By on October 31, 2014

13 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin
The popularity of the full-size station wagon went into steep decline during the course of the 1980s, thanks to competition from minivans and less truck-ish SUVs, and there wasn’t a particularly compelling reason to get a Mercury wagon instead of its near-identical, cheaper Ford sibling, so the 1979-1991 Mercury Grand Marquis Colony Park wagon was uncommon then and near-extinct now. I do see some Ford LTD Country Squires in wrecking yards nowadays— this ’86 woodie and this ’87 woodie, for example— but this Colony Park is the first I’ve seen in at least a decade.
01 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis generation of Colony Park wasn’t quite as majestic as its 1950s and 1960s predecessors, but it also got about twice as many miles per gallon as those barges.
11 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe good old familiar 302-cubic-inch Windsor V8, still fitted with a carburetor in 1985, powered this wagon.
25 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOpera lights!
17 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis fender trim has a very maze-like shape.
08 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAre there little speakers in the steering wheel, or are those holes merely decorative?
10 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Colorado sun has not been kind to these leather seats.


The Grand Marquis kicked some Buick and Oldsmobile butt, to hear Mercury tell it.

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164 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1985 Mercury Grand Marquis LS Colony Park Station Wagon...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    This, folks is a station wagon. It is not a hatch, it is not a CUV or SUV, it is a station wagon in it’s most classic and purest form

    • 0 avatar
      petezeiss

      And in the diorama to your right we can see a herd of Station Wagons forming a defensive circle against several Velociraptors .

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Let’s see, ticks off all the boxes:

      Gas-hogging carbureted V-8
      Slushbox with column shifter
      Bench front seat
      Overweight rear wheel drive
      Station wagon, which is totally deficient in carrying ability to a minivan
      Fake wood on the sides
      Handling that rivals the Titanic in an iceberg field

      Yep, the best definition yet of overaged, old-fart, totally obsolete automobile with no reason to exist. Crush it and melt the scrap to build a hatchback hybrid.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “Station wagon, which is totally deficient in carrying ability to a minivan”

        Doesn’t this also describe the CUV?

      • 0 avatar
        ekaftan

        Just the carburetor is enough in my book. I HATE carburetors :)

      • 0 avatar
        Drewlssix

        It’s amusing to watch know nothing’s babble on about what they think they know, 3900 pounds ain’t light but for a long car that seats eight it is excusable. Tell me how modern 2+2 sports coupes can justify the same poundage? And getting a compact sedan/coupe past 4000 pounds is disturbingly easy and I bet such cars are on your wish list. BMW 3 series? 911? I bet you think muscle are were horribly over weight also.

      • 0 avatar
        mikeg216

        You sir know not what you are talking about! The colony Park my family bought after gleefully kicking their ford tempo that had to be bought due to a bankruptcy could and did carry our whole family and all our stuff. 4 people all the necessary things for camping on the luggage rack and towed our rather nice camper. A Honda Odyssey cannot do that without throwing up its transmission guts all over the road

      • 0 avatar
        mikeg216

        It could also carry 8 people with the dual bench seats and the rearward facing kids section in the back, it also had 8 ash trays. Including two for the kids, this is when America was still full of winners.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      In all seriousness, there really isn’t much difference between these and a contemporary (or even modern) SUV. Same chassis, same drivetrain, just a few more inches of ride height.

      If you could drop a Suburban, it would pretty much be this car.

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        Today’s SUVs also have more interior height, and a more upright seating position that provides more legroom. The second row and third row jump seats in these wagons did not provide a lot of legroom; but they were also intended for younger occupants. And if you had enough legroom, they were more comfortable with their reclined seating position in the middle and front seats.

        They also had a minimum of vents for the middle seats, and none for the back. So you boiled on hot days and froze on cold days because the front and middle seat passengers blocked all the cooled and heated air. Finally, no drink holders and likely no power outlet for you if you sat in the middle or rear seat. It is the little things like these that we have taken for granted; it did not matter to us as kids before 32 oz Big Gulp drinks and all the electonic gadgets we have now, but all the little things we come to expect in our CUVs and SUVs were missing from these wagons.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          “no drink holders and likely no power outlet”

          You might as well have no indoor plumbing. How did we survive the barbaric automotive past?

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          What on earth would you have used a power outlet for in 1985?? And children were not allowed to eat or drink in the car, so no need for cup holders back there either. I’m pretty sure my folks last big Chysler wagons did actually have a molded in one or two in the “way back” on the side panels.

          In High School, these were universally refered to as “Plywood Pleasure Palaces”. Though where I went to school the Volvo wagon had long since taken over from the American barges, with only a few exceptions.

        • 0 avatar
          319583076

          My mother loves to tell this story – back in the dark ages when I was a boy, she drove a Mercury Maverick – pale yellow paint with green vinyl interior and no A/C. On hot days, I would ask her to “turn on the A/C” and she would open the vent and crank the fan and I would stick my sweaty little face right in front of it and smile. It was a pretty miserable car, but it only stranded us once.

          Fast forward to last year when I experienced cooled seats for the first time in her Yukon. Vehicles have most definitely progressed by orders of magnitude in the last three decades.

      • 0 avatar
        86er

        Psar, I’d wager you a case of craft beer that the Sub has a much stouter frame, brakes, suspension, ball joints, rear end, hell even thicker sheet metal.

        These aren’t BMWs, but they drive much more pleasantly than a Sub.

        These are good stout cars for stalwarts.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        I’ve been seeing plenty of the new 2015 Surburban’s on the road here in NYC. They tend to be used a livery vehicles. If you cut out the middle section a few inches you would have the new version of a 60’s-96 Caprice or Impala wagon.

      • 0 avatar
        Drewlssix

        Nope, burbans like essentially all BOF trucks and SUVs use ladder frames that sit under the cab and typically run directly under the occupants thus resulting in a higher seating position and vehicle height relative to ride height. You could almost lay a real trucks frame on the ground before you would have a floor pan/seat height similar to a BOF cars. The cars have a perimeter frame where the rails are outboard of the passengers and typically recessed rather deeply into the body of the vehicle in the rocker area. This allows the floor and thus the seats to be lower for a giver ride height. Often the floor will be nearly flush with the bottom of the frame rails. Dropping a truck to any giver height simply will not result in a similar height for the passengers.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    Carbed in 1985!!!

    Good ole’ Ford, late to the party with their fly unzipped.

    I had an 89 Town Car with the 5.0L. Had EFI, but it was a dog, too.

    ADDENDUM: Hopefully the carb didn’t need much maintenance. I had a Mustang with a Holley 750 double pumper (one of the gold one’s) which needed “a little adjustment here, a little adjustment there”. PITA.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      It not only is a classic, but rather old fashioned too

      • 0 avatar
        raresleeper

        In Ford’s defense, the 302 was a durable engine.

        • 0 avatar
          rpol35

          “In Ford’s defense, the 302 was a durable engine.”

          Absolutely! I was never a Ford fan but the 302 C.I. is one of their finest engines and certainly one of the best of the old school design V8’s.

          Always makes me wonder why so many resto-modded or hot-rodded ’32 Ford’s (et al)sport small block Chevy motors instead of going with the hometown team.

          • 0 avatar
            greaseyknight

            Agreed, but when guys are spending major bucks on a candy colored paint job, they can’t spend the extra few bucks to put a Ford in a Ford.

            Although, technically, a SBC is more traditional then a SBF in a ’32 Ford. Personally I’d go with an FE or a Flathead.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Good question, I asked this once of a gentlemen with a restored ’27 Model A. Two answers: (1) SBC was cheaper to acquire with a better aftermarket and (2) he was a GM Master Mechanic.

          • 0 avatar
            Drewlssix

            SBFs have several theoretical advantages over the chevy. Port layout and design valve train geometry among others, fans like to proclaim the powerful GM gen iii and later engines were inspired by this engine. But as delivered it has a few real shortcomings. Small factory ports, though they tend to make more power than similar Chevys the small ports really undercut the superior design at some point. The blocks can crack in the valley even at modest power levels. The larger displacement variants are relatively rare. A 350 is cheap in any junkyard on this continent while a 351 with any promise of power is much harder to find. So much so that stroked 5.0s are favored over built 5.8s and result in just about equal displacement. Ancillary parts from trannies to accessory drive parts are well supported by the bow tie community as well.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Drewlssix

            Excellent post and thank you for a detailed explanation. Stuff like this is what makes TTAC a unique automotive destination.

        • 0 avatar
          koshchei

          My sister and I both learned to drive on one of these boats — a 1987 in burgundy red, with the MPFI 302.

          It was REALLY well built – the only warranty issue that the car had from new was a missing trim screw, and was rock solid through its time with us. It finally joined the choir invisible due to terminal rust and an ailing transmission after 450k and 23 years.

          The thing was nigh unkillable as well. My sister drove it for three months without coolant or oil until it eventually seized. After cooling down, it was fine again, for another 150k. During this time, she took it ditch jumping several times, and we also cleaned every junkyard in the area out of rear tail light assemblies because she liked to back into things.

    • 0 avatar
      AmcEthan

      if you think that was late to the party, isuzu kept a carbed engine in their amigo lineup until 1998.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Unless you had one that was rebuilt with a carb by a previous owner, it seems the last vehicle to come from the factory with a carburetor was the 1993 Isuzu Pickup. That may not be so far fetched because 1998 Amigos were available with a 4cyl engine, then someone may very well have swapped over a Pickup’s fuel delivery system.

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      If a modern fuel injected station wagon is what you wanted in 1985, you bought a Taurus or Mercury Sable wagon.

      Ford only kept the LTD Crown Victoria/Mercury Grand Marquis wagon around in case the Taurus/Sable feel flat on it’s face in the public eye, or for those who wanted a wagon that could tow a trailer. They were not about to invest money in a fuel injected motor by that point; the next generation (1992-1997) Grand Marquis and Crown Vic had the 4.6L modular V-8.

      • 0 avatar
        raresleeper

        Ah, the Taurus.

        Fond memories of the SHO. With the Yamaha motors (can’t remember the sizes, don’t know why).

        Sigh. Ford, Ford, Ford.

      • 0 avatar
        Tomifobia

        You’re a year early. If you wanted a “modern” fuel-injected wagon from Fomoco in ’85, you bought got a Fox-bodied, midsize LTD (not Crown Victoria) or (not Grand) Marquis, although you’d have to settle for meager V6 power. If you desired FWD to go with your FI, you could across the road to your friendly GM store and pick out Celebrity6000CieraCentury.

        • 0 avatar
          raresleeper

          Fox body LTD!

          Four door Mustang? Anyone? Anyone?

          We had a black one. Over red. (85 MY?)

          “Unreliable it was,” sayeth Yoda.

          • 0 avatar
            Tomifobia

            There was such an animal. For ’84 & ’85, Ford offered the LTD LX, which came with the H.O. 5.0, beefed up brakes and suspension, blacked-out trim, and (unfortunately) a 4-speed automatic.

            I myself once owned an ’85 (not Grand) Marquis Brougham, 3.8, jade over tan. My one and only grannymobile. I rather liked it until the head gasket went.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        This was a fuel injected 302 and that engine had been around since 1980 though only in Lincolns until 1983 and didn’t make it to the lesser Panthers until 1984. In the year after this one they switched from the CFI version to port injection. So they had already invested in EFI and then invested again before the 4.6 debuted. It was GM that wouldn’t invest in fuel injection.

        • 0 avatar
          ponchoman49

          GM had fuel injection on the 1975-1976 Cadillac Sevilles/Devilles/Fleetwoods and Eldorado’s as an option. The 1980/81 368 had it as did the HT 4100 in 1982! By 1982 The small block 305 had it in the F-bodies(Corvette 350 also) and even the Tech IV had it across the board by the same year. The J-body Cavalier got it by 1983. Buick has the first sequential port injection system on their turbo 3.8 in 1984. They only car’s that GM didn’t invest in were the old time A/G body cars plus the B and C full size and E-body Riviera/Toronado/Eldo. if anything I would say GM invested earlier and in more vehicles lines than did Ford at the time.

    • 0 avatar
      Exfordtech

      Honda was still using carbs in 1985 with floats that failed regularly, the rare 85 Accord SE-i got programmed fuel injection (I’m speaking for US market). In spite of what looks like a 2 barrel carb throttle body intake, I’m pretty sure that had CFI with EEC III or EEC IV. Ford was actually quicker to adopt fuel injection across the board than GM or Mopar. Tempo/Topaz (2.3l), LTD/Marquis (3.8l), Crown Vic/Gran Marquis (5.0l) went CFI in 85, Thank God because the VV carbs were impossible to keep running properly. Not really late to the party unless you’re comparing to European makes with Bosch. As a tech I was happy to see carbs disappear. Tightening emissions regs led to better electronic engine controls resulting in better driveability, more power, and better fuel economy. I don’t miss carbs at all. I wish my lawn equipment was fuel injected, Lord knows the aluminum carbs on them hate ethanol in the fuel.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        Toyota used them, too. My parents had a (then-new) carbureted Corolla in 1987.

        It was, as I recall, the worst part of the car. Carburetors can DIAF.

        • 0 avatar
          raresleeper

          I don’t think carbs were all that bad.

          When adjusted just right, they ran well enough. Of course, I’m leaving out mileage, etc.

          Come to think of it, my grandpa had a 83 (84?) Olds Delta 88 with the 307, IIRC.

          That big bastard never had a carb adjustment. A few blips of the throttle, and that engine roared to life on the coldest of mornings.

          Memories.

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            And installing a manual choke civilized any carb for cold weather starting.

          • 0 avatar
            Featherston

            @ raresleeper – I knew at least two families with mid-’80s Buick Estate Wagons, and they were extremely reliable. I believe they were powered by Olds 307’s with CCC (Computer Command Control) Quadrajets.

            It’s always interesting to me when a transitionary technology works well, as that drivetrain did.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @Fetherston, E-quadrajet was a POS that required rebuilding every 50,000 miles on my Dad’s Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme.

            When my dad explained that carb to me I looked at him (age 14 or so): “There’s your problem right there Dad. They’re trying to make a computer run a carburetor. That’s like trying to build a fully electronic abacus.”

          • 0 avatar
            Featherston

            @ PrincipalDan – LOL at “fully electronic abacus.” Not arguing, as that’s what I’d expect from a kind of weird, transitionary technology. Anecdotally, however, the CCC Quadrajet/307 worked very well for the people I know who owned it.

            I’m curious: Who was doing the rebuilding? And did your dad own the car from new? My inference is that these carbs were easy to screw up if you weren’t an expert.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            Interesting thing about my family…

            Dad buys used period. Purchased a 1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Brougham in the early 1990s with only 50,000 miles on the clock. Owned by an old lady who had all her work done at the dealership. My Dad on the other hand had two cousins who were brothers and one owned an auto repair shop and the other an auto body shop. They didn’t go into business together because they couldn’t stand each other.

            All his work was done there. I always considered the two of them pretty competent, they had been working on cars in one way or another since before they could drive.

          • 0 avatar
            MRF 95 T-Bird

            GM’s product line back in the 80’s offered fuel injection on compact J-bodies, X-Cars and A-bodies with the Iron Duke, All F-Bodies. Yet not on more upscale G-Bodies including performance models Olds 442 and Monte Carlo SS as well as full-sized B-bodies,

    • 0 avatar

      It’s not carb’d, it’s not a small block GM product. 5.0s had central fuel injection with EEC-IV, a pretty smart (for the era) processor.

      And since you were not wondering, next year it got sequential fuel injection like so many modern cars we see today.

      Sajeev’s Bitter Tears are extra sour this morning!

      • 0 avatar
        raresleeper

        You defend that 5.0L, Sir!

        • 0 avatar

          I do not shed bitter tears in vain. Let this be known across tha interwebz!

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            Too bad, even with fuel injection, the 302 in the Panthers was rated at 20 horsepower less than the next lowest-HP 302.

            At least it still beat the wheezy 307 by 10 horsepower.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            GM/Chrsyler was dead last to the fuel injected V8 party for its mainstream offerings. 302 was injected by 86 or so while the Olds 307 wasn’t fuel injected EVER and it stopped production in 1991. The SBC didn’t get fuel injection in the B-bodys till 1989 and the wagons kept the 307 carburated engine.

            Chrysler held on to the two-barrel 318 till… well too freaking long. How awesome would a fuel injected Diplomat have been?

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            The 318 and 360 went TBI for 1988, but of course the Dippy/Gran Fury/Fifth Avenue didn’t get the TBI 318 for the end of their production run.

          • 0 avatar
            raresleeper

            An FI Dippy, Principal Dan?

            #applause

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “How awesome would a fuel injected Diplomat have been?”

            As a former Diplomat owner, I think I would have preferred a four speed over FI. (Although both would have been nice.)

      • 0 avatar
        JREwing

        Yep. Ford had the throttle-body injection in its 302 since 1980, making it into the Crown Vic and Grand Marquis in 1983.

        It wasn’t exactly a hot rod, making 140 hp at 3200rpm and 250 lb-ft of torque at 1600. It was also geared absurdly tall, making it difficult to even get one tire to light up on dry pavement.

        Of course I drove one as a teenager. How else would I know this? ;-)

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        The EEC-IV was a very smart processor far more advanced than anything to come along until OBD-II forced other automakers to step up their game. It was the first system to offer “miss fire” detection where you were able to make the system enter power balance testing mode which would identify a cylinder that didn’t produce as much power at the others. By running the test a second time you could tell just how down on power that cylinder was. You can also enter output test mode where you can cycle on and off all computer outputs, other than the injectors, for testing purposes. The KOER test also allowed you to verify inputs such as throttle, brake position, and AC inputs as it verified its ability to control idle speed, and control fuel mixture. While other mfgs of the era would have only a few codes that were very basic like “O2 sensor” EEC-IV would have multiple codes to tell you whether the sensor was showing below the normal range, above the normal range or not giving a reading at all. Basically the EPA mandated that other mfgs produced systems as capable as Ford’s EEC-IV.

        • 0 avatar
          Exfordtech

          Had an 86 Riviera, the little one with an MPFI 3.8l V6 and touchscreen display. I think GM at the time referred to its ECU as Computer Command Control or C3. Despite all the criticism the car got in its day, I thought it was pretty good vehicle (very cheap used). Touchscreen was capable of showing data stream from the ECU, climate control, instrument panel etc., although only one PID at a time. I don’t remember if it was self test capable but the data outputs were as extensive as EEC-IV. Considering the proliferation of touchscreens in today’s vehicles, as a tech I would find data stream and self test capability useful if it were built in. For example when tire pressure monitoring systems came out, they simply lit an idiot lamp instead of telling you which tire to check. But then with that info, I suppose the need to go to a dealer is reduced for those so inclined.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            The GM cars of the era did have access to more data but then you had more need for that data since they had only a dozen or so codes.

            Either way the Ford and GM systems were light years ahead of anything else on the planet at the time.

            As far as the tire pressure sensors go on early vehicles they didn’t make a stink about reprogramming the vehicle every time you rotated the tires so they stuck with the low tire pressure or low spare pressure on the vehicles with full size matching spares.

            On recent Ford Hybrids you can enter Engineering test mode which will display DTCs and give you access to a couple of PIDs, and some other data. So it is coming back. Those early GM systems weren’t really intended for the consumer to use they were designed for the technician.

      • 0 avatar
        dtremit

        Confirmed in this lovely brochure of Ford wagons for ’85:

        http://oldcarbrochures.org/NA/Ford/1985_Ford/1985_Ford_Wagons_Brochure

    • 0 avatar
      GS 455

      Ford introduced the fuel injected 302 in 1980 in the Lincoln Continental and and then the LTD and Marquis got it in 1981. GM continued to use the carbureted 307 in it’s full size cars and wagons until 1990.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      No carb on this car it was a CFI car.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      Pretty sure Ford was the first of the domestics to be done with Carbs. As has been pointed out, this is CFI which was Ford’s TBI. It didn’t last long as Ford switch to multipoint pretty quickly. Long past 1985 though one could still get a B-Body with a 307 and a Carb and Jeeps came with a Carb on into the 90’s I believe.

  • avatar
    kmars2009

    These are rare and very cool. I always preferred the Colony Park over the Country Squire, maybe because, as a kid my Mom had a ’68 Country Squire. The Colony Park always had more class. I saw one just a few days ago…it was like seeing Bigfoot, uncommonly exciting. When it came to big wagons, these were the best!

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Even with Ford’s cheap and most unnaturally colored vinyl interiors

      • 0 avatar
        kmars2009

        In ’68 it was all that was available…by the late 80’s it was cloth or leather, usually . I think by then vinyl was reserved for the base LTD. It’s a shame the station wagon is almost gone in the U.S.

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      Walking up and down Chicago’s Magnificent Mile on any given Saturday might expose you to a handful of high-dollar exotics and ultra-custom cars. However, this past spring I saw perhaps the most rare car I’ve yet seen to date – a vintage Pontiac Parisienne station wagon in white with faux wood trim. It had some rust and the smell of raw gas was strong, but that wasn’t the most shocking thing about the experience. Against the backdrop of xB taxis, ubiquitous S/CUVs, and modern gener-o-sedans, it was obviously from another era if not another planet.

      They don’t make these anymore…

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        “They don’t make these anymore…”

        Now that they are a rare find and the jellybean cars are everywhere, I do feel a bit of nostalga when I see one; I have a paper model of a LTD Crown Vic wagon in my Ford timeline. (1/64 scale, but complete with paper luggage rack!) But they did not get the mileage of today’s cars, were not as safe, and certainly not as reliable as today’s cars. They are as much a part of the 20th century as the Model T and the steam locomotive; while today’s cars do fit the role of 21st century automobiles.

        They looked obsolete the minute the Audi 5000s and the Taurus/Sable appeared on the scene, and for the most part they *were* obsolete. It is only remembering the simplier days of my youth that draws me to these cars.

        • 0 avatar
          Johnnyangel

          Where did you get the paper model of the LTD Crown Vic wagon? I’ve been hunting for *any* model of this car for ages, and never found any unless you count those of the Family Truckster travesty.

          My fuel-injected ’89 gets 22-23 mpg on the highway, which isn’t really that bad compared to a lot of SUVs …

          • 0 avatar
            jhefner

            It is/was at http://www.dcmodel.cz/MDT.html. If it is no longer there, go to the Internet Archive at https://archive.org/, and enter the above address in the Wayback Machine. The Wayback Machine has been invaluable in finding these older paper models that are no longer on the web.

            There is a wagon as well as a sedan model. Here is my completed model next to a Matchbox Mercury Sable wagon; it is just a shame my ink cartridge was almost out of ink; or it would have came out even better.

            https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15053973534/

          • 0 avatar
            Johnnyangel

            Thanks for the link — the paper models are still there! A test of dexterity I’ll probably fail, but the price is right.

            I see there’s a hearse version, too, appropriate for Halloween.

          • 0 avatar
            jhefner

            This is not too difficult a paper model to build; the creased styling lends itself well to a paper model, and the way the wheels are made saves you from cutting out and folding the sawtooth tabs found on the wheels of most paper model cars (my least favorite part of buildinb them.)

            Make it large so the parts are not hard to handle. The bumpers and luggage rack are the hardest parts so save them for last; you can leave the rack off if it is too tedious to cut out. Be sure and cut along the black edges, and crease your folds against a sharp straight edge.

            If you mess up, just print another one and try again. It sometimes takes two or three attempts to get one I really like. I need to finish adding details to a paper Taurus wagon I have before printing, cutting, and folding version four.

            Refer to your car, and try and capture the light creases along the sides of the car (there are two, along the base of the windows and at the trim molding near the bottom) and the dishing of the hubcaps (press over a domed object like a pencil eraser.) Notice how the bulge in the center of the hood works, and how it blends with the curve along the base of the windshield and mates with the front grill. It is paying attention to these little details that will make your finished model stand out. Good luck, and have fun.

          • 0 avatar
            jhefner

            Johnnyangel, hopefully they will fish my longer comment out of the spam filter; but this is not a difficult model to build; build it large and save the bumpers and luggage rack for last, and leave the rack off if you find it too tedious.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I had an 86 CV wagon in college. 302 FI. Great car, most likely lifetime to date the most cost efficient car I have ever owned.
    Paid $1200 put 40k or so in the ODO sold at 160k, traded rather, for $200. Zero repairs save for a set of tires.

    When I unloaded the car upon graduation it was used up. You could argue the no repairs was because I did not do any of the work that was needed to keep the car presentable. I had no desire to graduate college with a station wagon that had a few more years of life left in it. Either way, I have a special place for the Ford wagon of that era.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    The pool of examples is shallow in these parts but these and their GM B-body wagon cousins seem to be held on to by those families who acquired them new. I haven’t been by for awhile but there was one clean Mercury example parked in a driveway not far from where I grew up, and they’ve had it for many years.

    • 0 avatar
      raresleeper

      I still see the occasional Roadmaster wagon. And even one Caprice Wagon modded to look like a Impala SS wagon.

      But not these. I haven’t seen any of these for a long time. Either this or it’s Country Squire Brethren.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Someone around here has an early avg condition Whale body with flames painted on the sides from stem to stern. Looks epic but ridiculous.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        Hell, I’ve seen more of the previous gen B body wagon (mainly in Electra Estate trim, with the occasional Caprice or Custom Cruiser) than the Panther wagons.

        • 0 avatar
          jhefner

          I seriously doubt that Ford ever sold very many of these; most Ford buyers would have opted for either the Taurus/Sable wagons or the Aerostar van, which also came out about this time. Unlike the Chrysler minivans, the Aerostar was RWD, so it could pull a trailer.

          So your buyers for these were those who wanted a station wagon but won’t be caught dead in that jellybean Taurus wagon or a minivan, or needed the heavy duty towing power of a station wagon but didn’t or couldn’t buy a pickup truck or Econoline van instead.

          (Changing demographics and the “Family Truckster” image did not help either.)

          • 0 avatar
            Johnnyangel

            Bear in mind that the first Panther wagons came out in 1979, and the Taurus/Sable weren’t released until the mid 80s. These wagons persisted until 1991 — by which time they were a rolling anachronism, for sure — with only minor facelifting, so Ford got its money’s worth out of the tooling, without doubt.

          • 0 avatar
            raresleeper

            My very rural neighbors from Arkansas had either a 90 or a 91 Taurus wagon.

            It had the rear facing “third row seat” (if thats what you want to call it) in the back.

            Not only was it undoubtedly distracting for the driver in the vehicle behind you to stare at a bunch of wild kids, but also, riding in a vehicle moving at speed backwards made you feel quite ill if you weren’t used to it.

            It was cramped quarters back there, for sure. But it made use of the rear of the car, despite being smaller than its Panther-platformed cousins.

          • 0 avatar
            jhefner

            To get a full size third row seat, you have to go minivan or large SUV. The third row seat in my wife’s previous gen Durango sits right on top of the rear axle, so there is very little footwell, and you are stil sitting with your knees in front of your face if you are an adult.

            The 1967 Country Sedan Mom and Dad had was even worst. It had two seats in the rear facing each other; but anyone in their teens or older would have little room to sit. But there is a family picture of five of us kids (with my youngest sister sitting on one of my brother’s laps) sitting in the back, so it could be made to work.

            I think what the Taurus needed was a rear facing tail gun, so long as you have that tail gunner position back there. (Open the rear hatch glass, and clamp a Lewis machine in the opening.) THAT would disturb the driver behind you. BTW, the curved rear hatch glass also distorts the view of cars behind you; it stretches the middle of most cars out, so everyone behind you looks like something from the Cars movie.

  • avatar
    rpm773

    Took my 1994 driving test in the 1988 example of one of these. Same color and trim on the outside but with whorehouse red (h/t Murilee) velour inside.

    My old man was off one day to sign the papers on a brand new 1991 Ford Explorer when he drove by this thing in a used lot. $12K with 8K miles on the clock…or maybe those numbers were reversed. I can’t remember.

    Anyway, I do still remember the feeling in my stomach when walking home and seeing that moored in our driveway instead of the Explorer.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    These are terrible, terrible cars — 20 years behind their times in many ways — but there is one thing I miss: cornering lights. A few luxury cars will do something similar with their adaptive headlights, and some Nissans will light up a fog light when the turn signal is on, but true cornering lights were fantastic. My ’89 Taurus SHO had them and I wish my current cars had them.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      The only car I’ve had with a legit cornering light was a 97 I30. Adaptive cornering lamps do help, but the light is a bit high up.

      I believe the DTS had full cornering lamps, that I’ve seen in action.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      True story – when the Saab 9-5 came out in ’99, it had cornering lights built into the fog light housings. A separate bulb and lens in the corner to light up where you were turning – nice! But they were deleted in the US by 2002. Why? Rampant owner complaints about fog lights being out. They still had the place for the bulb and the wiring in the housings for a year or two, then even that went away.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      Yeah the Panthers were so horrible they kept making the same basic car with revised sheet metal up until 2011!

  • avatar
    70Cougar

    My folks had a 1979 or 1980 Colony Park. It was spacious, comfortable, and smooth riding. The inward facing way-back seats were cool too. Their model year had some kind of variable venturri (?) carb that rendered it too slow to pull a wet string out of a cat’s ass, yet, if you held the pedal to the floor for a highway passing maneuver–and I am not exaggerating–you could see the fuel gauge going down. My dad eventually replaced the carb with a Holley card designed to replace the terrible OEM one.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    So you have an 85 Colony Park and an 85 Electra Estate, in the same condition. Which is worth more now?

    I’m voting Electra.

    I guess there was a Ninety-Eight Estate at this time? Or wait, still a Custom Cruiser. The Chevy version was a Safari Wagon?

    Edit: I find the Electra Estate to be superior in appearance.
    http://www.jeff-young-design.com/WorldWideWagons/Images/1980-buick-electra-estate-wagon.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      The B-Body was a superior platform to the Panther, particularly the pre-1992 Panther. Better packaging, better handling, cleaner design. Although I’d much rather have a clean ’89 Accord LX-i than either a clean ’89 Electra or ’89 Colony Park.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Pre-1992 B-Bodys were great with the right equipment, though I question the longevity. They tend to rust or burn oil sooner than “box” Panthers, what usually kills a “box” is the AOD overheating.

        After 1992 theres little contest, B-Bodies were quicker, tougher, and had more reliable engines. It took Ford about a decade to get the 4.6 right, then they started using plastic intakes.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          “They tend to rust or burn oil…”

          Meh, valve seals. SBC problems. Interstingly, the 4.6L 2Vs tend to burn oil from the valve seals with time and mileage too.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            Thats true, if its not that they’re spitting out spark plugs.

            Really the only reason to buy a “whale” Panther over a B-Body is that they’re easier to find stock, B-Bodies are popular with the donk crowd.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Old B-bodies are appreciating in value in nice condition as well – I feel like equivalent Ford’s aren’t.

            I have a soft spot, though for a circa 88 TC in all black. They were all over the place in 80s movies and TV. Much more than the Fleetwood equivalent. I wonder if there’s a reason for this.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            Yeah, the old Panther Town Cars are pretty scarce here. I’m guessing the AOD self-destructs and the bottom-basement resale values of old Town Cars drives owners to scrap them instead.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            At Corey:

            This is true, stock B-Bodies in good nic are going up slowly while even police-spec early 90’s Vics are going pretty cheap.

            At NoGo:
            Theres three issues that tend to doom box Panthers:

            1. Self-Destructing AODs
            2. Cooling system issues
            3. Bad Heater Cores, not too expensive to buy but very laborious to install one.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            Labor just makes everything more expensive, huh? I had to get a new crank sensor for my T-Bird, but Ford’s engine packaging means that the AC compressor has to be pulled to replace the sensor. That of course bumped the labor cost up.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Ford heater cores of that vintage were all junk.

            I had one split in my ’87 Taurus and dump coolant all over the carpet. In 1993 that was $1000 of labor to fix, involving removing the entire dashboard and console, and virtually all of the HVAC system behind it. The mechanic cursed at me when I picked up the car. Within one year I smelled the telltale coolant odor when the heat was first turned on. Fortunately that one stayed a slow leak for as long as I owned the car.

            Then I got an ’89 Taurus SHO and, yep, the heater core was one of the many things that failed in that car too. And, again, the replacement eventually started leaking.

          • 0 avatar
            MRF 95 T-Bird

            You are right about that. My 95 4.6L 2v at 122k has been burning oil. About 1 qt per 800-1k. No leaks and no smoking but it’s the valve seals. With each oil change and in-between I put in some Lucas additive and it seems to help.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          That is some funny stuff there. You are right that the Box Bs couldn’t hold a candle to the Panthers in durability but you are dead wrong about the Whales being superior to the Aeros. Yes you could get them with more HP but they were very weak and poor handling pigs thanks to the 500lb weight gain on the floppy old frame that received zero updating. The early 4.6 was dead reliable right out of the box. Yes there were a few that got bad valve stem seals but they would run to 300K if you kept oil in them or 500K if you changed it once in a while.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            “you are dead wrong about the Whales being superior to the Aeros. Yes you could get them with more HP but they were very weak and poor handling pigs”

            Moot point, these cars were never about handling.

            “The early 4.6 was dead reliable right out of the box.

            Right, as long as you’re handy with removing snapped sparkplugs you’ll be fine.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            The 4.6s that “snap plugs” are the much later 3v version. The 2nd generation “PI” heads are the ones that blow the plugs out. The first version had no spark plug related issues and only a few of the early engines had oil burning issues when they racked up high miles.

          • 0 avatar
            ponchoman49

            90’s Small blocks are all over the place with 300-400K miles and running strong so really both companies had a long lasting engine. We sold crap loads of B’s and Panthers over the years. Saying one is superior over the other for durability is simply ignorant. They both had there issues.

      • 0 avatar
        Drewlssix

        I seem to see a lot of late box CVs around here. There are several in the parking lot of the old folks home down the road alone, though one less since an old gal drove hers into a tree a few blocks away. The final run of Vic’s seem popular as well but with the younger set buying old patrol cars. From daily drivers to beaters to a few genuinely nice examples. Someone near by has a blacked out cruiser with marauder wheels a functional light in place of the pillar notch and seems to have a healthy assortment of mods done. Possibly the only time someone who bought an old cop car actually followed through with their plans to make a cool ride out of it lol.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          I’ve noticed that most kids who’d grab cop cars don’t keep them for long.

          Unless if you’re Elwood scoring one for $800, they’re really dicey buys.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            Yeah that is why until gas had been $4 per gallon for a number of years cabbies bid them up very high at the police auctions. Just a couple of years ago one with no damage would bring $4-5K around here. The cabbies knew that they could drive it for another 200K without needing any expensive repairs. However now that used Prius can be had fairly cheaply they have largely switched over to those. That means at leas around here you can get a plain white one for $1500-2000 depending on the exact condition and miles. You can occasionally pick them for much less than that. at the most recent local county auction I picked up a unit with only 63K for $500. If went for cheap since it was the first one to go on the block, whoever removed the stickers did a poor job leaving a ton of adhesive that attracted a lot of dust in the gravel parking lot, the big kicker was that while it was sitting for some reason the took the entire wiper assembly. I’m guessing the wiper issue was the big reason that everyone stayed away. In fact one guy who I talked to said “oh that’s going to be expensive”. I spent $33 for the parts to replace the wipers, and the linkages to make teh rear doors open from the inside. All told with a set of snow tires, tax, license, and emissions testing and I’m all in for just under $1000.

            I bought it for my Daughter, she wanted one since she preferred driving my Grand Marquis over the other cars in our fleet. She loves watching people drop their phones, put on their seat belts and get out of her way.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Yeah there are a ton of the late box Panthers still on the road in daily use around here.

    • 0 avatar
      raresleeper

      Electra Estates oooozed class compared to the others of this segment, IMHO.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      From personal experience (being just old enough to have driven them new) I certainly would prefer to drive the GM cars. Though ultimately, that is a bit like saying I would rather ride a hippo than a rhino, they both suck, the GMs just sucked a little less.

      A Volvo 945 is an infinitely better car.

      • 0 avatar
        raresleeper

        Oh, yeah. Volvo all the way.

        Volvo signified your introduction to the middle class, and (IMHO) set the standard for wagons of that era.

        …then there were these guys. They tried. But they were all substandard to the Volvos, by a landslide.

        But the Electra Estates were right at home in the upscale areas. That’s all I’m saying. :)

        In fact, I remember a young Elizabeth Shue driving around one of those in some 80’s movie. Little cutie.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Say what you want about the 945, I prefer the 245s vinyl headliners and sturdier interior quality.

        Either ones better than what you’d get in B or Panther, ever tried reading the square speedometer in a Mercury?

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I’ve only driven sedan Panthers but I can say that If you ever want an “old car experience” these will do it on the cheap, both the good and the bad.

    These cars are outdated compared in todays world but lets be honest, when you got hatchbacks trying to be race cars, Mommy-sedans trying to be exotic coupes, CUVs trying to be SUVs, trucks trying to be 18-wheelers, SUVs trying to be “Urban Cruising Vehicles”, its nice to turn to an old 80’s Panther and say “It may be a dinosaur, but its an honest dinosaur”.

    Speaking as someone who owned a 1992 Accord, give me an old Marquis if it means having a real suspension system and half-way decent sheet-metal.

  • avatar
    Garak

    These lumps and their ilk were surprisingly popular in Finland back in the day. There was some loophole that enabled them to be sold as tax free vans instead of cars. The same law created the Chevy Camaro pick-up truck.

  • avatar
    DaveDFW

    The 302-equipped Panther body cars received throttle body fuel injection in 1983, so this car was not delivered with a carburetor.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Yup this was a CFI car and rather than use a new intake with a funky bolt pattern like GM did with their TBI Ford made it with the Holley/Motorcraft 2bbl bolt pattern and kept using the same intake. Because it bolts onto a carb intake and hooks up to the existing linkage the CFI units are in demand from those that want to do a MegaSquirt on an older V8. Because they used a version of the Bosch style injector and only used 2 to feed a 302 the injectors are in demand from those that need a relatively large injector on the cheap. Which is why those CFI units are the first thing to go in many cases.

  • avatar

    We had a 180k example from 1990 on our lot that we used for a $999 sale. Of the 4 cars we offered at that price it was by far the best kept and best buy. It was also the only one that didn’t sell. Everything seemed to work, though the rear gate hinge was about shot and there is no good handle to lift up with to close it. This car still had the vintage car phone mounted to the front center floor! It was a classy lady, but my other classy lady at home would have left me if I bought it.

    • 0 avatar
      raresleeper

      180k still’s a lot on them ‘ol dogs.

      All you’d need is a pair of them sunglasses where the shaded lenses flip out on hinges :P

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        By 1990 the AOD was a 300K transmission with occasional service and thanks to fuel injection the engine could easily to that too with proper maintenance. The 8.8″ would last for the long haul too. Now the rest of the car could be in need of attention after that many miles.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      At 90k+ these cars are running off spare time, their 5.0s will last for a while but the plastic stuff will go, plastic window motor gears, plastic speedometer gears, plastic transmission linkage (Like newer Toyotas).

      Luckily if things break they’re generally cheap to buy, and the guys at Grandmarq.net are VERY quick to share useful advice with repairs.

  • avatar
    taxman100

    Grand Marquis and Town Cars had corning lights up to their last model year – 2011.

    I have a 2002 Grand Marquis, and it has a lot of charms. Sure it is not the most logical car to own, but when you can buy a Chinese knock-off alternator for less than $100 shipped and replace it in less than 30 minutes (including beer drinking time), it pays for the extra gas.

    New cars today are missing cornering lights, bench seats, column shifter, velour interior, etc. A $40k Lexus looks like a $20 Civic to me ($20k for a Civic?)

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      “but when you can buy a Chinese knock-off alternator for less than $100 shipped and replace it in less than 30 minutes (including beer drinking time), it pays for the extra gas”

      Until you find yourself replacing said alternator on a frequent basis.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      It’s getting really hard to tell a 20K car apart from even a 50k one these days. They all have very plain spartan exteriors. They mostly all have massive over sized tires. They all have black and gray interiors with silver trim that is hard to tell from real aluminum trim. If they have cloth seats it is that rough fake crap that feels like sand paper in many cases. Many are still using there same basic green house that was popular back in 2002. I miss when a higher end car could easily be told apart from a cheaper model.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Wagon love .

    May it never die .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Back in the 80’s and 90’s when these wagons ruled the road they were quite popular in NYC amongst orthodox Jews of various sects. Whenever I would see a family pile out of one I would be reminded of the Saturday Night Live skit featuring the Royal Deluxe II.

  • avatar
    phaedrus528

    The GM B bodies were so much better with the larger engines and the TurboHydramatic. Family had a ’79 Olds Custom Cruiser with the 6.6 litre. I took it to college, spring break mobile! Was SOOOO far superior to the subsequent family truckster, an ’86 Custom Cruiser with the 5.0 litre and the 4 speed auto, not to mention the disastrous “Powermaster brake” issue that left my Mom without a car for 3 months! Anyone else remember that?

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      I had a ’79 Impala wagon for 11 years. It had the 5.7L 350, with a Rochester 4-barrel carb. Posi-trac rear end. For it’s era, it was a perfectly competent design. It could pamper like a limousine AND work like a truck.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      Never had an issue with the power master brake system on any of my B-bodies and the 307/4 speed overdrive combo were a perfect match for each other and quire durable if properly maintained as with anything else. Yes they were slow but so was the 1983 302 Fords with 130 HP and the 1984-1985 140 horse 302 motors. it wasn’t until 1986 and SFI that these engine livened up some but even then they were still hardly quick in these heavy wagon bodies.

  • avatar

    I know that I am a little late to the party, but the earlier references to the use of sbc engines in early ford hot rods missed one important fact. The ford v8 engines had an oil sum that was in the front of the engine, and the old flathead v8 and the sbc had a rear sump. If you put a y block in a 32, you needed to construct a new oil pan, as there were no rear sump pans available then. Made the chevy a much easier swap.

  • avatar

    Now I know where the Griswolds wagon ended up.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    A few observations in defense of this form of car.

    For 5 or 6 people, they provided a conversational seating arrangement that is fundamentally different from minvans, where the people in the front and third rows are isolated from each other. Even the people in the front and second row are more separated than the two rows in the big wagons. 5 or 6 people in a big wagon could all easily talk to each other, which made for far more entertaining travel than any media gizmos could ever match and which more than made up for the discomfort of the middle seats.

    Second, certain types of cargo were well suited to this design. For instance, they were a favorite of painters. The large flat floor allowed carrying lots of cans of paint without stacking them, and the low roof made for easy loading of ladders. The wagons were designed to carry 4×8 sheets of plywood. 3-way tailgates provided loading options not available since.

    Third, they were far less likely to overturn in accidents compared to minvans and suv’s.

    Yes, there were disadvantages in how this form was executed: absent or useless headrests, no split/folding back seat, large physical and environmental footprint.

    Rather than disappear, they should have morphed into what the Ford Freestyle was.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I think the Flex is the successor to the down-sized-full-size station wagon. The only place they really fall down compared to the older ones is the inability to take that 4×8 sheet good with the gate closed. Otherwise it meets or beats the old school version in every way and keeps all the traditional characteristics of the old school wagon except for having to clean puke off of the rear window from those sitting in the rear facing 3rd row.

  • avatar
    EspritdeFacelVega

    The only Detroit car I’ve ever owned was a Fox-body 1985 Marquis wagon, purchased from my (then) wife’s employer for the sum of $ 1,000 in Dec 1991. We were living in Honolulu and did not have a car, nor much money, so this was a Godsend. Her boss was a 50-something lawyer who had bought the wagon for his 20-something girlfriend. She didn’t like it, shockingly. It was a beige (who even SOLD beige cars in 85? Ford did!) six base model with wind-up windows, base model wheel covers, cloth upholstery and a basic AM/FM radio (no tapes for you!). And the little “Ride-Engineered by Mercury” badge above the glove box.

    The car had been stored in an underground car park for months, and under the grime I could see it was practically new. Had 25,000 miles & still had the familiar Ford new car smell. The interior was in showroom condition. I bought it without starting it and had it towed to a local mechanic to get new fluids and (as the original tires were rock-hard and cracking) new cheapo tires. Despite sitting for so long, the A/C worked perfectly, vital in Hawaii.

    A day with rubbing compound and paste wax brought back the beige lustre, such as it was, and I had cheap wheels for the next eight months. Logically, I would have kept it, as the car was reliable and cost very little. But I hated driving it – billowy, too big for crowded Honolulu (getting in an out of my apartment parking slot, three storeys up in a concrete parkade, was a huge PITA), and just way too uncool for the 27-year old me.

    So I sold it, for $3100, to a very nice elderly Local gent who fell in love with the car with one look. On the test drive, crawling down King Street, he stumped me by asking if the heater worked, and I had to admit I’d never even tried it. It worked, obviously (possibly had never been used before) and he didn’t even bargain. And I got a nice 2-week holiday in New Zealand with my profits…

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    Merc wagons were more common in Chicago area, since this used to be Buick-Olds-Pontiac’s biggest market. Many BOP buyers went to L-M afraid of FWD in 80’s. But also, L-M pushed hard in the 70’s during the personal lux era, and former Cougar owners went to Marquis.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    With the towing package and Trac Loc rear axle, these drove like sport sedans. I had two of these as project cars, ’87 and ’90 and they drove better than average full sizers. But rust, gas prices, and unemployment killed the dream of keeping them longer.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      Any Panther with this upgrade handled considerably better and was basically a must. GM B- bodies also required the F-41 upgrade for any kind of handling ability and an upgraded rear end and limited slip were also nice upgrades worth seeking out. My buddy had a 1986 Caprice coupe equipped with F-41, gauge package, 305 4BBL, larger P225 tires, limited slip 2.73 rear end and plenty of other goodies and that car drove really well and had enough power to effortlessly keep up with fast pace traffic.


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