COAL:1998 Ford Crown Victoria LX – Cross-Country Tourer

Near Princeton, BC

In March 2016, I was let go by the company that I’d worked for for 11 years.  Times weren’t as good as they had been in the past, and the head manager figured the service department would run fine with one person in the office.  It was the first time I’d been laid off from a job in 20 years of employment.

I can’t even say that it was a blessing in disguise.  With a change in ownership, changes in management, and business system software, it had gotten very stressful.  It seemed that one of the primary reasons for implementing SAP was to give the management performance metrics to grade all of the branches and departments on.  My co-worker and I had both jokingly debated that when the day came for the downsizing, if it would be better to be let go, or stay. We’d both decided that being given a pink slip and a severance was the preferred option.  He ended up leaving not long after I was let go.

They washed it, filled it with gas, and put a windshield in it for $2000!!!

Anyhow, now jobless, I’d wondered what I’d do.  Having over 10 years in the heavy equipment parts sales and service business, I needn’t have worried.  Our largest customer came to me, and offered me a job.  I accepted, with the proviso that I’d be allowed a month off before I’d start.  Why?  With the new-found time off, and a payout, I decided to do what I’d dreamed about for years…Fly out west, buy a classic car, and drive it home.

I won’t get into the trip here – I’d written about it as I went along:

Explanation, and what to buy?

What I picked out to look at, and what I bought…

Vancouver to Banff

The Prairie section of the trip

Northern Ontario is HUGE

Quebec, NB, NS, and Cape Breton

The car performed admirably across the country, pulling down an average of over 25 MPG.  I put an alternator on it in Banff, and cleaned the mass air flow sensor in Sudbury to get rid of a check engine light.  Not bad for a $2000 car.

I didn’t mind the digital dash, suprisingly.

The trouble began when I got home with the car.  It started a few days after getting home.  The car would intermittently not start.  Click, click, click.  Luckily, the car, being from out west, was rust free, and I didn’t have any corroded fasteners to deal with.  The topmost bolt in the starter was a bear, but I got it out.

Bella checking the starter job.

The solenoid had failed.  A replacement solenoid was only twenty bucks, so I fired that on, and it was better.  The next, more serious problem was a common problem with the earlier 4.6’s.  A friend and I were heading to Halifax, 4 hours away, for a bachelor party.  About 2 hours in, I thought I could smell something sweet.  I turned to Peter and asked him if the could smell it.  The words weren’t out of my mouth when the dash lit up like a Christmas tree, with the temperature gauge pegged and the chime dinging away.  We made it to a gas station and opened the hood.

Ouch.  Look at the thermostat housing.

These engines used an all-plastic glass fibre reinforced intake manifold.  It must have been a good idea at the time.  I suppose with the heat cycles and the plastic getting brittle, it was bound to fail.  There was no fixing it, so we ended up having to call CAA and get the car floated the 200 KM back home.

The shame!!!

Upon getting it home, I called around for a new intake.  One parts store was $450, another one $350.  I checked Amazon, and came up with a price of $230, all for the same Dorman intake.  The dealer was something astronomical for the new intake…$800 or more.  I bought the one on Amazon, and installed it, no big deal.  I used the car for a bit afterwards, but with having the F150, I didn’t see the need for this one.  I put it up for sale, and it sold to a fellow from Egypt who was in university here.  I saw it for about a year after I sold it, but haven’t seen it recently.

I have to wonder how many of these cars were sent to the scrapyard because of a failed intake manifold?  Everything else about the car was sturdy, and I can see why people like these.  They handle pretty good, they’re comfortable, and not too hard on gas.  It wasn’t really what I had my heart set on, so after I’d sold it, I kept my eye open for an older affordable classic.  More on that next week.