Merriam-Webster defines the word “ultimate” as:
- the last in a progression or series, or;
- the best or most extreme in its kind.
I’d say the Mercury Grand Marquis Ultimate Edition more accurately reflects the first definition rather than the second.
The last of the venerable Grand Marquis line wore the Ultimate trim tag but the moniker first appeared in 2003 on the featured car. That year saw the last major revision of the Panther platform with an all-new frame, redesigned suspension, and the belated arrival of rack-and-pinion steering. What a pity Ford didn’t give these cars a fresh look to complement their revised underpinnings—I initially thought this was a much later model but it appears to be a 2003-05 example, which is pretty much just a different grille away from being a 1998-2002 or 2006-11 model.
Ford really let these cars stagnate. The SOHC 4.6 V8 had a single exhaust and a weak 224 horsepower rating; a dual-exhaust model with 15 extra horses was available but rarely ordered. By the mid-2000s, almost every V6 mid-sizer produced more power and bested the Grand Marquis’s mediocre gas mileage (15/23 mpg). Torque was healthier at 272 ft-lbs but the car was still shaded by four-cylinder intermediates at the stoplight.
The Grand Marquis bested those intermediates in cabin space and had one of the industry’s last remaining bench seats, but many of those smaller cars were more maneuverable and better packaged. Then there was the Grand Marquis’ interior, hardly befitting a car with vaguely premium aspirations, although it at least had a clean and simple design.
I remember the 2011 Crown Victoria LX I rented in 2012. The rental agency clerk offered a free upgrade to a Ford Escape which I didn’t take, to her surprise. No way, I wanted to try a good old-fashioned American full-size. It made for a comfortable highway cruiser although I was startled by how much I could feel the car shimmy over bumps. Although I enjoyed the experience, I remember thinking there were plenty of other cars made in 2011 that would be comfortable on the highway while offering superior packing or greater power or greater fuel economy or more features or, well, all of the above.
The final facelift. This is a 2006. Or maybe it’s a 2008. Or a 2011.
You can make excuses for the final Panther cars. That livery drivers loved them, or that older buyers appreciated the simplicity and didn’t care about AUX inputs or Bluetooth or 0-60 times. You’d have a point, but then again Chrysler showed with the LX cars of 2005 (300, Charger, Magnum) that private buyers under the age of 70 could be enticed into a full-size, V8, rear-wheel-drive domestic and that there was still life in that format. And many older buyers were jumping ship to cars like the Toyota Camry and Avalon; Grand Marquis sales gradually whittled away during the 2000s and eventually fleet sales accounted for over half of Grand Marquis volume. It remains puzzling to me that Ford would invest a significant amount in revamping the Panther’s chassis and then leave it with the same underpowered, thirsty V8, low-rent interior, and mid-1990s styling. Is this the ultimate Panther? No, I’d say the Marauder is more worthy of that appellation.
COAL: 2003 Mercury Marauder – Quicksilver
Curbside Classic: 1990 Mercury Grand Marquis GS – An All-American Classic
I’d say that #2 applies as well as it was the best or most extreme equipped Grand Marquis at the time.
I too always wondered why Ford couldn’t have spent a little money on the body in 2003. They designed 4 new frames, CV/GM, CV/GM L, TC, TC L when they could have got away with 3 a CV/GM, TC-CV/GM L, TC L and put at least a little money into some new front sheet metal and maybe a more significant revision to the bumper cover and taillights out back.
CV/GM L was a special frame? Didn’t the long CV/GM have same wheelbase as a regular Town Car?
No they were longer than a regular TC. The wheel bases were CV/GM 114.7″ and 120.7″ while the TC’s were 117.7″ and 123.7″. So 4 different frames, and drive shafts, wiring harnesses brake cables, brake lines, fuel lines, floor stampings, ect.
My understanding is that all three of the Panthers were meant to have substantial refreshes, but the program funding was cut during the Nassar regime. Town Car went first, and it was far enough along that they couldn’t pull the plug on it. Since the platform work was done, Grand Marquis and Crown Victoria got the revisions and slight tweaks.
Back then, I was surprised they couldn’t be bothered to stuff the 3-Valve V8 into it when they started putting it into everything from the Mustang to the F-Series to the Explorers. Yet, the Panthers, and only the Panthers in North America, used the older 2-Valve V8. I never understood it, and neither did people involved with those programs I talked to (they could never get the approvals to do it).
Frankly, for as much money as Ford pissed away on D3, they might have done better just to upgrade Panther for another generation or two. Then again, they’re doing pretty well with the current Explorers.
I totally agree. The D3 platform is successful now, but it took several years and a succession of languishing models before hand for that to happen. The Panther body was 11 years old in 03 – the 98s were merely a face/butt lift of the existing 92 Grand Marquis sheet metal – and that 03 frame and suspension was very good, even by modern standards. The carryover body(which in my opinion was never very attractive to begin with), 2V engine, and 4 speed transmission just undid every substantial effort they made revising the chassis to the extent they did.
Good for hot rodders though. That 03+ front subframe is the new Mustang II swap, only much better right out of the box. It’s just too bad there’s little to no desirability in the rest of the car.
Actually the 2v 4.6 soldiered on in the E-series until the end of full body production.
There was a good reason to keep the 2v 4.6 and the 4r75w in use in those applications and that was because fleets could trust them to last and last and last. I’m betting there would have been push back from those operating E-series and Panthers in heavy commercial use as well as the police if the 3v 4.6 was the base engine. Despite what those that promote the MI police vehicle tests would have you believe HP and top speed are not priorities for most police agencies.
So the appeal of the 3v would be limited in the Panther and would have had to be offered along side the 2v. Still I would have liked to see the Explorer’s 3v 4.6 and 5r55 transmission in the Civilian GM and TC and even the CV LX Sport. But that volume would have been severely limited.
I’m sure it was convenient for fleets but ultimately they will buy what’s provided, just as they’re doing today with Chargers, Caprices and Explorers. I’ve heard this argument before, and was even parroting it myself when they were still being made, but even the venerable 5.0, another engine they trusted to last and last and last, was replaced by the 4.6 across the board in 1992.
There were skeptics when the 4.6 came around and it took several years for them to prove itself and prove Ford’s promise of increased durability.
The 3v didn’t promise increased durability for the fleet operators and many of them weren’t asking for more HP either.
The one alternate power train that could have made a little sense would by the 3.7 V6 and 5sp similar to that used in the Mustang, it would have provided a boost in HP and could have also helped reduce weight and increase MPG. That might have had enough appeal to both retail and self-use fleets to make them accepting of the price increase needed for the increase in cost.
Oh I agree with that mind you, I’d rather have the 40 or so horsepower deficit of the 2V after all the notoriety of 3Vs spark plug fiasco, but circa 2005 that issue obviously wasn’t known. A strong V6 would have been an even better answer, though I’m not sure the timeline would work for the 3.7 to be viable. I know in the Mustang Ford was still using the not so great Cologne 4.0 until 2010
My point is the move to the 4.6 from the 5.0 could indeed have been troublesome in fleets service, but Ford at that time was truly trying to give the car a broader market appeal, and not let the car stagnate into this modern day Checker Marathon the Panther became in it’s final decade. The 03 underpinnings were good enough that with an all new body and competitive engine(s) and transmission it could have been a player against the likes of the Chrysler 300 and Magnum/Charger, but instead was completely wasted on a fleet market that wouldn’t even care if it had the frame and suspension of a 63 Galaxie, as long as it fit the k.i.s.s. principal, and had the resources it deserved wasted on the milquetoast Five Hundred.
Without a serious change of the looks, both inside and out, it wasn’t going matter what they did to the chassis and power train, the buyers would still stay away in droves. And those that were still buying didn’t have a big reason to buy a newer one when it looked exactly like their older one.
Nope. Not at all. When you are running a fleet, the last thing you care about is a 0-60 time. What is desired is commonality above all else. The good old 2V 4.6, after some small problems initially, was about as bulletproof as it got.
To make a fleet change, there has to be a really major benefit for them to do so. Their reason for having a car is to maximise revenue, not generate fast acceleration times. Take in point in switching from the 302 Windsor motor to the 4.6: there was a substantial fuel consumption benefit with the 4.6. The 4.6 will outlast a half dozen 302’s in my experience.
I have driven plenty of Panthers in my life. They all, to a one, elicited a “meh” reaction in me. I suppose if I lived in a place with straight roads I might appreciate one. I never found one lacking in power after, say, 1985.
As for the “more power” shtick that goes on incessantly, I am presently shopping for a Mercedes Benz C class. I have driven the four banger turbo C250, the 3.0 litre and the 3.5. Even the smallest engined one had what seemed to me as loads of power. I wouldn’t spend $10k to go from 248 hp to 302 hp.
The 1992 4.6 had more power than the 1991 5.0 however, as much of a difference in power in fact as the 3V from the 2V. The early 4.6 basically matched the power level of the 5.0 H.O. that was never used in Panthers.
My point in this is that Ford wasn’t catering these cars or their engines to meet fleet demands. The civilian market was still their target and they made a big investment to keep the Crown Vic competitive in it for 92, and it was up to the fleets to decide whether to like it or leave it. The tables turned by the 00s where suddenly the Panther was now an institution like the Checker Marathon, where the fleets seemed to have all the power to dictate what the car should be – which was the same, exactly the same – and they dictated it right out of existence.
I mean, the start of this comment tree was about the idea of keeping the Panther competitive in the civilian market, yet here we inevitably end up talking about taxi and police fleets. Few buyers not running a motor pool in the mid to late 00s appreciated a slow but tried and true boxy car that they could go to the junkyard and find a massive selection of body panels for in the event of a fender bender.
By the mid-2000s, the Panther cars, with their 220ish horsepower and styling that looked 15 years old, were competing against the best Iacocca-mobile that Daimler could have devised on a tight new platform with fresh styling and “a Hemi in it” that was good for something like 340 horsepower. Which one’s a regular buyer with his or her regular ol’ paycheck making the payments going to go buy?
And Matt’s right-the fleets will buy what’s available. Ford would not have made the decision to keep running an entire engine plant and entire assembly plant to produce just for fleet sales. That doesn’t make good business sense. Yeah, sales to police/government fleets are clean desirable money (unlike rental fleet sales), but the margins aren’t high enough to justify dedicated production.
Even figuring in the costs of shutting down and dealing with union issues versus maintaining production didn’t work out for Ford in the end. They needed civilian sales, and more to the point-they anticipated civilian sales. They wouldn’t have bothered dumping money into the platform at all for a 2003 update if they were just selling to fleets. After the 2007 UAW contract and the roughly concurrent CAW contract (2008 IIRC), it became a lot easier for Ford to wind down that production.
From about 2006 onward they realized the fleets were the only ones buying Panther cars at all by then, so the calculus became fleet-oriented (indeed Crown Victoria went fleet-only for 2008). I have good confidence that wasn’t the plan in 1999/2000 when they started work on the Panther updates, though.
Hell, imagine if Town Car had been gifted a newer engine and transmission making 300 horsepower. It still would have been down on power to the Chrysler 300, but I imagine Lincoln would have survived the 2000s in much better shape had they had enough coming into the Mulally years to convince him the company had a reason to produce anything except for Fords. And law enforcement wouldn’t have bemoaned an extra 80 horsepower (there’s a reason the move to the Charger was already well underway when Panther production ended in 2011) in their Crown Vics.
@ Matt, I agree that Ford initially was very concerned with the retail side of the Panther business. Witness all the updates they did on it over the years and the fact that the CV and GM were more unique than they had been in a long time and much more than the average “badge engineered” car. For the body in 92 the interchangeable major exterior items were the windshield, front doors assembly. Inside other than the switch gear and basic seats again the CV and GM were unique. They didn’t just rest either making more frequent updates than even on their then top car the Taurus. For the CV they did a quick fix in 93 to give it a grille at the request of dealers on behalf of the retail customers. 95 got a better version of that, a new trunk panel treatment and new brakes. 98 got new front and rear treatments again, new rear half of frame, rear suspension, new front brakes again now requiring 16″ or larger wheels. Had they been better sellers at that point they probably wouldn’t have had to go to the shared body between the CV and GM and then returned to their then standard policy of not touching it for 5 years as the prepped for the “all new” 2003 that lost funding no doubt because the profits weren’t where Ford needed them to be to justify the full investment.
That led to the decision to rationalize large RWD production world wide. So there was no money to put in the Panther program as it was directed to the car that would have initially been sold as the Falcon down under in its shortest form, and as the CV/GM and TC in the US in long and extra long form. But Mulally came along and shortly after his pronouncement that the Taurus name would return he canceled the large car program. Then they gave the Panther its first stay of execution stating it would be available through 2009 instead of 2008.
@X no Matt is not right in that fleets will buy what’s available, the uptake on the aero Panthers for police and taxi use didn’t happen until about 95 after the people willing to try the new model had proved them worthy. There was a time when there were companies that would completely rebuild your Caprice cop car and then once the Panther was finally deal that rebuilt Crown Vics.
Yes it is very profitable to run a line just for a fleet only model, and they weren’t running the engine plant just for the Panthers, the 2v 4.6 was still available in the E-series.
The Panther was supposed to die after 2008 and then with the cancelation of the new large car program they extended it to 2009. By that time fleets made up the bulk of the sales. Then when they officially announced the end to the fleet customers they agreed at least 2 more times to open the order forms again. Once the GCC Ford dealers heard that they were left out of the deal they demanded some. So yet another stay of execution that had the workers come back after labor day and made a short run of 2012 GCC spec cars, complete with a new Ford corporate tri bar grille.
Also witness any large van, there are about 7 retail customers per year yet we have 5 mfgs in that market. Even the E-series line is still chugging along with no plans to shut it down until the end of 2019 at the earliest.
Also the CV was the most expensive police car. I know the guy who bought cars for a local city and one of the biggest reasons he bought a batch of Chargers was that he could save about $2000 per car, and they sold him on they fact that they would get better MPG so save him money in the operating costs as well. Like so many others he found that the Charger was very expensive to actually keep on the road, and that it spent more time in the shop that the CVs still in the fleet.
Then there was the fact that the cops couldn’t keep them on the road either with all that power they not only sucked up the gas drag racing them from every stop light, they put them in the ditch, slid into each other, parked cars and simply proved that many of them were unable to handle more power. You’ll also note that after the initial spike Charger police sales dropped rapidly, and they quickly went begging Ford to produce them just a few more. In fact I’d say that the Charger’s poor performance as a police car is a huge reason there are Panthers beyond 2010.
Good info, I can’t refute any of your points, but I will clarify mine that are disputed. I think the Panther just by way of being last man standing in that configuration endeared it to fleets, and obviously keeping it in production as long as they did served to iron out the wrinkles that the 4.6 and 4R70w initially had. But this was a unique scenario to fleets, as no other model historically had that kind of long lasting dominance in that side of the market besides Checker with Taxis. Police departments on the other hand do have a relatively frequent turnover in larger municipalities, and until the B-body was cancelled there wasn’t true dominance in the market like the Panther enjoyed for well over a decade.
What has happened in the years since the Crown Vic production ceased is really where I base that statement I made. In cities Taxis went from 100% Crown Vic, to a mix of Escape, Prius, Camry etc. making up the vast majority seemingly overnight, maybe 2-3 years later. Police departments changed over even quicker, Chargers, Tahoes and W body Impalas seemed to initially fill the role, then the Caprice and Taurus burned hot and short, and now by and large are Explorers. My assesment based on this isn’t that fleets will buy what is provided no matter what, but that fleets will eventually buy “something” no matter what, and through many factors evaluate what they keep buying more of. The Panther was just such a predictable well rounded choice for the job that there was no reason for their eyes to wander. Had Ford kept it competitive for the civilian market and it still proved itself to be robust, fleets would have tried it and liked it, same if the Australian Falcon would have replaced it.
Certainly the Panther did benefit from being the last man standing in the fleet world.
” Had Ford kept it competitive for the civilian market and it still proved itself to be robust, fleets would have tried it and liked it, same if the Australian Falcon would have replaced it.”
I don’t disagree that the fleets would have eventually tried it had the offered new engines and I believe that a little more money spent on cosmetics, or a different allocation of some of the money spent on the 03 update probably would have helped it at retail.
They are supposedly replacing the current Explorer with a RWD (but still unibody) platform, hopefully they put some work to make a new Taurus/full size sedan using the same architecture. The D3 is a lousy platform where it counts for full sizers, its good they are finally replacing it.
Odd to see a Marquis as a cab. Did they run out of Crown Vics?
If the taxi co is buying used and the price is right…
It’s a boro cab, which is sort of a hybrid of a livery/black car and a taxi. They are owned by livery companies, so it was probably a former black car.
Grand Marqs had softer ride than PI’s, maybe nicer to sit in all day?
I remember seeing quite a few Grand Marquis cabs in Boston 10-15 years ago. Strangely, many had police interceptor steel wheels.
Dual exhausts should have been standard across the board by the time the Areo Panthers came into being.
The big interior comfort issue I had with the end of the Panther platform was how RARE heated seats were in the Mercury version. Whenever I go look at used highly trimmed (yes even ULTIMATE edition) Grand Marquis maybe 1 in 10 has heated seats whereas the Buick Lesabre and Park Avenue that were being sold at the same time seemed to have about 50% of them with heated seats. Heck I’ve never found a Crown Victoria with heated seats.
Given the age of the majority of the owners of new Panthers I always thought this was a creature comfort that their aching joints likely missed.
My guess is a northern car versus southern car thing. I mean, do you really need heated seats in Florida? Conversely, the Buick front drive made them more logical for northern winters, so heated seats naturally follow.
I could never understand the American predilection for running a V8s exhaust into a single system when duals freed up so much more power. Especially when so many fours there days seem to run multiple pipes.
@Old Pete – there ought a be a law! V style engines will have dual exhausts from the factory whether its a truck, a car, a van, FWD, RWD, AWD…
I second that motion!
Well in the early days it was another line item up sell for a few extra dollars of profit instead of more cost. Then once catalytic converters came around the cost of a true dual exhaust jumped dramatically.
You wonder why they sold so well, and I can tell you. Large people. Count me into that group at that time period (pre- gastric bypass 400lbs and 6’2″). A “person of size” needs a large vehicle if they are to actually fit in it and drive it to and fro. The Grand Marquis and the Crown Vic fit large people exceptionally well. Easy ingress/egress, wide bench seating, and not a truck, and not overly expensive. If the stereotype of fat Americans is at all true, this was the car for them, as it was for those who are very tall. And by God, if you were tall AND fat, then you needed a car like this. And Ford continued them well after similar cars from GM and Chrysler went away, and at a much more reasonable bottom line. If you did not want a large truck or SUV, these were the best option around.
The 2005 CV and Grand Marquis are easy to spot. in 2005 Ford decided to put a fixed mast radio antenna on the passenger side rear. It is the only year of this generation that they had a fixed mast antenna on the body of the car. All other years had it in the back window with a signal booster in the quarter panel.
I think “Ultimate” was just a trim package that gave you leather, power everything and perhaps a more cushy ride.
When I was in the junk yard this past Sunday looking for small little bits for my new to me 1997 Pontiac Trans Sport van, I came across a couple of Olds Silhouettes that had “Premier” badging on them. The vans had leather seats, heated front seats, everything power and a DVD/VHS unit and fold down flat screen monitor to play movies on.
I’ve always wondered why they went through the expense to change the antenna and especially to changing it to a fixed mast antenna. Because the car certainly looks cleaner without the external antenna. so at the time I figured it was because the antenna and the glass was not performing well, but then just a year later they switched back to that style. So why the change?
Wish they would have kept it – the glass antennas really don’t perform well in fringe signal areas, nor with HD Radio. Looking to move from my 98 Crown Vic to an 05 GM/CV for that reason alone…
My Dad bought a 2000 Grand Marquis when he retired and moved to Florida. I think there might have been a law making them mandatory, there were so many of them down there. But seriously, to that value-conscious generation this was a half-price Towncar, and they were right. My dad bought his for $19,000 out the door, when the Towncar was over $40k. The other big selling point was an available cloth interior, a big plus in Florida. Driving it during my visits was a guilty pleasure.
My mother replaced her 1985 Crown Vic with a new one in 1993. The 93 was an improvement in almost every way. The interior was modern, the engine/transmission worked seamlessly together and with the standard sway bars and good sized tires, it handled extremely well for its size. I was certain that over the next few years the car would continue to get better and better.
Or not. In the late 90s many of the cool little features like the dual sun visors and the sway bars got culled by the cost cutters. The car never gained power in a substantial way. They never got a 5th gear in the transmission. The interior was never upgraded in materials quality or design. There was so much goodness there but Ford just stopped developing it. There were a lot of Grand Marquis sold at retail early on, but how many of the very same car can Grandpa be expected to buy? Let alone his son?
This happened to most of the model lines in the 90s unfortunately. Ford had optional features on some models by the late 80s that rival or even exceed what’s expected in modern Fords. Almost everything like the trip minder computers, dual visors, tilting headrests, adjustable lumbar in the seats, graphic equalizers, auto climate control in some non premium models available and common early in the decade was gone by 1996ish. Mid to late 90s Fords, deep into the 00s as well, were basically back to 70s level of equipment but with way more plastic. The Jacques Nasser era basically reversed all the positive strides Ford made in the 80s.
Yeah, that was the Trotman and Nassar eras to a T: Both were accountants by training, both were promoted for their cost-cutting savvy, neither understood corporate or interpersonal dynamics, and both cost-cut Ford into real trouble.
If a line wasn’t selling to expectation, rather than figuring out why it wasn’t competitive and fixing the problem, their inclination was to cut costs until it became profitable again. The 3rd Gen Taurus lost content almost every year of that generation, and my recollection is that even the seat fabric had been changed for a cheaper one by 1999. The Contour, by 1999 (and Mystique by 2000), had even lost its clock!
Neither Trotman nor Nassar realized that those little niceties and touches become part of the reason a buyer wants and values their car. Mulally got it. Fields got it (but didn’t have the organizational culture skills to keep things running smoothly). Hopefully Hackett has it, although I’m pretty nervous about him.
Agreed, Marauder was the closest thing to being the ultimate Panther, at least it had a different engine to match the new underpinnings. The problem then even is the Grand Marquis lost even more visual identity than it lost in 98 with the consolidation of rooflines between Ford and Mercury, this time losing it’s Mercury specific front fenders with the upswept corner lamps and now only using mildly different lenses to separate it from it’s Ford cousin. The Marauder was even worse in that respect, using the entire taillight panel straight off Crown Vic P71.
It’s kind of amazing the Panther soldiered on for nearly a decade unchanged from the 03s. I remember going to CAS with my Dad in 03 or 04, seeing the Mercury exhibit and just looking at the utter lack of attention paid to the Non-Marauder Grand Marquis there, and it seems like overnight from that moment the platform went fleet only.
I test drove a Marauder and was underwhelmed.The biggest interior “upgrade” over the Grand Marquis I remember was fake carbon fiber trim replacing fake wood trim. But it also wasn’t that much fun to drive. My main driving impression was that that the throttle tip-in was calibrated to be way too abrupt, making it almost impossible to launch smoothly. I assumed at the time that was intended to make the 4.6 seem more powerful than it was.
Now if they had actually built the convertible concept that made the auto show rounds at that time, THAT would have been the ultimate Mercury version of the Panther.
I’ve never seen that concept before. I love it! If only they’d given this the green light in place of the ridiculous Thunderbird. I wonder if it would have sold more copies than the T-Bird did.
It survived and has been for sale on and off for years. For many years it was at a Lincoln-Mercury dealer. Of course it doesn’t have a VIN and can’t be titled for street use as a one off prototype.
The Marauder convertible being a casualty of the Thunderbird debacle was a real tragedy. It would have been great to see how a big, old-school domestic convertible might have sold. It could have taken up where the popular Lebaron/Sebring convertible left off. And it wasn’t only the Marauder convertible that missed production. There was a great Bel Air convertible concept championed by Bob Lutz over at GM. But when the Thunderbird tanked, they switched their efforts to the lame Chevy SSR convertible pickup.
On top of the Thunderbird 2-seater just not being much of a good car, the incredible amount of dealer gouging at the introduction didn’t help matters any. Dealers found out that potential buyers were later turned off by the early gouging and final year Thunderbirds languished on lots for quite a while.
I agree that it wasn’t a great execution, having a DOHC engine designed for a 6800 redline kneecapped at 6k is largely due to the rev limits of the torque converter kind of defeats the benefit, and maybe having a small rev happy V8 to begin with in a 4300lb sedan wasn’t a great match. But no matter the Marauder’s flaws were, it was still a more substantial effort than the Grand Marquis, therefore more worthy of being christened as “ultimate”.
A big part of the performance problem is the bean counters nixed the 4.10 rear axle ratio and forced the use of 3.55 instead. Then to make matters worse they kept the tall tires that were there to give it the rake and to mitigate some of the 4.10 ratio’s impact on MPG. The net effective result is that the revs per mile are comparable to that of the HPP/P71 3.23 ratio.
I am quite possibly the youngest person to have bought a new Panther in the last 2 decades — having bought a 2006 Crown Victoria LX Sport new when I was 34. I still have it, and will pass 70,000 miles this week. So I read some of these comments with amusement.
Though I’m not “older,” William’s analysis here was spot-on for me: I do appreciate the simplicity, and I don’t care at all about AUX inputs or Bluetooth or 0-60 times. That’s what attracted me to the Crown Vic 10 years ago, and it’s why I still like it. And yes, I realize that there’s not a whole lot of other folks who share this outlook.
Obviously, these cars are/were not for everyone — but for those of us who like the look, feel and comfort of a traditional car, a later-model Panther was an outstanding buy. It was relatively inexpensive to purchase, it’s been reliable, and cheap to operate. Life is stressful… at least my car isn’t.
Incidentally, Panthers in dealer stock were heavily discounted by the 2000s… I bought mine for more than $10,000 off of the sticker price, and I remember at the time that several Mercury dealers were advertising base Grand Marquis for $18,000.
I agree with your assessment. I love the simplicity of the CV/GM. I looked into one at about the time I bought my 2005 Lesabre but the Lesabre fit my needs more.
Out of all the optional crap out there (GPS, Bluetooth etc) an AUX, iPod or USB port is a must on any car I consider as I do a lot of driving and I really don’t want to hear folks(DJ’s, anything NPR) yapping while I am in traffic
Nope, bought a brand new 2011 Lincoln Town Car Continental Edition when I was 29. Nice car, did not live up to the hype. So many little things were not up to snuff on a $51K car. Some days I miss it, most days I don’t.
Wow — you win the prize!
This is a picture of my Crown Vic on the weekend I bought it.
Beautiful CV! Glad it has been a good car for you.
My TC was made in the last 4 days of production. I think the workers by that point just didn’t care. Radio would freeze up, auto trunk would stop randomly when opening, left headlight sometimes wouldn’t come on, driver’s seat auto exit stopped working, and lots of fit and finish issues and rattles.
I bought it because as a kid growing up, if you were successful you bought an American luxury car. It did comfort well, but not enough power, bad fuel economy and depreciation, and the constant little issues mine had has ruined me on newer Panthers.
I’ll never understand the point of that auto trunklid shut thingy Lincolns used(still use?). “You can’t shut them like normal trunks, otherwise you’ll break it” – is what a Mark VII owning friend once scolded me by saying. No, apparently I have to gently bring it all the way down, throw a elegant dinner party in the time it closes the last half inch (it feels like hours!), and then set off. Seriously what possible benefit does that feature serve?
The only thing as irritating as that are Tesla’s stupid door handles. Both cases of taking the most tried and true/no reason to reinvent mechanism on a car and turn it into a common failure point.
Yep, that trunk thing is definitely stoopid. The only explanation that I’ve read that half makes sense (though it still falls into the stoopid category) is that the electric trunklid/SUV tailgate came about on prestige cars so as to not disturb the precious darlings sitting in the cabin with an indiscrete slam. Stoopid.
Regarding those motorized trunk closers, I feel the same way toward automatic liftgates on SUVs. Just one more thing to break, and you have to remind people not to lower it manually (although I don’t think doing so will cause the damage that slamming a motorized closer will).
Perhaps if I were not as tall as I am (6’1″ and change), I might feel differently.
I’ll save my rants on motorized sliding side doors on minivans for another time… ?
The power trunk is real nice with a dead battery. You open the trunk with the key, but with no battery juice, you can’t secure it closed. Dumb!
My ’96 Mark VIII did not have the auto-close trunklid. Maybe it was an option by then, but I was glad not to have to deal with it. Don’t think the ’10 MKX I test-drove recently had it either, though I can’t say with 100% certainty that I opened the trunk.
It is important to note that Corey’s car had the full auto trunk. Push a button on the dash and it unlatched and a motor drove it to the fully open position. Push that button again and it would close from a full open position, just like many new SUV and CUVs.
I think it was Cadillac that first did the auto pull down and Lincoln of course couldn’t not have it too. Also when they first came around we were already seeing the luxury car features filtering down to the mid and low price markets so they had to come up with something that exclusive for Cadillac or Lincoln.
If the battery was dead on those systems you could open and close it just like any other trunk. If there was no power the system wouldn’t and couldn’t extend the latch when you opened it. If it it did extend you certainly could close and latch it, the trunk just wouldn’t be weather tight.
You are correct. From the key fob, exterior door buttons, or inside release my Town Car trunk would fully open or close. You could always open or close it manually. Mine had a mind of its own. Sometimes it would work perfectly, sometimes it would open halfway and stop.
It was my dream car when I bought it. Wish it had the cushy ride of the 2002 and older models. 2003+ rode too firm. Slowly the car turned on me. Electrical gremlins, the armrests on the doors peeling off their hinges, leather on the driver’s seat creasing and wearing quickly, A/C never seemed cold enough, and on and on. Traded it in with 34K miles on it. I’m glad I can say I experienced owning a brand new Town Car. But it is something I will never do again.
My folks bought a new 06 Town Car. It was a disappointment to me as well. In back to back driving with my 79 Continental Town Car, I preferred the 79. More comfortable seats for sure. I know the 06 got almost double the fuel mileage and accelerated twice as fast, but in other respects it didnt touch my 79.
I think Ford made a mistake when they gave the Crown Victoria the same roofline and tail panel as the Grand Marquis for the 1998 model year. I always thought the Crown Vic looked better with the sleeker early roof plus it allowed the Mercury more distinction.
I prefer the look of the 6 window too.
I agree. The cruel irony was that Ford revived it on the Five Hundred. It’s almost as if Ford sabotaged the Crown Vic so the Five Hundred(it’s pseudo would-be successor) would look all the fresher.
I’ve probably told this story before here, but back in ’05 I was lucky enough to be the first fare in a brand new Crown Vic cab, from the East 70’s in Manhattan down to the East Village via the FDR Drive. The sticker was still on the window, and while I don’t recall the bottom line it was surprisingly high. Our driver was having a great time bobbing and weaving through early evening traffic on a clear warm Summer night, and was obviously more than pleased to oblige when we asked him to get us there quick to make it to a friend’s band’s performance at Arlene’s Grocery. IIRC the trip was about 20 minutes, in 8PM weeknight traffic, which for those familiar, is a feat not to be taken lightly.
Until that night I had never given the panthers a second look, but the way that car handled that ride was very impressive, and gave me a new appreciation for the platform, after years of seeing these cars as nothing more than archaic fleet fodder. I will sorely miss these when they age out of the livery fleet, much the same way folks still lament the passing of the Checker Cab era. Escape Hybrids and those ugly Nissan plumber’s vans will just never hold a candle to these as civilized transportation.
I bought my first Panther (a used 1999 Crown Victoria LX) in 2000.
I needed to get out of a unreliable 1996 Accord LX Coupe and I wanted something that was very reliable and comfortable. The CV was all that and more. I sold the car with around 100k on it and it never had a mechanical problem.
I bought my second Panther (a used 2011 Crown Victoria LX — bought for $14,000) in 2012. I now have 82,000 trouble free miles on the car. I needed an inexpensive, reliable, kid friendly car and the Panther chassis has delivered.
Not the fastest, nor the most fuel efficient, nor the most technologically advanced, but the car is comfortable, reliable and very cheap to work on.
I recently had the chance to trade it in on a new car. I could not bring myself to do it. This car is just too good at what it does to try and replace it. Guess I’ll keep it for a few more years. Besides, my 11 year old daughter has told me that I can’t sell the ‘Vic as it will be hers when she can drive.
Well, as the owner of an 09 Crown Victoria Police Interceptor I would think I can give my $0.02 worth, so here goes.
MOST of the criticism here is valid, however….
I bought mine because it was fairly inexpensive for a 7 year old car. Parts are REASONABLY cheap, but as this is an older car I’ve had to replace a few parts that failed “early” due to it’s prior use. The trunk is HUGE, it can almost double as a small pickup truck. And it doesn’t look like the piece of crap my old car, (20 years old), looked like.
I do agree the horsepower is laughable in an era of 4 cylinder turbo engines of 200+ horsepower. And for that power, it can be a real gas guzzler. It takes a really long trip before I break the 20-21 mpg barrier.
Unlike a previous poster, I think these handle decently for a large FWD sedan (though I haven’t driven any comparable cars). Steering is typical Ford, I occasionally turn too quickly and the car seems to turn into a 4000 pound Slinky. But the “exaggerated” throttle tip in? I have never experienced that. The worst drivetrain “hiccup” is the transmission that gets a tad indecisive around 40 mph.
If gas stayed around $2.00/gallon indefinitely I’d be tempted to get a nicer Grand Marquis to replace it.
BTW, I am 6 ft 4, 240 pounds, and those cop seats are pitiful.
Well you could always head to the wrecking yard and pick up some civilian CV/GM or TC front seats. Plus just how broken down are the seats in your car. How many idle hours are on it in addition to the miles? You have to figure in the fact that the driver’s seat had a butt in them for several years 7 or more hours per day 5 or more days per week.
One of the many changes in the police powertrain calibration is a different transfer curve for throttle operation. So the way your P71’s throttle behaves is different than that of the Fleet LX the author experienced.
I’ll throw in my two bits as well. Mine is a 2008 Grand Marquis LS with 92,000 miles. I bought it eight years ago with 29,000 on the clock. Not only was it the best mix of qualities that I needed, the price was right. It gets regular oil and filter changes and a wax job twice a year, and I receive many compliments on its appearance. Sell it? Not a chance. By the way, I’m also 6’4″ and I love the room and the comfort.
I always wondered what was behind the panel in c pillar , it looks like its covering up the 3rd window in the six window crown vic
If you look closely there are a lot of differences between the 6 window and GM/later CV. The door frames and door opening are shaped differently and the trunk lid is shorter on the 6 window than the other shell.
It’s actually an entirely different roofline, the back glass is nocicably more raked on the 6 window when compared side by side, it extends further back too.
I was probably one of the last people in the US to rent a Grand Marquis from a major car rental agency, at LAX in summer of 2013 (I think it was Hertz). I had planned to cruise up the PCH to Santa Barbara in marshmallowy comfort that only a Panther could deliver, and boy did I get my wish. Glad I did too, as I’m sure these got purged from the major rental fleets soon after that.
Must have felt great to come to America and drive the closest thing left to a land yacht even with the imperfections.
My dad loved Grand Marquis’; from like 1996 to 2003, he bought several of them. I was into Camry’s and Accords, but Dad refused to buy Japanese; we went on a road trip from Texas to Florida, and my Dad’s Marquis, in beautiful Aquamarine paint color, looked nice from the outside. But once we started driving, I was so disappointed with the Marquis’ cheap looking interior, and the NOISE! Man, wind rush, road rumble, frantic engine/gear whine, sorry, I never told Dad, but to me, the Grand Marquis was just a stretched-out Taurus, a stripper one at that.
I rented an “Ultimate Edition” Marquis for a week, and let’s just say I was very unimpressed with the basics of the car — engine, steering, brakes. I wanted to feel some nostalgia for the “last real American car”, but some of it should have been left back in the 1970s.
Another Panther owner here – ’98 Crown Vic LX with all the bells and whistles (air ride, dual exhaust, digital dash, dual power leather seats, lattice aluminum wheels, and EATC). I was looking for a 90’s B body to use as a daily driver, but I found the Vic on Craigslist last Dec with 86k miles at a price I couldn’t pass up ($3k). And aside from a new AC compressor, oil change, and tires, I haven’t had to sink any money into it. The 4.6 runs great, and while it’s no Prius, gets good enough mileage – and as a 6 foot 300 lb guy, I like a big car. Especially on road trips – the miles just fly by in this car.
Is it a sports sedan? Nope, but it does OK with the air ride and good tires. Only upgrade I did right off the bat was the stereo – needed something with Bluetooth and USB. But that was a cheap fix. I’m 29, and don’t plan on getting rid of this car unless it’s for my Grandmothers 07 GM LS, or an 05 so I can have the fender antenna (I’m a radio engineer and hate in glass antennas).
The car isn’t perfect, but it’s perfect for me.
The GM is an excellent used -car buy. There are plenty of well-cared for examples in excellent condition on the market, thanks to a plethora of elderly owners.
They are cheap, because no one wants them, for the reasons stated in these comments. Too big, too old fashioned, too old in image. That’s fine for me, I like a daily driver that’s roomy, smooth, quiet and comfortable, but cheap enough that I don’t have to worry.
I bought my first GM a couple of years ago, and there was a wide range of excellent examples for under $1500. I ended up with a pristine, absolutely loaded low-mileage ’93 GS model for $400.
As noted above, the earlier models like mine had features that were eliminated in later years. A reliable all – aluminum intake manifold, (not the plastic ones of later years) Sway bars front and rear with low – friction, greasable Heim joints instead of rubber biscuits, or, as in later years, nothing at all. My GM has exceeded all my expectations, especially for the price. All the power features work, its very smooth, whisper quiet on the highway and economical to operate and service. Some people complain about mileage…. but I regularly see 28 mpg on the highway.
There’s a few downsides… like many of these cars, the body quivers on its mounts over bumps, the engine pings on anything less than premium fuel and, possibly the body layout favors trunk space over rear seat leg room, although I’ve had no complaints.
Finally, one can feel the solid rear axle, over bumps and rough roads. Someone getting out of a modern, unit-body IRS car would find this quite an alarming throwback in ride and overall feel.
But plenty of people accept the same feel and characteristics in SUV’s, because there’s a utility benefit. The GM has this utility trade-off covered. Its virtues of space, durability, comfort and economy offset these detriments.
Clean or replace the MAF then clean out the EGR passage at the throttle elbow and you should be able to run regular gas again. If that doesn’t cure it then you can always pull the octane adjust jumper near the EDIS module.
Jacques Nasser is in my view – when everything is said and done – one of the worst managers Ford had. I would not put him on the same level as Roger Smith of GM but his cost-cutting obsession de-contented Ford products to the point where Korean cars were a decade earlier. Typical short-term gain to be followed by long-term losses. And in so far as the Panther was concerned, his hate of that platform meant that FoMoCo totally missed the chance to get on the same bandwagon as Chrysler did with the 300 and its derivatives. And it’s not like Ford did not have something it could use.
I love my current car, but I often wondered what I would replace it with if it was in a wreck. Since I love my car dearly and would be very sad if it was totaled (2012 Ford Fusion…touch wood, no jinxie), a recent “a ha” moment came to this what-if scenario: the Grand Marquis. That’s it! There’s my answer. Suddenly I don’t feel depressed at the thought anymore of losing my true love (“sorry dear..”). And they’re around 5 to 8 thousand Canadian dollars these days, so they’re cheap too.
I can’t imagine what it would be like to go from a tight-handling, space-efficient Fusion to a Grand Marquis, but I can’t imagine it would be a pleasant transition.
I went in the opposite direction–Crown Vic to Fusion. Yes, definitely more space-efficient (though quite heavy for its size), and it handles quite well for a family sedan. But it’s left me pining for that old-school 4.6 and 4R70W. The base engine is totally overmatched–175 lb-ft is not enough for a 3650 lb. car. And the 6-speed auto is total garbage–hunts, shifts hard, holds gears way too long, just unpleasant as hell.
Both have their benefits as well as faults.
After hearing about how wonderful Panthers were for years and years on various Internet sites, I finally ended up driving one courtesy of Hertz on one of my annual Richmond to Bangor trips to visit the in-laws. Summer of 2008 sticks in my mind.
Which gave me the firm conviction that this has to be THE most overrated piece of vehicular crap available for sale in my lifetime. I never knew a car so large and roomy could be so uncomfortable, with driving dynamics out of my childhood, lousy gas mileage, and an amazing lack of general comfort for the three of us traveling (wife, sister-in-law, and myself) despite the size of the car.
Probably most damning was my SiL’s comment of, “You couldn’t have gotten another (2007) Hyundai Sonata like last year?” Which, at the time, was probably one of the more pleasant automotive surprises that I’d gotten in years.
This is definitely a car that can only appeal to those who actually wanted automotive technology to stagnate in the 1970’s. Sorry, but the combination of V-8, RWD, bench seat and column shifter is not automotive nirvana. Ten years later, I still remember what a piece of crap that car was.
I suspect that those here who “Trash Talked” the Grand Marquis approached the car with a negative, already made up, closed mind before they even opened the door of the car?
If one is biased towards disposable front wheel drive foreign (or foreign copy) smaller cars; there is no way on God’s green earth that they will find much good in this admittedly old fashioned, big American car.
Mark, I think you’ll find the comments have been pretty much a love-fest towards the Panther platform.
Let’s not make presumptions about fellow commenters.
I approached my rental Crown Vic with an open mind, enjoyed the experience, but would never care to own one. I’m in the minority, it seems, as the Panther platform has a lot of fans on this site.
My comment was not directed at you, William.
I had quite the opposite outlook prior to driving one. I never expected it would feel so flimsy, slow, and poorly-assembled.
But yes, anyone with differing tastes to yours must be harboring some bias.
The only time I’ve been in a Panther was a rental GM several years back, probably a 2010. It ride felt more composed than I was used to in GM B bodies, but the interior seemed a bit cramped with the shorter wheelbase, especially in the back. The thing that sticks out most in my mind, though, were that the headrests were tilted very far forward, such that they forced my head to be tilted farther forward than what was comfortable. I tried to adjust them, but couldn’t figure out how to. If they are actually not adjustable, that would be a dealbreaker for me.
Funny you mention those headrests, My Mrs. and I sat in a Flex when they first came out (around 2007 or so) and noticed the very same thing. Those headrests would have been a deal-breaker for me too.
Your mention of the CV/GM short 114 inch wheelbase makes me wonder why they did not move to the longer extended taxi wheelbase/body exclusively at the last major redesign. 114 inches was always too short for decent rear leg room, and also made entry/exit from the small back doors a bit awkward. My kids noticed that immediately when we made the switch to my mother’s 93 Crown Vic LX from my 89 Cadillac Brougham.
My parents drive a 2010 Grand Marquis LS Ultimate Edition. I also wondered what was particularly ultimate about it, as it has a pretty standard set of features and is missing the few options that might make the Ultimate tag mean something (no sunroof or heated seats). I wonder if at some point all LS trim models got the “Ultimate” badges…
Theirs being the next to last model year, I’m always tempted to find a silver paint marker and turn it into a Penultimate Edition.
I’ve ridden in a few Panther taxis, ex-cop cars. The sounds the driveline made, from the intake hoot, to the gentle whir of the trans in 1st, were almost the same as every big Ford since 1965. Despite all the iterations of engines over the ages, from FE to 385 to Windsor, it still had THAT Ford sound. My father used to get a new Galaxie or LTD company car yearly in the 60s, and closing my eyes and hearing those sounds took me straight back to 1967.It was comforting, soothing, even
Ultimate Panther? 1990 – 1997 Lincoln Town Car.
The 1971 Brougham four door hardtop gets my vote.