Chart Of The Day: The Fall Of The Panther

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
chart of the day the fall of the panther

Panther Appreciation Week rolls on with this look at the platforms sales since 1995 (sorry, our sales data doesn’t go back farther) compared to some key competition. As the last several years of the graph prove, large sedans were hit fairly hard by the “Carpocalypse,” but Panthers were in a terminal sales decline anyway. In the mid 90s, Ford was selling nearly 100k each of its Ford, Lincoln and Mercury-branded Panthers, but steady updates from large, cushy FWD competition like the Avalon slowly eroded sales.

Meanwhile, the 300/Charger combo from Chrysler looks to be the Panther of the 21st Century. Beloved by fleets and Donk ophiles alike, the LX sedans beat the mass-market-branded large, RWD competition… such as it is. Heck, it even beat FWD rivals like the Avalon, the Genesis (21,889), the Lexus ES (48,485) and the Taurus (45,617) in 2009. And with the updated 2011 Charger in strong competition for police fleet business, Chrysler could just be building big, old-school, rear-drive sedans in the American style for some time to come. The Panther is dead… long live the LX?

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4 of 23 comments
  • IGB IGB on Sep 22, 2010

    Interesting how all these charts always seem to point south. Does anything sell anymore? Yes, yes, I know. Hyundais.

  • Kita Ikki Kita Ikki on Sep 22, 2010

    LX also has a nice 120" wheelbase. 6" longer than the std. Crown Vic, plus a 126" LWB version. Longer wheelbase, shorter overhangs, just what a 21st century Panther could have been.

  • Donkensler Donkensler on Sep 23, 2010

    I'll preface this by saying that my career at Ford pretty much encompassed the Panther years (I hired in during 1978 - the year the Panther was introduced - and retired at the end of 2007), and during the 1980's and 1990's I said a silent thanks every time I saw a non-fleet CV/GM/TC for having contributed to my profit sharing/bonus. Having said that, I remember the time in the 80's when I saw a copy of the Ford New Car Buyers Study that showed the average age of Town Car buyers was somewhere north of 65 and the modal occupation was retired. I also knew I didn't see much aspiration on the part of my contemporaries to actually own one of the things. At the time, I decided it was a classic example of a product you milk as much as possible, then drop when it becomes unprofitable (or really, when it needs so many updates you can't justify it). I'm honestly surprised it hung on as long as it has. Cops and Cabs (and airport transport) kept Panther alive beyond its time, but it's tough to build a business case purely on the basis of fleet sales. Of the roughly 70,000 deliveries in 2009, I'd guess the 25,000 or so Grand Marquis buyers were the only people using their own money to buy a car at a profitable (including development costs) price, and you can't justify a unique platform at an affordable price with that few people willing to actually buy the thing. I wish Chrysler luck in conquesting disappointed Panther owners.

  • MadHungarian MadHungarian on Sep 23, 2010

    Would have liked to see Cadillac DTS numbers on this chart too. Yes, it's FWD, but it is a direct competitor to the TC and kinda-sorta the 300 (since Chrysler has not yet seen fit to reintroduce the Imperial).