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On the Ford Crown Victoria

Saturday, 17 September, 2011

At 12:25 PM (16:25 UTC), 15 September 2011, what Ryan Paradis calls The Last American Car, the Ford Crown Victoria, ended production at Ford St. Thomas Assembly, Ontario. At least five more were remaining on the line when unspecified parts ran out. Demand is such, Ford may deliver these cars without completing them. Those cars may be completed by final purchasers from the comprehensive collection of aftermarket parts. St. Thomas is scheduled to close after forty-four years of service by CAW local 1520.

For those of you on other continents, this is the quintessential North American police car and taxi. You see them in all the movies. It’s distinctive silhouette has come to define government security forces not unlike the Volga or Wartburg in other places and times. This car has been known in its life as:

  • 1979 Ford LTD
  • 1983 Ford LTD Crown Victoria, when the LTD name was moved to a radically restyled update to the Ford Fairmont
  • 1992 Ford Crown Victoria
  • 2007 Ford Crown Victoria was the last model year available to the general public.

Despair not for this car remains available as a used car from the usual suspects, and from specialty retailers who deal in this model. Most Vickies were purchased in the P71 package for police duty, then retired to another  life in taxi service. Among the features of the car is its ability to be repeatedly beaten back in shape and otherwise rebuilt.

A few taxi services adopted hybrid cars in hopes of averting the CV’s primary failing: dismal fuel economy. The maintenance required to keep a modern vehicle on the road is so expensive, the old Panther was cheaper to operate even with one-third the fuel economy. The taxi-service vehicle Ford provides today is a variation of the Transit Connect van.

Take a look at the interior and the trunk. It is spacious, but then look in the Ford Fusion, a modern monocoque two classes below. The Fusion is really about the same, except the trunk is larger. Monocoques experience more road noise than heavier, isolated body-on-frame vehicles but awareness of the source of these vibrations and clever technolog  mitigate the issue significantly. The present Taurus is actually larger than the CV inside in every dimension, but with a 20% improvement in fuel economy.

Twenty-percent? Really? That’s it? [unnecessary profanity] it, I’m getting a P71.

Wait. No. The world is moving on. You can get a bigger car, where it counts, with less cost all around. Unless you wreck it. The old-tech V8 is readily outdone by a modern six, and it creaks like an old house. It has taken the Americans long enough to work out a proper car, they may as well make the most of it. It’s not like Americans built the first production monocoque automobile or anything.

Goodbye old man. You’ve served well.

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