The Truth About Cars » 1997 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Apr 2014 16:58:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » 1997 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Clues That a Car Is Junkyard Bound, Part XI: The Space-Saver Spare http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/clues-that-a-car-is-junkyard-bound-part-xi-the-space-saver-spare/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/clues-that-a-car-is-junkyard-bound-part-xi-the-space-saver-spare/#comments Fri, 15 Mar 2013 13:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=481268 The car companies say that those little “donut” spares shouldn’t be driven at highway speed, and that they shouldn’t be driven for long distances… but they also say that you shouldn’t use a Vise-Grip as a steering wheel! Just the other day, I watched a Mazda 323 with two space-saver spares (on the left side, of course) dicing with a tippy-looking Wrangler at 105 MPH on I-25 in Denver, and I remembered this A6 with three not-so-high-speed-rated wheels, spotted during the coldest Half Price Junkyard Day I’ve ever experienced. Let’s admire it!
This ’97 Audi A6 was once a pricey, sporty sedan, and the engineers that designed its suspension almost certainly debated the benefits of various tire sizes in meeting after meeting. Hell with that, said the car’s final owner, I’ve got a whole set of perfectly good wheels and tires that will save me a couple hundred bucks over some Dae Yung Radical Radials!
We’ll never know if this Audi was shod in a complete set of space-savers, because one corner of the car was wheel-less. It was too snowy for me to check for the other sign of imminent junkyard residence— many Little Tree air fresheners— but I’m sure there was at least one New Car Scent tree in there.
So what’s worse: this car on three or four space-savers, or a 1973 Buick Century Luxus wagon with just one?
01 - 1997 Audi A6 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1997 Audi A6 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1997 Audi A6 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1997 Audi A6 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1997 Audi A6 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1997 Audi A6 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Junkyard Find: 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis LS Safety Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/junkyard-find-1997-mercury-grand-marquis-ls-safety-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/junkyard-find-1997-mercury-grand-marquis-ls-safety-edition/#comments Thu, 03 Jan 2013 14:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=472236 By the time the last few years of the Mercury-ized version of the Ford Crown Victoria rolled around, every single Grand Marquis sold was an Ultimate Edition. Back in the late 1990s, however, Mercury shoppers had more choices. Including, apparently, a Safety Edition. Here is an example I found in a Denver self-service yard last week.
A close look at the badges on the fenders makes me think that we’re dealing with some sort of dealer-installed or coachbuilder option, not a factory trim level.
The vinyl landau roof is a good indicator that some (no doubt Florida-based) company created its own line of Safety Edition Grand Marquis de Sades, perhaps in a shop just down the street from the one that made the faux-vertible ’97 Cougar XR7.
The cylinder heads are in the trunk, which offers a solid clue about the reason for this car’s current parking place.
I couldn’t find any signs of safety features beyond what all Panthers got in 1997. Perhaps this car got the police-grade stab-proof seats to protect the driver from unruly back-seaters.

01 - 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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Junkyard Find: 1997 Cadillac Catera http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/junkyard-find-1997-cadillac-catera/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/junkyard-find-1997-cadillac-catera/#comments Mon, 22 Oct 2012 13:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=464432 After not seeing a single Catera on the street for several years, I ran into this ’98 Catera in a Denver wrecking yard over the winter. That’s the last time I’ll see one of those, I thought, but then a 24 Hours of LeMons team raced a Catera in South Carolina (as the ill-advised result of all my demands for a LeMons Catera). That Cadillac failed spectacularly, of course… and now here’s another Catera in a Denver junkyard!
The only remnant of the “Caddy That Zigs” campaign that survives today is the simplified Cadillac emblem. You know, because kids these days don’t have the attention span to take in a really complex emblem— they just like the ducks!
I prefer the version of Ziggy the Duck that was painted on the hood of the Team Douchebags That Zig race car.
This Catera made it to 139,347 miles, which comes to nearly 10,000 miles per year of life.
Because Broncos fans hate the Raiders, the Raider Nation decals on this no-doubt-imported-from-California Cadillac have been scratched out.
Where did GM find this leather that looks and feels so much like thick vinyl?
Car writers back in the late 1990s really wanted to like this car, but it just wasn’t happening. Opel products (other than the Chevette) have just never done well in North America.

15 - 1997 Cadillac Catera Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 01 - 1997 Cadillac Catera Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1997 Cadillac Catera Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1997 Cadillac Catera Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1997 Cadillac Catera Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1997 Cadillac Catera Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1997 Cadillac Catera Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1997 Cadillac Catera Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1997 Cadillac Catera Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1997 Cadillac Catera Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1997 Cadillac Catera Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1997 Cadillac Catera Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1997 Cadillac Catera Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1997 Cadillac Catera Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1997 Cadillac Catera Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1998 Cadillac Catera Down On the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of VWVortex.com IMG_4536 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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My Introduction To Panther Love: Inaugural Police Interceptor Road Trip! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/my-introduction-to-panther-love-inaugural-police-interceptor-road-trip/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/my-introduction-to-panther-love-inaugural-police-interceptor-road-trip/#comments Fri, 25 May 2012 14:30:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=445946 Back in 2004, I was doing a typical East Bay highway commute to my job writing software documentation. Ten miles each way in a Tercel (I had my choice of an ’85 wagon or a ’90 hatch), and the ever-increasing numbers of badly-driven SUVs on the Dreaded Nimitz were making me feel quite vulnerable in my little rice-burners. I needed a more substantial daily driver, and it damn sure wasn’t going to be an 8-MPG truck with 64-ouncer cup holders. What I needed, I decided, was an ex-cop Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor!
My first thought was to get an ex-CHP car, with only highway miles on the clock and much better maintenance than most local police departments perform on their cars. Plus, highway patrolmen don’t do much arresting, which means fewer gallons of urine and vomit emitted by cuffed-and-stuffed drunken back-seat passengers. California state vehicles get auctioned off once a month near Sacramento, so I headed up I-80 to check out some black-and-white P71s. Unfortunately, every P71 aficionado in Northern California knows that ex-CHP cars are less thrashed and piss-soaked than Crown Vics that spent their lives driving over Oakland curbs or chasing miscreants down potholed Redding alleyways. Late-90s cars were selling for upwards of $3,000, which was about a grand more than I wanted to pay. The K-9 cars, with their cool-looking hood louvers and extra-oversized AC compressors, were going for even higher prices. So, I passed on the CHP cars.
Not long after that, I went to a big car auction specializing in ex-government vehicles. Hundreds of Crown Victoria Police Interceptors were going under the hammer every couple of weeks; most of them were completely trashed city black-and-whites (complete with spotlights, push bumpers, and icky odors), and they were selling to cab companies for a grand or less. Right in the middle of all these cars, however, was a group of a dozen or so ex-San Joaquin County unmarked Police Interceptors. Every one was a ’97 model, none had spotlights or cages or antenna holes in the roof, all had decent interiors, and all were bronze or dark blue. They were going for $2,500 to $3,000 apiece, but one of the bronze ones had a big shallow dent in the driver’s door and the bidding was much slower on it. I was willing to go to $2,000, and my bid of $1,600 was the winner. Sold!
At just seven years old, this was the newest car I’d ever owned. The trunk was full of stuff, including a bunch of paperwork indicating that it had been driven by a San Joaquin County parole officer. I also found crime-scene Polaroids, Parolee Handbooks, and urine test kits. Everything worked, it drove very nicely, and I decided that I needed to take it on a serious road trip as soon as possible. At the time, I was a serious fan of the Oakland Athletics, having attended 25 or so games a year going back a decade. 2004 was the height of the Moneyball era, with the “big three” of Mark Mulder, Barry Zito, and Tim Hudson pitching, and the A’s were locked a nail-biting September battle with their archrivals, the Anaheim Angels, for the division championship.
I’d been shooting photos at ballgames for a while (here’s Hudson in his rookie year), and I decided that what I really needed to do was pack up my homemade stereo camera (a pair of Konica point-and-shoots, loaded with slide film and mounted on an aluminum bracket) and take my new car the 430 miles down to Orange County and shoot some 3D slide pairs of the A’s playing at Angel Stadium.
That meant, of course, driving the same highway as so many of my Impala Hell Project road trips, with the destination just a few miles from where the Impala had put in so much work lowering property values.
So, a couple of days after buying my parole-officer Panther, after having put only 15 miles on it and with no idea about any mechanical problems this 130,000-mile car might have, I gathered up some of my A’s-fan friends and headed straight to Interstate 5.
The game started at 5:00 PM and we wanted to get to Angel Stadium in time to do some barbecuing in the parking lot, so we departed early in the morning. I was a little concerned about the lack of license plates, but I figured I could just show any inquisitive CHPs my auction documents. The drive went smoothly, the car was very comfortable for four occupants, and I became increasingly pleased with the superiority of the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor. It was the kind of car that all the rear-drive/V8 Detroit sedans of the 1960s through the 1980s should have been.
The tailgate-party scene at Anaheim Stadium bore about the same relationship to the corresponding scene at the Oakland Coliseum as touring with the Pope does to touring with 2 $hort. I could make all sorts of Oakland-versus-Orange-County comparisons here, but you probably get the idea.
We ate a lot of sausages, drank a lot of beer, and threw a baseball around the parking lot. Then we headed into the stadium… where Mulder got lit up by the Angels and the A’s lost 6-2. In fact, this was the game that began the downward spiral for the ’04 A’s, leading to the team losing the AL West to the Angels by a single game. This ended a run of several postseason appearances for the team. I was still happy, though, because my new car had turned out to be even better than I’d hoped.
My ’97 Crown Victoria P71 remained my daily driver for several years; even after I picked up my ’92 Honda Civic DX, I still drove the Ford at least a third of the time. My Crown Victoria suffered from plenty of nickel/dime problems (including an average of one dead window regulator per six months and endless maddening Check Engine Light adventures triggered by flaky smog-control devices), but it never once stranded me. It managed to get 24 MPG on the highway (all Crown Victoria drivers claim 25 MPG, but they lie), and it served me well in many, many tailgate parties at the Oakland Coliseum (here we see it with the Junkyard Boogaloo Boombox in the foreground).
It made a fine 24 Hours of LeMons Judgemobile, and I brought it to most of the California races.
Then, while I was preparing to move to Denver in the summer of 2010, the Check Engine light came on again. The scanner code meant “Lean Condition, Bank 1,” and I just didn’t have the time or energy to deal with yet another chase-the-malfunctioning-low-bidder-smog-component game. So, I traded it to the Angry Hamsters LeMons team in exchange for a custom-narrowed RX-7 rear end for my Toyota 20R-engined Austin-Healey Sprite, with the idea that the Ford would one day be a LeMons racer. As it worked out, my ex-P71 is being used as a daily driver, and my Sprite is still in California, awaiting installation of that RX-7 rear. If I ever get another Panther— and I might— it’s going to have a supercharger and a manual transmission!

12 - 1997 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 01 - 1997 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 02 - 1997 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 03 - 1997 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 04 - 1997 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 05 - 1997 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 06 - 1997 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 07 - 1997 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 08 - 1997 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 09 - 1997 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 10 - 1997 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 11 - 1997 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 13 - 1997 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 14 - 1997 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 15 - Tim Hudson rookie year - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden Impala7-22 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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Junkyard Find: 1997 Mercury Cougar XR7 With Florida-Style Faux-vertible Option http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/junkyard-find-1997-mercury-cougar-xr7-with-florida-style-faux-vertible-option/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/junkyard-find-1997-mercury-cougar-xr7-with-florida-style-faux-vertible-option/#comments Fri, 11 May 2012 13:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=443836 When I saw this car at a Denver self-service yard, I had to wonder if Ford really sank so low in the late 1990s as to make this godawful crypto-laundau roof a factory-installed option on the MN12 XR7. I haven’t been able to find any references to such an abomination in any of my reference books, so it’s probably a safe assumption that we’re looking at an aftermarket conversion.
Not that we’re dealing with one of the better-looking iterations of the Cougar nameplate here.
The MN12 was a big leap into the future from the Fox Platform Cougar, and you can tell by the spoiler that Ford had embraced 1990s style for real.
OK. Florida. That explains the roof.

16 - 1997 Mercury Cougar Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 01 - 1997 Mercury Cougar Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1997 Mercury Cougar Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1997 Mercury Cougar Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1997 Mercury Cougar Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1997 Mercury Cougar Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1997 Mercury Cougar Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1997 Mercury Cougar Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1997 Mercury Cougar Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1997 Mercury Cougar Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1997 Mercury Cougar Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1997 Mercury Cougar Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1997 Mercury Cougar Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1997 Mercury Cougar Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1997 Mercury Cougar Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1997 Mercury Cougar Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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90s Japanese Luxury Car Purchase Dilemma Solved: Going VIP! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/90s-japanese-luxury-car-purchase-dilemma-solved-going-vip/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/90s-japanese-luxury-car-purchase-dilemma-solved-going-vip/#comments Thu, 16 Feb 2012 19:15:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=431098 Back in September, I wrote about my search for a 1990s Japanese luxury car as a daily driver, with the Infiniti Q45, Lexus LS400, and Acura RL as the main contenders. Five months later, I’ve made my choice. It’s a 1997 Coach Edition Lexus LS400 in nice shape, 120,000 miles. Man, this car has class.. The reason I’m getting this LS is to allow me to immobilize my ’92 Civic long enough to swap the Integra GS-R engine into it, which means I won’t be doing any customizing that takes it out of commission for long periods. That doesn’t mean I’ll be leaving it dead stock, of course…
I’ve become fascinated by the Japanese VIP Style fashion for car customization, spending a lot of time looking at the Junction Produce site and various Japanese VIP car publications. I won’t be doing anything particularly radical to my Lexus in terms of ride height or suspension mods (I want it to ride the way Toyota intended), but I will need some better wheels, and Celsior grille and badges… and a fusa.

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