The Truth About Cars » crown vic http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 12 Apr 2014 00:28:39 +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 » crown vic http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Hammer Time: The Rise And The Fall Of The Panthers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/hammer-time-the-rise-and-the-fall-of-the-panthers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/hammer-time-the-rise-and-the-fall-of-the-panthers/#comments Wed, 06 Nov 2013 14:08:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=639009 cv

When you think of a cop car or a taxi, chances are this vehicle will pop in your mind.

Now think of the cars that old people drive. No not Camrys! Get that thought off your mind right now mister!

Well, come to think of it, that’s a big part of the problem. If any car out there is stuck in the netherworld of wholesale heaven at the auto auctions, it’s this one.

This morning I was looking through an endless array of old Crown Vics that had been used as donor cars for the local government fleet.

The prices seemed right. $200 for a parts car. $500 for a whole car with higher miles. $1500 for the cop car of your dreams.  The numbers all seemed wondrous to a car guy like me who buys cars wholesale nearly every day of the week.

Except there’s a problem on the demand size of this equation. These cars don’t sell well anymore. Even the best of them have trouble getting so much as a glance from the general public.

crown vic

Why? Well it may have a bit to do with the price of gas. Or the fact that cop vehicles go through an ungodly amount of abuse, even here in the South. Or even that those who need a car still won’t take one with rear vinyl seats, and more holes and exposed wires than a redneck version of a smoking KISS guitar.

crown vic2

But it’s even more than that when you look at these cars from a retailing perspective. The truth is that every portion of the population has a great excuse not to buy an old school full-sized car.

Young people are too broke to own one. Whenever I get a sharp looking one at my lot, young black males are surprisingly the most common gawkers. The Oldsmobile 98′s and Caprices that were all the rage 15 or so years ago for this enthusiast demographic, were replaced large with Crown Vic Police Interceptors, from the mid-2000′s up until about a couple of years ago.

unclebillsgarage

Crown Vics were cheap, plentiful, not an SUV (which is what mom and dad usually drove), and reflected a bit of toughness thanks to the cop car rep and the utilitarian nature of the beasts. The interiors may have been given the unfortunate overload of cheap, amortized plastic and vinyl materials. But everything from the thunkishness of the door closing, to the Mustang sharing V8 under the hood made these cars a hot commodity.

trunk

You could seat five, haul as much stuff in the trunk ans you wanted to, and,  if you were out just cruising around, fuel economy was bound to suck no matter what car you used. So throw in a dirt cheap price and a penchant for withstanding the worst of road, and Crown Vic Police Interceptors became quite popular. That is  until young people became too broke to own and insure one.

The older family car, whether it’s an extra one or shared, has taken over this market.

Copy this url: http://forums.radioreference.com/pictures-your-shack-mobile-setup/205356-2005-crown-victoria-lx-sport-setup.html This guy did a wonderful job on his road warrior.

Copy this url: http://forums.radioreference.com/pictures-your-shack-mobile-setup/205356-2005-crown-victoria-lx-sport-setup.html This guy did a wonderful job on his road warrior.

Middle aged people? Some liked em’. But the good credit folks are usually looking at the newer stuff, and the bad credit folks don’t want a V8. They will buy a V6, or even an SUV. But a V8? Too much. Even the Grand Marquis, which had once represented the right mix of luxury and space for many of these folks, has now gone into the unmarketable firmament of, “Too big! Too old! No V8!”

BZR Edition

BZR Edition

Old people have, by and large, been herded onto the four cylinder compact and mid-sized buffet thanks in part to the prior gen Toyota Camry which offered the unusual combination of an easy to drive car with the interior space of a full-sized car and a four cylinder under the hood. Luxury to this group means never breaking down, 30 miles per gallon, and as few buttons and knobs as possible.

Along with 20 to 30 Camry alternatives, the market now offers cars that usually have more interior space than the Panthers, better lumbar seat support, and unbeatable fuel economy for a monthly payment that feeds in well with the monthly retiree check. For a low sub-$300 payment in many cases, that fixed income buyer can now have a new car instead of a 10 to 15 year old relic that averages 15 miles per gallon around town. Even the formerly credit challenged among them can line right up and get their spoonful of modern transportation.

Picture Courtesy of donksnob.com

$700 down, $60 a week, 24 months.

The Panther cars may no longer work in the marketplace. But they still remain a personal favorite when it comes to operating a used car dealership.  I have financed a ton of these vehicles over the years to folks who didn’t have access to the new car buffet. Five years ago, a customer would be overjoyed with getting any Town Car, Grand Marquis or Crown Vic with leather for $1000 down. These cars had earned their bulletproof reputation, and a lot of folks who were trying to get out of their family SUV or minivan found these cars to be an outstanding compromise between the unibody sedans with minimal grunt, and the full-sized SUV’s that consumed gas like a modern day BMW eats fuel pumps.

SONY DSC

They were great cars to finance because once you put them on the road, they stayed there. Yes, I had to repo a few. But true to their reputation, these cars could handle the worst of customers and still be given minimal reconditioning before they were put back on the road.

tc

I fondly remember a 1995 Lincoln Town Car  (<— old Hammer Time) that I bought for all of $1600 that I took up to Jersey (<—  another old Hammer Time), and then put out on the note four times before selling it for $1500 cash (<—- boy did I write far too much about this car back in the day!).

The car got scraped on the sides. Nearly all suspension parts replaced. The antenna broke. The headliner fell down, twice. The window regulators were cheap pieces of plasticized under-engineered garbage, and the car had an alarm system that sometimes seemed to have a mind of it’s own.

Oh, and it only came with a cassette until I repoed it for the second time.

I named the car Lucky.

lucky

Lucky was the least popular car at the lot. But if someone had only $500 to their name and a credit history like Donald Trump, then the customer could either have Lucky with a leather interior, or their sneakers in rubber.

Lucky was popular. So were those other Panther vehicles for a while at the $500 down level. A Grand Marquis was 90% of a Town Car, and it sold for 60% of the price.  The Town Car was… well… often times harder to sell than the Grand. Even for the same price. The last Town Car I sold, a 2000 model Signature Series, spent all of five months at my lot which is longer than nearly anything I have sold over the past five years with the sole exception of the famed Barnacle Bitch (<— expensive car from hell!). A 2002 Mercedes S500 bought for $5000 under rough book right after the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

They both had the same problem. The customers had already gone elsewhere and the ones that were left, couldn’t afford to keep the vehicle on the road. So I spared them of that misery that comes off from biting off far more debt than you can chew, and shucked the Barnacle off to a cash customer during tax season.

00tc

That 2000 Town Car with the burgundy paint and tan interior was the same exact deal. The car was an absolute creme puff and had been dealer maintained since day one. A great ride. The used car sales manager at the nearby Ford dealership even put it in their fleet for a year before he retired and got replaced with a guy who was 40 years younger.

So I bought it, and got to driving it around for a bit. In all honesty, I never warmed up to the car. Eventually it got sold  to a lady whose late husband had owned… a Ford dealership. She wanted to relive the old days and within a week of buying it, she wound up painting the poor thing a ghastly silver. Her living at home son had also convinced her to throw Flowmasters onto the thing.

What a waste.

It was a sad ending for an unpopular car… but ever so reminiscent of what happens when a car’s core audience moves on to other rides.

No, the hood latch isn't on the side. Keep looking!

No, the hood latch isn’t on the side. Keep looking!

You either get folks who are true hardcore enthusiasts. They may consider themselves clever ones since they almost always buy the so-called cheap price car that comes loaded with those things they value. On paper, many of these guys seem to find their edge in a marketplace where popular cars go for a premium.

But in truth, most of them are picky, cheap, mechanically inept, and they honestly think you give a shit about the car you’re selling when you really don’t.

They tell stories about these cars. Endless stories about trivial opinions about old junkers that have already been recycled into Chinese washing machines.They are stuck in nostalgia-land which is fine,until you get subjected to the seventh story about the rolling piece of mediocrity in front of you.

You listen, and then eventually in the back of your mind you say, “Look. either buy this fucking car or leave me alone. I really don’t care about the fact that your Aunt Ethel had one of these 20 years ago.”

Then there are the broke ones… who are completely oblivious to the realities of the marketplace. They will piss you off  by ogling the car and then saying, “I love these things, but they eat too much gas. Do you have a Toyota or Honda with leather?”

“I do… but they are a thousand down.  I have about four of them with cloth that are around $700 down.”

“I really want leather but I only have $200 to $300. I can catch up on the payments?”

“Okay. When do you think you’ll have $1000?”

They will first tell you a week. Then a couple of weeks. A few minutes later it will turn into a month. Then finally you’ll see their bank statements or utility bills which are riddled with negative balances, overdraft charges, and late fees.

These folks are not bad people. Most of them are nice. They are just used to living beyond their means and you don’t want them as customers.

old dog

As for Panthers? They’re nice in a way that any old dog car can be endearing and lovable. But in the end I’ll stick to what sells, and old dogs don’t sell.

Which reminds me… I still have two at my lot. Want one?

 

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That Police Car In Your Mirror May Not Be A Car, Police Package SUV Sales Up http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/that-police-car-in-your-mirror-may-not-be-a-car-police-package-suv-sales-up/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/that-police-car-in-your-mirror-may-not-be-a-car-police-package-suv-sales-up/#comments Wed, 21 Aug 2013 12:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=500156 gallery_974x548_full

As police departments across the United States start retiring their Ford Crown Victoria P71 Police Interceptors, now that those out of production vehicles are reaching departments’ mileage limits, it looks like they are replacing at least some of them with SUVs, not sedans. Though the end of the Crown Vic has been mourned by law enforcement officers and car enthusiasts alike, both groups looked forward to the new police package sedans being offered by the domestic automakers. Ford brought out the SHO Taurus based Police Interceptor sedan to replace the Crown Victoria, General Motors is importing a police only Caprice PPV with rear wheel drive from Australia (while continuing to offer a police package for the FWD Impala) and Chrysler sells pursuit Chargers. Police department purchasing officials, though, are apparently opting to buy SUVs instead of the new cop cars.

2012_GMFleet_vehicle_overview_speciality_police_960x388_tahoe_2WD

The influential California Highway Patrol has added SUVs to their fleet, replacing some sedans, and the Nevada Highway Patrol is predicted to do likewise. Jonathan Honeycutt, Ford’s fleet brand marketing manager said that it’s not a fad, “This is where the industry is moving.” Demand from government agencies for police package SUVs has been growing faster than for sedans. Officers like the additional room that utility vehicles generally have, compared to sedans. As electronic equipment installed in police cars has proliferated, space has become an issue for police officers, who also have to wear a lot of gear on their persons.

When Ford replaced the Crown Vic PI with the Taurus based Police Interceptor, they also made a PI package available on the FWD based Explorer, expecting the SUV to account for 30% of police fleet sales. In recent months, though, the numbers have flipped and the Explorer PIs are currently almost 70% of the mix. For the year, the police Explorer is outselling the police Taurus, 7,288 to 6,046.

Durango_Special_Service

In addition to the Caprice and Impala sedans, GM offers a police package on the Tahoe SUV and a GM spokesman told the Detroit News that it expects to sell more Tahoes than the 13,000 the automaker sold last year. Chrysler offers the Durango SUV as an alternative to police forces as well as a special service package Ram pickup but it hasn’t released sales figures yet. Ford released their police fleet sales in connection with their announcement that police fleets can now order their Interceptor SUVs with the 3.5 liter EcoBoost V6 engine. That option is expected to boost Explorer Police Interceptor sales even greater. While LEOs may appreciate the extra room, those responsible for purchasing decisions will appreciate better gas mileage.

copram

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Hammer Time: What Recession? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/hammer-time-what-recession/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/hammer-time-what-recession/#comments Thu, 14 Feb 2013 18:13:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=477483

I live in a nice quaint small town called Powder Springs, Georgia.

The sidewalks are paved downtown and even partially bricked for artistic value. Thanks to a generous donation by the taxpayers. The streetlamps are ornate and well lit thanks to the same contributors.

The old closed down ACE hardware store is now the new police station. The old city hall has been replaced by the new city hall.  Even the vehicles that get too old to keep get replaced with shiny new ones thanks to American taxpayers far and wide.

How many miles do you think would it take to replace a car owned by the local city government?

How about less than 50,000 miles?

This 2005 Chevy Impala has all of 49,974 miles on it. Like any other vehicle that has the agony of driving in what many view as the smoothest roads in the country, this Impala is ready to be put out to pasture.

For some reason, this Impala wasn’t much loved in the city vehicle pool.  7000 miles a year for a non-police unit likely means that this ride didn’t have to go past too many closed down businesses to get to the Waffle House a mile down the street.

What? You want me to get interior pics? Fat chance on that. This is all you are going to see of a car that was made possible by you alone, Mr. John Q Public!

Yawn! You want me to write a description of this car too? Okay, fine then! I’m taking an early lunch after that!

Year Make/Brand Model VIN/Serial Miles
2005 Chevrolet Impala 2G1WF52K059385392 49,974
Condition Category
See Description Automobiles
2005 Chevrolet Impala Base SEDAN 4-DR, 3.8L V6 OHV 12V.2007 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor SEDAN 4-DR, 4.6L V8 SOHC 16V.2001 Ford Crown Vic info

I did mention it was a SEDAN. So as far as I’m concerned, my job is done here.

Here are a few other prized jewels for the offering.  I do have to confess that this is not anywhere near the worst presentation of government vehicles that I have ever seen. In fact, I do have to offer kudos for the lady who came back and answered questions about this vehicle.

But this does bring on an important consideration. If a state government is issued approximately 10,000 vehicles every year, wouldn’t it make sense to either…

A) Enact some minimal standards on how these vehicles are marketed so that the taxpayers get a fair return? I mean for cryin’ out loud, the 2007 Crown Vic Police Interceptor has only one picture. With all the time cops have to spend in those things, wouldn’t it make sense to at least open a door, sit in a seat, and click a button?

or

B) Let someone else do it. No, I wouldn’t encourage some gypsy auction company to come by and quick hammer the vehicles to a few of the connected locals (and Lord knows we have plenty of those.) The Govdeals.com site is fine. It’s the presentation that needs work.

 

 

I don’t know about you guys but this one is on my short list. You can find the rest of the vehicles here. Please bid. I want my taxes to go down for once.

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Ask the Best And Brightest: B-Body or Panther? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/06/ask-the-best-and-brightest-b-body-or-panther/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/06/ask-the-best-and-brightest-b-body-or-panther/#comments Fri, 18 Jun 2010 04:28:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=359048

The comments on yesterday’s review of the Caprice Classic Estate reminded me how fundamentally deep the Ford-vs-Chevy rivalry is among American auto enthusiasts. Even in the modern era, when both iconic brands are on the run from Toyota, Hyundai, and (soon) the Chinese, there’s still time to catch one’s breath and take a swing at the other guy.

So. The “Panther” platform is scheduled for termination within the next year or so. The General Motors B-body departed nearly a decade and a half ago. There will likely never be another American car of the size and proportions of those two. Which was your favorite? My thoughts, and a link to a credible source, after the jump.

I’ve owned both the B-body and the Panther personally, and I expect to own another Panther within the year. My feelings on the topic can be expressed as follows:

  • GM was always the leader, until they weren’t. The 1977 B-Body not only beat the Panther to market by a solid year, it was a much better car. It was roomier, quieter, better-made, better-looking, and never suffered from the God-forsaken Variable Venturi Carburetor. The redesigned Caprice beat the aero Crown Vic to market again and offered the LT1 against the tepid early “mod motor”. Only GM’s decision to gradually quit the market let Ford take over the police and taxi markets. Until they left the field, they were in front.
  • The Panther has suffered from persistent safety questions. Cops seem to keep dying in Crown Vics, with a reported “more then 30″ dying from fuel tank explosions. There have also been allegations of brake failure or simply inadequate braking performance.
  • If you want a newer car, you have no choice. I’d love to have another Bubble or Roadmaster, but if I want a sub-50,000-mile car in like-new condition, my next Town Car is only an eBay click away.

The folks at Texas Interceptors give the nod to the Crown Vic. While noting the many superior qualities of the Caprice, the reliability of the Crown Vic seems to carry the day. Of course, they could be wrong. What say you?

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