(first posted 5/27/2013) It seems like CC has had B-body after B-body over the past few months–or is that years? Delta 88s, Caprices, Bonneville Broughams, over and over. Well, CC is the B-body paradise–and I am just as guilty of posting so many of what might well be GM’s last truly great family car. But what about the Panthers? There are plenty of LTD, Grand Marquis and Town Car fans here too, and it seems they have been getting short shrift. But I aim to correct that right now, with this late Eighties example of FoMoCo goodness.
Ford was not really interested in downsizing their biggies, but CAFE and the clear success of the 1977 B-body GMs (there I go again…) forced Ford’s hand. And so it was that the Panther replaced the gunboat 1978 LTD and Marquis. The Lincoln Continental and Mark V got a one-year reprieve and were replaced in 1980.
The early Panthers looked good on paper, but in practice they were not quite the car the B-bodies were. The styling was not quite as crisp, the handling was not quite as grand as an F41 Caprice, and the engines and transmissions were rather sluggish. Remember what your mother told you about making a good first impression? Well, Ford had mixed results.
The cars themselves sold respectably, if not spectacularly. Keep in mind GM was still the 800-lb. gorilla back then, and had more dealers and more brands. But when the second gas crisis struck in late 1979–only a year after the Ford and Mercury Panthers debuted–many in the automotive industry wondered if even downsized full-sizers would play in Peoria.
During 1979-81, it was predicted that gasoline could triple or quadruple from the current rate, and for a while the Panthers were set to expire in about 1983. Pontiac had gone so far as to dump their B-body Bonneville and Catalina in 1981, putting the vaunted Bonneville nameplate on a LeMans with a nose job.
The big LTD and Marquis very nearly had the same fate as the big Pontiacs, as the Fox-body LTD and Marquis were intended to replace the Panthers during 1983-84. But then a funny thing happened: The doom and gloom scenario did not appear, and indeed, gas started to drop. People started buying big cars again. Ford changed their plans, and the Panthers became the “Grand Marquis” and “LTD Crown Victoria.”
And thus the LTD hung in there. It had gotten a couple of new grilles and trim pieces between 1979 and 1987, but it was pretty minor, and non-CC types could have had a hard time telling which year was which.
Ford finally gave the big LTD CV a much-needed facelift in 1988. It brought just a little bit of the FoMoCo corporate “aero” look to the Panthers, with a much smoother nose and, on the sedans, the rear quarters and taillamp panel. Coupes were dropped. The LTD wagon and woody Country Squire got the new nose, but the ninety-degree-angle rear quarters carried over. Grand Marquises got the same treatment, but for some reason, I preferred the Fords.
I first saw our featured CC a month or two ago at about 10:00 at night. I vowed to return the next morning for pictures, but the next day it was gone. Drat! Fortunately, it reappeared at the end of March. I was very attracted to the deep maroon paint, and the matching leather was an added bonus.
It was remarkably well-preserved, save for a bit of scuffing on the driver’s seat. I imagine it was someone’s grandfather’s baby until recently. It was very clean, and for sale too. I was tempted…but if I got it that bug deflector on the nose would have to go!
There was just something about them. I remember the first 1988 LTD Crown Victoria I saw. I was eight. We had hopped in our cream-yellow 1986 Volvo 240DL wagon and driven to the Wisconsin Dells on vacation, and stayed at a neat resort right on the lake. We had our own cabin, there was an outdoor pool, and me and my younger brother and sister had a lot of fun. I still remember the goofy Dells jingle on the radio, as it played about four times a minute. It started; “Downtown Dells is the place to be…” and was very annoying, even to my second-grade ears.
Anyway, one night I went with Mom to go to the main office to get some ice. It was early evening, probably twenty minutes or so to sunset, and there in the parking lot was a brand-new ’88 LTD Crown Victoria. In midnight blue, with the snazzy turbine alloy wheels. I was a Broughamaholic even back then, and was very attracted to that car. Of course, my Volvo-driving parents wouldn’t have touched one of those big boats with a ten-foot pole.
So, I have always loved the 1988-91 LTD Crown Victoria. And if my cherished childhood memory has not convinced you, might I add that no less than Mr. Ben Matlock, TV attorney-at-law, owned one of these big Fords. I like to think that if Andy Taylor retired from the Mayberry P.D. in the late ’80s, he’d have chosen one of these, too.
Sorry but when it comes to Panthers, I’m strictly in the Aero-Panther camp.
The styling of these always bugged me, especially the deeply recessed door frames and side glass,
as if they were designed to accommodate storm windows.
While when it comes to Lincolns I really prefer the boxy, formal 80s Panthers to the increasingly bulbous-looking later models (probably in no small part because my family inherited a 1986 Town Car when I was a kid), when it comes to Fords I’ve always liked the 1992 Crown Victoria’s styling in particular. It strikes me as a nice attempt at bringing the big, RWD American sedan into the nineties, and its looks weren’t merely for show—IIRC, the early Crown Vics were exempt from Cash for Clunkers thanks to their aerodynamics.
The traditional RWD American sedan today only exists by being the exact opposite of that—the Charger and particularly the 300 are blocky beasts that, while much more modern than an old Crown Vic, rely heavily on nostalgia for their appeal. And that, frankly, is probably the only way big RWD sedans can survive in today’s marketplace. Mainstream sedan buyers don’t necessarily need the space of a full-sized car (even FWD full-sized cars are losing market share), SUV buyers need more room than a sedan can offer, and a lot of RWD-preferring drivers would prefer something smaller with a more athletic chassis. That basically leaves you the twin niches of nostalgists and fast-in-a-straight line types.
And of course the ultra-aerodynamic Crown Vics didn’t last long because even then their non-fleet buyers wanted something as far from a contemporary sedan as possible. Making it modern was, if anything, a drawback.
Yes the 92 CV with it’s aero nose didn’t meet the C4C requirements while the hurry up we need a chrome grille 93 did.
Actually, the 93 did not meet the standard either – missed it by one measley mpg. I might have been tempted as mine needed (another) window regulator and a power steering box rebuild. But (either fortunately or unfortunately) it did not qualify and is still transporting impressionable youths of central Indiana.
I don’t care for the 80s TC, I thought it looked too “Old World”. But, I think the ’90-’97 version is one of Ford’s best designs of all time. Don’t care for the blobby ’98-’11 ones.
On the CV and GM, I’m partial to the box GM and the ’92-’97 CVs.
I owned one of these “Box” panthers a couple of years ago…An ’88 Crown Victoria LX that I bought from a retired Postal employee for $1000.00 with 89,000 miles on the clock….Light Blue with a Dark Blue Landau top and Grey mouse-fur interior. It also had the bitchin’ Turbines.
The thing was damn near immaculate and had lead a pampered life….All original.
The down-side to all this was that the retired postal employee turned out to be a cheap old S.O.B. and the car was….ALL ORIGINAL!
Original plugs, wires, hoses, belts….You name it…The budget Sears tires weren’t, but I’d guess they dated to the early/mid-nineties.
The old girl started to crumble just as soon as I started using her and it became a bizarre three-way race to see which would run out first; my money, patience, or the original content of the car…
Loved to drive the thing, but the “Lo-Po” 5.0 was weak except for highway cruising and even with it’s modest power output and a gentle right foot, I never saw more than 16-18 MPG in the thing….On the mountainous backroads that I constituted my daily driving at the time, I regularly saw 11-13 MPG…There were guys driving 4-door 4wd trucks with lift kits at work who got better mileage,
I owned the car for 2 years and my wife never drove the thing…not once. SHe’d only say that she “didn’t like it”.
My son bought an 89 Grand Marquis with even lower miles.
All the original stuff was still on that one too. There is only one way to drive one of these cars- you simply HAVE to replace all of the old belts, hoses, plugs, wires, etc all at once and right off the bat.
We did that (in a couple of steps). Other than a water pump and an air pump early this spring, the car has been pretty well flawless transportation for him, taking him many thousands of miles on highway trips.
I can see where the LoPo 5.0/AOD combo would not be good for hilly country, though. It is enough of a challenge getting used to it in flat country.
I always thought the wide B pillar on these was a fatal styling mistake. They needed to narrow it up considerably. The rounder-ended restyle did help some.
The original rear styling looked like a crude knockoff of a Cordoba.
And this generation looks like Oldsmobile.
This is my favorite Panther version.
I think you put your finger on it. I would say the whole window treatment is too thick & busy, that’s the main styling deficiency versus the Caprice. I remember wishing I could eliminate that silly Celica-ish piece of aluminum trim on my ’81 Escort’s B-pillar, so this must’ve been a styling fetish at Ford back then. They indeed eliminated it later, which is what the European version had all along.
BTW I prefer the original Panther Marquis to its LTD contemporary.
And the recessed side windows mentioned above. It’s not like the Audi 100/200 hadn’t happened – in 1982.
By ’88 was the CV/GM all fuel-injected?
The SMPFI came out in 1986. From 1983-85 it was a TBI,
except for the rare 351s, which had a VV carb right until the end in ’91.
I had a 1991 Crown Vic, which was the last year for this body style. It had a voracious appetite for power window motors and transmissions. I remember liking the tail light treatment when they were first released.
I also had a 1987 Grand Marquis, and preferred the older boxier style on the Mercs. It also seemed more robust, but was very wallowy in the handling department.
At the time, CR rated the panthers as more reliable than the GM B-bodies.
At least around here the Panther have proven out that better reliability. Around here a B box is a very rare sighting despite the fact that many more were sold, while box Panthers are very common. The interesting thing is that the Caddy is the commonly seen B while the lesser Panthers are more common than the TC.
It seemed to me that 1986-87 was the tipping point around here. The Panther really took off after Ford finally got it perfected, and it seemed to me that they were selling more cars at retail than the GM B bodies. Retail B bodies really plummeted after the whale re-do. Still, the police around here preferred the Chevys and kept them in the fleet until they disappeared.
“It seems like CC has had B-body after B-body over the past few months–or is that years? Delta 88s, Caprices, Bonneville Broughams, over and over. Well, CC is the B-body paradise–and I am just as guilty of posting so many of what might well be GM’s last truly great family car. But what about the Panthers? There are plenty of LTD, Grand Marquis and Town Car fans here too, and it seems they have been getting short shrift.”
You’re kidding, right? There are times when I wonder why this website doesn’t simply rename itself “B-bodies and Panthers”. I promise you the execrable Crown Vic and its brethren aren’t getting short shrift.
And that’s OK. There’s enough other content that I can skip it at my leisure. But if you think that there hasn’t been enough coverage of B-body/Panther/Brougham cars, I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong.
So, what were we talking about… ah, a tarted-up cop car. The one in the article has only one thing going for it- it’s too old to be confused for the fuzz.
You don’t like these cars, yet you read this post and leave a negative comment. No one forced you to read it, did they?
We have done a LOT more B-body posts than Panthers. And there WILL be more, because lots of our readers–and writers!–like them.
Please allow me to apologize for my earlier comment. It was out of line.
No worries. It’s OK to not like a certain CC, but we value civil discussion here–as I’m sure you’ll agree 🙂
No it wasn’t, and his response proves it.
I demand more coverage of the `79-`81 Mopar R Bodies!
I did a ’79 Newport some time back: https://www.curbsideclassic.com/curbside-classics-american/curbside-classic-1979-chrysler-newport-b-plus-c-equals-r/
Also, Paul did an R-body NY back in 2011 as well: https://www.curbsideclassic.com/curbside-classics-american/curbside-classic-1979-new-yorker-chryslers-deadly-sin-3-the-rolling-coffin/
Despite that fact that, at least around here, there are way more box Panthers still on the road there have been way more B’s featured so at least to me it is a refreshing change to see a Panther featured. So yes I assure that the Panther gets the short shrift. Yes I am a Ford man with a bad case of Panther love but that doesn’t change the fact that the B’s are the king of the web even if the Panther is the king of the road.
There are a lot more Bs around here than Panthers–don’t know why–at least of the pre-’92 LTD/GMQ versions.
I would love to find a 1992 CV to write up, with the grille-less nose. Better yet, an even scarcer Touring Sedan! I still have a ’92 Ford brochure from the Chicago Auto Show and remember being quite impressed with it.
And despite all my writing about the B-bodies, I’d love to get a 2006-11 Town Car someday. I drove a brand-new ’08 at an open house at the local L-M dealer and was very impressed with it. It handled very well for its size! They really did their homework with the ’03+ chassis changes.
@ Tom and Eric: I think in many locations (excluding a large metropolis such as Houston where all of them are aggressive if they survive) an aggressive dealer has as much to do with what’s left on the road. North of Houston towards Cleveland I remember seeing an inordinate amount of Dodges. They all had Cessna tags. Cessna had been selling mopar in the area for years and the old ones sure stuck out. I quit paying attention so may not still be so.
I thought the town car was a better car than the B body Impala. Thought the Impala was a far better work truck. Don’t care what the graphs might say, IMO the 302 couldn’t hang with the 350 and there weren’t many 351s around. Suspect a Ford wagon with a 351 would have leveled the playing field. If there weren’t strong differences of opinion we would have been down to one company making cars years ago. Every difference serves somebody well
Note to self: Find. More. Studebakers!
These certainly are polarizing – one either loves them or hates them; nobody seems to be indifferent about them! Through the lens of history their shortcomings are certainly more pronounced, but as a throwback to the traditional full-sized auto produced in the United States, they accomplished their mission. Did they have an appetite for fuel? Yes, but it could be argued as somewhat relative.
For instance, my parents purchased a 302 powered Torino in 1973. The best it ever accomplished in 123,000 miles was 12 mpg. Conversely, their ’85 Crown Vic with a 302 (and at ~140 hp like the Torino) got about 17 to 20 mpg with an all time best of 24. Is it breathtaking? Not when compared to other cars available at the time. Is it good for what it was? I can only speak from my experience by saying it was decent especially when factoring in the whole package – comfort, reliability, ease of repair, drivability, etc.
Cars are like people in a sense – all a bit different, each with their quirks, and some more appealing than others. Isn’t that the beauty of coming here?
I always liked the styling of the late boxy Panthers as well. Sadly you never see too many of them in my area, what you see here for sale is almost always 1995 and up models.
FYI I guess you guys should never go on my intuition about CC clues, I’m right less often than many politicians are!
Dan, I’m willing to bet that in your area they went to Mexico years ago. You can see convoys from Houston to Mexico any day of the week.
After having spent a couple of years driving one of these occasionally, I still have trouble making up my mind on these. I like the looks of these later ones, whether Ford or Mercury. The seats in this one are virtually identical to those in my son’s MGM.
The driving experience is definitely old-fashioned. The car MAKES you drive like an old man. You can tromp on the gas pedal if you want to, but all you do is consume fuel for no real apparent payoff in forward motion. It is smooth and quiet, fairly nimble, and well put together. My 93 will drive rings around it for acceleration and handling. I must admit that the older one has a more charming interior.
I like the box panthers, and though I think the B body has the better styling, I’d probably buy one of these instead, because of the fuel injection. Where I work, somebody has a 1988 town car they daily drive. It’s got a little rust on the wheel wells, and some trim is falling off, but I still admire it. It has 2 tone paint, turbines, sunroof, towing package, and the cool little thermometer on the mirror.
However, when I park my ’90 brougham next to it, it’s obvious the bill Mitchell “sheer look” styling is head and shoulders above the basic 3 box design that the panthers used. Compared to the brougham, the TCs lines just don’t say luxury like the brougham. I think the same goes for all the Bs versus all the panthers.
Also, there’s a guy around town driving a big, non wood grained country squire, ’88+. That car is in great shape, and looks severely out of place in the supermarket parking lot, surrounded by typical little crossovers like CRVs and such. I wonder how rare the wagons w/o wood are…
Owned two town cars of this generation. 85 and 86 models. Liked them a lot and still do. Thought the ford and mercury editions were just as appealing as the town cars. As mentioned above, crank windows would have been (for me) an upgrade.
I let my son have the 85 and moved myself to a 77 Impala Wagon. Because of the work I needed to do, the Impala was an upgrade. I cannot badmouth the fomoco products. I would drive them again.
I think an 88 or later would have been preferable until they retired the 302. I experienced problems with the “new 5.0” engine management systems in my 86. Electronics can be complicated till you get it right. I understand the first two years of the new OHC engine are also best to avoid because of flying spark plugs. I have heard people who wouldn’t have any part of these cars but they had their place. Cops and Taxis is a place where only the strong are going to survive and they abound there.
If you wanted something that could cruise without effort and return relatively decent mileage while consuming limitless quantities of luggage, this was your best choice. Today you need a minivan but I understand the transmissions are fragile in many cases. This car and the B body GM products certainly did their job.
The first versions of the 4.6 were not the ones that spit spark plugs it was the later models with the “PI” heads that did that and Panthers were the last to get the PI heads so there are very few that got the spark plug spitting heads. The valve stem seals on the first versions weren’t the best though I never had a problem with oil burning on either of my 92’s or the 93.
During the 80’s when the standard government vehicle was a Caprice, the family across the street always drove a Crown Vic. The patriarch of the family worked for the DEA and traded the family car for a new CV every few years. With seven kids, I suppose he needed all the room he could get. Upon retirement, they switched to a Barney-purple Nissan Sentra. I often wonder if the grandkids had any influence in the color choice but for 25 years, there was always a Crown Vic in their driveway.
I had a neighbor that had a white two-door coupe (with pretty red pin striping). He didn’t have it long enough for me to “borrow” it, but it sure was nice.
Did these have the same command seating that the Panthers had when they came out in ’79?
I always felt strange driving my father’s ’81 Marquis. The seats were high relative to the belt line – It was as if I was driving a fishbowl.
My Grandfather bought a Grand Marquis as the last car he owned, I was the one who had to take the keys from him so I do know these. I liked ours and thought it was pretty dang dependable and well built and fun to drive like you stole it. Mercury should have offered a “De Sade” black leather and studded option just because Car and Driver asked for one.
As with a few others here, I always preferred these to the Chevy, mainly due to the styling. So apparently did the CHP, they were all over the highways back in the day! My dad got close to buying a maroon over maroon one in the late 80’s but passed on it when he looked at the tranny fluid and thought it was burnt.
I’m not so big on the rear styling of the first incarnation,nor the single head light front ends, but these mildly aeroized versions are so much better looking than the B counterparts, the droopy butt B’s never did it for me. The Electra and 98 with their vestigial fins aren’t bad though.
Sad note…was in a PHX pick n pull yesterday and saw a very rare panther…an 86 Grand Marquis two door. Can’t be many of those left.
“then a funny thing happened” – yup, the Reagan economy kicked in and we felt rich. Gas became cheap, the stock market boomed and it was morning in America.
My Panther was a first year model – ’79 LTD wagon. Had it about six years. The car was a 351. Well built and quite a workhorse. The cargo area, with the rear seat folded, was incredibly useful. Hand crank windows but did have power tailgate window in the “magic door gate”. Durable vinyl seat surfaces. An original, dry Wyoming car that I bought at an estate auction. It had zero rust and nice stock wheel covers. Only expense I had was new tires and painting the stone chipped nose.
The LTD wagon was a fine car I fondly remember. I’d enjoy one of the final wagons with EFI and leather.
– constellation –
Awesome wagon! I wish they still made wagons like this. I see one of these somewhat regularly around town, except its an 88+ and its a pale yellow/ tannish color. I wouldn’t mind owning one of these if I needed a vehicle to haul stuff/people.
Wonderful looking wagon. Thanks for sharing!
My first car was an ’87 CV 4 door in two tone blue, which was the last year of the pre “slightly aero” body style. It was Canadian made. I was never sure how the options worked on these…my ’87 would seem to have been the basic model, cloth seats with crank windows (mirabile dictu, steel cranks!), radio only, yet it came with a/c, yet it didn’t come with the vent windows,yet it was also a dual exhaust model (4 catalytic converters, I believe) and had the traction-loc axle. I think it had slightly more horsepower as a result (maybe 160 instead of 150). I would love to have seen the hodgepodge way whoever bought it picked out the options…maybe it was just on the lot and they took it. I was the third owner; the first had clearly been a retiree who took it back and forth from New England to Florida and sold it with about 40K to someone in the early 90s, who drove it until it had close to 140K and 16 year old me found it. I kept it to 200K and sold again.
The one real problem I had with it was the transmission bands crapped out; well, that and getting t-boned thanks to my own stupidity. A new driver’s side door, brake line, and a visit to the body shop to unbend the frame and she was back on the road, never drove like it’d been in any kind of accident.
I grew up with Cs/Bs and Panthers. My grandfather had a late 70s blue Fleetwood when I was very young which I dimly remember, and then switched to Grand Marquis panthers in the early 80s. My favorite was the sky blue ’86 with blue navy interior; its successor and his last car was a white ’88 with blue navy. He didn’t go in for leather. As a little kid, the Dodge Caravan and Jeep Cherokee were just catching on as kid-haulers, so a lot of moms and dads were still tooling around in Panther Country Squires, B Pontiac Safaris, etc. I remember riding in the back of a lot of panther wagons heading home from school. Then all of a sudden around 4th or 5th grade, early 90s, nobody had wagons anymore.
Between the Panther siblings, I thought the Grand Marquis looked better before the ’88 redesign, but the Crown Victoria looked better afterwards. I felt the Grand Marquis kept more of its “this is a nicer car than a Ford, and aspires to be a Lincoln, but isn’t” look before the redesign, with the Lincoln star hood ornament, the sharp angled front corners like the Town Car had, etc. It looked bigger than the ’88-’91 GrandMas even though I believe they were the identical dimensions. Whereas, the Ford (including the one I had), seemed to be improved by the ’88 re-design–looked a little less bland and boxy and more sophisticated. The one thing on the pre-’88 Ford I dd like over what followed was the bigger art-deco-looking “crown” hood ornament, which got minimized for ’88 on.
My understanding is that by the mid 80s these were the more reliable cars than the Bs and the remaining C>D Fleetwood Brougham. I have some thoughts on that since I’ve followed my ’87 Crown Vic with an ’87 Brougham and now a ’77 Electra. I definitely think the Ford was more reliable than the same year Brougham in terms of the engine and fuel system operation, it was EFI and didn’t have that tricky eQJet that was on the Brougham. And while the 5.0/302 EFI may have been “LoPo”, you want LoPo try the 307!! My 302 didn’t usually have to downshift to get up hills but that 307 would sometimes go down to 2nd and just crawl. The 307 was, however, the most fuel efficient of the Bs, C/Ds, and Panthers I’ve driven. I once got 28 mpg in it on a trip through NJ late at night cruising at 55. I don’t think I ever topped 22 using the fuel injected 302, and my best with the Buick 350 has been 18 or so. Of course the 350 kills the 302 and 307 completely in acceleration, torque, and hill climbing; it’s much more fun to drive.
On the other hand, talking of transmissions, my 200R4 in the Brougham lasted 175K for me with fluid and filter changes only and was still fine when I sold it, more than I can say for the Ford which stranded me when the bands went. And everything “power” on the GM models continued to work, except the Caddy level ride pump. Even when I replaced that with a manual feed which I’d top up every few weeks, nothing ever rode as well as that Cadillac.
Thus I don’t really have a polarizing view of the B/C>Ds or Panthers. They both had their strong points; I’ve never really been able to decide which were better. Although I agree overall that the styling on the GM models was better. I will say that I think survival rates are a somewhat unfair comparison…the only big ones GM kept making after ’86 were Caprices and Broughams and a lot of those survived, and the box Panthers also continued through ’91. So of course there are going to be more ’90 Panthers than ’83 Oldsmobiles. I think the only place where the Ford cars would have a clear survival advantage year for year is against the HT4100 Cadillacs. But of course, so would the other GM cars. I never really liked the ’92-’97 aero Panthers which followed. The ’98-on, I think looked a bit better, although my experience with them has been they are really decontented on the inside.
It sounds like yours had the tow package with the dual exhaust and track-lock. As far as the transmissions go the failed AOD’s I’ve seen usually just loose OD first so you can put it in D and drive for thousands of miles more while the 200R4 always seemed to be a total failure with complete loss of motion. By 88 or so the improved OD band almost eliminated that problem entirely so that the AOD would last for 300K or more if not overly abused.
As far as survival rates go yes some of the Bs went away but the Caddy outsold the Lincoln and the Impala/Caprice outsold the Crown Vic and Grand Marquis combined in most years so the Bs boxes were more plentiful when new.
I’m the first to admit I may have been lucky with the 200R4!
Right, I know the Town Cars were longer for sure than either CVs or GrandMas. My comment was more that the pre ’88 GrandMas “look” longer than the ’88-’91 GrandMas because they borrow more Town Car styling cues…the sharp fenders, the turn signal lamps which extend beyond the headlights, etc.
Survival rates: I think we are making a similar argument about different time periods, but I’m not sure. No question GM Bs outsold Ford Panthers up to 1984. More models, and probably perceived as better cars. I have seen very few pre-EFI Panthers on the road, even 10-15 years ago.
On the other hand, once you hit ’85-’86 after most Cs and Bs went FWD, the Town Car way outsells the holdover Fleetwood Brougham; I think the TCs were selling in the six figures but the Brougham topped out maybe 65K? And if I’m not mistaken the Caprice fell behind CV/GrandMa sales too around that time. So just as there would be more surviving ’83 Oldses than ’83 Fords, so too would there be more ’88 Town Cars than ’88 Broughams still around. And there’d be more Panthers period because they were the only thing left on the market so they’re the newest of either brand still around; there’s almost going to be fewer ’83 anythings than ’89 anythings surviving. That is why I think it is not always a fair comparison to say “well, you never see any Delta 88s anymore but look at all these Grand Marquis.”
Even if the later box Panthers did sell better it still doesn’t account for the difference in the numbers seen on the road around here. Almost every day I venture more than a couple miles from home I see a box Panther while if I see more than 1 or 2 B boxes in a month it is unusual.
Not sure where you are in the country either, of course. I am in the Northeast, mostly in New York City and Connecticut. Of the pre-aero models from both companies, I would say I see most often (in no particular order), Cadillac Broughams, Mercury Grand Marquis, and Chevrolet Caprices. Most rarely–RWD Pontiacs, RWD Cadillac DeVilles, and any pre-’84 Panthers–the Fords with the LTD script on the taillights, the ’80-’83 Town Cars, etc.
As for the merits of the B/C-Ds vs. Panthers, I don’t find them especially polarizing; enjoyed my ownership of all of them but prefer the GM designs.
This is the CC I long expected and dreaded — i.e. the one that proved to me I am too dumb to get the clue EVEN WHEN I OWN THE CAR IN QUESTION.
To make me feel better, here’s a nice detail on the ’89 that shows an option included on mine …
I can’t say I have ever had a lot of Panther love, having driven the CV and length and all the GM B-bodies, the GM cars, for me anyway, win hands down. The just go down the road better. They track better, corner better have much better steering feel. The AOD is a devilishly awful device that clunks and chugs when it goes into high range. On the few CVs we had as taxis we had to block out the OD position on the transmission selector to keep the thing from grenading in not time at all.
The later ones with fuel injection were much better.
The cornering is something I forgot; actually, handling generally. For a brief period I had the ’87 Brougham and ’87 Crown Vic in my driveway. I tried to do a comparison and found that the Brougham cornered better and–at least this was the appearance–seemed to have a tighter turning radius than the 10 inch shorter Crown Vic.
Right after college (1988) I worked in a children’s mental hospital. The more docile kids were allowed to go on “outings” with staff if they had evidenced good behavior the past week – like to the grocery store to buy treats, etc. When I first started working there the hospital had a fleet of K car wagons – the idea was to avoid vans because of the institutional vibe.
About six months after I started the K cars were all replaced by Crown Vic wagons. They were behemoths compared to the Ks. The funny thing was that the behavior of the kids improved radically – everyone wanted a day pass. The reason was that all the program staff (20 somethings) were driving the Crown Vics like slalom drivers. Not that the 302 motivated the car very well, but for some reason whenever the road was slightly wet in central Florida, you could nail the gas and the back end would fishtail. The kids would clap and scream.
Good times. Everyone should work in a mental hospital sometime.
This is the Box that got away. My Dad was looking for a replacement to his ’77 LTD II, and I found this ’83 C/V whilst on the road. These pictures were taken circa 1991. Dad looked at it, but was put off by the cost of replacing the vinyl roof, which was beginning to crack. I believe that it was a 302 carburetor model, and that we didn’t get FI in Canada until M/Y 1986. My ’75 M/C is in the background.
Nice LTD, but I also dig the brand-new Voyagers behind it. The black cherry one on the end must be an LE.
Rear view. Interesting to see all the old iron on the lot, when the C/V was one of the older units that day
This is my ’85 C/V purchased in 2005 to supplant my ’75 M/Carlo. The excuse used at the time was that all my friends were getting too chubby to fit into the rear seat of the Monte without red faces and some effort, so a 4 door was in the cards!
The C/V has the 351W converted to a regular carb from the V/V original set-up, dual exhausts, and 14″ tires! A real odd-ball, but averages around 18 US in town and around 24US on the highway. Very solid, but not much quicker than my B-bodies with the 305 or 307 engines
Funny how a much larger engine with a real carb makes for much better performance…
I have always wanted to drive a Panther with a 351. The one in my 94 Club Wagon was a real torquemaker.
I had an ’86 CV with a 351; it was a former highway patrol car. It had enough torque where it never required a downshift going up hills, but it would not win too many drag races. It was a great driving and riding car – much better than the standard suspension – but it absolutely loved fuel.
That’s how I would describe my ’85 Vic, except that the mileage is quite good for the size of the car. I think that the original variable venturi carb had more snap than the standard two barrel set-up that replaced it, and the car is less strained than my Dad’s with the 302 FI. I’ve just had my ’78 Belair out with it’s 305 2bbl, and it seems to be far more lively than the Vic, mind, it is essentially bereft of options and probably weighs a good 300lbs less. The 351W was rated at 180hp up here in 1985, but I don’t think that they were the same ponies as an equivalent 350 Chev. A well set up quadrajet and THM 350/400 combo is a tough combo to beat.
my name is Hank johnson i love to have that crown vic with that 351 in it if the price is not that high love to have it.
My name is Hank i was ask about that car if it not that much for me
Front shot from 2005
my name is Hank and i like to have that car if it not to much for my 704 502 6037 call me
2005 rear shot
The third box in the family is a 1990 G/M that I found for my Dad in 2000 to replace his ’81 M/Carlo. This one has the generic 302 F/I single exhaust set up, and now resides with me, as I didn’t have the heart to see it go to the demo derby crowd when the old man had to hang up his keys. The picture doesn’t do it justice, and it is a clean example
Not sure if this is an apples-to-apples comparison, but I think the box C/V has a much nicer interior than the box Caprice. The B-bodies are certainly much better-developed on the outside, though. (Though you could argue that the razor-front Town Car is a better-looking beast than the C-body Sedan de Ville and Fleetwoods. I think the TC is a little too short in the passenger cabin area, but I love that front end.)
These cars had the most realistic fake wood I’ve ever seen, to the point where I had to know the name of the supplier which turned out to be Northern Engraving.
The transmission or TC whine in all those Ford taxis and Lincoln whale limos is what comes to mind whenever I see a Panther. I just can’t get past that.
I do like the 90+ Town Car.
I agree on the fake wood.
I think the whine you associate with some Panthers is the differential.
You could hear the whine from the outside and it seemed to be coming from the front. When you went for a ride they also had a lot of creaks and knocks, more than I remember in a B/C/D.
I have been driving an 89 grand marquis for about 9 years now&it has been super reliable(LS model)with almost 280k miles as we speak even made a 1500 miles trip from salem(Oregon)to Tucson(az)&back without any isues&it does just fine on those sharp hills of I-5 just before los angeles&even on I-10 high hills between LA&yuma.very smooth&quiet ride.other than regular maintenance in past 9 years,just one waterpump&alternator,that is it.reliablity of Toyota&comfort of Cadillac&quiet as lexus.
Good for you, man. She’s a beaut.
I can’t believe nobody mentioned the ultimate incarnation of this model, the Wagon Queen Family Truckster! You think you hate it now, just wait until you drive it…
Maybe it’s that I associate this with the worst movie sequel in the history of the world (Blues Brothers 2000), but the 88 restyle just looks awful in my eyes. I can’t say I find any box Panthers particularly attractive but the now semi rounded edges of the 88-91s just clash with the boxy as ever 70s midsection.
I too prefer the 92 aeros, even the later “grilled” versions. Those looked legitimately good and modern and made full sized seem viable for a short period. Though I share a similar distain for the 1998 restyle as I do with the 1988.
That was a terrible movie…..
I definitely love the CV before the aero nose. A car needs a mouth/grille! That was the style rage around 1990.
Anyone know where to find the B v. Panther side shot comparison, with the Panther’s awkward dimensions? The B may be been more prolific, but obviously the Panther had a longer life….
Neighbor downstairs from us on base in Germany had a two-door Crown Vic. Compared to our (then new) 1981 Toyota Corolla, I thought the CV was pure luxury goodness. Of course, I was also all of 12 years old, so I went solely on the Landau roof, cooler looking rims and that plush interior. I guess being that the owner was a CSM and my dad was “only” a MSG made it seem like the gulf between the two was even that much greater. Maybe that’s why I kind of wanted one of these as I got older…but that longing has passed…
As a kid I actually thought these old Vics were cool, especially the earlier box-Panthers. Why? I have no idea, probably a combination of MIB and the video for “Sabotage”. I personally think they look a lot better with little-no gingerbread, just in base trim. They almost look intimidating that way.
Nice to see some people appreciate these awesome cars. My dad just sold me my great grandmother’s 88 Crown Vic. And my husband and I are trying to restore her. Any resources we can go to for parts etc??
Not sure about parts but I would recommend that you join the GrandMarq.net forum. There is a ton of information about these cars from a very knowledgeable community.
In October 1989, I purchased a used 1989 Crown Victoria with 12,000 miles after my 1985 Escort left me stranded for the second time in two months. Since then, I have purchased only two other cars – a 2004 Crown Victoria in April 2004 and a used 2010 Grand Marquis in September 2014, which I still drive. I would say the 302 is a more durable engine than the 4.6. No problems ever with the 302, but the 4.6 in both the 2004 and 2010 have had repairs (intake manifold and throttle body). The 4.6 does have stronger performance at higher speeds, but I notice no difference in performance between the 302 and the 4.6 in city driving. The only issues with the 89 were the heater core and the air conditioning compressor. These are the only cars I really love. If I ever have to replace the 2010, I will just buy a Kia Rio for basic transportation because I have no desire for a crossover with a turbocharged four cylinder or a pickup truck.
I was a child in the 60’s and completely enamoured of GM A-bodies. When the malaise era hit, I hated to see what GM, and the other US manufacturers, had done to their products.
By the time these Ford panthers hit, I had completely stopped paying attention to US cars; focusing totally on the Japanese big three. As a result, I have an encyclopedic memory of the 1960’s and early 70’s and almost total amnesia about the period afterward, up until the mid 90’s, as far as US makes go. I could not tell within ten years when this car was made; so irrelevant it was to me. That’s not a dig at the car; just how I felt at the time
Why do people feel the need to comment on cars they dislike or have no interest in? I don’t comment on European and Asian cars or EV’s that I dislike.
When I look at these cars, I always remember the lawsuits related to rear impact explosions. Were these cars really any worse than the B-bodies? I would have thought they should be about the same, but don’t recall any similar accusations against GM.
I remember when these were introduced. It seemed like every state trooper in North Carolina got one at the same time. I’m not a Ford fan and I was indifferent to if not repulsed by their predecessors, but I found these attractive. The taillamp treatment in particular struck me as having a nice retro look. Being quite the reckless idiot back then I’m sure I was pulled over by one or two.