Piston Slap: Of Panther Love, and a Fox Love Supreme (Part II)
This is an update to a previous Piston Slap query about buying one of the last great American sedans. And there’s no Panther bias here, you insane Rotary guys are free to buy this beast and share your thoughts the same manner. We’ll listen to ANY great story. And go vote while you’re at it…since our opinions can’t help us keep cars in production!
How TTAC inspired me to live the dream…or how a Lincoln Town Car changed my life…and how I stopped living in fear of the unknown and took the leap
On October 12, 2011, I took delivery of the very last, fully loaded, brand new, never owned, 2011 Lincoln Town Car Continental Edition left in the US. Vibrant white over black leather, my dream car down to the last detail. Built in the last few weeks of production, July 2011, in St. Thomas, at a factory that is no more. That built cars that are no more. A car of so many lasts. The last true Lincoln. The last body-on-frame luxury car. The last RWD, non fleet, bench seat equipped, chrome laden, no excuses version of a car that has roamed America for decades. Unapologetic in every way. The anti-Prius.
It was not an easy process getting to this point. Since May, the deal had fallen through about 3 times. First, even though I have a good career and credit, getting a loan with an interest rate that wasn’t an insult to my ego was like herding cats, or pulling teeth, or pulling cat teeth! Either I was turned down (by my own bank – the very idea!), or given Mafia rates (the dealer, big surprise), or given the ol’ bait and switch (the local credit union). It seemed like no one wanted to loan a 29 kid $44K for a car that had been sitting on a lot, out of state, for over a year. Maybe they have learned their lesson from the big bust!
Then a chance conversation with my insurance agent (when I was trying to get the insurance for the new car for deal and how they did car loans, and well, the rest is history in the garage. Got the rate I wanted, and of course the dealer magically had a new rate that month that would beat my current rate…whatever jerks, you had your chance to finance me. All along they had been telling me 5 something percent, and then the day they found out I was getting 2.39 did they offer me 2.35. Car dealers suck, no doubt about it.
But how could he buy a car sight unseen like that? From a dealer that sucks big donkey balls? For a price that makes absolutely no economic sense? Well, the week I bought it I had a layover in New Orleans, and me and 2 coworkers made a road trip out to see the car. I had to know for sure. And secretly I wanted something to be wrong with the car. So wrong that it would make me change my mind and not want it anymore. Some damage, some missing detail, some fraud. I kind of wanted the whole thing to fail, crash and burn, to save me $44K, to make me come to my senses. I call it self sabotage. Of course the road trip was a blast. Can’t give any details, you know, what happens in rented Camry…but the car was perfect. It was new. Not a year old used car like JSC credit union said. Not 2 years old and disgusting, like my mom said. But just the way I had pictured it, and obsessed about it for weeks, months, years, well, my whole life! And when I saw it, I knew, I had to make it happen.
I flew out at 7am, barely got on the flight, due to weight restrictions and a life on stand by. If I didn’t get on that flight, I was never going to. Back pack full of CD’s (remember, no USB or ipod hook up thing, which i dont have anyway, and i asked about a cassette player, they stopped that on Grand Marquis in 2010), second biggest check I have ever held, fear, hope, nervous…who just passed gas behind me on this Express Jet metal tube? Talk about dream killer!
Within 30 minutes on the road, during awesome sight seeing for hundreds of miles due to the Cruising the Coast Car show, I pulled off for some breakfast at McDs at about 10a where I noticed a 2003 TC with 2 tone white and tan paint parked and Lovin’ It. I got out of my car and a 80 something year old lady panzer attacked me to talk about my new car. “What year is it?” she asked. “Brand new, ma’am.” “But dear, they stopped making them,” she further interrogated with skepticism. “Wow, you’re right, but mine was left over.” “Oh my, I love the dark interior!” And she told me how she was on her third, and best ever. How she only rode in Town Cars, how to use the cruise control because that is the only way to keep from speeding in them, how she has never had to take hers in for anything. And she told me how lucky I was. And she looked just like my grandmother who passed this year. And on cloud nine I floated in to McDs, feeling so great about getting such a warm welcome into the club of geriatric Lincoln owners, that I walked up to the counter to order breakfast, only to find that Miss Daisy had chatted to me so long about the joys that is the legend of Town Car, that they had stopped serving breakfast 15 minutes ago!
Did I make the right choice? Yeah, I think I did. The fight with my mom lasted about 24 hours. The older she gets, the shorter she can hold a grudge. I think it was mainly about her youngest finally becoming a man. She even was mad I didn’t bring it by when I saw her the next day. And I made her drive it to dinner the other night. She still doesn’t know why I wanted a car like that, but she did say it was nice, even though it is big and ugly! My oldest brother asked where Grandma Mary was when he saw it, and my middle brother said I could rent it out for funerals.
And in the biggest surprise of the whole ordeal, I sold the Sebring to the first person who saw it. I had clayed and detail every inch of my former dream car, bought a plethora of for sale signs and poster boards, and parked it on the main drag of my town. Within an hour, a family had seen it, driven it, and then had think about it. I was asking $7200, after being insulted by Carmax with a $4000 trade in offer, for a one owner, warranted, top of the line Chrysler. I mean, come on, 150K mile Corollas and Civics go for for that much! Because they were very nice and lived blocks away, I told the father my rock bottom price was $6500. I had fixed the electroluminescent gauges, it had new tires and battery, all receipts, brochures, manuals, window sticker, etc, and was the cleanest Sebring, heck used car anywhere to be found locally. It needed nothing, just a new owner. And so that night, they called, said it was for their daughter, $6500 seemed fine to them because she needed to replace her 1993 Mustang Convertible. A Fox! Just like the Granada!
When they picked up the car, I showed them pictures of it when I first bought it. A young, skinny kid with a big grin standing by his first brand new car. Now, I am older, not so skinny, but still have a big grin with my second brand new car. My mom kept telling me I was going to be sad when it was gone. No, I said, it was just a car. But when I saw it round the block and leave my life forever, I chocked up. They might just be cars, but they somehow become an extension of who we are. A part of our lives because of how much of our life they make possible. I loved my Sebring TSi and now I love my Town Car.
I have decided to keep the Granada for a while. I have had multiple offers on it, so I know the opportunity is there, but I still enjoy it. And it will help keep the miles off the new car.
I had the dealer order a new window sticker to replace the one they damaged. And I took the Town Car into Bayway Lincoln to get the front license bracket put on, wheel balancing and alignment, order 2 sets of new Continental floor mats (one to keep packaged and one for use for special occasions, lol, I’m OCD), a new driver side wood grain power window switch cover since mine looks bowed, for some reason the fuel filler shuts of the pump when you start filling up the car and cuts off early when the tank is almost fuel, which they ordered parts to fix, and to check into a slight rattle in the dash. They said it was because the visor wasn’t clipped in, but the ting sound is still there. I think they are use to dealing with elderly people who will believe anything! The loaner they gave me was a MKZ, which further proved I bought the right car. It rattled in the A pillars, dash, and doors with 14k. The V6 sounds anemic and agricultural when driven sanely. The SYNC is soooooo distracting. This is definitely not a Lincoln. But, I did like the back up camera and how fast it was when you got on it. My Town Car has back up assist, so it beeps when you get close to something, which I ignored and plowed down my trash cans last week. I am learning to trust technology!
Even with the quibbles, Bayway is fixing everything on Lincoln’s dime. No, I am not getting the experience of buying a luxury car. Yes, Lexus would have wiped the floor with the Lincoln experience. But the car is well made. Everything is soft touch, the leather looks and smells great. It has a controlled float and sounds great when you push it. It is silent to the point where you hear the clock tick at all times. Everybody who has ridden in it has remarked at how luxurious it is, even if they laugh because it that doesn’t have navigation or a USB port or air conditioned seats or SYNC or more power or more gear ratios or come standard with a blue wig. It is like me, flawed but American. And yes, I know it was made in Canada!
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C.K.: your irrational panther love inspired me to investigate why this cult following exists. This week at the auction I found a 2011 Town Car (I think was a Hertz fleet vehicle) with around 30 grand on the clock. I took the liberty of doing a few laps of the back lot where I could open it up a little. I understand now what panther love is all about: the huge hood extending out in front of you, the hood ornament out in front announcing your arrival, the "floating on clouds" ride, and the big V8 sending power to the rear wheels. I liked it...a lot. I can't see myself buying a Town Car as a daily driver, but I can respect why you would.
Congratulations, man. I had a 93' Executive and as a young guy all my friends thought it was the coolest car ever. A truly marvelous tank/limousine. Keep yours forever!