Piston Slap: The Looooooong Cult of Panther Love?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
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piston slap the looooooong cult of panther love

TTAC Commentator Nick 2012 writes:

Archangel of the Panther Platform –

A nice looking 2005 LWB Lincoln Town Car with only 107,000mi popped up for sale at a nearby dealer with a what-I-hope-to-be-optimistic $8,000 asking price. As any follower of the good book of fat Panther Love(tm), I keep my eye out for a good one on the local boards.

I took a new position a while back that has me commuting about 65mi a day – about 90% interstate. Going from my comfortable, competent Accord to the extremely comfortable TC would cost me about $10/week in increased fuel costs if I exclusively used the TC (which I wouldn’t do).

For a number of reasons – weekend trips to the lake, grandparents needing a real car with room for car seats, traveling to-from LeMons build sessions, conveying gravitas and refined taste when showing up at friends’ houses, hoonage, and taking stress of the DD Accord that is accumulating mileage like a space shuttle, a third car would be a nice thing to have, even though I’m aware it is probably cheaper to just run the Accord into the earth.

But I miss the cult of Panther and secretly want one and all the fun parts my kids and I could bolt on it. Also, my folks would probably use it somewhat regularly. In my first ‘third car’ experience, they were happy to informally allocate running costs as they used it a lot more than they thought. My Dad’s Focus just isn’t the kind of freeway ride he wants at his age, so I think he’d secretly be rooting for this purchase. Long term, it might be an appropriate car hauler or cart hauler if Jr is interested in such things.

The LWB is more than I planned to spend for a third car, but not an unreasonable amount. LWB models with well in excess of 300,000 miles seem to go for no less than $4000-5000 on eBay. As long as its not wrecked, I’m figuring that the thing wouldn’t depreciate much if kept in good shape.

Which leads me to my questions:

– Am I self rationalizing about the depreciation and would it be better to scoop up a Marquis/Vic/regular Town Car when one hits the sweet spot for me for less than half the price?– How much better are the 2003s than the earlier models?– Does the LWB body bring any special challenges or limit tasteful aftermarket modification?

– anything to look out for with these?

I think the dealer is selling this through the wrong channel and I’m hopeful it’s going to not attract a lot of foot traffic at a retail car dealer.

Sajeev answers:

Well this archangel certainly thinks the LWB Town Car (black on black, if possible) is totally the way to rise up the ranks in the cult of Panther Love. But since most of our readers are of the boring “ZOMG Panthers are horrible” crowd, let’s keep it brief. To your questions:

Am I self rationalizing about the depreciation? : It’s a safe bet that LWB Town Cars (and Marauders) with good paint/interiors will hold their value well. Not true for other Panthers, but it is The Great American Sedan: even for GM guys looking for a newer ride.

How much better are the 2003s than the earlier models?: they are still “skinny” Panthers (skinniest is 1998-2002, especially 1998), as the 90-97 models (especially 1995) are the Fat Panthers in terms of fit/finish and overall lack of bean counting in everything from dashboards to the number of Lincoln-y tail light clusters.

But the 2003 model has significant chassis (hydroformed bits, aluminum bits), steering (rack and pinion) and electronic upgrades that make them better…even without yesteryear’s plush ride and creature comforts. They are still better because they soaked up engineering advancements over the years. Except journalists say the Panther hasn’t changed much since 1979, they’d rather not do their homework and shame FoMoCo for neglecting it to death

…what a load of trash!

Does the LWB body bring any special challenges or limit tasteful aftermarket modification?: Suspension, engine, transmission, etc are all the same. Honestly they look better than the short wheel base model, I don’t expect any challenges. Even the rear stereo controls are probably compatible with aftermarket stereos, as they have conversion harnesses that work with auxiliary controls (normally the ones on the steering wheel.)

Anything to look out for with these?: Be careful of how awesome you feel after owning a “skinny panther” Lincoln Town Car. But seriously, check for normal wear and tear and the condition of the transmission and ATF. Everything else is pretty robust, even if a module goes bad, replacement bits are cheap and plentiful. Also try not to go nuts with Panther Love modifications after you do an SCT engine/trans tune, because that’s one of the few bang for the buck modifications that’ll work.

I think the dealer is selling this through the wrong channel: Wrong! You think fleet buyers don’t look for cars in your corners of the Interweb? You think their employees don’t have buddies in the fleet car trade that are foaming at the mouth for it? Be it Panther, Land Cruiser, or whatever automotive poison, the fanbois are all over the web looking for it.

[Lead image: Shutterstock user Nadezda Murmakova]

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

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  • Panther Platform Panther Platform on Nov 25, 2014

    I think my 03 Mercury GM LSE is one of the better versions of the Panther. It's geared more aggressively and the suspension is tuned for handling. This car is fun to drive and definitely does not float. Yet it is very comfortable on the open road and is quite relaxing on long trips. Sure I wouldn't mind some more horsepower, but 239 HP is adequate and the engine takes regular gas. I alternately call her "Marauder-lite" or the "cop car with lipstick!"

  • -Nate -Nate on Nov 25, 2014

    And here I thought Panther love was big on this Board . I don't want one but from what I see they're pretty good cars , both the CV and TC versions . -Nate

  • Clay Toyota Land Cruiser FJ60 had manual choke through 1987.Also, just started daily driving my 1992 Volvo 240 that I picked up in September and brought back to the road. Some fresh studded tires + RWD, bring on the snow!! Old Volvos make me smile
  • Lou_BC My son already has a Scout EV. Well, okay, RC....
  • The Oracle I was in WNY when this went down and it is likely a medical issue and/or some type of rolling domestic. That car was flat out with air bags deployed before it even left the ground. It was a spectacular wreck. The couple made a 7-minute stop at the Seneca Niagara Casino before the fiery launch, and something went terribly wrong in those 7 minutes.
  • Lorenzo A union in itself doesn't mean failure, collective bargaining would mean failure.
  • Ajla Why did pedestrian fatalities hit their nadir in 2009 and overall road fatalities hit their lowest since 1949 in 2011? Sedans were more popular back then but a lot of 300hp trucks and SUVs were on the road starting around 2000. And the sedans weren't getting smaller and slower either. The correlation between the the size and power of the fleet with more road deaths seems to be a more recent occurrence.