The Truth About Cars » Ford Crown Victoria http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:18:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 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 » Ford Crown Victoria http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Greek Gods and Dead Presidents: Why Ford Doesn’t Care About Making “Real” Lincolns http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/greek-gods-and-dead-presidents-why-ford-doesnt-care-about-making-real-lincolns/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/greek-gods-and-dead-presidents-why-ford-doesnt-care-about-making-real-lincolns/#comments Wed, 31 Jul 2013 14:56:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=497637 Please welcome TTAC reader John Mohr (username J.Emerson) and his guest contribution to our site In 2004, my family decided to replace our soon-to-be-off-lease Ford Focus Wagon with another Ford product, having been quite satisfied with our little five-door. This being the height of the Bush-era full-size SUV binge, we were barraged with row upon […]

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Lincoln_Town_Car_--_01-28-2010

Please welcome TTAC reader John Mohr (username J.Emerson) and his guest contribution to our site

In 2004, my family decided to replace our soon-to-be-off-lease Ford Focus Wagon with another Ford product, having been quite satisfied with our little five-door. This being the height of the Bush-era full-size SUV binge, we were barraged with row upon row of new Explorers, Expeditions, and Excursions when my parents suggested that we wanted a “sensible 4-door family car.” My mother couldn’t have cared less about such monstrosities, but she didn’t like the recently-redesigned Taurus either, and she wanted something larger than her old Focus. Eventually, they got a deal on a new Crown Victoria LX, a car that served us well for many years. The salesmen couldn’t wait to get rid of it; it was an ‘03, and as I said before, nobody wanted bargain-brand full-size sedans in the middle of the Bush years. Most importantly, this particular car shopping experience was my wake-up call to the artificiality of Ford’s luxury branding attempts. And thinking about it now helps me to understand why Ford is content to let the Lincoln line become nothing but a set of badge-engineered clones.

This being a full-service Ford-Lincoln-Mercury dealership, I could see line after line of Panther cars lingering in front of each division’s showroom. Not counting the police specials in the back of the lot, the Ford dealer had the fewest; but the Mercury side had dozens of Grand Marquis, and Lincoln had no shortage of Town Cars. With my parents ensconced in the finance office, I went over to inspect why we had gone with a Ford and not (to my 15 year old mind) one of the more prestigious makes in the Ford stable. It didn’t take me long to realize that the car we wound up with was more luxurious inside than most the Grand Marquis and on par with many of the Town Cars. We had leather seats and a trunk-mounted CD changer (high tech in ’04), while many of the Mercury customers made do with cloth seats and tape decks. The equivalent Grand Marquis always seemed to sticker higher than ours, a fact that my innocent mind found completely puzzling. Lincolns were better optioned and they had unique sheet metal, as well as some other toys that couldn’t be found in their more pedestrian siblings, so a bump in MSRP seemed fair. Even so, I wasn’t fooled into thinking that a Town Car was worth nearly $20,000 more than the Crown Vic.

At the time, I didn’t know who Alfred P. Sloan Jr. was. I didn’t know that he had catapulted the entire US auto industry down a path that eventually devolved into a wholly cynical game played on an increasingly disillusioned public. But I did know that you were a fool if you paid more for an obviously equivalent product, especially one that was parked on the other side of the dealers’ lot. I still see the merit in luxury cars, but only ones that offer you something more for your money. The Crown Vic, the Grand Marquis, and the Town Car were all decent automobiles in their own right, but only one of them was a value. The other two were mostly cynical marketing exercises that were rapidly losing ground as the Germans tried to scrub the last vestiges of Sloanism from the American market. Even so, Ford hasn’t given up on badge-engineering strategy, and good business sense suggests that they probably shouldn’t if they want to continue to compete in the luxury market.

Fast forward to 2013, and Mercury is dead and buried, and Lincoln is almost there too. The new MKZ, a car that many have projected to be the barometer of whether Lincoln lives or dies, failed to impress Derek. Although it’s an undeniably pretty car, it can’t seem to escape its family-car roots in a way that many of the B&B think a “real” Lincoln should. And therein lies the truth: Ford has no intention of turning Lincoln into a serious contender for Mercedes, BMW, or even Cadillac. Instead, Ford realizes that it has a much better chance of cracking open the Audi-Acura-Buick market with its limited resources. Essentially, Ford wants to take Lincoln and make it into what Mercury was supposed to become, before the Carpocalypse killed off any hope that diluted and under-marketed brands such as Saturn, Saab, and Suzuki could (or should) be rescued.

Alan Mulally simply isn’t willing to risk plowing under the kind of cash needed to make a serious go at the world luxury market. He doesn’t have the resources of a VW, GM, or Toyota, despite Ford’s recent dynamic performance in the marketplace. Building a series of attractive but ultimately mundane cars off existing Ford platforms makes the most sense from a financial standpoint, much more so than a moonshot attempt to develop something like a new RWD sedan platform that could potentially require billions of dollars. At the core of all of this is the fact that Lincoln has exactly zero global presence. GM has poured some serious blood, sweat, and tears into remaking Cadillac as a global brand, and thus far has little to show for it other than some XTS commercials with Brad Pitt and a small (but growing) share of the Chinese market. GM can afford to take such risks; indeed, they must, if their business plan for massive growth in Asia is to work. Ford has thus far punted on the Asian market and can’t commit the same kind of resources to it that GM can. Mulally is right to cautiously introduce Lincoln as a sort of novelty brand in China, and to move on from there.

As far as the American market goes, I believe that Lincoln’s strategy can succeed. But this will happen if, and only if, Ford concentrates on going after the mid-tier luxury market. It shouldn’t pretend that Lincolns are serious competitors to the flagship makers. Like Hyundai’s top tier, most of Lexus, and the revitalized Buick, the sweet spot for Lincoln is amongst the “quietly affluent” segment that Derek previously identified in his review of the Equus. Show the moderately wealthy that there are even better versions of already class-leading Ford products just across the showroom floor. It’s not as if Ford has bad material to work with in its current crop of cars (an assertion that will no doubt cause considerable consternation amongst, and the posting of multiple long essays from, the Ford Hater Brigade). Forget delusions of grandeur that a new Continental will emerge from the shadows to bring Lincoln to the top of the world. Focus on building competent, honest products, made by well-paid workers and suppliers with a careful eye for quality. That will do more for the brand than any moonshot project ever could. Mulally probably understands this better than anybody, but it remains to be seen if he can pull it off. The early reviews of the MKZ are certainly disheartening, but the public has yet to register a final verdict.

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Capsule Review: Ford Crown Victoria P71 – Bulletproof Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/capsule-review-ford-crown-victoria-p71-bulletproof-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/capsule-review-ford-crown-victoria-p71-bulletproof-edition/#comments Tue, 23 Jul 2013 13:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=496708 Photo shamelessly stolen from here  because I can’t actually show the one I drove. Prior to my current posh post, last year I was posted in the now defunct TTAC Caribbean bureau. It was in Curacao, a small Dutch protectorate just north of Venezuela. While there, I did have a chance to test drive a […]

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Vic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nothing. Dangit!

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_1137 IMG_1138 Vic

 

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NHTSA Not On Board With Panther Love http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/nhtsa-not-on-board-with-panther-love/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/nhtsa-not-on-board-with-panther-love/#comments Wed, 01 May 2013 12:30:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=486799 While we normally avoid recall related stories here at TTAC, our beloved (well, not by me, really) Panthers get so little love elsewhere, we figure we may as well bring this to your attention. NHTSA is looking into a possible defect in 2005-2008 Ford Police Interceptors, and I’m willing to bet somebody reading this site […]

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While we normally avoid recall related stories here at TTAC, our beloved (well, not by me, really) Panthers get so little love elsewhere, we figure we may as well bring this to your attention.

NHTSA is looking into a possible defect in 2005-2008 Ford Police Interceptors, and I’m willing to bet somebody reading this site drives that exact vehicle. As per Automotive News (via Reuters)

NHTSA said it is conducting an engineering analysis into model year 2005-2008 Ford Motor Co. Crown Victoria police models for a potential steering issue. A connection between the upper and lower shafts of the steering column may have failed, causing separation of the shafts, NHTSA said.

 

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Vengeful Scam On Legit Repo Man or Crooked Repo Man Selling Stolen Car? You Decide! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/vengeful-scam-on-legit-repo-man-or-crooked-repo-man-selling-stolen-car-you-decide/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/vengeful-scam-on-legit-repo-man-or-crooked-repo-man-selling-stolen-car-you-decide/#comments Thu, 11 Apr 2013 16:30:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=484397 The world of towed-away cars can be a harsh one, as our very own Steven Lang often points out. Today I heard the latest in a long series of tales from the often-penumbral world of towing and repossessions, a Craigslist ad that purports to be selling a mistakenly-repoed Crown Vic. A phony ad meant to […]

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The world of towed-away cars can be a harsh one, as our very own Steven Lang often points out. Today I heard the latest in a long series of tales from the often-penumbral world of towing and repossessions, a Craigslist ad that purports to be selling a mistakenly-repoed Crown Vic. A phony ad meant to drag a clean business and its owner into a world of pain— an all-too-common occurrence in the maddening world of Craigslist cars-for-sale listings— or something that will soon have the constabulary asking a lot of pointed questions in a certain Maryland tow yard’s office?
24 Hours of LeMons Legend Speedycop, who happens to have a day job as a Washington DC police officer (and never looks for potential race cars while he’s on duty), found a too-good-to-be-true ad for a 1998 Ford Crown Victoria with free bonus ’99 Crown Victoria as part of the deal.
Hmmm… something about this doesn’t smell quite right. Let’s read the text of the ad (redacted in case this is a burn job by a vengeful ex-girlfriend and/or business rival):
“1 1998 crown Vic with title n runs great and. 1999 crown Vic with no title. The second was repossessed my my company ■■■■■, but was the wrong repoed and we never took back. Car runs great n in mint condition. Can get up a title by swapping vins easily. 100.00 for both. I own ■■■■■ REPOSSESSION COMPANY. IF WANT TO BUY ASAP CALL 410 ■■ ■■■■, my name is ■■■■■. Best time to reach me is at night or here’s my address to stop by n look at em. ■■■■■ ■■■■■ rd. fallston md. Both must go ASAP. Feel free to stop by anytime at my residence. TY. Ill be home all night at furnace rd or my business at ■■■■■ ■■■■■ rd. Nottingham md. Please rush”
So, Speedycop has informed his law-enforcement colleagues in the Baltimore area about this ad, and let’s just say that they’re verrrrrry interested. Mistakenly-repoed car being offered with the suggestion of a VIN swap, or reprehensible burning-bag-o-dog-poop-on-the-porch prank? The “I’ll be home all night” and ridiculously low selling price suggests the latter, but who can say? We’ll let you know what happened, once the dust settles.

PleadingNote1_1280 38 - Spirit of LeMons Racing Cessna - History Craigslist Sketchy Tow Ad- Picture courtesy of Craigslist Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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CAW Update: Ford Offering $50,000 Buyouts, No New Jobs At Chrysler http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/caw-update-ford-offering-50000-buyouts-no-new-jobs-at-chrysler/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/caw-update-ford-offering-50000-buyouts-no-new-jobs-at-chrysler/#comments Tue, 25 Sep 2012 14:54:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=461547 With negotiations between the CAW moving as quick as a French bureaucrat, Ford is offering eligible workers a new car and a $50,000 buyout as an early retirement gift, while Chrysler is offering the CAW nothing in the way of new jobs. Speaking to the Canadian Press, a Ford spokeswoman said that “We will be offering […]

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With negotiations between the CAW moving as quick as a French bureaucrat, Ford is offering eligible workers a new car and a $50,000 buyout as an early retirement gift, while Chrysler is offering the CAW nothing in the way of new jobs.

Speaking to the Canadian Press, a Ford spokeswoman said that

“We will be offering certain retirement-eligible employees an incentive to retire from the workforce to allow our employees on layoff opportunities to return to work,”

Reports say that the 1,000 eligible employees will be offered $50,000 and a voucher for a new vehicle. The incentives come as Ford tries to make room to re-hire workers that were laid off when the St. Thomas, Ontario plant closed one year ago.

Meanwhile, the CAW will apparently not ask Chrysler for any new jobs as part of their labor agreement, quashing rumors that they would push for a third-shift at the Brampton assembly plant that builds their rear-drive LX cars. Chrysler is also unhappy with the re-reinstatement of the cost of living adjustment in Q4 2016, the final quarter of the labor agreement.

 

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Capsule Review: Ford Police Interceptor http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/capsule-review-ford-police-interceptor/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/capsule-review-ford-police-interceptor/#comments Tue, 29 May 2012 16:35:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=441779 Unlike most of the TTAC community, I am something of a Panther agnostic. To me, the venerable rear-drive Ford sedans are like cigarette ads in back issues of Car and Driver – a quaint relic of an era where “Occupy” was something you saw on the door of an airplane bathroom – because the Occupant […]

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Unlike most of the TTAC community, I am something of a Panther agnostic. To me, the venerable rear-drive Ford sedans are like cigarette ads in back issues of Car and Driver – a quaint relic of an era where “Occupy” was something you saw on the door of an airplane bathroom – because the Occupant was trying to suck down a Camel Light .

One generation above me may have fond memories of big, rear-drive V8 sedans with acres of rear leg room and questionable crash safety. For my cohort, the Pavolovian response that comes from the “doors open” warning chime is forever liked to another Ford fleet sedan – the Taurus- as well as the green-on-tan two-tone Explorer Eddie Bauer, chariot of choice for Baby Boomer “co-parents”. For that generation in need of a family car, The Taurus Wagon was an afterthought, since wagons carried with them the connotations of unhappy childhoods in parochial small towns devoid of health food stores, aerobics classes and people willing to engage in knee-jerk rejection of traditional values. Instead, the SUV was a clean sheet of paper, and it suggested that one was wealthy enough to have some kind of summer home that could only be accessed via the all-terrain prowess of the SUV, while wearing Eddie Bauer clothing.

What does my pseudo-sociological digression have to do with police cars? Not much. But I am going into this with an open mind. I’m not particularly wedded to the idea that a police car must be rear-drive, with body-on-frame construction and a V8 engine. I can confess that I’ve always wanted to drive at speed with lights and sirens blaring, and when Ford invited me to do just that, I accepted immediately.

Ford made two Police Interceptors available, a Taurus-based Police Interceptor and an Explorer-based Utility Interceptor. Both had all-wheel drive and the naturally aspirated V6 – the EcoBoost 3.5L engines were nowhere to be found. It ended up being a moot point, since we were only permitted to drive it on a cone-course “handling loop” in a medium-size parking lot. No driving on real roads, no putting it through our own paces.

Showing off the capabilities of the D3 platform on a mini-autocross is about as useful as letting Adele compete for Britain’s floor exercise squad, and even then, the slow speeds and sweeping corners made it difficult to glean much about the cars. Both felt relatively stable, with the Utility Interceptor feeling pretty well composed in light of its vehicular anti-Christ crossover nature. Steering on both cars felt fairly numb, likely a boon on the highway. Ultimately, this event is a carefully controlled way to give us a few thrills without revealing too much about the cars. There are PR and law enforcement types on hand, but a critical appraisal of the new PIs is going to happen right after a historic peace accord surfaces in the Middle East.

The most noticeable changes came just from sitting in the cars themselves. Even at 5’10 and 175 lbs, the civilian Taurus feels uncomfortable and cramped when sitting in the driver’s seat. The Police Interceptor does away with console-mounted gear lever and the absurdly high plastic console pieces that make knee and legroom as scarce as Manhattan real-estate. The cloth seats, with far less padding and bulk than the regular Taurus, free up plenty of room for our nation’s Finest to stretch out, or accommodate larger-sized bodies. If the civilian Taurus came with this configuration, complaints about a lack of space would evaporate, though asinine criticisms about a column shifter would likely deafen out the real world advantages of this setup. The real test would have been to requisition a Kevlar vest and gun belt, but nobody in the right mind was willing to lend me one for “evaluation purposes”, lest I take my “pretend cop” act a little too far.

The big problem with press events like this is that evaluating the car in such a specific environment really tells us little about the car. I decided to consult with resident Panther expert Sajeev Mehta for some additional (admittedly biased) context. Sajeev felt that the Tahoe, rather than the new generation PI, Charger or Caprice would end up becoming the next police vehicle, due to its simplicity and size. I think Sajeev is partially right – I suspect that the Utility Interceptor will find favor among a number of departments - and the California Highway Patrol is apparently one of them. The Taurus will likely make a fine detective’s car, but as Sajeev notes, “…In any place where pickup trucks are common (fly over states) there’s no f*****g chance this water’d down Volvo will ever catch them, when a nut is behind the wheel.” Chicago’s Police Department is buying a number of new Ford PI’s – coincidentally, this is where Ford is building the new PI – while some Canadian departments are buying them as well, ostensibly due to the AWD capabilities among other criteria.

Any law-enforcement readers of TTAC are invited to send in their thoughts to expand on my brief, stage-managed drive of the new Ford Interceptors. As far as I can tell, the Utility Interceptor might make a nice basic SUV in a few years, once they begin to be retired from police departments. But take a step back, and so far it looks like the void being left by the Crown Victoria hasn’t quite been filled yet, and may not be for some time.

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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 […]

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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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