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You Have The Right To Remain Silent: Ford's Crown Vic Is No More

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On: Mon, Sep 19, 2011 at 9:22AM | By: Andrew W Davis


You Have The Right To Remain Silent: Ford's Crown Vic Is No More

Yes, it’s true: The car you loved to hate when the cops were using it—and probably never thought of UNLESS the cops were using it—has ended its long production run. The last of Ford’s Old Grey Ladies had its newborn rump spanked into life at the company’s St. Thomas (Ontairo, CAN) Assembly Plant on Sept. 15th, signaling an end to both car and factory.

[Incidentally, that white-over-tan car—VIN 2FABP7CW8CX104292—is Saudi Arabia-bound and lined with the signatures of the people who built her. You’d think that Ford or someone HERE would want a keepsake like that. Apparently not.]

I ask now for a moment of silence for the dearly-departed. Believe it or not, this model holds a special place in my heart (and just maybe—if you’re honest—in yours, too). So let’s not mourn the passing of a great model. Instead, let’s celebrate a life well-lived with a (semi)brief history of the Ford Crown Victoria….

A (SEMI)BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CROWN VICTORIA:

1951: Ford dusts off the 1930s-ish “Victoria” name and applies it to a special hardtop coupe in its “Custom” model line. Despite costing nearly as much as a Custom convertible, over 110,000 are sold.

1955: The “Crown Victoria” name first appears. Meant as a next-rung-up on the newly-named “Fairmont” model ladder above the $2,095 Victoria model, it is similarly available only as a hardtop coupe. You CAN, however, get it with or without a fancy green glass top section for $2,202 or $2,272, respectively. They are priced just above and just below the pricey “Sunliner” convertible, and Ford seems to have only been able to get away with that trick before they added the "Crown" part as production numbers show: 33,165 and 1,999 no glass and glass-roofed Crown Vics are sold, respectively, versus 113,372 “regular” Victoria coupes.

1956: While the “Victoria” ranks swelled to include a hardtop coupe in the lower-priced “Customline” range, it also added a new hardtop four-door sedan model to its “Fairlane” offerings. But even if you count only the two-door Fairlane Victoria’s production numbers “against” the Crown Vics’, it shakes out this way: Victoria coupe: 177,735 built; Crown Vics with and without glass roof: 9,209 and 603, respectively.

1957: Oops! Well, it was fun while it lasted, but "Crown Victoria" is no more. Thanks to those slow sales, the folks at Ford didn’t bother to redesign the model with the rest of the ’57s, so buh-bye it went.

1963: “Victoria,” too, finally feels the sting of the euthanasia needle.

1980: Oops! After nearly two decades the “Crown Victoria” name is reborn, though once again it’s applied merely to denote a fancier trim level, this time on the “LTD” line. Now, though, the name appears on two- and four-door sedans and two- and three-row station wagons (though the three-row wagon is dropped and the two-row goes back to “Country Squire” for 1981).

1983: It’s now “LTD Crown Victoria” for the lot, with “S” added to the up-range models, as in “LTD Crown Victoria” four-door sedan and wagon and “LTD Crown Victoria S” four-door sedan and wagon. Two-door sedans don’t get any “S”, however, and “Country Squire” hangs in there as the top (third) level on the station wagon ladder. Confused? It gets worse…

[NOTE: From 1983 to 1991 Ford went nuts, calling all kinds of things “LTD” and “Crown Victoria” and fooling around with model lineups and trim level names and equipment. I could’ve added all the stuff here but suffice it to say that in…]

…1992: The “LTD” name disappears along with any sharp body creases, resulting in the newly-redesigned models’ sedans and wagons being referred to only as “Crown Victorias.” Their aerodynamic “jellybean” design, however, garners few fans.

1993: Oops! A front grille (re)appears, though it looks—and is—just tacked-on. [A better—but still lame—grille is included in a 1995 “redesign.” Can you spot the difference? Do you care?]

1998: Who knew cops and senior citizens were so attached to—and vocal about—1970s-era styling? “Well, fine!” Ford says, “Here’s your damn three-box shape back!” [I’m paraphrasing.] Also, despite there being no discernable sign of it being so, they probably might have changed some under-skin stuff, then too. Maybe.

2008: After a decade of declining sales—possibly due to the old-age deaths of any remaining retail purchasers—the big ‘Vic goes fleet-only. Cops and taxi companies are still smitten with the old girl, however, so Ford confidently announces that it will invest $200 million in the Canadian plant that builds the Crown Vic and its sisters, the Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car.

2009: Oops! Instead, Ford strips the Crown Vic of all but a handful of trim levels and options and leaves the rest of it alone. Literally. If this seems like the opposite of the major expenditure on these models (and the factory that builds them) Ford mentioned, that’s because it is. Something is afoul in Ontario...

2010: …or is it? Things are really starting to look up! People—well, companies and agencies, really—are buying Crown Vics like they’re going out of style. They’re what? They ARE?! But that means…

…Sept. 15, 2011 (12:30 p.m.): The Crown Victoria is dead, along with its Lincoln and Mercury sister cars and the factory that built them. For only the second time in 56 years—and the last 31 in a row—there’s no “Crown Victoria” in Ford’s lineup. [Similarly, for the first time since 1967 the St. Thomas Assembly Plant is "going dark" indefinitely.] Fittingly for the Vic, though, the last of these rear-drive V8 dinosaurs is bound for one of the few places left on Earth that still appreciates a good gas-hog: the Middle East.

It’s been a long and slightly boring ride through history, I know, but no more long and boring than an actual ride in an actual Crown Victoria. I, therefore, find it fitting. It’s not every day that such a long-lived model name gets flushed down the crapper, you know, so show some respect for your automotive elders.

Sheesh. You kids these days. You have no appreciation for anything that came before your damn video whatzits and computer flibbity-jibbits. Boy, back in my day we appreciated a good solid front-V8-engined sedan that put its power to the pavement with its rear tires like God Himself intended, and we liked it just fine! But noooo. You whipper-snappers have to… Wait. Let me put my teeth in so I can give you a real talking-to…


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