By on January 2, 2018

Tomorrow will mark the fourth anniversary of the crash in which I totaled my 2009 Lincoln Town Car Signature Limited and severely injured my bride-to-be, the financial artist currently known as Danger Girl. If I could change any day in my life, it would be that one. I could quibble all day about the physics behind the crash and the reasons why it turned out to be so painful, but the baseline truth is this: I didn’t need to be out there. Not on that road, not in that weather, not with my son and my girlfriend in the car. It was an entirely avoidable decision. The crash changed the whole way I approach travel choices, particularly with regards to my family.

Watching the Town Car utterly disintegrate under the impact of a Hyundai Sonata to the passenger door has more or less cured me of the romantic affliction known around these parts as “Panther Love.” It’s also ruined any plans I had of restoring a large body-on-frame General Motors sedan from the Seventies or Eighties. I’d be fine to drive something like that all by myself but I already own several unsafe vehicles for solo operation; they’re called “motorcycles.” Any dreams I had of stylin’ in a 1975 Gran Ville or 1991 Cadillac Brougham will have to wait until the next life.

With all of that said, I still wouldn’t expect anybody else to give up on their affection for big Fords, which leads us to this week’s question.


Kenwood asks,

Hi Jack,
I’ve been thinking of adding a Town Car or Mercury Grand Marquis to the fleet, but have been reading about their weaknesses — such as the intake manifold and trans issues.

Did you experience any “typical panther issues” with your TC and how long did you own it before the unfortunate incident?

Happy New Year!

Answering the questions in order:

I’m not sure what the “typical panther issues” are. I took the car in for unscheduled service just once: to fix a left rear door lock that wasn’t unlocking under power. A very minor thing, and it was solved in an hour or two by the local dealer under warranty.

How long did I have the car? I took delivery on September 2, 2010. At that point the TC had, if I recall correctly, about 21,000 miles on it. One day, four months, and three years later, the odometer was showing about 112,000 miles. Blame a 78-mile daily commute and about a dozen trips to Nashville along the way.

For those of you who own Hondas and Toyotas, the idea of covering 90,000 miles with just one minor issue probably seems unremarkable. That wasn’t the case for me. I’d just come off a string of high-end German cars that rarely went 120 days without something going wrong. My 2006 Phaeton was probably the worst of the bunch, spending well over 30 total days in unscheduled dealer custody between 2006 and 2009, but pretty much everything I had over the previous decade needed some sort of dealership attention.

The Town Car, by contast, just kept going like the proverbial Energizer bunny. I don’t even think I got around to changing the brake pads until the 90k mark, despite the fact that I ran it around a few racetracks. I never changed the transmission fluid. Oil changes were done in my driveway whenever I had time, which wasn’t that often. The vast majority of my cars have never seen so much as a “laser wash” but I ran the Lincoln through the old power-brush carwash next to the Honda Service Center in Marysville and never worried about fine-line scratching. It went through the OEM tires in about 55,000 miles, chewed through one set of Goodyear Eagle “Ultra Grip” snow rubber, and was about one-quarter of the way through a set of 2011 Mustang factory-take-off wheels and tires when the crash happened.

It never failed to start, never stumbled or hesitated, never flashed a code. It returned up to 22 mpg on the freeway but could easily dip into the mid-teens during extended local use. The interior showed signs of wear but never looked ratty or beat-up. When an employee of mine hit a deer with it, the deer died instantly but the Town Car soldiered on with just a broken headlight and bent-up hood for well over a year before I bothered to get it repaired.

I asked a lot of my Lincoln, having purchased it at a time in my life when I was dating a lot of people and traveling a lot of places and making far too many commitments to far too many people. It served as limousine, pickup truck, and airport runner. I’ve never owned a vehicle that was cheaper to run and likely never will. Over the years, I came to love the simplicity of its operation. Just open the door — because why lock a car that nobody wanted to steal? — then twist the key, step on the brake, and pull the column shifter into “D.”

The one time my Town Car failed me, it did so because it was being asked to perform outside its original design. When the Panther platform was cooked up for the first time, the national speed limit was 55 miles per hour. Ford’s engineers never would have considered the idea of it being stopped dead in the middle of a road and being struck in the front door and B-pillar by a car that was likely doing 70 mph or better. I don’t know what kind of luck I’d have had with anything else, although if I could go back in time and put a different car in that situation, I’d choose my 5,400-pound, over-engineered Phaeton without thinking twice about it.

Today, the job that my Lincoln did is performed by a pair of vehicles. For light trips, I have my 2014 Accord Coupe, chosen because it was the safest standard-sized car on the market at the time. For long hauls and heavy work, I have the Silverado. I don’t know how it would do in a similar situation but I hope never to find out.

I suspect the answer that Kenwood is really asking boils down to, “Should I take a chance on a late-model Panther?” With the exception of the side-impact business, I don’t see why not. If you’re shopping for a Lincoln, try to get one built in Wixom — not because my St. Therese-built TC was poorly built, but because a Lincoln should be American-made if possible. If you’re shopping for a Vic or a Marquis, just don’t be a wacker. Other than that, Kenwood, feel free to fall in Panther Love.

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59 Comments on “Ask Jack: Walking With a Panther?...”


  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    A minor nitpick. Your Panther was most likely manufactured/assembled in St Thomas, Ontario.

    Ste Therese was a General Motors assembly facility located in the province of Quebec, which closed in 2002.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Thank you sir, you are absolutely correct.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      St Thomas, ON produced my former 71 Pinto.

      Like a motorcycle, it was very safe until crashed. Ironically, as a young driver blinded by sunlight, I fender-bendered it by driving in reverse into a rental Ford Fairmont. The Pinto fared better.

      As for safety, any car can spear another with bad results. I think the 1/4-offset test now in effect is a great safety idea.

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    Hope Danger Girl is doing better now, cars can be replaced.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I loved my LT-1 powered 1994 Buick Roadmaster, and, to a lesser extent, my 2001 Mercury Grand Marquis LS. Owning both of them at the same time was an interesting comparison in car manufacturing. Preferred the interior / handling (ha!) of the Marquis, while I liked the seat (support-wise) and the LT-1 engine in the Buick.

    Would I own either one again? Meh.

    Ever since I’ve had a car with stability control it’s hard to go back to the days of yore – my Marquis did have T/C which was nice. Add in the side air bags and the better mileage of the current vehicles, I’m having a difficult time considering something older for my next car.

    But I still miss the full-frame feel, and the sheer “bigness” of those B-body / Panthers.

    • 0 avatar
      CaddyDaddy

      ……hmmmmm. The MY 91 B Bodies are a great step above the Panther Chassis as fast as overall structure, crashworthiness, handling, power, comfort etc. early LT-1 optispark and 4L60 issues aside. A Caprice is a strong unibody sitting on top a full frame rated for heavy towing. Ask the Phoenix Police Department about exploding Crown Vic’s and why they would rebuild their Caprices to run another Service term.

      Later model years CV’s were vastly improved for reliability and handling and rear end collision protection but, their basic weak structure and Inability to meet modern crash testing killed the Panther Chassis. B Bodies were killed because of silly profit taking for increased Tahoe / Suburban capacity at Arlington Assembly.

      I’ve owned and wrenched on both. Still got my 96 B.

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    I got a very bad concussion from hitting my head against the side glass of my 1996 Camry. It is small inside so the glass is right next to my head. And it is a nose-heavy car (V6) without ESC and fishtailed on braking. No side-impact airbags.

    I think hitting it made me permanently slightly retarded (slower) and screwed up my memory for a while.

    The 1996 Camry was a gem. Even the lower door panels were soft-touch plastics with very few seams. Never rattled. Nearly 250k miles and it was quiet and smoother than my 2010 4-cylinder Camry. But the accident made me value car safety so much more. The next car, I evaluated emergency car handling, proper tires, brighter headlamps that corner, the roof strength (objective tests by IIHS), etc. It may cost money, but it makes me much less stressed. I felt exposed to too much risk before.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Safety for the incoming kids was a primary reason I sold my 96 Camry well before its expiration date. Although if I were to take that to its full conclusion I should have bought something like Jack’s Silveradosaurus and drive it like a granny in the right lane to minimize rollover risk.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      I encountered snap oversteer on a brand new Camry back in 1991. I was delivering the car to it’s owner and while on a fairly tight curve applied some brake to slow down to avoid a stopped car (turning left). This is something I had done routinely in my H-body Mopar with no ill effects, ever.

      I gained a whole new respect for that generation of Camry after that.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      I took pride in keeping a 1990 Spirit in nice shape, and was driving it instead of our much nicer and safer vehicle, when I fell asleep at relatively high speed. No airbags, no stability control, a tiny bit loose in the rear axle. I was very lucky to survive with bumps and bruises, besides, like you, hitting my head on the side window. I decided right then that anyone who can afford a newer safer car should realize any such attachment to an older car is not worth the risk your life. Or others.

  • avatar
    raisingAnarchy

    “For light trips, I have my 2014 Accord Coupe, chosen because it was the safest standard-sized car on the market at the time.”

    Forgive me if I’m falling prey to marketing, but was a Subaru really not the safest one on the market? There are plenty of reasons not to get an Accord-sized Subaru over the Accord, but I figured safety wouldn’t be one of them.

    Also Jack, I’m still looking forward to hearing about how I can sign up for your track instruction! Thanks.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    A 70 mph side-impact in the door and b-post and you all survived – thank God. Despite the physical, emotional, and financial pain that the accident inflicted, it is still an amazing outcome. I honestly don’t know how you could expect a significantly better result from a Phaeton, Accord, or Silverado – no vehicle is designed to fully protect passengers in that kind of crash, because it would require the size and weight and roof mounted door of a M1 Abrams tank. The many TTAC and R&T readers that enjoy your writing are grateful for the strength of that Panther. May 2018 be accident free for everyone – Happy New Year.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      stingray65, a friend of mine is currently suffering from a concussion from his Ford F-150 getting rear ended by a raised Jeep Wrangler. The F-150 is plenty strong and only suffered minor damage, but not much crushed to help absorb the impact. Instead, one BOF vehicle with metal bumpers and brush guards directly hit the metal bumper and frame of the other vehicle, shoving it forward. The same crash would have totaled an Accord or even a Phaeton, but the crushed trunk would likely have lessened my friend’s head injury. If I remember correctly, the passenger compartment of Jack’s Town Car crushed/deformed/flew apart in a way that caused injury while newer cars are designed and tested to minimize these injuries.

      • 0 avatar
        silentsod

        The TC’s frame broke and crushed in the front passenger side of the vehicle quite badly.

        Count me as another one glad that Jack, DG, and his son survived.

    • 0 avatar
      SirRaoulDuke

      I know of only one car designed to take that kind of impact…POTUS rides in it, it’s not really a car, and it weighs ten tons.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      +1

      Those kinds of impacts are so far beyond design parameters, as to render the outcome pretty much entirely up to lucky and/or not random specifics.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Go for it.

    It takes like two hours to change the inkake manifold on a 4.6L so I wouldn’t let that scare you and I think that issues was fixed around 2003 anyway.

    The AOD(E) transmission does seem to have some premature failure issues but the 4R70 that came out in ’95 is generally fine and the 4R75 that was equipped in 2004(?) onward is pretty tough.

    The hardest thing with Panthers these days is finding one that isn’t either a former rental car or an 8-owner unmaintained beater.

    • 0 avatar
      patman

      Just a heads up, the updated 4.6L intakes eventually fail too.

      There’s a gasket between the aluminum coolant crossover tube and the intake and the material around the gasket cracks and it can develop leaks under the thermostat housing or on the passenger side at that coolant passage. It doesn’t fail as spectacularly as the original all plastic intakes did put they can/will eventually develop a leak and need to be replaced again.

      I put a used PI intake on my ’96 Mustang and got nearly a decade out of it before it started leaking. I thought it’d be easy to score another intake at the pick-n-pull with all the Crown Vics/Grand Marquis/Town Cars they have but all the good ones were already gone and any that remained had similar cracks.

      I’d plan on eventually needing to replace the intake on any 1996+ 4.6L 2V with the composite passenger car intake and I’d recommend a new FRPP intake if possible (I think only Dorman has the earlier non-PI style intakes now) and don’t even look at used ones anymore.

      Yeah, it’s an easy job on my Mustang and it shouldn’t be any harder on a Panther. I’m not sure how you turn it into an 8+ hour job. The trucks/SUVs probably aren’t as much fun with half the motor under the cowl though.

      • 0 avatar
        TCowner

        Although the 1996-2001 4.6’s had a specific issue with the intake, the newer ones are not common to fail. After the fix in 2002, it is rare to see intake failures.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Two hours to change the intake manifold on a Ford 4.6 V8 is wishful thinking. I replaced my 97 Crown Vic intake manifold and it took longer than that just to remove the components that were in the way including the wiper cowl. When I looked at the job, the book hours were something like 8 to remove and replace. It took me longer but I was in no big hurry.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      The one I did wasn’t installed in a vehicle at the time, but 8 hours for the job seems like a lot of padding.

      Either way, if we just call it “an afternoon of time” I don’t think that’s anything scary enough to avoid the car.

  • avatar
    FerrariLaFerrariFace

    I read “Panther Love” and thought, “60% of the time, it works every time.”
    Am I a bad person?

  • avatar
    TCowner

    I am on my 3rd Panther as a daily driver over the past 15 years, 1997, 2004, and now a 2008 MGM, and echo Jack’s comments about them. It’s hard to find a more comfortable, reliable, and cheap to own/maintain vehicle than a Panther.

    One year ago I lost the 2004 Town Car Ultimate to a 45 mph side impact when I got T-boned going through an intersection. Obviously Jack’s accident was much more severe, but mine was a direct hit on the driver side and I was fortunate enough to walk away due to the side airbags. The car was toast, having spun in the air and impacting the other curb, knocking off the passenger side rear wheel and shifting the axle.

  • avatar
    TwoBelugas

    On of my daily drivers is a 2006 MGM, bought it new. in 12 years the only time it failed me was a dead battery in year 11.

    My other daily is a 300. it does take side impact better as a modern unibody car so the kids go in that car.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      That’s funny TwoBelugas, my father has those two cars as well. I like both (maybe the 300 a little more), but the only thing that irks me about the MGM is the lack of a left foot rest. I can never get my left leg positioned in a long term comfortable way in that car.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    The cars are nothing if not reliable and durable. Reliability is last on the list of Panther faults.

    If you otherwise like the car, there is no (mechanical) reason not to buy one. Of course, a pre-purchase inspection is a good idea for any used car.

    I’ve seen former livery TCs with 350k on them or more. They’re reliable and cheap to repair if they do have any mechanical issues.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    I had a side impact crash in my 2014 Fusion Energi this summer. Instead of snow, it was a rainstorm on I-75 in Florida that triggered the incident, and it was a Malibu that got me in the driver’s door. The side airbag fired, and the window shattered, but I escaped unscathed, other than some temporary hearing loss from the airbag. My car survived with $8000 worth of damage, since the Malibu missed the center pillar, but the Malibu was destroyed.

    No way in Hades am I or any other member of my family going to use an older car as a daily driver. You can get a very good deal on a midsize car with up to date safety equipment right now, there’s no reason to settle for less.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      On the other hand, I got t-boned in my ’04 Mazda3 quite a few years ago for a similar cost of repair. I didn’t feel a thing. Not even a bruise.

      It’s hard to imagine it could have been too serious an impact if the Fusion wasn’t written off. Still, your logic makes sense. I’d much rather be in the Fusion for anything serious.

  • avatar
    cliff731

    “Panther Love” is evident in my driveway… with a 2001 Mercury GM and a newer 2008 Ford CV residing there. Odometers show about 175k and 33k miles respectively. I can not fault the reliability of either of these and the intake manifold gremlins have not hit the Merc yet. The only issue I’ve had with it was the “coil on plug” ignition components, which sooner or later is something you’ll replace if you drive a 4.6L Panther. Just a “normal maintenance” category thing for these cars if so equipped… usually needing attention at about the 100k mark… and some might run much further with the original factory components. The Crown Vic has become my daily driver… even with a 2008 S-197 Mustang Bullitt also in the driveway, this Panther is my preferred choice for interstate travel and long road trips!

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    The fact remains that the TC is still a lot safer than a lot of other cars that are still on the road.

    The intake manifold is the only potential more expensive repair. The trans will go 300k or more with occasional servicing. The Manual Lever Position Sensor can fail and cause strange operation but is a quick and cheap fix. Unfortunately sometimes people let it go on for too long and it kills the transmission while other times shops just sell the customer a new transmission because they can.

    The other weak spots are the window regulators, which are a easy and cheap fix and the air suspension which is more often or not just the O-rings another cheap and easy fix that is often up-sold into bag replacement or coil conversion w/new shocks that are “tuned for the coils”.

    So yeah as long as you stay away from those that up-sell you into things that aren’t the real problem they will just keep going.

    I’ve had more than I can count and have racked up an easy 300k behind the wheel of a panther not to mention the wheel time of the rest of the family which makes it top 500K. Between those 8 cars ranging from 92;s to 05’s I’ve replaced 1 starter, 1 water pump, 1 alternator, 1 fuel pump, 1 MLPS, 1 coil, 1 set of mufflers and pipes, 1 ABS module, 1 sway bar end link, 4 or 5? window regulators, 2 fuel door release buttons, several batteries, bulbs, fuel and air filters, and several sets of tires and brakes. I also cleaned a couple of the power mirror switches, rather than replacing them. A few transmission fluid changes and of course more than a few oil and filter changes.

    It does seem like a lot but keep in mind that is for 8 cars used as daily drivers over a period of 23 years. The worst was the one that I owned the longest number of years/miles with one of the 92’s that I used from 00-13 until about ~200k miles being the recipient of the starter, water pump, one of the fuel door buttons, the exhaust system, and 2 or 3 of the window regulators.

  • avatar
    azmtns

    My parents had the Merc version with very low miles. I was not particularly impressed with it.
    Great torque on take off
    Huge trunk
    Quite a bit of wind noise during freeway driving
    Numb steering/handling
    Not a particularly roomy backseat for a large car
    Rear air bag suspension replaced under warranty
    All coil packs replaced under warranty
    Intake manifold problem fixed under warranty

    But if the price is right . . .

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    I previously owned a 2003 CVPI and 2005 MGM. Both were mechanically meh. These are all items that I paid a mechanic to fix, even if I shouldn’t have

    2003 CVPI, owned from 115-150k:
    Exhaust manifold
    8 separate coils all failing at different times
    Transmission
    Misfiring for no diagnosable reason (35 mph was jittery)
    Heater core
    Timing chain guides
    Ball joints
    Shocks
    Springs
    Sway bar links
    Differential noise
    Rubber brake line (brakes up and quit on the highway, foot went right to the floor)

    2005 MGM, owned from 64-80k:
    Headlight module
    Intake manifold (white smoke and consuming coolant)
    Transmission
    Vibrating for no diagnosable reason (This time at highway speed)
    Heater core

    The CVPI had stiff shocks, the MGM had soft squishy shocks, but in both cases the body on frame bushings combined with the solid axle didn’t do much to keep impacts out, and both cars body rolled significantly. Which is fine, but it better ride good as a result, and they don’t. Jiggling, rumbling, crashing, bouncing. I never drove an 80’s Ford Ranger, but I imagine its like this.

    CVPI had dual exhaust, a little louder than the MGM, but neither were really fast. Quicker than average, but the long geared in the transmission prevented them from efficiently rowing through gears. First gear is a long pull straight to sixty, but it gets up and goes if your rolling along at 35 and punch it. The V8 was comparable to a 2000’s era V6, like a 3800, and it drank like one, always getting a decent mid 20’s MPG. Squooshy brake pedal too, but nothing terrible.

    CVPI of course had a base rubberized interior, road noise was loud and lots of rattles. Front seats were like seats from a van, they were fine. Back seats were vinyl and were EXTREMELY comfortable. WTF Ford? Back seat not that roomy, 300/Charger has more, Accord/Camry has WAY more. MGM had not as many rattles, but the front seat was impossible to get comfortable in. It’s nice on the test drive, but they have no lower back support and the left edge of the bench drops right off, putting painful pressure on some leg nerve.

    Also, I didn’t mentioned, I must have gone through 2 sets of tires on the CV, constant nails and side bubbles. This never happened on subsequent cars.

    I’ve been in love with them since I had a toy CVPI cop car with blinking strobe lights, but seriously these cars are pieces of crap, don’t buy one.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I could see having a Crown Victoria LX Sport around but I’d have it as a “fun car” and likely put just enough miles on it to change the oil once a year. But I’ve already got a 50 year old Mustang for that – which reminds me I ought to use this mild winter we’re having to try to figure out the “rough start when engine hot” issue I’m having.

    • 0 avatar
      Panther Platform

      I still have my 2003 Grand Marquis LSE which is the Mercury version of the CV LX Sport. It only has 106,000 miles so it has a long, long way to go. It is my “fun car” and a 2011 Focus is my commuter car. I’ve had the Mercury for ten years I’m not sure I would like the soft ride of a typical Panther (Although I liked the 97 TC I had for awhile). If something happens to my Mercury I’ll have to get an LX sport, a police interceptor, or another LSE.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    They’re pretty bullet proof. I drove a 1996 Grand Marquis for almost 11 years and miss it every day. The only issues that are absolutely common to all members of the breed are power window regulators (all 4 broke over time) and the the plastic intake manifold. Otherwise, oil and filter changes were pretty much it. Any time I felt the tranny start to slip a little off the line, I’d have the transmission fluid drained and filled and she’d be back to normal.

    My current lease is up in 11 months, and I have the opportunity to buy a one-owner 2001 Accord with just 109,000 miles on it that’s always been garaged for $2,000. My practical brain is screaming to take that deal, but my heart wants me to go find a Town Car or Grand Marquis.

  • avatar
    amca

    I just had a very enjoyable rental experience on Turo.com with a 2006 Ford Police Interceptor that bore ghostly markings of its old police livery (“Call 911” and “K9 Unit” could still be read easily), its police pusher bumper up front and the original door handle free rear inner door panels. Sadly, contrary to the listing that brought us to the car, the searchlights and rear window bars had been removed.

    The odd showed 122,000 miles, which, given the age of the car, was probably really 1,122,000 miles. the car was well maintained and drove really well. Solid at 70, no weird noises.

    All for $22 a day! We had a blast with it. Call it a Panther affair.

  • avatar
    hirostates12

    Axel bearing failure
    Intake failure
    Brake line corrosion
    Seat rack failure
    Alternator failure
    Ignition knock (2003 town car)
    Clear coat peeling (early ones)
    Misfire under light throttle

    Owned three of them. Won’t go back, mostly due to Fomoco treating me like I had the plague when my 3.5 yr old Marquis had full brake line failure.

  • avatar
    427Cobra

    I have an ’08 Grand Marquis LS… my grandfather’s last car. Got it about 3 years ago with 24k miles on it. It was a sentimental purchase (bought it from the estate). While it’s been bullet-proof mechanically, I have a few quibbles with the ergonomics… or lack thereof. The flat front seat aggravates my sciatica after about an hour on the road… and I always seem to bang my shin on the lower dash when getting in… and the radio controls are just out of reach when comfortably seated. Swapping in a set of 18×8 Mustang wheels & tires really helped the ride & handling… and police interceptor shocks/struts should help further mitigate the floaty/boaty ride quality. Dual exhaust is on the list. The de-contenting they started in ’08 is evident. Cheaper-quality leather… less door insulation (more road noise)… etc. It’s a reliable, comfortable car, but it does have its flaws.

  • avatar
    STS_Endeavour

    It was the aftermath of an accident I saw that put me in a Panther. A Snapple truck slammed into the back of a stopped CHP Crown Victoria at approximately 60 Mph. The Panther was virtually destroyed, but the CHP officer survived.

    http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/PETALUMA-Snapple-truck-hits-CHP-cruiser-2540127.php

    So I bought a 2005 MGM – just rolled 277,000 miles last weekend; repairs – tail light (2007), headlight module (2011), serpentine belt torsion spring (2011), headlamps (2016), battery (2017) – I probably have yet to break the $1000 mark in repairs. My biggest beef is that the paint is failing – I joke my car is a stripper or a nudist.

    There are no sure bets in an accident. Panthers have their strengths and weaknesses. I wouldn’t worry too much about going back to a Panther, especially if you can find one equipped with side-impact airbags.

  • avatar
    bbkkrr

    I was intrigued enough after reading about the panther love here to buy a ’99 Town Car about 3 years ago for a bargain price. Relatively few people want this grandpa car, it seems. Maybe a year after that, the heater core went (I probably missed the early signs when buying), coating the inside of the windshield with the weird opaque film that made it remarkably hard to see to drive to the local repair shop in the morning glare and commute traffic. About $1100 to fix. Made the bargain buy far less of a bargain, but I liked the car enough to fix it, and have had no problems since, and have driven about 35k miles since I’ve owned it.

    I might swap it for a newer model, as it is missing 2 features that I desire — a hood ornament and heated seats. It is a mystery to me why the hood ornament was removed for model years 98-03, but so it is.

    I have 3 tall kids who appear to be getting taller, and I like the room it has for them, and I really like how quiet it is. I like the solid feel of the doors closing, and I like the 3-body trunk. I am happy to have scratched the itch to try one of these, and as I said, I may try it again.

    I am also tempted to go even further away from the mainstream and find a Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon, possibly just to hear the kids whine about how awful it looks. Then again, I might try a Lexus LS or GS to head back toward social acceptability. It’s fun to poke around the edges of car choices vs. the easy route of suburban conformity via the ubiquitous (in my world) Chevy Suburban kid hauler.

    So … buy it, try it, sell it if it doesn’t work for you. The experiment won’t cost much.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I own an ex CVPI myself, other than a bad starter (not a fun job on pre 2003s!) and old plugs, It’s been quite reliable for me.

    Most tranmsission issues tend to happen with earlier pre 98 Panthers due to overheating, later tranmsissions were made tougher and lightly “j modded” from the factory.

    Really your biggest issues will be mediocre mpg and old car dynamics in slick weather, and window regulators.

    Do avoid using the kickdown to second gear, doing that will beat up your transmission. If you need to make a pass manually jump out of OD.

    As far as safety goes cops have been sandwiched between semis in these, and lived. Not many used cars will hold up to that.

    • 0 avatar
      TCowner

      My son has had a 2005 CVPI for the past 4.5 years, bought with 95k. Ours is a dark blue suburban highway patrol car and had a relatively easy life, as evidenced by us only replacing a HVAC blower motor, the starter, and having the drivers door adjusted over that time. You really have to do your research when buying a used CVPI, as there are some beat up ones out there, but if you get a good one you’ll have some cheap, safe transportation. It’s quite the tank for him to drive back and forth to school, compared to the Ford Focus he lost to a small accident previously.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Not a Panther but in the early to mid 70’s Mercury made some trend setting commercials with Farrah Fawcett and a ‘cougar’.

    Hopefully a link to one of them is below.

  • avatar
    gottacook

    My one and only experience with a Panther was the day we were to pick up a midsize rental car in San Francisco in 2007, only to be given a Grand Marquis. I was then obliged to drive my family down the famous twisty block of Lombard Street, sliding left and right on the seats all the way down. (Later that day in Sacramento we exchanged it for a new Dodge Avenger, which served us surprisingly well in the Reno/Tahoe area.)

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    I never had any issues with my ’96 P71.

    Had a few PROBLEMS, but not a single ISSUE.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    I’ve driven and ridden in Pathers a number of times, and I don’t get the appeal.


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