Two of them.

      First, there’s about a dozen non-stretch 1998+ Town Cars in Czech Republic, and even less 96-97s. So finding one for sale is hard enough in itself.

      Second, it was standing in a friend’s yard, unused, available for me to drag it out of the weeds, slowly have stuff fixed and pay it when I’ll have the cash. Which has not yet happened, thus the mention of “driving a borrowed Town Car” in my signature line.

      If I had enough cash in hand, I would try to find a 96-97 Cartier as well. And one was for sale in the country about two years ago. I could also buy a post-facelift one, or import a 96 Cartier from Germany. Either option would cost at least twice the cost of this one…

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Thanks for the reply :)

        It’s hard to imagine a place where TC’s aren’t thick as mud. So I get that you took what you could get and afford!

        You should start collecting more Lincolns, and import a Navigator or a Blackwood if you’re feeling adventurous.

        • 0 avatar
          Vojta Dobeš

          Yeah, exactly. There is a really pretty, light blue 2005 or 2007 for sale right now, but I really don’t have the roughly $10,000 the owner wants.

          And I don’t think I need any more Lincolns – unless one of the few Mark VIIs or Mark VIIIs in the country shows up for sale when I’ll have the cash.

          But I may get back to classics one day. I kinda miss my old 1967 Coronet (as well as other 60s stuff I had), as well as the 1988 Caprice I had as my first US car. With my current financial situation, though, it’s more likely that I’ll pony up for a nice Cortina Mark III to swap a 2.3T into :)

        • 0 avatar
          Vojta Dobeš

          … or I’ll go all Jalopnik and buy a Miata NA. That, a Town Car and a Chrysler minivan provide the near-perfect line-up of cars to do almost every task imaginable.

  • avatar
    70-Tbird

    i have a 1997 Towncar that I drive every day, as well as a 1970 Thunderbird and a 2011 Mustang.

    Is the Towncar fast? NO! its not supposed to be. Let me try to explain this so the yuppies on here can understand.

    The Towncar is one of the last types of cars that was built to be one thing, for example Comfortable and quiet. Sum that up as Luxurious if you want. New cars today try to be all things to all people, and when you take one thing, on a budget, and try to make it 15,000 different things you know what you get? Garbage. Nothing ever works. New cars have to be “sporty” (which most sedans are not, sorry silly Camry drivers even in sport mode you are pathetic) and have a good ride. It doesn’t happen. You get this flim flam kinda good ride kinda not that is terrible. The Towncar showed up and said, “hey, I am comfortable not sporty. throw me around some corners and ill remind you of that”

    My towncar rides great, its very comfortable, and the stock JBL sound system sounds great. I have put on tires and replaced the badly designed plastic manifold ($200 one time thing). I found it on C-list from an elderly couple that babied it, and they were so excited I was not going to put those stupid 22” rims on it. I purchased it for $3000 with 59K on the odometer. One of the best bang for the buck deals ever.

    By the way, I am 21, my friends call me grandpa until they get in it. After a few miles they love it. :)


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