Ford Crown Victoria

From Academic Kids

The Ford Crown Victoria is a variety of automobile made by the Ford Motor Company and sold mainly in the North American market. It is often referred to as the "Crown Vic."



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1955 Ford Crown Victoria (mildly customized)

The first "Crown Victoria" appeared in 1955; it was a 2-door 6-seater hardtop coupe, part of the Ford Fairlane range, that differed from the regular Victoria model (named after a type of carriage) by having a lower, sleeker roofline and much more stainless steel trim, including a stainless steel band that 'crowned' the roofline, passing right over the car, as an extension of the B-pillar line. That model did not outlast the 1950s.


In 1979, Ford brought back the name on a deluxe version of the LTD full-size car line on the Ford Panther platform. It was recognizable by its four headlights with amber turn signals beneath them (base LTDs had two headlights, and clear turn signals in the grille). There was a 2-door coupe (all steel top this time), 4 door sedan and a wagon- the wagon became a "Country Squire" if fake-wood trim was ordered. Most had 5.0 L Windsor V8s, all had automatics.

The 1979 to 1991.5 models are known as "box body" cars because of the squared-off exterior styling. These cars still use the same type of twin-tube shock absorbers found on 60s and 70s cars:


Post-1992 Ford Crown Victoria
Post-1992 Ford Crown Victoria
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Maryland State Police Crown Victoria (Police Interceptor)

In 1992, along with dropping the LTD designation, the sedan body (production of the station wagon having ceased in 1991) was completely redesigned to the round, six-window shape (which shared many details with its contemporary, the newly refreshed 1992 Taurus), and there was a new 4.6 L modular engine. There was a further facelift in 1998 and chassis modifications for 2002.

The 1991.5 through 1997 cars are known as "aero Vics" because of their aerodynamic styling and lightweight bodies. The final two model years are regarded as the best Panthers to date due to the interior quality/trim/fit and finish, low coefficient of drag, and lightweight body. The Romeo-built 4.6 L engine with updated Non-Performance Improved cylinder heads, camshafts, and intake manifold make the best platform for performance modifications.

This car, its slightly more luxurious twin the Mercury Grand Marquis, and the more expensive Lincoln Town Car are just about the only mass-produced passenger cars left in the world with body-on-frame construction, as opposed to the more modern "unibody" construction style where the body panels are load bearing members. Mercury introduced a performance version called the Mercury Marauder but sales were slow.

Some 90% of police cars in the US and Canada are Crown Victorias, since Ford was the only automaker still making sedans for police after the Chevrolet Caprice was phased out after 1996. Crown Vics are also popular as police cars internationally: The Moscow, Russia city police use several Crown Vics. Current and former police versions (the latter are often used as taxis) handily outnumber civilian models. The Crown Victoria is usually referred to as the Dodge Monaco of the 1990s and beyond; before 1978, Chrysler owned the police/taxi/fleet market. The law enforcement version of the 1999-up Crown Victoria is known as the Police Interceptor, and many taxi companies use this "heavy duty" version as well. Prior to 1999, the police cars were officially known as the P71 Crown Victoria. The changes made in 1999 included a new rear facia insignia, an all-black trim scheme which included replacing the color-keyed trunklid panels with black ones, and a black grille. Further refinements were made in 2001, including deletion of all trim on the plastic bumper pieces, and a honeycomb-style grille, replacing a slat-style grille as is found on standard Crown Victorias.

Fuel tank safety

While the car has a been highly rated for safety (and has in fact the highest rated safety for the money), there was some controversy and lawsuits in the 1990s over the car's gas tank leaking after certain types of high energy crashes, specifically when being hit at a certain angle offset in the rear at least over 85 mph (137 km/h). However, the safety ratings are still higher then any other vehicles at this price point. In fact the survival rate for these type of collisions was higher then any other mid-sized sedan, which perform worse due to their much lighter construction, lower weight, and shorter distance for a crumple zone. In the case of the Crown Victoria, it is a combination of factors including a number of different traits, such as the nature of and position of the gas tank, and the unique circumstances of the car crashes.

The condition may have been exacerbated by police equipment installers drilling over the package tray in the luggage compartment. Due to the gas tank's orientation, drilling through the package tray will result in drilling into the gas tank. The equipment installers would then install bolts that go into the gas tank and can cause sparking in an accident. Ford's solution in the form of a recall kit includes appliques to mark unsafe areas to drill in the luggage compartment, as well as a rear differential cover shield, and rear shock lower bolt shields.

It is interesting to mention the contents of the recall kit because they can be found on early 1980s Fords. Ford used polymer shields on the gas tank facing the rear differential covers. Ford also used polymer shock bolt covers for the lower mounts on the rear shocks. These items were removed on later models, however.

Even though this model of the Crown Victoria has been criticized for this type of rear end collision, the civilian Panthers all have the same "flaw" and Ford refuses to address this problem on all the models.

Despite numerous court cases charging Ford with partial liability for fires caused in accidents, the company has never been convicted. An attempted class-action suit in Belvidere, Illinois in 2004 failed as well.


In 1998, the Crown Victoria's exterior styling, rear suspension, and ignition system were updated. The 1998-2002 "Crown Vics" have a revised 4-link rear suspension with a Watt's linkage. The general road handling manners have improved, but towing capacity has been reduced. The Crown Victoria also uses a coil-on-plug ignition design rather than traditional spark plug wires. This design was later implemented on other users of the Modular V8, including the 1999-up Mustang GT, and many F/E-series trucks.

The 1998 through 2002 models actually use the 1996-1997 Grand Marquis bodies with two slight differences:

  • The front sidemarkers on the Crown Vics are flipped upside down
  • Different tail lamps are fitted


In 2003, the chassis was again redone with hydroformed steel. The front and rear suspension was also completely overhauled. New inverted monotube shocks are now used (replacing the old twin-tube shocks that had been around since the 1960s). In the front, new aluminum control arms, and rack and pinion steering (replacing the recirculating ball units) have been implemented. The rear suspension was redone for durability in police-duty applications and the rear shocks were moved outboard of the frame rails for better handling and ease of maintenance. As a result, the road-handling manners of the Panther platform cars have improved significantly. The engine output increased due to the addition of a knock sensor for more aggressive timing.

The Crown Victoria retained the same exterior styling, but 2005 models now receive a rear whip radio antenna rather than an integrated rear defroster antenna. 2005 models also received a new steering wheel.

Even with the latest 2005 Crown Vic, the overall design remains "relatively" unchanged from the 1979 design. It is still front independent suspension with a rear live axle on a body-on-frame design, using a traditional rear wheel drive drivetrain. The design has been popular with police departments and cab companies, especially in New York City, as well among the general populace.

The Crown Victoria has often characterized as an "older person's car," but this is a mischaracterization in that nearly all vehicles in this category tend to have an older client base (largely due to economic reasons), with it being about average, and fails to recognize the notable number of younger people with interest in the case, as well as those who modify it for high performance and the avalablity of many former police vehicles which can be purchaced rather cheaply. It is considerably more durable than "modern" front wheel drive cars that rely on constant velocity joints for transmission of power to the steering wheels. It also offers more interior space and fuel economy than many SUVs of similar weight.

2004-up Police Interceptor

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2004 P71 tube and 2003 Marauder airbox retrofitted in 2000 Ford Crown Victoria

The 2004-2005 Police Interceptors (referred to many as CVPIs, P71s) are rated for 250 hp (186 kW) because of the addition of a new air intake system. This includes a new air box that resembles the Mercury Marauder airbox (raised airbox lid, deeper bottom) with an integrated 80mm mass air flow (MAF) sensor that is part of the airbox lid. This allows for much more precise flow calibration and reduces the chances of air leakage. P71 zip tube (the flexible rubber hose between the throttle body and MAF outlet) is also used to reduce NVH (Noise, Vibration, and Harshness) as well as transfer air from the airbox to the throttle body with minimal flow resistance.

There were some problems with early 2003 Police Interceptors. The steel wheels would rust and fall out, the rack and pinion units would fail early on (sub-10k miles), and the axles would wear out and possibly fall out as well. This was not limited to the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor. Some 2003 Mercury Marauders were also affected. Luckily, this was only for very early 2003 models as the problems appear to have been fixed for newer models.


Ford was rumored to be considering replacing the aging Panther platform with the front or all-wheel drive platform based on the D3 architecture. Ford has denied this.

The Panther fanbase has requested more power from Ford, but the company has not yet given any specific answers. The likely scenario is that Ford will implement various chassis/suspension changes in the future up to the imminent cancellation of the Panther platform sometime in 2008-2010 without introducing drastic and expensive powertrain or drivetrain changes.

The 5.7 L Hemi V8 used in the Dodge Magnum R/T and Dodge Charger is not available for law enforcement packages, so Ford does not have immediate competition from a higher-power vehicle. The most likely engine is the 3-valve 4.6 L and 5.4 L Modular V8 also used in the Ford F-Series trucks and the Ford Mustang GT.

See also

External link


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