Like a surfer looking back and seeing a huge gray snout with multiple rows of big sharp teeth gaining on him, so felt the average American motorist for about two decades when looking in the rear-view mirror and seeing the above sight. A cold sweat, a clenching of the buttocks, and perhaps a quick glance for a way out was the natural result in both cases. Unlike in the surfer’s case though, speeding up to try and escape would be ill-advised.
Yet here we are, and today, the tables are turned. You don’t mind if we take a quick look inside the car, do you?
The Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor (P71) has long been a very popular vehicle in law enforcement circles, and a lot of what made it popular there also made it popular on the used car market both for taxi companies as well as private individuals that wanted what they perceived as generally a decent value for money at the government auction. Of course the Crown Victoria model was also sold directly to the public with some differences in civilian form along with its kissing cousin, the Mercury Grand Marquis.
These days, MGMs are very common in the junkyard, but Crown Victorias somewhat less so, curiously probably about half of the ones I do see are Police Interceptor (P71) models such as this one that has been retired from active duty and now also retired from whatever its second life was. Some though are still serving in active duty today, my town still has several as do many others.
This one is a little more interesting than most since it still features some of the law-enforcement “goodies”. It has though been repainted in all white (or at least the formerly black exterior bits have been made to match) and looks to have served in a private role since being auctioned off. The Crown Vic was restyled from its previous aero-style to this look back in 1997 which served and protected it through 2011, when it was finally discontinued after being available fleet-only for the last four model years.
The best defense is always a good offense and what better than a big metal pushbar on the front of a sedan in today’s traffic with behemoth SUVs and pickup trucks everywhere. This one even looks to have seen action! A genuine police officer might use this device to help clear an accident scene by pushing a stricken vehicle to the side, but think of how useful this might be when you’re 22nd in line at the Starbucks drive-thru and need that Venti Quad-Macchiato RIGHT. NOW.
Or how useful 4 gazillion candlepower might be when you’re faced with yet another baby-Bro with an LED lightbar on his Nissan Xterra stopped at the light directly across from you that has it blazing and melting your eyeballs at 1pm in the afternoon on a sunny day. Just fire up this baby and use the handle inside to aim it. Problem likely solved – if it is in fact an Xterra. Don’t try it with an all black RAM 3500 though, those dudes sometimes have real firepower handy that’ll quickly make the LED lightbar a non-issue, comparatively speaking.
This one used to have at least five antennas on the trunk lid, now four are plugged off and there is only one left, which still will stop people from passing on the highway. The white repaint here is interesting and gives the game away by having the upper sections of the tail lights painted in order to apparently give the rear end sort of a light-bar look or something. It’s actually surprisingly effective at changing the rear look of the car somewhat, the Crown Vic did have some of the largest all red tail lights in existence.
There’s the magic phrase on the lower left of the trunk lid that makes normal people think these must have sported at least 400hp and that they’d outhandle anything that even tried to ignore the command to “Pull It Over! Pull It Over Right Now!”
Sadly (or not?) that wasn’t really the case. Over the years (1998-2011 for this bodystyle) only the 4.6liter V8 was offered in slightly differing outputs depending on year, I believe the 2001 examples such as this one were blessed with 235hp @ 4,750rpm and 276 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm, actually surprisingly high rpm points for those peaks. The transmission was a 4speed automatic in all years, in this case a 4R70W. While they surely make noise when the driver decides he needs to speed to a scene, the initial acceleration does seem more noise than motion, however they do eventually all get there.
So what about the cop motor, cop shocks, cop brakes etc? Well, this IS the “performance improved” motor that gained 20hp over the previous few years (but lost some torque), it also has a larger radiator and external cooling for the transmission, power steering, and engine oil. It shifts a little more aggressively and the torque converter is a sturdier unit. This year’s model was limited to 124mph (as opposed to 110mph for civilian models). Our esteemed editor-in-chief got popped at 130mph some years back, presumably not by a 2001 P71 as he would have been walking away from it at that speed.
These also come with heavier duty shock absorbers and a stainless dual exhaust system. The brakes though are apparently the same size as the normal ones.
If you do decide to run and you fail, well, you’re going down, brutha! But first you’ll get prostrated over this fender here, laid chest first onto the probably by now searing-hot hood and searched for weapons, contraband, and anything else you might be carrying. Crime doesn’t pay!
Curb weight was almost 4,000 pounds for the standard Crown Vic, add a bunch of equipment, some light artillery in the trunk, two officers and maybe half a box of donuts along with some stale coffee and it’s probably pushing closer to 5,000 pounds. Besides the (alleged) perpetrator himself, weight surely is the enemy as well.
The trunk that held much of that equipment is here, behind what seems to be the official tire of the Rocky Mountains, an oversize BF Goodrich All-Terrain KO2. No there was not a lifted P71 for our area, but if there was it probably would wear these tires. The trunk though is fairly large although it sports a fairly high liftover height and the shelf at the back is a long reach – which is where the spare tire normally sits.
Unless Ford took a page out of Mercedes’ book and painted their trunk lid interiors black, I have every confidence that this used to be a black and white liveried car. The red light is a nifty feature, it’s actually a magnetic-backed light with a switch on the back to turn it on or off. I have no idea if that is official police equipment or just something this car had, but it seems like a handy item to have. I now wonder why I didn’t take it for myself. This one also sports the federally mandated glow in the dark “LemmeOuttaHere” pull-cord in case a perp accidentally falls into the trunk and the lid closes on him. Or her.
Wheels are the quickest way for any car person to spot an undercover police car (well that, along with the multiple antennas, low trim level, usually monochromatic paint, minimal chrome, and two dudes smoking while drinking copious amounts of coffee inside), and of course the marked units use the same items, black steel wheels with a small chromed center cap, (usually the ONLY chrome on the car), and beefy-ish tires. These here aren’t police issue tires, but I do have to say that “DieHard” would be a fantastic name for cop tires, in this case they are the brand name of tires sold at Sears.
The P71 package is denoted right there in the VIN, characters 5-7, and like all of these this fine American car was assembled outside of this country. Or our 51st state, depending on who you ask (not me).
By 2001, Ford had decontented the Crown Vic quite a bit and for police duty, that decontenting went to eleven. But some other things were added. The custom steering wheel cover is not one of those items. Here though we can see the handle for the pillar mounted light and also the remnants of the matching unit on the passenger side.
The dashboard is really basic, along the lines of a Rubbermaid tote, but I suppose it lends itself to easy cleaning and long life, things that matter more than pretty much anything else in this line. If you wanted something a little fancier, you visited the Mercury side of the showroom. Or ordered a fancier Crown Vic I guess. Or a Lincoln Town Car, also based on the same Panther chassis. See the button in the middle of the dashboard? That’s the trunk release button, located there only on these models, normally it’s on the driver’s door panel.
The police package also gets one a set of genuine bucket seats instead of anything benchy, and look how wide they are! So wide that the seatbelt has to come through the bottom cushion. They are clad in a sort of black and white (hey!) peppered cloth material that feels pretty grippy even without various grippy-looking sticky fluid stains on them as with these examples. And who doesn’t love a vinyl floor!
What perp wouldn’t like to get cuffed and stuffed into this backseat? While it’s of course possible that there was a slight mix-up on the production line, it’s more likely that an enterprising owner got rid of the hard fiberglass vomit-proof rear bench and installed a far more comfortable item from a Lincoln. The color even matches.
The P71 also got an instrument panel with various bits of info and of course most importantly a 140mph speedometer with Certified Calibration.
I thought these things were supposed to last forever? 104k seems kind of not so. Either the car broke or the odometer did but since the top of the engine was disassembled a few pictures ago, I’m guessing the odometer is fine.
While I adore the Zero F’s Given mounting method securing the cupholder and CD/tape holder to the floor (two phillips screws into the floor), the electronic button gizmo made by Code3 up front intrigued me. I like the warning that the round things are not to be used for lighting cigarettes (what are they, power ports?) but what do all of the red buttons do? They are marked (from left to right): Rotate, Rear FL, Take Down, L Alley, and R Alley. I think L Alley and R Alley are for the A-pillar lights, the others I’m not sure. “Take Down” is the one that frightens me the most I think.
Under the hood was this thing attached to the side of the engine bay, which appears to be the service center used by this police force. Very handy, if it breaks down, pop the hood, and hey, let’s call Espino’s! Espino’s is in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, so part of the Inland Empire area, so this car was likely part of one of the police forces out there. I always thought all police departments had their own motor shop (like where Harlan ran the show on CHiPs), but apparently not. Or maybe Espino’s handled the stuff the department couldn’t do in house. Apparently they pride themselves on their service. I’d probably be even more service-minded than usual in my own business as well if every one of my clients carried a gun and a taser.
We don’t really know what brought this one here, but the boys in blue divested themselves of it some time earlier. Perhaps if Espino had the chance it would still be out there, who knows. But for now, as a public service remember, you just might be able to outrun the car, but you can’t outrun the Motorola…
(Author’s note: All of my police info was gleaned from watching way too much television over the years, if any genuine officers reading this feel I was misrepresenting anything, I sincerely apologize and meant no disrespect, please take it up with Hollywood, I can’t do time in the hole.)