Some time back, I shared with fellow Curbsiders the hunt for and eventual bagging of my son’s first car – a 1989 Mercury Grand Marquis (CC Here). Well, here we are about two and a half years and about 21,000 miles later, and it is time to make a decision.
The MGM has been a great car for my son Pierce. When he bought it, he was a student sports broadcaster and the big gray Mercury took him safely and comfortably to many cities in the Big Ten Conference (and beyond) – just as it was designed to do. He has now graduated from college and is moving on to the next stage of life – which will not involve a car.
This next stage is a bit of a twist, as he has determined that there are more important things in life than calling athletic events. He has applied to and been accepted by the Dominican Friars with the idea of coming out the other end in six years as a Dominican Catholic priest. He will begin the first year of his Novitiate without a cell phone or computer, and also without a certain gray Mercury. And tell the truth – if a guy is going to be limited to actually owning only one car in his life, could he have done much better?
So, what is the problem? About eight weeks ago, yours truly swapped cars with the lad for a day and was greeted by the unpleasant sensation of the car revving freely after shifting into overdrive. The short version is that after a fluid change, the AOD transmission shifts smoothly and pleasantly through all gears, which is not a good thing. When an AOD shifts smoothly and pleasantly into 3rd gear, this clearly announces that something is wrong with it. It also slips a bit on hard throttle in third gear and slips wildly in 4th/overdrive. Driven gently in D3, the car is perfectly serviceable for short hops, but we have been avoiding highway running (which is, of course, the Panther’s natural habitat.)
The car has had several things done while in our stewardship, including a water pump, air pump, exhaust system and universal joints. We have also replaced the Autolamp switch, the ignition switch, and all belts and hoses underhood. The 5.0 uses no oil and always starts right up. Everything else works as it should, though the a/c seems to have a slow leak which requires a small annual spritz of R12 to be 100%. It also suffered a couple of scars from life in his college apartment parking lot, such as the missing hood ornament and a small dent in the decklid. The lesson here is to never let members of the inebriate into close contact with a docile Panther.
A local transmission shop has quoted $1000 for a used tranny with a 6 month warranty or a rebuilt unit with an 18,000 mile warranty for $1,500. At one point, I thought I might like to buy this cat for myself, but have decided that it doesn’t really fit a need. It is way too nice for an occasional-use beater (the role of my 93 Crown Victoria), and if I were to keep a third “play car”, I have concluded that it would be something less practical (or simpler) than a box Panther sedan. While I think it is too nice of a car to dump as a project, the decision will ultimately be my son’s to make. As it stands, he is reluctant to part with four figures for a car that he will not be keeping beyond the end of July.
So anyhow, the decision has been made that the car has to go, but little friendly advice from such an august source as the Curbside Cognoscenti can never hurt. The car’s owner is asking $1850 as is, which seems to me to be really priced to sell. Paul Niedermeyer is , of course, completely crushed. You see, he had been lusting after this car forever until he finally could wait no longer and settled for that oh-so-common Acura. So maybe there is someone out there who has been looking for a nice car to go with the perfectly good AOD that has been sitting out in the back shed. So, what say you, Curbsiders? Any good counsel on finding a suitable home for our pet Panther would be appreciated. If there are any specific questions about the car, you can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.