Not the car. That’s not the complicated part—in fact it could be argued that the Crown Victoria is one of the less complicated cars of modern times (if you can call something from 1997 “modern”.) No, it’s my relationship with this uncomplicated piece of American Iron that has some complexity to it. You could call it love-hate, but that’s a little extreme in either direction. Like-dislike? Maybe.
I’ve known this car for quite some time. It started back in October 2003, when my parents called me to tell me they had bought a new (to them) car. They’d been driving the 1991 Accord that I passed to them the previous year, and had been looking for a second car when they found this ’97 Crown Vic at Carmax. It only had 33,000 miles on the odometer, not bad for six years old. I had the chance to put it through an extended test that December, when I borrowed it to take to Florida with friends to watch our college’s football team play in a bowl game. I found it to be a great highway car, and a logical successor to the ’91 Crown Vic I had owned a couple years prior. A few months after that, the extended warranty they bought with the car paid for itself, as the transmission failed, a repair that would have been over $2000 (the torque converter was replaced as well). Not the most confidence-inspiring thing to happen to your new (to you) car, but at least it was fixed and it didn’t come out of their pocket.
Back when it was still relatively new to the family…
Aside from that incident, the car served them well and without complaint for 9 years. It needed a few things along the way (2 catalytic converters probably the most expensive) but nothing out of the ordinary. As 2012 wore on, though, they started to think about replacing it, as it was 15 years old and counting. In November of 2012 they purchased the Crown Vic’s replacement, staying within the Panther family and buying a 2010 Mercury Grand Marquis LS. With that purchase, the Crown Vic became a second car for a couple who didn’t really need two cars, with Dad close to retirement and Mom not driving all that much anymore.
This worked out in our favor, as the Alero was fading fast at this point (COAL entry 2 weeks prior). Earlier that year, my parents had said that we could have the Crown Vic whenever they upgraded, and true to their word, they signed the title over in the last few days of 2012 and my time with the car began. Despite being on the eve of its 16th birthday, the Crown Vic still had only about 95,000 miles on the clock—just barely broken in for one of these cars. Upon trying to get it registered in Virginia, I promptly failed inspection due to the driver’s side power window deciding to stop working. A minor annoyance, but it didn’t exactly get things off on the right foot.
Taking a moment to analyze the car itself, it was one that I was familiar with in many ways, having owned a ’91 Crown Vic and an ’03 Marauder. This one was Panther #3, so I was quite familiar with many of the virtues and drawbacks. 1997 was the last year of the “aero” body style, with its six-window roofline and wide, sweeping taillamps. Generally a good-looking car for something so large, though the front clip was marred by a grille that looked like the afterthought it was. Ford had brought the redesigned ‘Vic to market in 1992 with a grille-less nose that mimicked the Taurus’s front-end treatment, but it evidently didn’t go over well with the car’s conservative buyers. The 1993 model featured a hastily added-on grille in place of the former nose panel, and that stuck around until ’97 with only a couple of minor changes to the insert. Handsome alloy wheels were part of the LX package, though a bit small in the fenderwells at only 15”.
This particular Crown Vic was finished in Performance White (ironic, no?) with a willow green cloth interior. The interior just may be my favorite part of the car, with the complete disappearance of colorful interiors shortly after this car’s 1997 model year. It’s a muted green, but it’s definitely, unmistakably, GREEN. The dash, the carpets, the seats, the headliner, everything. Colorful interiors may be making a comeback, but they haven’t reached this level yet. The fabric has a nice velvet-like texture as well, compared to the more industrial-feeling fabrics that seem to dominate modern interiors. It may not hold up quite as well, but it feels quite nice. The stock radio had developed some issues, so I replaced it with a Sony unit that adds Bluetooth capability and an aux input. I appreciated the fact that the color of the front panel illumination was adjustable, so I could match it to the cool green of the car’s dash lights for a look that didn’t stray too far from stock. Peculiarly for an otherwise well-trimmed car, it was not equipped with keyless entry.
Mechanically, this car was still for the most part riding the 1979 frame that dated to the original Panther platform. There were updates to the steering and brakes for the 1992 redesign, but it was not a clean-sheet design. The engine was, however, new for ’92, moving from the old reliable 5.0 pushrod V8 to the new reliable 4.6 SOHC V8. The “mod” 4.6 would come to have arguably an even better reputation for reliability and bulletproof operation. For the ’97 Vic, it was rated at 190 HP/260 lb-ft torque, which doesn’t sound like all that much, but it’s suitable for the relaxed character of the car. Also, despite its 212 inches of length, curb weight was a respectable 3800 lbs. so it wasn’t all that stressed. The 4R70W transmission backed it up, an evolution of the AOD (-E) that was found behind so many of its 5.0 forbears.
So, we have a low mileage example of an utterly reliable, dependable, and spacious car. And in my ownership, these traits have continued. It mostly takes me to work and back, with a few solo trips to North Carolina for football games or events with friends thrown in. I haven’t exactly racked up the miles, but as of earlier today it’s a little over 114,400. And in three years and about 20,000 miles, what has gone wrong? Very little. I’ve replaced a ball joint, two window regulators (on the same window) and a wiper arm. The exhaust hangers had to be replaced, but that was my own fault via an unintended encounter with a streetside brick planter box. Beyond that, just routine maintenance.
This car is, essentially, the perfect beater. It’s the flip side of the argument that sometimes the lowest running costs can be found in a newer economy car. Granted, it’s a bit of a special case in that I know the history going back 10 years, and that the car was given to me (though that can also be seen as a long-delayed repayment of the unequal trade by which my parents ended up with the Accord.) But the running costs have been almost nil over three years other than gas, and it’s dirt cheap to insure. As a big V8 cruiser, gas costs aren’t negligible, but it doesn’t do too badly—averages around 17 city, 25 highway. Keep gas in it, keep the tires inflated and the fluids topped off, and it gets me where I need to go. If the transmission holds up (the one potential trouble spot on these cars) it’s entirely conceivable that this car will still be fully serviceable 10 years from now.
But, as I said, it’s complicated—and in some ways this car’s utter reliability isn’t helping any. You’d think that a car this reliable, with low cost to operate, and in the “big V8 American sedan” class that I’ve chosen many times before, would be about perfect, right? It should be. But it just isn’t. I just can’t make myself like this car very much. Some days, I rather dislike it. Other days, it’s more neutral, but it rarely strays over the line into like, and love isn’t even in the picture right now. It’s slow, it doesn’t handle well, it’s old but not old enough to be knocking on the door of classic-dom. More importantly, it pales in comparison to my previous panthers. And my wife’s feelings are more unambiguous—she hates it. She won’t drive it and doesn’t even like riding in it—according to her, it ages her 10 years instantly. She wanted to sell it to get something less “old person-ish” soon after we got it, but I pointed out that it would be unwise to trade a known quantity for an unknown one, especially at the price we could have gotten.
And that’s really the heart of the matter. I don’t love it, but it’s too reliable and cost-efficient to get rid of. How do you justify that? You don’t. There is not one good reason to get rid of this car, and several thousand good ones to keep it, in the dollars we don’t spend paying for another vehicle or paying for repairs on something less reliable. From a numbers perspective, the choice is clear. Keep it until a problem occurs that isn’t cost effective to fix. Considering I do some of my own work, that “not cost effective to fix” problem would likely only be a total transmission failure, a major engine issue, or an accident. Rust is a non-issue; there isn’t any to speak of. Southern climates have been good to this car.
The model script, slightly askew after 19 years…
From an emotional perspective–that’s where the complication comes in again. While I’m extremely grateful that my parents gave us this car, it also makes me feel like I’m turning into my father, driving an old, well-worn, less-than-desirable car because it got the job done. He did this because he’s never been a car guy, and at times, it was the only choice he had. I *am* a car guy, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this article. And the longer I drive this car, the less time I’d have to be driving something more interesting, or more fun, or more useful, or all of the above–my ideal replacement would be a sports wagon of some sort. Maybe a Volvo V70R. Maybe something else entirely. But something that I picked out, something that didn’t just land in my driveway and take up residence there. But every time I think about it, the rational part of my mind nixes the idea, and I’m back where I started.
I really hope I’m not coming off as spoiled or ungrateful–I realize that to be handed a stone reliable car, as a gift, is something that not a lot of us are lucky enough to experience, especially once you’ve reached a point in life that includes gainful employment and functional independence. So I am especially grateful, and not having to put money into this car has let us put it other places, like buying a house last July. And that makes me feel even more guilty about my lack of affection. It’s a vicious cycle. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a bad problem to have. A First World Problem to be sure.
Maybe one day in a fit of pique I’ll actually list it for sale. Maybe my wife will decide she’s tired of looking at it in the driveway and try to persuade me to get rid of it, rather than her current approach of “disdain from afar.” Or maybe the transmission will give up the ghost (again). But let’s not invite calamities here. More likely, I’ll keep driving the Crown Vic, as long as a big problem or a litany of small ones don’t materialize all at once. Familiarity breeds contempt, but it can also breed affection. It’s a funny thing that way. Nothing lasts forever, after all–and I’ll keep dreaming of what might my next Car of a Lifetime might be.
[While we’ve now covered both my own and my wife’s current drivers, there’s one more Car of a Lifetime yet to be covered, so stay tuned next week for the conclusion of the series…]
One of my best friends since childhood currently drives one of these as a hand me down also (I think it’s a 1998+, with the updated front, etc.). I am aware I will likely get flack for these sentiments, but I just do not get the appeal. It drives more like the Econoline conversion van I grew up in than any other vehicle i’ve ever driven. It hasn’t been what I would call exactly reliable, on the whole. Worst of all, these are not that roomy inside, backseat in particular. They strike me as an obvious relic of the past, plus airbags, ABS, and aero styling. Another great friend of mine owned two separate MN12 Cougars in the past, and they seemed to be a vastly superior compromise. To each their own..
Hey, you won’t get any flack from me. These were relics with a new body. Ford milked an old platform for years and let private buyers slowly disappear rather than develop a new RWD chassis, something they could have used for a Lincoln as well.
I know many on here praise these Panthers and I can understand why. These are AMERICAN cars. Show me one other country that was making anything even close to this in 1997. Even our Aussie Falcon was smaller. And I was discussing this with Brendan Saur yesterday: that sheer American-ness makes these cars so unique. But it doesn’t necessarily make them wonderful cars. A ’97 Avalon, for example, is a plush cruiser with better manoeuvrability, a more space-efficient interior and better fuel economy. Funnily enough, that’s where a lot of private buyers ended up going as the Crown Vic became more and more of a fleet queen. For most people, short of towers, police officers and taxi drivers, something like an Avalon was probably a better buy.
The Aussie Fairlane is pretty comparable to the Crown Vic in size, internally at least.
Chris I would say keep commuting in the Crown Vic, but if you can get a fun car for the weekend, or a ‘good’ car for going out to dinner in as well. I had my first car for 5-6 years during which time I was tempted and went car shopping a few times (for older, less practical cars!) but I think staying with the car I had was the right thing to do.
I know there’s a lot of Panther Love out there but if the car isn’t for you, it isn’t for you. I know what it’s like to have a car that you like/dislike. My current car, a Holden VE Calais (basically a luxury Pontiac G8), looks great inside and out and if you take it out on a twisty road, the steering is wonderful and it handles like a sport sedan (my year had the SS suspension). But as a commuter, I find the suspension too stiff and surprise surprise, I commute much more often than I race around mountains. I contemplated selling it and I even listed it online but had no decent offers. I would’ve actually foregone a car for a little while while I figured out what I really wanted to drive but, as it did with you, logic set in: it still ran well and I would’ve probably lost money selling it and buying a different car. While the Calais wasn’t given to me, it was a car I hurriedly bought because I was back from the US and I was car-less.
I know these Crown Vics have their appeal – easy to repair, decently fuel efficient – but to me, it just wouldn’t be enough of any one attribute to please me. If I wanted a big battleship for cruising, I’d prefer something with a bit more luxury: a DeVille, perhaps, or a Town Car. These Crown Vics don’t handle especially well (I know from experience) and they are just a tad too big for my liking.
Life is too short to waste time driving a car that doesn’t satisfy you. Get rid of it.
I had to laugh when I started reading this article as I, too, bought a ’97 Panther in 2011. It had only 34K miles, too.
I had to sink about $2500 into it over the four years of ownership: new catalytic converter/some emission thing, new front brakes and new brake lining.
In August of 2015, someone pulled out from a stop sign and BAM!! Bye-bye 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis with only 53K on it. Repair cost: over $4500; totaled.
In need of transportation, I saw a 2006 Ford Crown Victoria LX Sport with 63K. Silver with a black cloth top. I wanted another solid car and hopefully I’m lucky.
Looks like a great donet car for a lit car like maybe a 35 Ford
I understand your sentiment. I currently drive a ’94 Cutlass Supreme. I bought it 15 years ago with some body damage and 93,000 miles. Collision repair is my profession, so that was not an issue. The owner did not want the car anymore, so I was able to buy it at a reasonable price. I had to body repair work done and my wife used it as her car for several years. I upgraded her to an ’01 Tahoe about 8 years ago and have been driving the Cutlass ever since. Fast forward to 2016. It now is 22 years old and has just shy of 230,000 miles on it. In those 15 years I have done all the normal maintenance including struts, ball joints, and a/c compressor. The engine and transmission have never had any internal problems. It consistently gets 24 mpg in my 12 mile mostly freeway commute. Unlike you, I do like this car. I would be satisfied driving it for many more years. It is white with a red interior, probably my all time favorite color combo that no longer exists. It is a full sized car, which is what I desire, yet it is not huge and has very good all around visibility. My thoughts for many years have been as yours; I cannot afford to replace this car. My budget is limited, so I could upgrade 10 or 15 years, but I very likely would have a newer car with the same problems I have now. It could fall apart today and I would feel blessed to get so much use out of a $3,000 investment.
But reality is setting in. I fully realize it’s days are numbered. While it still looks good from twenty feet, the effects of the Texas sun are taking it’s toll. I don’t care for the complexities (and many other things) of the 21st century cars. But I don’t have what it takes to beat the effects of aging on an old car. So I am thinking it is time to upgrade. I haven’t quite come up with a plan of action yet. I may upgrade my wife and take on her Tahoe, which I really don’t care for. I am just not a SUV man. A panther certainly is a potential consideration. But I feel your like/dislike for them. I have never lived with one, but I’ve been around many through work. I like old cars, so the conventional full frame, V8, rear wheel drive does have its appeal. But that in turn is what I don’t like about them, an outdated design that has lived too long. Oh, the trials of an indecisive person…
I also owned a 1994 Cutlass Supreme that was white with maroon interior trimmed in leather with buckets seats and floor shifter. That was an awesome car that I miss to this day! The 3100 was creamy smooth and other than an intake gasket at 120k miles utterly reliable and efficient. The 4T60 trans axle never missed a beat and shifted so smooth you seldom ever noticed. That maroon leather interior drew so many comments I lost track. Most thought it was really cool. Other than an alternator, the intake gaskets, which we did ourselves with an aftermarket upgrade set for only $32.00, a driver’s side power window motor at 160K miles and a passenger side ball joint soon after it was super reliable and went well over 200K still running like new! Those were back in the days when I put 30-40K miles a year on a car and that $4,000 Cutlass served me really well and was a pleasure to own!
I get where you’re coming from with the lack of desire in owning the vehicle. We were given a Ford Escape XLT V6 almost 2 years ago. I don’t drive it much but it’s handy when we need it for camping, hauling the dog, bringing something bigger home (we have an Accord and a Fusion company car), or just going somewhere that is not a paved road. But I’m just not in love with it; how it leaks, how it’s a pain to change plugs, how everything feels a little more brittle than it should, and I’m just not a small SUV guy. My wife likes it a do now wants a boxy Pilot, new Explorer or 4Runner. Go figure. Maybe it’s time to back to a one car family (plus co car). But the Escape is handy when I need it and worth more alive than replaced.
Lots of mixed feelings going on with this Crown Victoria this morning; I get the love and I get the disdain. Having owned three Panthers over time they do have distinct qualities and shortcomings.
Some random thoughts…
There are a certain number of people who don’t like front-wheel drive for whatever reason (just like there are people who don’t like other types or varieties of vehicle) – the driving dynamics, the packaging, whatever. After about 2000, what rear-drive options were there? The choice was quite narrow and those that bought these were rewarded with a very durable and generally quite reliable car. What’s wrong with that?
My father-in-law loves these cars. I detest riding in the backseat of his Crown Vic and Grand Marquis (yes, he owns two, both ’03 models). With the seat adjusted for his 6’2″ frame, it’s all I can do to squeeze myself into the backseat.
For DIY’ers, these are awesome cars. Having wrenched on them, it is a joy to work on a car in which everything is easily accessible. On the flip side, I still have scars on my arm from changing the rear plugs on our old Taurus and nightmares about the timing belt on the wife’s old ’96 Escort.
The architecture was a relic from days gone by. Basic car construction has come a long way and the driving dynamics on these are simply different than other modern cars (and they are not like driving a conversion van; I have owned both, so I know). At this point, it’s preferential.
Do they got ponderous to drive in town? Yes, at times.
Do they gobble fuel? Yes, if you have an abnormally heavy foot. My ’01 got 20 mpg with my heavy foot. The 4.6 displays a very wide range of economy depending upon circumstances, which explains how it can sway from mid-teens to upper twenties. I’ve seen few engines that can mimic this better.
There is a distinct difference in driving dynamics between retail and police versions of the Panther platform.
Like politics, everyone has got their own opinion that has been formed from a combination of distinct events and perceptions.
Chris, keep the Vic; you would get little from selling it, so take the money you would spend on a replacement and get a fun car for the weekends. Or put it into your Malibu. Then you can get the best of both worlds – a nearly free beater and something you actually like.
Wonder if some of the thoughts expressed in this COAL indicate that it may be time for another cash for clunkers program. It seems there is a sense even from fans of full size cars that driving them as a commuter is old fashioned and wastefull. This feeling is only going to intensify if gas prices go back up. Even with cheap gas, new full size car sales keep trending down. I expect even the now almost full size Camry-Accord-Altima-Fusion-Malibu-Passat will be trending down over the next years.
The inherent durability of many full size cars keep many going long past when the manufacturer would have intended. A cash for clunkers program could get many people into new, efficient commuters and the factories busy building them.
Seriously? Most factories are running around the clock to keep up with demand. Did you not hear that 2015 was an all-time record? The only reason some bigger sedans are not selling quite as briskly is because more folks are going for CUVs and trucks, which use more gas than sedans, btw. And buyers have little interest in the smaller cars now.
Cash for clunkers required the purchase of cars with far higher CAFE mileage. While there are still efficient compacts that could pass a domestic content test, this could work. It is these factories most at risk.
Let’s suppose I submit my 2000 Ford van to cash-for-clunkers Version 2.0.
I would get maybe $3000 for it. If I was lucky. I paid $5500 for it in 2010. Repairs have consisted of $100 for a fluid change in the rear axle. That has been it.
In turn, I buy a spanking new Ford Focus. My fuel economy jumps from 15 mpg to 30 mpg. I now also owe about $17,000 in difference for a difference of 15 mpg with fuel at $1.50 per gallon at the moment.
How long does it take me to recoup this $17,000 at the 1500 miles per year I put on this thing? Or at the 8,000 miles per year I put on my pickup? Even my VW Passat, the family car, has just under 18,000 miles and I bought it September 1, 2014. In other words, I don’t put a lot of miles on a car.
A savings at the fuel pump by no means translates to an overall savings in ownership. Besides, I do believe any manufacturer can reallocate a factory to build something else.
Remember Chris’s Crown Vic is being used as commuter car. At 10k miles a year, several hundred gallons less of fuel has to be imported, emissions are less, Ford is able to make one additional Focus in Michigan, the local dealer makes one more transaction. With the crushing of another beater, the value of the remaining beaters rise and therefore fewer people can afford to drive. So total miles driven falls, and the virtuous cycle continues.
Who cares? I’m a Town Car/Grand Marquis guy when it comes to Panthers, but I much rather be motivating around town in this early aero Vic than a Focus (really, a Focus?! Blech…), gas mileage be damned.
10K miles a year? Hardly. You may have missed the part where I noted I’ve put less than 20K miles on it in a little over 3 years.
Not to mention I firmly believe that C4C was not motivated by environmentalism, but was instead a ploy by which the government helped the auto industry make money. So an encore of that program would have precisely zero interest for me.
As others have noted, I think the benefit to the environment from less gas usage and emissions is more than offset by the large amounts of energy and raw materials used to make that brand new car replacing it.
All C for C does is pull perfectly serviceable cars off the road. And pull tax dollars out of taxpayers wallets. And the engines are destroyed preventing another car to be recycled. It is a lot more environmentally friendly to keep a car on the road then to build a new car to replace it sooner. The improved MPG and emissions really don’t offset the resources it takes to build a new car to replace a perfectly functioning unit.
Use a car until it’s structurally unsound or needing major repair work far beyond it’s value, unless it’s a collector car that has decent value.
Of course, if the car is near and dear to your heart, then do what it takes to keep it on the road.
I detested cash for clunkers the first time around. Not many 80’s cars left around here because of it.
I really don’t understand the problem here. If you want sports car type of handling then buy a car that gives you that. If you want a highway cruiser then buy a full size car. Pretty simple until people expect all cars to do everything. All that means is that they need their heads examined.
To me these cars are fine. Growing up driving full sized cars of the 60’s and 70’s these Panthers are quite nice. Nonetheless, I have two full size cars from the 60′ – 70’s and enjoy them very much. I love the power and floating down the freeway with mileage be damned. If I want better handling them I go to my Mazda 626 and if really great handling my 2004 Focus. Each has their place and I am not confused.
If my wife had said that she wouldn’t be seen in a car because it aged her 10 years then I would sell something. Only it is prohibited by western society.
I watched way too many youtube videos of perfectly good B and D-bodies being euthanized to ever be in support of C4C v.2.
“Oh god, the humanity!”
Not euthanized – the clip I saw looked more like murder with extreme prejudice.
I meant euthanized sarcastically, but your point’s well taken.
One C for C point nobody noted – this car would not qualify. When C for C was up and running, I considered trading my 93 Crown Vic for a check – missed the MPG cutoff by one measley MPG. Yup, my 93 Vic was too fuel efficient.
So many replies! The troll succeeded.
John C. Wow.
Cash for Clunkers was an attempt to bolster auto manufacturers during the recession with a little red meat thrown in (or would the protein metaphor be “tofu”) for the more militant environmental crowd. It was a tax incentive to stimulate demand to replace cars with marginally more fuel efficient cars.
It was stupid from the word go.
By the time it actually happened, the auto industry had shed capacity, debt, and legacy obligations and was on the upswing. Government does not move fast, and time and again, nobody learns, it is a fool’s errand to time the market.
As others have mentioned, destroying a decent car and replacing it with an entire new one uses more resources and creates more pollution then maintaining the existing car.
The government, always awash in red ink, reduced its revenues to people well off enough to buy a new car during a deep recession. The word stupid just does not do this justice.
It also encouraged some not so bright consumers to go into debt to buy a car during a deep recession. Excessive personal debt was among the triggers of the recession.
The program reduced the pool of decent used cars needed by lower income people – during a recession, for crying out loud. The price of used cars actually spiked during a deep recession and borderline deflationary economy. How perverted is that?
There is absolutely no need for the government to stimulate the auto industry at this time – as others have mentioned, just about any idiot manufacturer can make money right now. Well, except maybe Mitsubishi in the U.S.
The United States has never been a significant importer of FUEL. During most of the last 50 years, the U.S. has been a significant importer of crude oil for the purpose of refining fuel. The U.S. has been a significant EXPORTER of FUEL during most of the last 50 years. Many countries that have crude oil available to export do not have refining capacity to create sufficient fuel, and actually import fuel.
As far as energy imports go at this time, the U.S. / North America does not import squat. Technology has allowed the U.S. to go energy independent enough that the government (stupidly) is considering allowing the U.S. to overturn laws passed in the ’70s and become a net exporter of unrefined oil products.
I owned a 97 Crown Vic for a short time. I agree, it was a great highway cruiser. Good on gas too..I was consistently getting 28 MPG in my 60 mile commute to work.
The cats needed replacing which would have cost more than I paid for the car. I was considering doing it when the fuel pump failed. That was the end of the road.
My folks ended up replacing both cats while they had the car, at something like $800 each. Not cheap, but it was worthwhile to them at the time, and I’m glad that’s one less thing I have to worry about. They are a wear item after all, just a very long-term one.
A few questions here ;
Will routine transmission fluid and filter changes avoid / delay the trans failures I read here so often ? .
Can’t you go through the suspension and replace the bushings with Poly and up grade the shocks / tires to make it handle better ? .
I don’t personally like big cars but I certainly love riding in them and I ken their attraction .
Sometime recently (and I wish I could remember where) I read there was a sensor that can go bad in these Fords and it is often misdiagnosed as a faulty transmission. In replacing the transmission, the sensor is replaced so nobody is the wiser.
Sadly, I cannot remember where I saw this, but hopefully it triggers something in somebody that is better versed.
Thanx Jason ;
I know a _LOT_ of people , even long time Mechanics who tell me ‘ if you change old burned ATF it will cause tranny failure ‘ ~ this goes against basic physics but I guess most folks would rather pay for a new tranny…(?) .
As I buy mostly end of life vehicles then proceed to rack up lots of hard miles on them , I usually get ATF that smells worse than navy coffee and takes several flush and fills before I get all the old fluid out of the torque converter , I’ve never had a failure yet .
FWIW ; a ” BG Machine ” is a marvelous thing indeed , I’ll never be happy until I personally have the pan off and old filter in my hand .
I’m hoping others will chime in here .
When I was an employ at a transmission repair shop I was sent to a class at a votech, and overheard some seasoned mechanics talking about a customer who wanted a trans flush but he said he would only do a few partial fluid changes over a length of time and miles, as opposed to doing a complete flush at one time. As the fluid was so badly burned it was the least risky option in an attempt to save the transmission. That was his approach, and it would make his shop some more money that way.
I heard that too. I think it is more than urban myth but no longer a common concern.
When the flushing systems were introduced there were plenty old transmissions on the road that had internal varnish built up. the complete flush introduced lots of detergents that made the varnish come off in chunks and caused blockages in various places that then caused transmission failures.
Meanwhile transmission fluids are less prone to cause varnish build up. therefore transmission failures after a flush are rarer.
Anyway, that’s what I was told.
Yes, I believe the modern auto trans fluids are vastly superior to atf’s of yesteryear. I upgraded the fluid in my 88 Ram truck which is a 3 speed Torqueflite, to Mopar brand ATF4 a couple of years ago. These new synthetic fluids are often reverse compatible with older transmissions. This transmission has 308,000 miles on it and has never been out of the truck and shifts like a dream on ATF4.
Nate, I had the 100K mile service done on my 2000 Town Car last April, with the recommended transmission drain and fill. The Lincoln dealer did it and the car now runs smooth as silk. I made sure they didn’t do a flush though, that can knock crud loose and cause problems.
Well on the 86-07 Ford Taurus/ Mercury Sable. The VSS (vehicle Speed Sensor( would start to die. This cause a condition where after the car warmed up, a slipping condition when it was shifting from 1st gear to 2nd gear would occur. As 99% of the time the speedometer worked fine(if the VSS totally dies then the Speedo stops working also) it was always misdiagnosed as a dying transmission and the owner ether spent a butt ton of cash on a unneeded trans replacement or the car was junked.
The real cause of the slipping trans was the faulty VSS sensor that cost about $25-$50 to buy and about 15 mins to replace. The sensor is mounted on the top of the trans. I did one on my folks Sable as it was having trans issues and it was slipping and my father who is a “glass half empty” guy proclaimed that they needed a new car as he was not dumping $3000 into the car for a new trans. I replaced the VSS sensor and the car worked fine again. That was back in 2013 and it still runs well enough today.
Some people swear by the 30,000 mile interval on the AODE/4R7W transmissions for optimum performance. Dropping the pan, changing the filter, getting all the old fluid out.
Many people with Panthers do the poly bushing upgrades, and many do the “big brake” retrofit, which necessitates a change to 16 in. tires, 225/60R16 to be exact, which helps cornering ability somewhat with the shorter sidewall.
A lot of guys on the Crownvic.net and Grandmarq.net put cop stuff into their civilian Panthers – the sway bars are a popular upgrade.
I had the fluid/filter in the trans changed in 2014–I was getting the “shudder” symptoms where the car would start bucking at part throttle. Some google searching showed that’s a symptom of EOL fluid in these transmissions, even though it didn’t look/smell scorched. Had it drained/filled and the problem cleared right up.
While it may be a problem of yesteryear, I’ve heard plenty of horror stories of people *flushing* transmissions and the pressurized feed dislodging crud that ends up causing total failure very soon afterward. I specified to the mechanic to gravity drain the trans and TC, change the filter, and refill, and *not* to hook it up to a flush machine for that very reason. Better safe than sorry.
As far as the suspension, if I had any more major work to do (the ball joint that I didn’t replace is probably due soon) going in and swapping the bushings for poly would be very much worthwhile. Same with the shocks/tires–if they need replacement in normal use, upgrades would be cost-effective (though I’d be loth to give up those attractive alloys to move to 16″ wheels.) But it’s not money I’m going to spend unless it’s on something that already needs replacement.
Routine fluid change is hardly ever routine for most people. Same goes for changing out the brake fluid on a routine basis. Coolant might get changed in cars but when it has a 5 year life span then most even forget about that.
All my cars get all fluids changed religiously on schedule. Plus, all ATX cars, have had trans coolers installed at the time of possession. In fact I just installed a cooler today in a recently obtained car after service by me.
Thanx to everyone who replied .
It’s good to get validation for my opinions , I’m always interested in learning new things but I’m a firm believer in fluid changes , I change any brake fluid I see that’s black , after the initial one I usually go about two to three years before it gets cloudy again , I flush it by pressure bleeding so no dirty brake fluid gets recycled through the system .
I’ve never actually used the B-G machine but I have friends who do and they’re famous for saving GM TH400 trannies that ‘ sing ‘ , this sound usually precludes total tranny failure .
Power steering fluid , too , if it’s not red and sweet smelling , I change it until it is and remains so .
Lubricants are the ‘ cheap mechanic ‘ .
I’m surprised in this day I and age how many People ignore changing or better yet, flushing their automatic transmissions. So far (knock on wood) I have yet to have any issues with any automatic transmission vehicle I have owned. It has been argued by some that automatic transmission fluid does not breakdown in the same manner as engine oil and therefore does not need to be replaced (think “sealed” transmissions) as often if at all. I’d rather err on the side of safety and flush the fluid, replace the filter and pan gasket, after cleaning the pan every 50,000 kms.
Chris: I can relate to your dilemma.
There are ways to reduce the pain.
1. Once a year spend a grand or so and go to a race track near you to drive a “dream car” or “exotic car” on a race track with an instructor.
2. Get a second car with manual transmission and go auto crossing.
3. Now and then rent a car you think you might like or one that makes you appreciate the Panther again.
Or: set a date when you will replace it no matter what.
Happened to be re-reading some of these replied and noticed your third comment, about renting? Yeah, that happened to me unintentionally. I was traveling for work the first three weeks of this month, and had a different rental car each week. Being that it was on the company’s dime, I was stuck with an “intermediate” which means, in real-life terms, compact/subcompact. Had a Cruze for a week, which I liked well enough for what it was. Had an Accent for a week, which was slow and had poor rearward visibility, but otherwise decent. And I had a Nissan Versa for the third week. *That* car made me appreciate the Crown Vic again. That Versa was by far the “worst” new car I’ve ever driven, and pretty high up there on the unpleasantness scale overall. Getting back into the Crown Vic was the lap of luxury in comparison.
Nothing like a bad car to make you appreciate a mediocre one. 🙂
I concur. I had the misfortune of getting a Nissan Versa Note as a rental, just last week. It must be one of the few cars on the market, that makes one envious of the Kia Soul drivers. Even the base Kia is totally luxurious compared to the versa.
And dont get me started on that cruel joke of a transmission. Cvt? Its essentially a scooter/moped transmission with the same feel. Rubberband transmission is what it really is.
Now compared to a new, say base minivan, grand caravan at $18 000, well, its night and day difference. Penalty box compared to comfortable, and actually pretty fast, cruiser. And at only $4000 difference.
The versa is a much inferior vehicle than it looks.
I’m in the same boat. I’ve had a 01grand Marquis for almost 5 years now and it’s boring and uninspiring, unengaging,,, I got it cuz I was cheap and it was only $3700 and I wanted to have a rear wheel drive car for a change..
But it’s been awesome. In 4.5 years my family has grown from 1 kid to 3 and it still gets the job done as a family transporter thanks to the super wide bench seat in the rear and deep cavernous trunk. I can sit 3 britax car seats accross and strollers, pack n play, 3 pieces of luggage and more in the trunk. It’s as reliable as the sunrise and that’s what makes you love these cars. Their workhorses that get the job done day in and out. Yes I want an optima sx or accord v6 but at the end of the day those come up short for my needs. This gets the job done.
Yeah, it sounds like you’re in the same boat as I was recently. I owned a 92 P74 for 8 and a half years and it was very good to my family and me, but as a car guy, your eye is always trained (with increasing intensity as time goes on) to the next thing.
I was lucky that I found a very nice 92 Roadmaster sedan last October and found a buyer for the Vic within about 2-3 weeks. It made the decision a lot easier, as I’ve wanted a Roadmaster for a very long time.
I drove the -11 grand marquee’s for a bit as a cab driver, when going through my divorce, I had to close my business and needed temporary work. At the time, my personal transportation was a 300C with the hemi, and I got to compare these vehicles closely, as I drove both every day over a period of time.
Now the 300 feels overall more modern, and has of course quite a bit more power. But thats where the benefits of the 300 stops, and the panther starts showing its benefits.
The biggest difference overall, save for the power, was that the panthers are far more solid, like in WAY more stable construction overall. Perhaps the best description of that in day to day driving, was that.with a panther, one could literally zoom over potholed roads, where the 300 and other unibody cars had to slow down, to not make passengers uncomfortable or uneasy.
The essence of this, is that in a panther, one can pickup and deliver passenger far more swiftly, keep a significantly overall higher average speed, while still keeping the customers happy. This simply means, more dollars per hour as a cab driver. Aslong as you dont let passengers see the speedometer, your good.
Personally I thought the 2011 grand marquee’s handled pretty well, and ive always been a leadfoot, taking any vehicle to its limits. Powerslides in a grand marquee? No problem.
After my first week of cab driving I needed new rear tires. Swift getaway wasn’t quite achievable in the rain at that point.
In our cab fleet, we had some retired police interceptor’s aswell, but although setup differently, not as good.for.quick passenger service. Too stiff suspension, high stall speed converter, higher final rear axle ratio etc. While all of this might have made a PI better at a lemonz race, it added more noise, vibration etc, and it was more obvious one were actually going pretty fast.
The 50mph these cars can comfortably deliver over potholed roads seems unbeatable in my book. Oh, and the trunk, whick can take a whole wheelchair, unfolded, straight in. Biggest dislike was interior smell. Plastics perhaps?
Even if this car guzzled more gas, I made more money per 12 hour shift than in a gas sipping minivan, given the big difference in possible driving dynamics.
Cars used to be made for public roads. Today’s cars are made for test tracks.
The ’11 would be a different animal handling-wise. Though the engine didn’t change a whole lot from ’92 to the end of the run and the body only got minor refreshes from ’98 forward, essentially the entire frame was redone for 2003. Along with the stiffer frame there were suspension changes and the steering went to rack and pinion across the board.
My ’03 Marauder had the upgraded components (along with bigger sway bars and wider tires) which helped explain why it handled *so* much better than does the ’97.
I have an ’07 Town Car, that I bought for $20k, 14 months old. It now has 150k miles, has never needed any major repair, is supremely comfortable and averages 22-24 mpg in my driving all over Texas. The other day, I needed to get back to my home in Houston for an event, left Junction, TX at 12:45 and arrived at my door at 5:10. That’s 311 miles straight at average 70 mph, with traffic in San Antonio. That night, it carried seven of us from a party to home.
Say what you want, they may not be too exciting, but they sure are reliable, comfortable and economical for size, which the majority sees as primary transportation functions.
From 2006-2009 I owned a civilian model 2001 Ford Crown Vic, burgundy with tan velour interior and even a rare factory moonroof. It wasn’t what you’d call exciting by any means, but it was comfortable, competent, reasonably quick, and rock solid reliable. In all the time I had it, I did absolutely nothing to it except for regular oil changes.
Over the time I had it, I did do a few upgrades- modified factory airbox, dual exhausts, and a rear sway bar- all sourced from junked Panthers at the local Pick-A-Part. When the tranny started slipping and the front suspension got loopy, I traded it on my clean, one-owner 1995 Lexus LS400 with only 80,000 miles on it.
Looking back, even after buying my Lexus I should have kept the Vic. I could have sold it for a lot more than I got in trade.
Great, but polish and reseal the headlamps (the preceding 5 words are a link) before you hit a pedestrian.
I’ve been meaning to do that, though they look worse in that last photo than they actually are. I’ve got one of the parts store kits, I think made by rain-x, in the rear floorboard waiting for a day where good weather and availability of my time coincide, and if that doesn’t do the trick, I’ll try the process in your link. Thanks for the tip.
I’ve tried two different kits for that, neither one helped. If I tried again, it would probably be a more serious kit like what 3M has that uses a buffing wheel.
Since I recently bought an 09 P71, I’ll add a few words. Yes, these cars are the equivalent of a LARGE (XTRA LARGE?) serving of vanilla ice cream. Even the fanciest Grand Marquis is pretty vanilla underneath. That said, there are times you want vanilla, but most of the time many folks here want Rocky Road, or Pistachio, or Cherries Jubilee. I’ve told myself that I got this old, full-sized, sedan as a temporary measure until I can save some more money and get the car I really want.
BTW, I agree with most of the negative comments here, such as “tight interior, for the large exterior size”, an engine that can see swings in fuel consumption that seem baffling, and a few others that escape me at the moment, but you do FEEL quite safe driving/being inside of it. And while it’s no fuel miser, what few repairs you need to make USUALLY won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
I sort of lived this story, having bought my mother’s 93 CV LX in 2005 with 63K on it. Finally let it go this past spring after Mom’s Lacrosse came into the family.
I get what you are saying, but I really liked the way my CV drove. Mine came with the good suspension setup with the sway bars, and was a very capable road car that had a smooth ride besides. Also, mine was built before the Nasser Cost Cutting binge that took many of the nice touches out. FWIW, I liked the grille treatment on your 97 better than on my 93.
I echo Jason, but will do so with more specificity. The solution to your problem is a late 90s Miata. When you feel like being a boy racer with the wind in your hair and when you feel like being floated along in serene comfort, you have a car that fits each occasion perfectly.
I dislike all the various grilles compared to the ’92 piece (if I ever find an intact white ’92 header panel in one of the local pick-a-parts, it’s coming home with me) but the later versions were less fussy than the early attempts. And I really think many of my quibbles are due to subconscious comparisons to my Marauder and to the folks’ ’10 Grand Marquis, both of which have the updated frame and steering.
The Miata Solution, or something like it, is not out of the question.
I think the 92’s look like four door Thunderbirds. Both front and rear. I especially like them in dark blue.
I find I get bored of any daily driver, regardless of its benefits. I like cheap vintage cars so I have a few on the go at any one time. Theres novelty value in simply driving something different on occasion. When I get bored or resentful of my daily driver, I wont get rid of it, I’ll just drive something else for a while. It’s a lot cheaper than buying and selling cars every time.
I still see Ford Crown Victoria cop cars on the road even today. Even though they were discontinued five years ago (2011). I compare the 1992-2011 aero versions of the Ford Panther cars (Crown Victoria/Mercury Grand Marquis) to the Chrysler M-Body cars(Dodge Diplomat/Chrysler Fifth Ave.) of the 1980s. They were tough as nails. It seemed like more people bought the Grand Marquis than the Crown Vic, as most of the Fords were cop cars. In fact, from 2008-2011, the Ford Crown Vic were restricted to fleet sales.
I’ve had a soft-spot in my heart for the Panther, especially the aero ones. I prefer the more luxury oriented ones, but even the Vics are nice. I think they handle just fine and are great highway cruisers. Like someone said above, they practically glide over potholes and speed bumps. That’s the one thing I wish my own 300c was better at, that glide makes for a much more luxurious feeling ride than anything else you can do for a car.
Panthers fit me like a glove and I don’t know how other folks figure it, but especially in the backseat of a Towncar, all 270 lbs. 6’4″ of me fits quite comfortably.
Personally, if I was the author, I’d drive that Vic into the ground and enjoy every 100k miles of it!
Very nice! I especially like that green interior. Back in about 2002, a coworker friend at the insurance company had a mint 1995 Crown Victoria LX, burgundy with matching interior. I detailed it for her, and the payoff was getting to drive it! It was so quiet and comfortable, I thought “I could get used to one of these” though at the time I had a most excellent Volvo 940SE in black over tan. Of course, you know the ending: Two Town Cars. 🙂
When can I come and buy it? How much do you want for it? Mind you its an old car and your wife doesn’t want it so don’t ask too much for it. 🙂
What you have with that car is not a problem it is an opportunity. With a reliable car like that you are free to buy any old beater that strikes your fancy. an old c4 Corvette, a big old Brougham of some type, maybe even something as reckless as an old English machine. Count your blessings and keep the Crown Vic!
If you ever do decide to sell it Chris, feel free to post it over at The Brougham Society. Odds are decent a like-minded individual will give it a good home.
embrace the Vic! The aeros are getting rare, in good shape at least. Replace that broken emblem, get new headlights and corner lights to replace those milky ones, get a nice leather lace up wrap for the steering wheel, put some good shocks on it, have dual exhausts and low restriction mufflers put on (it’s all after the cats, so cheap ). These are all low cost things to do that will make you feel better about the car, and revel in the fact you are driving a real American car for pennies while those around you are making big payments to be jammed into econoboxes……
“and revel in the fact you are driving a real American car for pennies while those around you are making big payments to be jammed into econoboxes……”
This guy knows what he’s talking about.
Yeah except a small car nowadays doesn’t have to be a penalty box and there are benefits associated with manoeuvrability, fuel economy, technology, handling… Shall I keep going?
Different strokes for different folks, guys. If you like the Crown Vic over a new Focus, more power to you.
I’ve long thought this version of the Ford / Mercury aero Panther was the best looking. It was the closet to looking like it was styled with a little passion for the consumer market vs. meeting the needs of the fleet market.
I had a good friend that was obsessed with the police package aero Crown Vics. City Redneck. The only person in the early 2000s that still dressed like Billy Ray Cyrus in the inner city. He beat them to hell and regularly substituted one beat up car, for one-to-be beat up. I was always surprised by how easily he could toss me around in the passenger seat in a car that big. I was also pretty excitable as I’ve only ever had the lovely experiences of enjoying these cars from the plastic backseats up until then.
I’m in a similar situation with the vehicle like/dislike. I picked up a 2002 Malibu last winter for $400. Just under 100,000mi, rebuilt at 70,000. Wires, plugs yada yada. It had a new water pump and ac compressor on the backseat, so I popped those in too. The thing runs great. It’s a disgusting gold and the clearcoat is failing in several areas. I’ve been averaging around 28mpg in it – a huge improvement over our 2003 Sierra Denali. The car has the v6(torque steer city) and handles ok so it’s surprisingly nimble. It even has some power options – Remote access, windows, locks, power trunk unlock and cruise control. No electrical issues, which is surprising to me because every GM model I’ve owned of this vintage I’ve managed to keep in solid mechanical shape but was forced to scrap thanks to plaguing electrical issues. It’s moderately roomy and even the trunk is fairly large. I just can’t get myself to like this car. I’ve never owned “totally awesome cars bruh” and still this thing is not growing on me. Our last second car was a 2000 Chevy Venture we got to 247,000mi before I overloaded it for a job and destroyed the motor. I think there might be a bit of resentment because the seller had told us that we were going to get either a Crown Vic or Malibu depending on which one his son chose. (He was fixing both cars for his son to choose from) The son chose the crown vic so we were left with the Malibu. I figured for $400, even if I couldn’t get it running I’d still get half my money back in scrap metal. It was a great investment – just an emotionally numb one. I somehow had more love for our 2003 Cavalier Sedan Base Model. I keep trying to talk myself into getting rid of it but that would be honestly stupid. I feel like our household got really lucky with the car.
A nice Crown Vic worth preserving. Whitewall tires an interesting touch as at least on this side of the border they are hard to find. Took a little searching locally too find a set of four new whitewalls for my 85 Grand Marquis. They certainly were a nice finishing touch on that car.
Whitewalls, in my view, look much better on the aero Vics than the now-ubiquitous blackwalls.
Before I sold my 92 Vic I found some Firestone FR710s in whitewall which were a halfway decent all season.
Look at it this way. It gets you from point A to Point B and it is reliable. Plus the fact that you don’t have a car payment means the money can be used for other things (like a house payment)
I love cars a lot but as i just hit 39 years of age, I have come to the conclusion that a boring reliable car that I have no car payment is much better then a car with a car note.
My good friend of over 20 years got into the panther camp about 5 years ago starting with a 1999 Crown Vic LX and currently in a 2004 Marquis LS Limited.
For starters the 2004 is a much better driving car than the 1999. The steering and front end feel is superior in every way feeling not only tighter but without all the vibration transmission and looseness of the 1999. It also handles much better which is strange considering the 1999 had a rear sway bar and auto level control whereas the 2004 lacked these things. He upgraded the 2004 with a cop sway bar and new upgraded cop bushings for the back and that tightened up the back end even more!
Other things of note. The 1999 needed a new intake manifold gasket as coolant was dribbling out causing air to get into the coolant and all sorts of odd smells and lack of interior heat on cold days. The stock spark plug cables were also junk by as little as 66K miles and needed replacement before the plugs themselves. Both cars share several Panther maladies such as the lighting control module that has a nasty habit of turning your headlights off at night while driving. The temporary fix is to kick the underside of the dash and hope they come back on! Apparently Ford has been ignoring this huge problem for years and has just acknowledged it with an upcoming recall forced by NHTSA. The other notorious Panther issues are the failed HVAC control unit, which both his cars suffered, the overhead console that no longer works, fixed by taking it apart and re-soldering bad connections, front window regulators, rear pinion seal leaks in the differential and the blendor motor that causes heat not to go out it’s intended ducts. Upstate, NY road salt is also a major enemy of these cars as both have suffered frame rot and the front fenders like to get holes after a few Winters. The annoyance with these cars is the instrument cluster design they had up until 2006. If you didn’t order the annoying digital cluster you lost out on the trip computer and both of his cars had only the analog clusters. My 2000 LeSabre meanwhile had a full boat trip computer with tire pressure monitor, voltage output, tach, temp, compass and everything you could imagine.
Incidentally my friend has relegated the 2004 Marquis to second car status and replaced it with a 2009 Lucerne CXL with flex fuel 3900. It is a better car in most every way for his uses and the family is really enjoying it. It actually has more back seat legroom than the Panther with rear seat air vents, feels and drives more modern, has features never offered on the Panther cars like Bluetooth and an MP3 player in the radio and it handles the Winter roads so much better with FWD.
I’d much rather have the Lucerne than the Grand Marquis, myself. It is indeed a much more modern-feeling car and much better in the snow.
I’ve had my CV LX Sport for 2.5 years and just finished a day trip with it to the Chicago Auto Show. It now has over 100,000 on the odometer and it has served as my car, and our family’s second car. It does a lot of daily commuting.
Since it was all original, I have had to buy new tires, brakes and battery – that’s been it.
It moves. The LX Sport has the P71 suspension and handling, so it doesn’t ride like a typical CV. It made for a fantastic highway cruise into the Loop. My buddy and I couldn’t have been more comfortable. The leather bucket seats are wide, so man-spreading is a breeze. The console between the buckets is not as wide as found in new cars, so using the electric seat adjustments let us find the perfect comfort, unfound in most new cars.
I have three elementary school kids that ride across the back seat. They have a lot of room and like the CV a lot. I’ve had to use the kid safety locks on the back doors and the window locks to keep them from playing with them. At night, they like to use the overhead tilt courtesy passenger lights.
With gas prices as they are, I’m not needing to feel any pinch when tanking up.
The sport wheels are handsome. The dark red metallic paint is monochromatic over the grille and it still looks great. Sadly, I park at school lots and have picked up more than one door ding. That breaks my heart. Other than that, I love this huge beast!
I’m getting the original radio/CD/cassette player replaced Thursday with the same. Under warranty. $100.
I’m not a fan of the regular CV – but I am definitely a huge fan of these CV LX Sports and Marauders. It is my four-door Mustang for this busy dad.
I have a red one now too. 2004 Ultimate, 54,000 miles.
Tom, that is a beautiful colour! Perfect lighting in that shot. What’s the paint colour called?
Autumn Red Metallic.
First world problem indeed.
If this car ages her 10 years tell her to ride the bus instead and see how old she feels then.
I’ll trade you my rusty Cavalier with 240k miles that I work to keep running. Yes, I actually bought this car.
I was afraid this was going to come off as somewhat entitled. If you found it offensive, I sincerely apologize.
I feel I must clear up my wife’s viewpoint though. She, in fact, did take the bus every day for 2 years mid-2012 to mid-2014 to get to grad school. Prior to that, she drove a 175k mile Olds Alero with peeling clearcoat. It’s not snobbery, she just doesn’t like the Crown Vic.
Rare to see these in non-‘police livery. There are many, many of the Grand Marquis versions in the “55 and over” communities in New Jersey, but a few Ford versions do show up.. One day I counted 18 in my development, 16 Marquis and 2 Crown Vics. They seemed to be in good shape, but my guess is that are only driven to go to a supermarket, church, a Sunday drive, or to go to the local convience store to stock up on lottery tickets .Minivans are fairly common too, probably to take the grandkids out for a day when their parents are doing something else and have to park the kids with grandma and grandpa.