Piston Slap: Mo Money, Mo ...Panther Love?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap mo money mo panther love

TTAC’s twitter friend, Ethan, writes:

Hi Sajeev,

You probably remember my original query but this indecision is compounded by my second problem: I love the aforementioned Volvo, but with 185K ticking past on the odometer, the steering rack and other things are letting go.

The two cars I am looking at to replace it are both 2002 Ford Crown Victorias (yeah I’m giving up a little Panther love) priced at $3500, one is loaded with all the options with 120k miles and upon visual and driving inspection is clean. The other Panther is a Police Interceptor that was owned by a local mechanic, is very clean (and it doesn’t have the searchlight on the drivers side door), but needs a little paint. Which of the two would you prefer? And what would you suggest would be good options to make it a better driving and handling ride? I know you give love to the Panthers so I’m sure you know more than me on what to do.

And a follow up: some people tend to be extremely bold with their slightly stinging words about my letter to you and Steve. I regret not including this in the letter, but I have worked very hard most of my young life just to have the cars I own now. No handouts. With me trying not to tell you how much money was left to me, I did pay my parents’ mortgage off, made a nice donation to each of my favorite charities, stayed in school, and made life better for others as I saw fit.

Only one person–other than you and your readers at TTAC–knows I have this money and I plan on keeping it that way.

Sajeev answers:

This isn’t Jalopnik or Autoblog: TTAC solicits questions from our readers, and we get letters from real people back. Far from a perfect system, but we’ve expected respectable discourse from day one. While TTAC’s writers are guilty of baiting the conversation (insert sensationalistic media remark here) nobody’s really taken it to this extreme, until Ethan came along. Come on people, grow up.

Back to Panthers: while I love CVPI’s (i.e. cop cars), their interiors are too boring for most. The solution is doing significant interior/electronic swappage from a crusher-bound Panther. Awesome and worthwhile, but I suspect most are better with a civilian model, tricking it out with aftermarket performance bits: Bilstein shocks, Marauder sway bars, any number of aftermarket 17” wheels, a decent stereo and an SCT tune. So what’s the verdict?

Neither. Ethan should wait for a 2003-up model, or find one from the days of Dearborn’s honorable bean counting. The 2003+’s are so much better under the skin (hydroformed this, aluminum that, big brakes, etc) they might as well be a different platform, almost. And the pre-1998s are, quite frankly, a true Ford flagship in the Detroit tradition. If Eminem did a cheerleading bit for Super Bowl XXVI, the wind tunnel tuned, be-windowed and de-grilled silhouette of the 1992 Ford Crown Victoria would set the boob-tube on fire. Even today, it makes way more sense than that star crossed, aesthetically challenged Chrysler 200.

Because, when you import something from Detroit, you indirectly endorse Panther Love.

Send your queries to mehta@ttac.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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2 of 41 comments
  • Bryce Chessum Bryce Chessum on Mar 21, 2011

    Why any one with a credit rating or cash would buy a POS like these is beyond me creaking groaning BOF build no steering zero handling basicly a 56 Customline built in 2006 These and their ilk are the reason American cars are a world wide joke sure cars like Camaros Mustangs etc have a following all over, but garbage like CVs nobody makes cars this bad not since the 60s.

  • Chris DeMorro Chris DeMorro on Mar 22, 2011

    Love the Panthers, but buying one right now doesn't seem to make much sense for the writer of our letter, unless I am missing something. With gas prices inching towards $4 a gallon, you're talking about a car that, tops, gets 28 mpg on the highway, which admittedly isn't bad for a huge V8 RWD sedan. But does he really need four doors, a V8, and in a vehicle the size of a boat? If he has "a little bit of money" then why limit your budget to just $3500? A $3500 car is more likely than not going to have issues, some more serious than others, even if it is "mechanic maintained" (btw I've met more than a few lazy hacks that call themselves mechanics.) The only Panther platform car I'd consider, right now, if I had the money, would be a Mercury Marauder. Sweet car and it stands out without being a "LOOK AT ME I'M HERE" car. Crown Vic's are cool cars, but I wouldn't want to have to fill that gas tank these days. I think Ethan needs to take a step back and decide first what he NEEDS in a car, and then what he WANTS in a car, because we really seem to be all over the place here.

  • JamesGarfield Re: Getting away from union plantsAbout a dozen years or so ago, Caterpillar built a huge new engine plant, just down the road here in Seguin TX. Story has it, Caterpillar came to Seguin City council in advance, and told them their plans. Then they asked for no advanced publicity from Seguin, until announcement day. This new plant was gonna be a non-union replacement for a couple of union plants in IL and SC, and Cat didn't want to stir up union problems until the plan was set. They told Seguin, If you about blab this in advance, we'll walk. Well, Seguin kept quiet as instructed, and the plan went through, with all the usual expected tax abatements given.Plant construction began, but the Caterpillar name was conspicuously absent from anywhere on the site. Instead, the plant was described as being a collective of various contractors and suppliers for Caterpillar. Which in fact, it was. Then comes the day, with the big new plant fully operationa!, that Caterpillar comes in and announces, Hey, Yeah it's our plant, and the Caterpillar name boldly goes up on the front. All you contractor folks, welcome aboard, you're now Caterpillar employees. Then, Cat turns and announces they are closing those two union plants immediately, and will be transporting all the heavy manufacturing equipment to Seguin. None of the union workers, just the equipment. And today, the Caterpillar plant sits out there, humming away happily, making engines for the industry and good paying jobs for us. I'd call that a winner.
  • Stuki Moi What Subaru taketh away in costs, dealers will no doubt add right back in adjustments.... Fat chance Subaru will offer a sufficient supply of them.
  • Dartdude Lorenzo, the reason for low manual transmission here is that most dealers won't stock them. I wanted a 2012 Kia Koup with manual tranny it was available, but no dealers ordered any from the factory hence there was none available. Go on any car manufacture's web site and price and build and build your model and you would be lucky if the model existed and was available.
  • The Oracle Good news is that based on the model years many of these have already been junked or experienced terminal engine failure.
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