By on December 30, 2015

2003 Mercury Marauder

Panther Love will never die.

Plenty of TTAC writers and readers have shared their affection for the big Ford sedans and wagons. I have but one brief tale of Panther Love of my own — that of unrequited lust.

For many years, my dad was a traveling salesman. Company cars were the big perk, and dad went through a few A-bodies before landing a Crown Victoria, painted the same shade of dark grey as the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s cruisers. This came in handy throughout the Great Lakes region he covered. Unfortunately, his time with the big Vic ended before I turned 16, to be replaced by a second-generation Taurus wagon in which I took my drivers’ test.

I’ve yet to drive a Panther.

Since I’ve been on a big, V-8 sedan theme lately, it only makes sense to look toward Dearborn, as I’ve covered GM and the German Big Three over the last couple weeks. This 2003 Mercury Marauder is a natural choice, as it hides a couple of big secrets under the low-key skin.

A decade ago, 300 horsepower was impressive from a family car. Today, my minivan is pushing 270 horses. Thus, someone decided to bring this Marauder up to modern power levels with twin turbochargers. No numbers are quoted, however. The six-speed transmission is an unusual, welcome touch, though the parking brake arrangement is disappointing. Four pedals is one too many, as I can easily see myself bashing an ankle against the floor-mounted emergency brake. There has to be an easy-button lever that can be fitted.

I don’t know that I’d spend $16,000 on this car. Any collector value for the limited edition went out the window when the snails and stick were fitted, and the performance could easily and cheaply be replicated with a cast-off P71 and some catalogs. The workmanship is suspect, too, considering the hacked-up look in the trunk. But it’s an interesting look at what can be done with a beloved chassis.

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99 Comments on “Digestible Collectible: 2003 Mercury Marauder...”


  • avatar
    Jesse

    What is up with those pedals? It looks like it has an automatic brake pedal with a clutch pedal added to the side. I wonder if someone converted it to a manual?

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Uh did you bother to even read the description? It has a six speed manual swap.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Hey, this looks like a Grand Marquis which is like different or something. Are these sporty Pep Boys mods?

        • 0 avatar
          VolandoBajo

          That’s what a Marauder was…a Grand Marquis with more muscle and some different trim. Only made for a couple of years. Nice when stock, probably nice running when it runs right with the blowers and the stick tuned properly to the ECU. But like most project cars, it is always worth more to the original owner than to anyone else.

          And the owner probably has lots of time and/or stacks of invoices for mods, and hopes to recoup most or all of it on resale, which is unlikely but not impossible.

          The real fly in the flan is the observation that a P71, a Police Interceptor Panther to the uninitiated, with the right mods could probably match or beat its performance.

          I have a 97 Grand Marquis, which has a nice broad powerband and a gear tall enough to cruise comfortably above 80mph. But due to the horsepower arms race of the last twenty years, what was a beefy mill at the turn of the millennium is just a strong running but “yet-another” V8.

          But the small but significant details, such as the console shifter, that were changed for the Marauder, makes it a sharp looking ride in almost anyone’s book. If I were Jay Leno I would snap this up in an instant, just for grins.

          But in the real world, it only makes sense at that price for the ultra-rich or the ultra-dim.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            @Volando

            Thanks, but I was joking due to the comment by Jesse.

          • 0 avatar
            VolandoBajo

            @CoreyDL Sorry. I should have figured that, given that you have shown good general knowledge in the past.

            I have been busier than usual this holiday season, and on top of that, have been preoccupied with trying talk some sense into my 21 y.o. son who is SURE that he has found THE love of his life three states away, and is planning to move there this month.

            Ultimately I will just have to accept the fact that he will do whatever he wants to do, just as I did at his age. But for now I have been putting a disproportionate amount of my focus on hoping that he will at least slow down, if not put on the brakes entirely.

            But I have noticed that I have tended to become a bit more oblivious to other things.

            As to this “SuperMarauder”, I can see what the owner was thinking: other drivers will think that they can run faster than this somewhat slow semi-muscle car, but the twin turbos, etc., will adminster a drubbing.

            Unfortunately, it ended up “90%” done, which means that it is essentially a re-assembled basket case.

            Hence,reassembled, it is no where near worth what a good finished hot rod style sleeper would be worth. Or in the nomenclature of another site, it is basically “crack pipe”.

            The price history posted elsewhere in this article’s comments shows the inflated prices and opinions. I might give five grand, given that the body isn’t too bad, and there is some good bolton HW, but given a large budget, I would start with a stronger block, then bolt on the snails and get a protune done on it. Then you might have something that wouldn’t blow up in less than three months.

            This thing is a sixteen thousand dollar “Holy Hand Grenade”, waiting to explode.

            “Three is the number of the counting…”

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            “THE love of his life three states away, and is planning to move there this month.”

            Internet dating, making things easier and also more complicated since 2005.

          • 0 avatar
            VolandoBajo

            @CoreyDL Yes the internet has complicated things…hopefully he is one of the statistical minority who really does find the love of his life his first time at bat in the major leagues, but as one who took a quarter of a century to find one that lasted past the five year mark or so, I naturally must doubt.

            I have gotten off light compared to what most parents have to go through with their children, up to now. But I find myself wishing we lived in Sicily, where I understand that every Sicilian son believes it is his duty to live near his father.

            Though we have managed to work out our problems and differences well in the past, and no doubt we will find a way again, whether he comes back with his heart burned to a crisp, or I discover that I must learn to love the person who caused him to leave.

            If it is good for him, I will learn to adjust, and if it is not, he will likely escape unscathed, except for some new scar tissue around his good, but somewhat naive, heart. But I can only pray that he doesn’t make any major miscalculations. And only time will reveal that.

            But at least the internet also makes it possible for us to remain in touch and somewhat close to each other, as well as its presenting a challenge. Still, I wish he had fallen in love with a young lady from the next town over. But if wishes were wings, frogs’ asses wouldn’t bump the ground, would they?

        • 0 avatar
          Omnifan

          Looks like there are now 4 Pep Boys, Manny Moe Jack and Carl.

        • 0 avatar
          Jesse

          “Hey, this looks like a Grand Marquis which is like different or something. Are these sporty Pep Boys mods?”

          Not sure if you’re making fun of me, but I was mostly just trying to point out that their pedal solution was lame. Having done a few auto to manual conversions myself, I’d think that there is a better solution out there.

          I don’t have enough Panther love to know whether this thing was available with a manual or someone had to convert it. I didn’t see “manual swap” anywhere in the eBay ad.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            It’s a garbage solution. You aren’t wrong.

            Corey wasn’t making fun of you. He’s making fun of what was done to the car.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            It’s an awful car!

          • 0 avatar
            VolandoBajo

            The Marauder was a nice idea, though it should have been given a bit more beef under the hood. It needed to be a bit stronger, rather than a bit slower, than its competitors. Had it had about a hundred more horses we would be talking about them in the same breath as cars such as the Shelby Cobra or the GTO in its heyday. Instead, it turned out to be just a nice try, but not quite worth writing home about.

            Still if you can overlook the fact that it should have more power, it was a nice car overall. For a while you could get an aftermarket supercharger kit, which helped, but one of the two makers of the kits ran into lots of problems (or created them himself), which also tended to take some more wind out of the sails of the concept.

            It could have been and should have been a hot running four seat sports sedan, but it fell just short of its mark. Still, I would like to have owned one. Panther + more HP + somewhat unique and stylish (when not mutilated like this semi-basket case buildup).

      • 0 avatar
        Jesse

        I must’ve missed it. I just skimmed it quickly looking for that info.

        That’s a pretty lazy swap. They probably could’ve grabbed pedals from a Mustang or something. Or at least cut the brake pedal down to size.

    • 0 avatar

      The pedals are a mystery. This appears to be the ADTR T56 kit which are usually sold with custom Pier pedal assemblies. These are definitely not Piers.

      The expected increase in horsepower and torque with all the upgrades on this car would necessitate another upgrade that I’d want to have examined before I considered buying it. What has been done about the rear control arms and most importantly their mounts? This car, driven to it’s new limits, might get you killed without some major suspension upgrades.

      All of that aside, I’d love to own one of these cars upgraded in this manner done correctly.

      • 0 avatar
        VolandoBajo

        Good info, WhiskeRiver.

        One other thing that needs to be addressed is the driveshaft. The stock ones in the Panthers had serious harmonic vibe problems around 100mph or slightly above. The P71’s came with either an aluminum or a composite one, depending on the year. Not sure what came stock with the Marauders, but as Yogi Berra used to say “you could look it up”.

        I think the composite driveshaft (with special U-joints to go with it) was the highest in terms of speed rating, and for some reason, the number 137mph sticks in my mind, as I am recalling it was still a bit lower than the top speed rating for the 88 Thunderbird Sportcoupe, at 143, which surprised me a bit. You mean if I had kept my Bird I could have outrun the SP on open roads?

        I think ADTR is the one who also has a kit for that. There is a problem using the Police Interceptor driveshafts on the non-P71 vehicles, due to a different length of the nose of the transmission. IIRC, you had to cut down the length of the cop driveshaft to fit non-P71 Panthers.

        If someone would like to fund a project car upgrade, I will volunteer my last-year Aero-generation Grand Marquis for the platform. When I first got it, I spec’ed out all the things I could do to it, before reality set in that I was retired, married and a father, and my wife would have had me declared non compo mentis by the time the second or third parts order arrived.

        Still, I have managed to get some added invisible to the naked eye muscle at a reasonable price. But in my darkest Walter Mitty sleeper fantasies, I would both have the Bird back and beefed up, and would make the GM into a low-altitude rocket ship in sheep’s clothing.

        Which it is, though to a much lesser degree than theoretically possible in a world where money would be no object. After all, my screenname means “flying low” in Spanish…and the GM cockpit is almost like being in a silent but very quick airplane that travels zero feet above the ground.

        And no, GM DOES NOT stand for General Motors. Ever…in my vocabulary.

        If you wanted me to heat-soak test YOUR Corvettes, that would be fun. (With Jack Baruth as my driving instructor, and co-tester, of course.) Otherwise, if I never own another GMC or VAG vehicle, it will be too soon.

        In Spanish, one way to say that someone is correct is to say that they “have reason”. DeadWeight “has reason” when he talks about GMC engineering (such as it is).

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    I always thought these were one of the best looking models on that platform, but after seeing a Panther fold up like a soggy burrito after getting t-boned on Mythbusters I would pass on any that aren’t fitted for LeMons or Chump car.

  • avatar

    This is something special. Suspect…but special.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I like the concept of these cars, but I agree the stock motor just didn’t have enough bite to back up the sweet mod-motor bark. A guy at work has a pretty nice one he drives in the summer, it burns oil on startup :/

    People are asking some pretty silly money for these, even in rough shape and high miles. I think they’re also a bit of a theft magnet around here. I’d rather start with a cheap and clean ‘grandma spec’ Aero generation crown vic or Grand Marquis GS, and then go nuts with rear end gearing, shift kit, supercharger for the stock 4.6L, and upgraded suspension.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      “I think they’re also a bit of a theft magnet around here.”

      You have GOT to move. Lol.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Haha yeah we’ve been scoping out different housing options for when the lease expires in the spring, moving up north into lily-white Carmel perhaps, that’s if we stay in Indy at all. I gotta say though it’s a shame because we really like our little craftsman bungalow, spacious 1+ car garage and fenced in yard, all for reasonable money.

        This anecdote kind of sums it all up: the Family Dollar on the corner got robbed at gunpoint about 3 weeks ago. Who the hell robs a Family Dollar?

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Carmel is so… expensive and uppity – and out of touch. At least move to Fishers or Noblesville and get a little more for your money!

          In college I was having a conversation with a typical Carmel girl.

          Her: Oh I live in Carmel.
          Me: My aunt lives up near there, in Fishers.
          Her: Oh really? Where does she dock her boat?
          Me: She… doesn’t have a boat.
          Her: Oh… um.

          Lol, shut up rich white girl!

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            That north-east/north/north-west outside-the-loop periphery is all the same, for better or for worse, snootiness-wise. A better place to live in a practical sense of not worrying as much about break-ins and feeling safe jogging after dark, but also a bit boring (not to mention more expensive). Certain parts of Carmel are actually pretty ‘normal’ in terms of housing type/cost, 1970s ranches mostly.

            As much as it sounds like I b*tch about it, I kind of like the gritty-ness and ‘non-uppityness’ of the less well-to-do parts of Indy, those closer to downtown and in close proximity to the factories and industrial plants. Driving down a potholed road on the southwest side past some junkyards, metal plating businesses and chemical plants is strangely appealing to me, maybe because it reminds me of certain parts of Novosibirsk and Bisyk. Best cheap/good food is in those areas as well, the hole in the wall places catering to blue collar guys looking for a $5 filling meal. As far as actual housing goes, the key (IMO) is to find a working class neighborhood with high home ownership rates rather than a block full of rentals, that’s the important distinction.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            RE: boat docking

            She must have been talking about the Geist reservoir, a very nice area indeed. But I’ll take the sometimes-poopy-smelling White River over it any day. If you haven’t been, the White River State Park is a neat place to check out.

          • 0 avatar
            Toad

            Indy is a great town, especially if you like industrial history. Biking through the old factory areas east and west of downtown are a great way to spend part of a weekend. I lived there for a couple of years and still travel there at least once a year to see in laws. It is bikeable, affordable, interesting, and growing: all good things.

            The Indy suburbs are safer, but aside from being kid-friendly are just as blah as they are in every other mid sized US city.

            If you can make city living work for you (cool to see what is happening around Fountain Square area and northwest along the canal) more power to you.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Yeah she was. They had a dock in their back yard.

            I have not spent a lot of time in downtown Indy, though I like the organization of the roads and the cleanliness – both of which are superior to Cincinnati in every regard.

            I haven’t been to that park either!

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            A friend of mine that’s buying up houses in the periphery of the thriving (and expensive) Fall Creek neighborhood just north of downtown keeps egging me on to buy a fixer-upper in one of the neighborhoods with perspective for redevelopment. With the trend towards growth and young professional types moving back closer to the urban core it would certainly be a smart investment, but I simply don’t have the time or patience to get into that whole scene. Even in fully gentrified Fall Creek where houses sell for $250-400k, people still have wheels stolen off their cars and have bums prowling their alleys. Even Little Flower (where I live) doesn’t have quite that bad of an issue with property crime. Fountain Square is really cool to hang out in during the summer, I always get a huge kick out of the sheer concentration of hipsters there. Fountain Square is quite well along the gentrification process, with people asking some eye watering prices for gutted and renovated places. There’s a ton of neat historic neighborhoods with a lot of potential, I have fun just learning about them and observing the marketplace evolve even as a non-participant in the real estate realm.

            I’m starting to finally get a feel for the city as a whole, although the near-Westside and Southside are still rather foreign at this point.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Wait… there’s a place where $250-$400k single-family homes are AFTER the gentrification and not BEFORE it?

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Lol Dal, we ain’t all west coasty over here. Indiana and Ohio are cheap. That’s a price for a grand house in a quite nice area. Indianapolis always ranks 1st or near the top for affordability of living. Cincinnati is usually 3 or 4.

            You might even have a gate to your community for 400k.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Heh. I paid $475k and ended up with a comfortable, big, but basic ground-floor 2+den condo.

            The single-family houses on my street go from $900k to $1.5M depending on size and age.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Dal-

            I live in one of the most expensive suburbs of Detroit and my house is worth $325K. Welcome to the Midwest.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            @dal

            For reference, here’s a pretty nice home that just sold in my neighborhood,for a pretty typical asking price for the condition and whatnot:

            Linkhttp://www.zillow.com/homedetails/1201-N-Linwood-Ave-Indianapolis-IN-46201/1085094_zpid/

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            I refuse to live anywhere that I would want or need a gate on my “community”. For the first time in 15 years, my house is actually locked up this week, as the roommate and I are in DC together museum hopping on vacation. Along with every screeching 5yo on the East Coast, evidently.

            Rental for our vacation is a fabulous Hyundai Accent, which is worth every single penny of the $13/day that Advantage Rent-a-car DCA is charging us for it. But not a penny more! Like a bowl of jello on wheels.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            gtemnykh,
            That real estate listing is just a spitting image of our neighborhood despite being 1500 miles away. Those old 1920s bungalows with the matured landscaping have a lot of flavor and character that a newer home with a real garage and actual adult sized bathrooms just can’t replicate. I don’t blame you for wanting to stick around there.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Oil puddled in the intact tract more so that anything else. it seems to be a Ford specialty, every Mustang with a MOD motor that I’ve owned has done this from my lowly 2v GT to my 4v GT500.

      The first time it happened I thought “Oh hell the valve guides are shot or the rings are worn out” then after checking into it and doing some maintenance on the car you find the offender.

      Its annoying more than anything else as it isn’t a significant amount of oil and over my usual 5k oil change interval no appreciable loss of oil is observed.

      The 2015 GT I owned briefly didn’t exhibit any puff of smoke on start up that I noticed at least so Ford might have cured the issue (if indeed it isn’t something Ford “designed” in) with the Coyote.

    • 0 avatar
      VolandoBajo

      I’d skip the supercharger on the stock block, or at least keep the boost low. Better to get a built up race motor with tougher components. But messing with the exhaust, the gearing and the suspension can give you a decent amount of improvement at a reasonable price.

      The CAI mods, on the other hand, are mostly a hose job in more ways than one.

      One relatively extreme CAI upgrade showed a full dyno test. Seems that there was a loss of torque and HP in the lower RPMs and an increase at higher ones, both slight. But more significantly, if you did the math, you would start out slightly slower than a stock version, than gain back the lost distance as you got to about 30 mph, then repeat the process in 2nd, falling slightly behind from about 45 to I think 65 (the 1-2 shift point with the stock granny gear to the crossover point in the curves) and only recoup from the high RPM advantage running up to 85 or 90.

      So unless you could launch above 3500 RPM, you started out behind in each gear, then got to play catch up. But on the highway, from zero to about 75, you had a net loss of performance even though you had a higher peak HP and torque.

      I happen to like the Aero generation (92-97) but the motors got beefier around 2003 or 2004, and as to the rear end, I believe the Mercurys got Watts linkage starting around 98 to 01, don’t remember exactly when.

      Some performance gains could also be had with a chip tuner though it is no longer made. I did find one on CL, and it made a noticeable improvement in acceleration, even with the 87 octane tune. Good luck finding one, though. I got mine last year after looking for months. Don’t know if could buy a hopped up tune from Ford, but I doubt it. Maybe from a pro tuner, though not cheap. Got my device used for under a hundred.

  • avatar

    My Uncle, an NYPD cop, used to have a Crown Victoria. He was desperatly in love with the Marauder – right up until…

    …they announced the MKS.

    He ended up leasing a 2009 MKS Ecoboost fully loaded.

    Then took that back for a 2013 MKS Ecoboost fully loaded.

    and now he has the newest one, 2015…

    Alot can be said about short term leases.

    Frankly, in my opinion…all of the MKS’ suck – especially for the ridiculous price they have you pay.

    I get into the old Panthers and I’m like…all they needed to do was tweak this a little more and they’d have had a beast.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      It was an old tired platform, but its too bad Ford didn’t design a more modern car.

      I suppose the case couldn’t be made for a large RWD 4dr Ford. Dodge and Cadillac seem to have that all wrapped up and since Ford isn’t super flush with cash they cant afford to produce a loss leader.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Ford in the late 2000s just didn’t have the cash to make it work. They could do it now. It just has to be with a flexible architecture that can be spread across other vehicles. When the Panther got cancelled, Ford was selling off assets and didn’t have a RWD platform that wasn’t the Mustang or a truck. The Panther even managed to push death back a few times.

        • 0 avatar
          VolandoBajo

          @bballdtw I am anxiously looking forward to the possibility of a son-of-Panther in 2018, with RWD on the D6 frame, a four to five seat cabin, and a motor on a par with a Mustang GT or similar…as you had noted, the D6 frame is the key to opening up the possibility. I hope that it will also open up the reality.

          Ever since Ford let the Thunderbird and the Panther die (for reasons I understand and reluctantly accept) it has been in a position to benefit from a higher HP sedan with good suspension and conservative, yet appealing and unique, styling. Oh, and one with a bit more room than a Mustang, for those over the age of about forty, who don’t want to have to squeeze into the car, especially in the back seats.

          I hope we get to see the day…

  • avatar
    omer333

    Before I ended up with my Accord Sport I decided to check into some Panther Love.

    Would you believe I could not find anything in the great state of Utah? No used taxis, P-71s, or even a Grand Marquis.

    There was a Crown Vic LX Sport in Montana, that if I had the means to get to Billings, it would have been mine.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    This is literally the only Panther platform model that I find the least bit interesting. The manual transmission swap and turbos make it considerably more interesting. Probably a riot to drive in the same way that riding a bull is pretty exhilarating.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I think the price is loony, as it always is for these. They didn’t do enough to make the interior any nicer than a cop car, and the workmanship on the mods is indeed quite quite poor.

    You know what else always bothered me on the CV/GM of this era? The headlights never line up with the marker light lenses. The TC did not have this problem, since it got fancypants 1-piece units.

    I’d prefer if someone put the bits from a Marauder into a Town Car and made a super sleeper with a halfway decent interior.

    But surely, if you’re considering rare and overpriced large sports family sedans from The America with collector pretensions, this.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Chevrolet-Impala-4dr-Sedan-/331733657048

    Comes closer to being worth what’s asked. And uh, #1 made that year, and it’s black, and 10K miles.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      But, Ford people won’t buy a GM car.

      … No matter how much better it is.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Bball gon’ come slap ya. Watch out!

        Lol, LT1 B-body > Panther w. plastic trims. All day.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I agree that B-Body > Panther.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I am somewhat surprised to hear you say that.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            B-Bodies are the cats meow. The strength of the Panther is that they tend to last forever can be abused during that “forever”. If something does go wrong, the fix is usually cheap and known.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            And Ford DIDN’T do a Northstar for 20 years. Ugh.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            “The strength of the Panther is that they tend to last forever can be abused during that “forever”. If something does go wrong, the fix is usually cheap and known.”

            This applies to B-bodies at least as well, their only failing was not being made as long (and Optispark lol). I don’t see too many ‘box’ panthers around but a box Chevy is still very much a regularly sighted daily driver round my ‘hood. Bubble caprices and aero vics are both very common, and of course ragged P71s with flaking paint are all the rage with the ex-convicts.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        I’m Ford people and I will. If I were to drop cash on a luxury car right now, I’d buy a CTS.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          Well, you are more “Ford leaning”, just like I am “GM leaning”.

          We have some GM and Ford *people* here on TTAC and they are much more insane.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I think if I add it up, I’m more GM. I prefer Lincoln of the 60’s but then by 66 (Toronado) I prefer the GM-Oldsmobile look all the way through to the mid 80’s. Then I like Lincoln from 85-89, GM 90-96 and Lincoln 95-97. At that time, Ford only made one thing I liked, the TC.

            After that, I feel like Ford got it together better in general than GM, and produces better things than GM today (can’t just say Lincoln anymore since they don’t make much that’s desirable.) So I am back on Ford.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Neither one has got it right today. Ford seems to be having worsening quality control and reliability issues, and GM still has traces of its old supplier management and makes woefully inconsistent product planning decisions. I guess I think GM products are better when they happen to hit a sweet spot but Ford has a much better sense of the market.

            No full-line maker is really hitting it out of the park right now, though; they all have issues. From VW electrical systems/cheating/abysmal US product planning to Toyota styling to Honda hyperconservatism to FCA build quality and short-term thinking to Hyundai/Kia stagnance over the last couple of years, no one’s perfect.

        • 0 avatar

          For the same price, I got a 2010 CTS Performance Package car, 72k, off a new car dealer lot. Car was a trade in by a good customer-carfax clean and showed dealer oil changes every 5k. Car needed front brakes, four shocks, and a set of spark plugs. The guy took great care of the car overall…perfect inside and out.
          Car has adaptive headlights, a decent stereo-bose, and I’m not usually a fan…and a slightly clunky Windows automotive nav system but the best in car bluetooth sound quality ever. Oh, and 300 hp sent to the correct wheels. The RWD cars have the steering rack of the V models, and once the FE3 shocks were installed, all good. Carfax showed car was on the lot for over 60 days, mostly because “RWD”. That helped on the price.

          You even get a platform that is just about current….there aren’t a lot of CT6 out there yet…..and light years ahead of Panther anything. Bonus is Caddy-quiet on the highway.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      I’m not ready to pay original full sticker for a 94 SS.

      My uncle bought a ’96 and parked it in his garage as an investment, he was usually pretty good with getting money out of cars, but I don’t believe he made his money back when he sold it with nearly no miles on it.

      • 0 avatar
        jacob_coulter

        A lot of people really thought those Impalas were going to be worth big money and did the same thing.

        When you look at them, there’s a few holdouts asking crazy money that I doubt they will ever see, but most are pretty cheap now. There was probably a narrow time frame where they were getting big bucks but it’s long since passed.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          I don’t think the story is quite over yet. ’90s Japanese nostalgia iron is starting to appreciate and I think the domestics will eventually follow suit. There’s going to be more interest in any collector vehicle 20-40 years after it’s built… that’s when the people who lusted after one during their first driving years can actually afford it.

          I just bought a ’95 Acura Legend for exactly that reason. They’re certainly not investment grade but values on the good ones are surprisingly robust and not going down. I bought mine cheap(er) because it had very high miles for its condition.

          • 0 avatar
            jacob_coulter

            Cars are dumb investments. I would easily wager 99% of the time when people try this, they would have done far better just dropping that money into an index fund instead.

            There’s always that one story, but I would treat the car enthusiast hobby as something you’re going to lose money on but enjoy anyway.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Oh, totally. I don’t expect to get remotely what I paid for my Legend when I sell it, let alone the money/blood/sweat/tears I will put in to make it drive well and look immaculate.

            Already done timing belt, water pump, spark plugs, total intake and EGR cleaning (essential for healthy head gaskets), valve covers, and some rear suspension parts. Still to come: struts, motor and transmission mounts, brakes, tires, and wheels. I’m also converting the existing manual climate control to OEM automatic using all OEM parts, and will add OEM keyless entry if I can find a unit in good shape. I don’t expect to get a single dollar from any of the above.

          • 0 avatar
            jacob_coulter

            You just said you bought an Acura Legend because you think it will appreciate in value for collectors.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            I was unclear. “For exactly that reason” refers to “that’s when the people who lusted after one during their first driving years can actually afford it.”

            I don’t remotely expect my 185,000-mile, L-trim, automatic sedan to ever appreciate or be collectible. A stickshift LS Coupe or GS sedan, maybe.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    RUNS LIKE NEW WITH NO CHECK ENGINE LIGHTS!!!

    Goody! I’ll just trust that and make a bid sight unseen.

    I’m somewhere between intrigued and appalled. It’s obviously been loved, but has it been loved too much and in the wrong ways?

    I thought the biggest draw to Panthers was the legendary durability, and it seems like aftermarket turbos and transmissions kind of cancel that. The trunk is a bit alarming as well, with XPLOD subwoofer and battery just kind of hanging out in the open.

    However, with relocated battery undoubtedly giving it perfect 50/50 weight distribution, this is now a formidable RWD attack sedan ready to show a late model M5 a thing or two at the track. Maybe $16K is a steal after all! Jack or Mr. Mental Ward, we have an emergency impromptu track test in need of your assistance!

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Given the execution of the mods on this car, that relocated battery might need to be re-relocated in the future.

      Otherwise that speaker ruins the large trunk, the manual ruining the semi-comforting ride, the turbos and spaghetti hoses ruining the engine bay.

      I am quite sure the CEL light is off, it isnt hard to remove a bulb!

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    For a brief time I owned a ’94 Buick Roadmaster and a ’01 MGM. The MGM was bought for my wife who wanted a barge cruiser like my car.

    The Roadmaster was the clear winner of the two – better engine, smoother ride, and much more comfortable seats. It also had more “presence” on the road. I still miss that car and put it on my top level of cars that I have owned.

    The Marquis, on the other hand, got better gas mileage – hey I hit 29mpg on the highway… once. And with lower miles was the car that got to stay when it came time to do a trade-in on a Honda Element. The MGM was also really reliable and actually handled quite nicely, much more so than the Roadmaster.

    I’ve always dreamed of a doing a 5.4L swap into the Marquis, or adding a supercharger/turbocharger but I had better things to do with my $$$.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    “I’ve yet to drive a Panther.”

    This explains the Panther Love. Panther Hate is more appropriate for these sorry things, which were state-of-the-art in 1979 and have improved only around the edges since.

    MGMs (without busted struts) drive like waterbeds on busted struts. P71s (and, I assume, Marauders) crash around nicely but don’t have the structural stiffness to back up their crashiness with actual handling. Non-Marauder mod motors manage to combine no low-end torque with asthma at the high end. Interior quality in any version is utter crap, with respect to both materials and assembly. Packaging is genuinely terrible: there’s very little rear legroom despite all that length, and the trunk is huge but so weirdly shaped it’s hard to put a lot of things in it.

    I exaggerate a bit, but only a bit, and for the sake of bringing a bit of realism into a nostalgia-clouded discussion.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      “MGMs…drive like waterbeds on busted struts. P71s (and, I assume, Marauders) crash around nicely but don’t have the structural stiffness… Non-Marauder mod motors manage to combine no low-end torque with asthma at the high end…”

      I’m chuckling. I’d love to see this expanded into a full length review of the Panther platform and its variants. Dueling Sajeev and dal articles posted back to back to show the curious dichotomy of opinion on this website.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      The appeal of the Panther is that they are a blank slate, part availabilty/cost is AWESOME, insurance/initial purchase price is low, and they are very easy to work on.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      They’re fine as cheap cars or derby cars, but they’re not something I’d collect, their heater cores and window regulators are a joke.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      You beat me to it, these are epically terrible cars. I also have way more than my fair share due to Hertz odd ideas as to what constitutes an “upgrade”.

      As I have said before, nobody who isn’t wearing a uniform and isn’t getting paid to should have to drive a Panther. Simply wretched miserable excuses for a car, the lot of them.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    These were a big disappointment because the performance was just not there. 300hp was a decent number then, but I remember the 0-60 times when magazines tested them being pretty lame, like mid 7 second range. About as fast as a similar era Lexus ES with a 3.0 V6.

    Looks like they could have found a way to put a worked over 5.4 in there and really made people take notice. You could just throw a set of 4.10 rear gears in a “regular” Mercury and probably get the same performance.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Wide gear spacing on the 4-speed, tall final-drive ratio, and a narrow torque band made that 300 hp less than it seemed. It would have done OK with one of today’s transmissions and a shorter final drive.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      A big part of the problem with the Marauder is the lack of the 4.10 gears it was designed to have. The bean counters said no that will hurt MPG too much and forced the 3.55 gears that were used in production. That wouldn’t have been so bad but they were already committed to the really tall rear tires. That meant that the effective ratio was essentially the same 3.23 as used in the HPP and most police cars.

      The other thing that hampered performance was the bean counters forcing the standard 2″ H pipe into the system that consisted of higher flow cats and mufflers along with larger diameter tail pipes. The same engine in the Aviator had the same advertised 302 HP but through a single pipe. Usually on the Panthers the dual exhaust bumps up HP 10-20 depending on year. Though most people who replace the H pipe with 2.5″ are seeing at least 20 at the rear wheels.

      The 2v 5.4 (and 2v 6.8) will fit but it wouldn’t have provided as a big of a bump in power. They did mock up a supercharged 2v 5.4 but they deemed that “not production line compatible” and too expensive.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    This thing is absolute garbage, $16k for a $1000 police car, with millions of extra under hood hoses and many badly installed mods.

    I’d sooner trust a $500 Marquis than this thing, Panthers are just “okay” to me, but to make one into a “sporty sleeper sedan” is to defeat the whole point of owning one.

    BTW As far as driving these is concerned, old models drove like heavy Citroen 2CVs, soft with TONs of bodyroll. Newer police spec cars are just stiff, still mediocre truck handling with a detached steering wheel, but at least the brakes hold up.

    • 0 avatar
      VolandoBajo

      My 97 Grand Marquis rides softly, but without any noticeable body roll, on stock suspension, even in high speed turns on the interstate, when I push it through corners. It DOES NOT tilt noticeably to the side, even when cornering hard enough for passengers find the G-pull quite noticeable. Almost like on rails.

      Not sure about other newer or older models, but they got it right that year. And I didn’t get it for $500…paid three times that. Probably a bit below market, but they are out there in good condition for under twice that all day long and twice on Sundays.

      And the car has zero damage or rust, and the only mechanical issue is that it is going to need better rotors when I do the front brakes. The interior doesn’t look brand new, but it doesn’t look like its going on twenty either. I wish now I had bought it new, and had driven it for the first 180K miles or so, as well as now.

  • avatar
    kit4

    They’re worthless piles of junk. When I worked at Enterprise, absolutely everyone hated being stuck with one. They were built shoddy and drove shoddy.

    • 0 avatar
      VolandoBajo

      I call total BS on that. I rented a great deal from Enterprise in the Philadelphia area from about 1995 to 2005, +/-, and NEVER saw a Mercury or Town Car, and I don’t ever recall seeing a Crown Vic, either.

      And as the proud second owner of a 97 Grand Marquis that is coming up on 200K. With a mild chip tune on it, it clearly has more go than a relative’s 2014 Cadillac SRX, gets about 10% more mpg on the road, is as comfortable, and has all the so-called modern appurtenances (power options, intermittent wipers, digital locking, keyfob entry, etc.), and is at least as comfortable. Plus he runs high test, and mine runs fine on regular, for about a 15% savings.

      I would have gladly rented a Panther platform vehicle from Enterprise, if they had any available. And they are definitely more comfortable than the motley array of serviceable but unremarkable vehicles that they did offer.

      Plus it is logically inconsistent on your part to imply that the cars are so well-loved by so many drivers, and yet maintain that EVERYONE who ever rented one at Enterprise hated them, without exception.

      Who peed on your Wheaties when it comes to Panthers?

      Oh, was that you at that traffic light, that I blew your doors in while you were in one of those allegedly sporty and “peppy” Japanese cars? Or was it a you in one of those late model Buick sedans that seem to think it is both there duty and right to outrun me at a traffic light but never do?

      Before any spectators get up in arms about “street racing”, I live in an area where there are several places where three lanes merge into two, or two into one, near traffic lights. So there are ample opportunities for many drivers to try to avoid getting stuck in a pack of cars during moderate congestion. And an “old” Panther” will get the job done against a wide variety of other vehicles.

      Yes, in case you haven’t guessed it, I’m a “Panther fan-boi”, if you will, but not without good reason.

  • avatar
    SavageATL

    Completely agree with dal20402 and kit4. Many times over the years when I went shopping for a new car, my first stop was Pantherland, to look at Marquis or Town Cars. When I was looking for a new car in ’01 I looked at two year old Town cars. A lot of the buttons/plastic trim bits had broken. On Two year old cars. Ford’s engines in these cars always had an agricultural feel while the rest of the car was plasticky and cheap, and the steering felt plasticky and cheap. The last time we bought a new car in ’11 we looked at one and the visor mirror was broken, on a brand new Marquis. These look nice but do NOT drive well nor do the engines sound good. A well kept final years of the box ’91-92 Brougham or Road whale Roadmaster or Caprice is a MUCH better drive. Much more solid feeling cars with better interior components.

    • 0 avatar
      crtfour

      Agree with your assessment. I’m temporarily driving an ’07 Town Car (selling it for my grandmother). The engine is noisy, the whole door panel creaks when you pull the doors closed and it’s work to keep the car going straight down the interstate due to the constant steering corrections required. It rides great & gets 25mpg highway, but other than that I don’t get the widespread panther love. Hard to believe that people were paying 40-50k?? for these new.

      • 0 avatar
        55_wrench

        Our LS430 blows it into the weeds on all counts including gas mileage. Biggest difference is the midrange torque and you actually get a rush of acceleration as you head towards redline.

        The 4.6 just made more noise.

        Yeah they were more expensive back in the day but now you can snag one for decent money and end up with a much better 10 year old car than the Ford was when it was new.

  • avatar
    kmars2009

    For $16,000.00 I could find a SWEET Mercedes Benz W140 S500 with low mileage. I think it’s a far better in quality, and pedigree…IMO.
    Panthers are okay…just not at that price point…regardless of rarity.

  • avatar
    Seth Parks

    As a former owner of an 04 Marauder, I understand the motivation to convert to a manual and add a bunch of HP. The car would have been more fulfilling with a little more go. But these mods are a miscarriage of enthusiasm. And even as a crazed manual transmission fanatic, no Crown Vic, Grand Marquis, or Marauder should ever get a manual. The AT is part of their appeal. The Marauder is a particularly unique car and beyond the most minor alterations should remain stock.

  • avatar
    Panther Platform

    I’m still schlepping along with my “Marauder lite” – a 2003 Mercury Grand Marquis LSE. No mods except an aftermarket CD/radio unit! The car handles much better than the typical grandmother GM and with its more aggressive gearing the car is no slouch despite it’s modest 239 HP. It is a joy to drive on long trips. I think I have the best Panther!

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    “TWEEN TURBO!!!” Says it all…

    It’s been sold prior for $11,900 and before that, $4,694

    usedcadabra.com/cars/citroen-c/174189-2003-mercury-marauder-6-speed-manual-tween-turbo.html

    ebay.com/itm/Mercury-Other-4dr-Sdn-/131675428390?_ul=SV

    It’s been whoring around for a while. But if they’d gone the “Terminator” route, then they’d have something. The supercharged 4.6 from the same year Cobra would’ve been straight plug-n-play and a worthwhile and interesting conversion. You could get that all-forged-internals 4.6 from junkyards with the the Tremec trans included. Now THAT would be a true Hot Rod.

    It’s not clear what they were thinking going “TWEEN TURBO”. The stock 4.6 can’t take more than 5 lbs of boost, if that. Then what injectors, calibration/mapping etc?

  • avatar
    Shawng

    I love my Marauder and all the other owners seem to agree. My goal is to have one in all four colors. That one is certainly odd with the six speed and ugly trunk arrangement. I drive it 1000 miles each week and it is fast and handles well. As a former state trooper it reminds me most of an automatic version the old Mustang LX as opposed to the Crown Vic or Police Interceptor. I feel bad for the young guys who drive the SUVs, new Ford PIs or the horrid Chevys…those Dodges harken back to the 70s Mopar though. Anyway, I understand the groans the Marauders can bring but they are so cheap and fun.

  • avatar
    outback_ute

    No mention of power, so it has probably not been dynoed and tuned properly. Sounds like there is still a lot of work to be done.

    @Scoutdude, Ford Australia had a similar choice for this era (2002) engine choice, and went for their own build 5.4 4v to get 390 hp for performance models with the 5.4 3v (295 hp) as the base V8. Trouble was the engine was heavy and bulky, but they can make decent power and sound good.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The problem is that the 4v 5.4 won’t go in w/o other mods to the car ie a new HVAC box and changes to the brake booster. The other problem is that the body wouldn’t drop on a completed chassis with that engine in there unless they did even more mods like new inner fenders.

      Of course the Coyote eclipses all the other versions and is set to be the power plant of choice for vehicles that came with any version of the 4.6 or 5.4. There is already a Marauder and a Crown Vic that have been so equipped. The Marauder has a 6sp AT too while the Crown Vic uses a Mustang manual trans.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      It looks like the seller just bought the Marauder for a fast/easy flip, with zero knowledge of its power output or if it was properly tuned. He just knows it runs OK.

      It may have little to no power increase, over stock. The original engine isn’t designed for boost anyway, and no forged internals.

  • avatar
    punkybrewstershubby aka Troy D.

    I absolutely enjoy my 2011 Crown Vic LX as a daily driver and have for the last 40k miles when a purchased her 4 years ago just under 35k.

    With the granny gear 2.73 rear and stock 4.6 it is no thrill ride, but very few cars on the road have the “traffic cred” as the Crown does. I love it!


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