For the Police Interceptor version used by law enforcement, see Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor. For the 1979–1991 version known as the LTD Crown Victoria, see Ford LTD Crown Victoria.
The Ford Crown Victoria is a rear-wheel drive full-size car first produced by the Ford Motor Company for the North American market in the mid-1950s. The name was introduced again in 1983 when the Granada was discontinued and renamed LTD. For many years, the full-size car has fallen out of favor, and Ford has been left with a near-monopoly as a result. In 1974, American Motors discontinued the Ambassador; Chrysler discontinued the R platform full-size cars in 1981 and the M platform in 1989. In 1996, General Motors pulled the Chevrolet Caprice and Impala SS off the market, leaving its Lincoln-Mercury stablemates as its only competitors.
The 5,424 Crown Victorias sold in January 2007 far exceeded the 3,526 of the newer Ford Five Hundred which is a more technically advanced full size car with similar passenger space and better fuel economy. But while newer front-wheel drive platforms may have been popular among consumers, they have not challenged the Crown Victoria's dominance as a taxi cab, fleet vehicle and police car where durability, cost and performance rather than efficiency are top requirements. A longer wheelbase version is available for taxi use.
Retail sales dwindled to just 3,000 in 2006, compared to 38,280 of its stablemate Mercury Grand Marquis in the first nine months of 2007. Following its withdrawal from Canadian retail dealers, the Crown Victoria has been limited in the US market since the 2008 model year to fleet sales, which constituted 95% of its total sales in recent years. The Mercury Grand Marquis, as well as the platform-sharing Lincoln Town Car, will continue to be available to retail consumers.
As the latest evolution of the traditional rear-drive full-sized Ford (as the Crown Victoria traces its ancestry to the original 1932 Model 18 V8), it is the end of the longest succession of automobiles starting with the Model T. The "Crown Vic" is popular due to its conventional rear-wheel drive, V8 power, popular with police driving techniques. As one of the few remaining passenger cars with body-on-frame construction, it is rugged, and enables repairs after minor accidents without the need to straighten the chassis - an important benefit for a car frequently used by police forces for PIT maneuvers; ramming a car to spin it out. The Crown Victoria is also one of the few remaining automobiles which retains the traditional 2-bench 6 passenger seating layout, which has otherwise largely been replaced by the two front-bucket layout popularized by imports.
While the Crown Victoria shares its platform and components with the Lincoln Town Car, it shares almost no exterior sheet metal or interior parts. The current model has had a number of upgrades. Since the exit of General Motors from rear-drive full-size cars with the Chevrolet Caprice, it held a near-monopoly as a pursuit vehicle in North America, despite front wheel drive offerings such as the Chevrolet Impala. However, the Dodge Charger has started to challenge this dominance with some significant adoptions among police and taxi fleets since its introduction. While there has been speculation of replacements, some based on the slightly smaller Australian Falcon, no firm plans have been announced by Ford, however the similar Grand Marquis has since been replaced by the Ford Taurus as the sole full size offering in Canada.
The Crown Victoria is manufactured in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada, rides on the 1979-vintage Ford Panther platform and utilizes the universal 4.6 L Modular V8. As of 2005, prices range from US$25,000 for the base model to $32,000 for the high-end LX Sport trim.
See also 1955 Ford
The first "Crown Victoria" appeared in 1955; it was a 2-door 6-seater coupe, part of the Ford Fairlane range, that differed from the regular Victoria model (named after a type of carriage) by having a stainless steel band that 'crowned' the roofline, passing right over the car, as an extension of the B-pillar line. The model was produced in 1955 and 1956.
One version called Ford Crown Victoria Skyliner had the front part of the roof, in front of the steel band, in acrylic glass. This made the car difficult to sell, especially in the southern states in USA. Thus few Skyliners were made. Most of them ended up in Sweden, possibly because the climate was more suitable for an acrylic glass roof.
Main article: Ford LTD Crown Victoria
Downsized two years after its main rival, the Chevrolet Impala, the new 1979 LTD was seven inches shorter than the old one, and four inches shorter than the LTD II. The platform was named the Panther. The interior remained just as large as the previous LTD though, and the whole design became more efficient; the reduced width, size, and bulk all led to improved road manners and maneuverability, which had been major drawbacks in the previous LTD. Ride quality improved as well with the new car, as did fuel economy. Originally, the LTD was offered with the 302 and 351 CID V8s. The deluxe version of the LTD was the LTD Landau, as in previous years. In 1980 the LTD Landau was renamed LTD Crown Victoria. It replaced the previous year's Landau model, and used a stainless steel band over the roof at the B-pillar (the "crown") to evoke the 1950s model. Crown Victoria had been a decor package for the Landau models since 1975. For 1981 and 1982, Ford offered a 255 CID V8. The 302 V8 was supplied with the Variable Venturi Carburetor which was prone to malfunction. Most 1979-1980 LTDs were sold with the three-speed automatic transmission, with the AOD four-speed optional.
In 1983, when the LTD name was shifted to the mid-size Ford Granada replacement, all full-size LTDs were renamed LTD Crown Victorias. The mid-size LTD was a lesser-known model, as the name is easily confused with its full-size LTD Crown Victoria brother. It shared the same Fox platform with the 1979 to 1993 Ford Mustang, so certain components are easily interchangeable with the more popular "pony car". Perhaps the highlight of mid-size LTD production began in 1984 when the Bondurant racing school, which favored Ford Mustang GTs, transplanted the Mustang's 5.0L V8 and T-5 five-speed manual transmission into an LTD for use at the school. One result of this was Ford's introduction in mid 1984 of an option package called the LTD LX. Known by some as essentially a four-door Mustang, this car had a centrally fuel-injected 5.0L V8 engine paired with Ford's AOD four-speed automatic transmission, and included details such as blacked-out exterior trim, a floor shifter, and a tachometer. Police models received the same drivetrain (AOD shifter was column-mounted), 140mph (230km/h) speedometer, dog-dish hubcaps, and standard exterior trim. Interiors generally featured vinyl seating and rubber floormats, and many examples were equipped with special push bumpers on the front. The mid-size LTD was discontinued after the 1986 model year to make room for the then-new front-wheel drive Taurus.
LTD Crown Victoria police vehicles used a 5.8 Liter (351 cu. in.) V-8. Earlier models utilized Ford's Variable venturi carburetor. Later models from 1986 on utilized a 4 barrel Holley carburetor. The 351 was coupled to the AOD 4 speed overdrive automatic.
Various other changes were made during these years. 1983 saw the introduction of central fuel injection (CFI) on the 302-cubic-inch models (identifiable by a fender badge reading "Electronic Fuel Injection"), which was replaced with sequential electronic fuel injection (SEFI) in 1986 (accompanied by the deletion of said fender badge). Many mechanical changes were made during this time as well, but most importantly it should be noted that all 302/5.0L engines from 1985-on were equipped with a hydraulic roller valvetrain that allowed the use of improved camshaft profiles across the production line. The Crown Victoria, along with its cousin, the Mercury Grand Marquis, received exterior facelifts for the 1988 model year to improve aerodynamics, followed by an all-new dash, door panels, standard power windows, and standard driver's side airbag and revised steering column in 1990. 1990 was also the first year that Ford used the "10 Cut Key" on the Crown Victoria, this key opened doors and activated the ignition, but a separate key was needed for the glove box and the trunk.
1991 was a short production year with the introduction of the first Aero Body (1992) hitting the streets in 1991, but the 1991 Crown Victoria got clear parking lights/turn signals and higher trim LX Models "Turbine" 15" Alloy wheels were all silver instead of the dark titanium paint between the turbines.
Trim Lines included S Primarily used by Police, Taxi and Fleets (P72) the Base Model (P73), and The LX High Trim Model (P74).
Incidentally, the Panther platform has attracted a small but dedicated group of performance enthusiasts, the majority of whom own vehicles from the 1983-1991 time period. It is primarily these "Box body" enthusiasts who frequent online gathering-places, though the later "aero Vic" has attracted a noteworthy following as well.
In 1992, along with dropping the LTD designation, the Crown Victoria sedan (production of the station wagon having ceased in 1991) was completely redesigned to the rounder, eight-window shape (which shared many design cues with its contemporary, the newly redesigned 1992 Taurus), and there was a new 4.6L Modular engine.
Critics disapproved of the Taurus-like front end; consequently, it was given a front grille for the 1993 model year. Also added that year was a reflector strip between the taillights.
Another minor restyle followed suit in 1995, with a new grille, taillights, and dash. To accommodate the design of the 1995's new taillights, the rear license plate was moved from the bumper to the trunklid, fitted between the taillights. The restyle was better received than General Motors' more radical restyle of the Chevrolet Caprice which may have contributed to its exit and Ford's ultimate dominance of this segment.
The 1996 model year brought two trim levels: Crown Victoria (base) and LX. Dual front airbags and a single-key entry system became standard, along with a hidden audio antenna, rear window defroster and tinted glass. A Handling and Performance Package with touring tires, an anti-lock brake system (ABS), and traction control were optional and radial-spoke wheel covers were available on the base model. Automatic climate control and a JBL audio system became available on the LX.
For 1997, only slight adjustments were made in anticipation of a 1998 redesign. They included increased responsiveness and improved steering control.
In 1998, the Crown Victoria's exterior styling, rear suspension, and ignition system were updated, while the interior remained the same. The 1998 to 2002 "Crown Vics" had 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, already being used on the 1996 to 1999 Ford Taurus SHO's 3.4 L V8 engine, was later implemented on other vehicles that used the Modular V8, including the 1999-onwards Mustang GT, and many F-Series trucks. The Crown Victoria also features a 114.7 in wheelbase and its body now uses the more formal Mercury Grand Marquis roofline and side window styling. 1998 Marked the first year for standard 16" wheels across the model line, to accommodate the larger brakes used on the refreshed car. 1998 Was also the first year that Ford made center caps available on Police cars that attached onto the lug nuts (sourced from the Explorer SUV). Earlier model CVPIs were equipped with Full Wheel covers or dog dish covers that held onto the wheel by 4 nubs, that were specific to P71 and P72 cars only (HD Steel Wheels).
Not much changed for the 1999 model year, with the Crown Victoria receiving three more exterior colors and standard ABS brakes. 2000 brought an emergency trunk release system, child seat anchor brackets in the back seat, the "Belt Minder" chime to the Crown Victoria. This was followed in 2001 by adjustable pedals and increased engine output. For the 2002 model year, heated exterior side mirrors became available, along with standard floor mats, improved cloth upholstery, and a new trunk storage system option on the LX.
For the 2003 model year, the chassis was again redesigned with hydroformed steel. The front and rear suspension were also completely overhauled. New inverted monotube shocks were now used (replacing the old twin-tube shocks that had been used 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 redesigned 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 had improved significantly. The engine output increased due to the addition of a knock sensor for more aggressive timing.
For 2004, Ford altered the transmission, revised the torque converter for better acceleration, and updated the layout of the optional overhead console. Laminated door glass also became available to deter break-ins and thefts, reduce road and wind noise, improve protection from flying glass in a collision and filter out ultraviolet rays, reducing heat buildup and fading of the interior.
The Crown Victoria retained the same exterior styling, but 2005 models received a rear whip radio antenna rather than an integrated rear defroster antenna. 2005 models also received a new steering wheel, optional power moon roof and 6-CD changer.
The rear whip antenna was removed from the 2006 models in favor of the integrated rear defroster antenna. 2006 models also received a redesigned instrument cluster featuring a 175mph (280km/h) speedometer (civilian models) and a tachometer. Other additions included a standard trip computer on the LX and a perimeter alarm as an option.
For the 2007 model year, the LX Sport trim was dropped leaving the Standard and LX. Most of the LX Sport's components were then made available with the new optional Premium Sport-Handling and Performance Package. Standard AM/FM audio system with CD player and the remote keyless entry system "SmartLock" became available on all models as did daytime running lights. Even with the 2007 Crown Victoria, the overall design remained relatively unchanged from the 1979 design. It still used front independent suspension with a rear live axle on a body on frame design, using a traditional rear-wheel drive drive train.
Starting with the 2008 model year, the Crown Victoria became available solely through Ford Fleet. As of June 21, 2007, the Crown Victoria was removed from Ford's website, most likely to promote the 2008 Ford Taurus. This has been the case in Canada since the 2000 model year (see below). Also, with the descent into fleet-only sales across North America, the LX Premium Sport and Handling Package and the Handling and Performance Package (the only Crown Victorias produced for the North American market with dual exhaust, save for the Police Interceptor) have been officially discontinued by Ford.
Ford had reportedly announced that it would "freshen" both the Crown Victoria and the Mercury Grand Marquis for the 2009 model year. Ford had told the Canadian Auto Workers that it would invest $200 million in the vehicles, which are assembled at the St. Thomas Assembly Plant in St. Thomas, Ontario. However, Ford released the 2009 Crown Victoria with few if any changes from the 2008 model, with no announced plans for changes in the future.
For 2009, Ford narrowed the available Crown Victorias in North America by one more model. The Standard (P73) model designation has gone by the way side, in favor of the LX. To make the LX more appealing to future buyers (those who buy the cars after their service in rental fleets) it now uses the 5-spoke alloy wheels once used specifically for the LX Premium Sport and Handling package. These wheels are used in favor of the 9-spoke design the LX has used since 2003, purportedly due to the Lincoln Town Car using 17" wheels standard, as well as the Police Interceptor and the Taxi/Commercial (P72) model. The Grand Marquis has undergone a similar change to 17" Lincoln Town Car wheels. Also, the LX Sport wheels were used on all Crown Victorias (save for the LX) sent to the Middle East. For the Police Interceptor, there are two pieces of standard equipment added to its list. The power pedals are now standard on all models, presumably to cut manufacturing costs (Crown Victoria LX, Grand Marquis LS and Lincoln Town Car all had them as standard equipment previously) and side impact airbags are also standard. There are also new, federally mandated recessed window switches.
Main article: Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor
Starting with the 1999 model year, the police version of the Crown Victoria, previously named Crown Victoria P71, was changed to Police Interceptor and new rear badging was assigned instead of the civilian Crown Victoria badge. Though, to date, the Crown Victoria badge is still affixed to Police Interceptors equipped with the Street Appearance package for vehicles that require civilian styling (office/city motor pool, fire departments, etc). Police Interceptor models come with a black honeycomb-styled front grille and a black rear fascia on the trunk lid, with black trim under the tail lights. They also have several "heavier-duty" mechanical upgrades and newer models have additional safety features to deal with fuel tank safety concerns. On April 19, 2006, Ford Motor Company announced that the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor will remain in production "well into the future".
Change of Canadian availability
In Canada, 1999 was the last year the Crown Victoria was individually available to civilians from Ford dealerships. Since 2000, the Crown Victoria has only been available in Canada as a Police Interceptor for law enforcement, or as a taxi or Special Service Vehicle for commercial fleets. The civilian Crown Victoria is only available when ordered as a fleet directly from Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited and is not available through Ford dealerships. Civilians can, however, purchase used 2000 & up civilian Crown Victorias that are available at dealerships every so often, or used Police Interceptors or Special Service Vehicles from various auctions. The Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car, which also use the Ford Panther platform, however, were still available at Ford & Lincoln dealerships in Canada through the 2007 model year. Starting with the 2008 models, Ford stopped selling the Grand Marquis in the Canadian market, but continued to sell the Town Car.
Middle East market
Large American sedans have always been part of the landscape in the Middle East. Since the Chevrolet Caprice was discontinued in 1996, the Crown Victoria and its twin, the Mercury Grand Marquis have been the car of choice for large American car buyers in the region. Even after General Motors realized their loss of market share and introduced the Australian Holden Statesman in left hand drive form as a Chevrolet Caprice, sales of the Ford Panther platform remain strong, especially in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The Australian Caprice, however, has certainly brought some serious, tough competition for what used to be a niche market.
Vehicles destined for the Middle East are referred to as "GCC Spec" vehicles, and the Crown Victoria is available in five different trim levels in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries; Standard (P72 VIN designation) Sport (P73), Standard Long-Wheelbase (P70), LX (P74) and LX Sport (P74). While options and standard features vary from country to country in the region, the following is listed as standard equipment on present models:
- A true dual exhaust system (except Standard Long-Wheelbase)
- 17" 5-spoke aluminum sport wheels with P235/55HR17 all-season tires (16" 9-spoke aluminum wheels and P225/60VR16 all-season tires on LX models)
- Remote keyless entry system with driver's door mounted keypad (rare option on Standard, not available on Standard Long-Wheelbase)
- 40/20/40 split bench with rear air vents and 8-way power driver's seat, 4-way manual front passenger seat (available in both luxury cloth and leather trim; rear air vents not available on LX Sport models)
- Speed control
- Dual-Media AM/FM stereo/cassette with a single-CD player (except Standard and Standard Long-Wheelbase, which come with AM/FM stereo/cassette player)
A driver's side spotlight assembly is optional on Standard and Standard Long-Wheelbase models, whilst a monochromatic paint job is optional on Sport, LX and LX Sport models. Choice of colors on monochromatic paint jobs include Dark Toreador Red, Silver Birch, Tungsten and Black. A Mercury Marauder rear spoiler is standard equipment on Sport and LX Sport models, being an option on the LX and Standard trim. LX and LX Sport models also come with power 8-way driver and front passenger seats.
Worthy of note, the American Handling and Performance Package (HPP) has been changed to "Export Handling Package" for the Middle East. The only differences between the two is that GCC Spec models have a 2.73 rear axle ratio (as opposed to 3.27) and as a true dual exhaust system is standard equipment, it does not come as part of the package. Vehicles equipped with this package also come with a monochromatic paint job. The Export Handling Packages (EHP) comes with a tuned rear air suspension, revised coil springs, handling shock absorbers and an upsized rear stabilizer bar. EHP is standard on Sport and LX Sport models and is only an option on the LX trim. It is not available on Standard and Standard Long-Wheelbase models.
2007 and newer models now come with an available DVD entertainment system (marketed as "Export DVD Entertainment System"). This has been made optional on Sport, LX and LX Sport models.
The Crown Vic comes with a 5 year/200,000 kilometer (125,000 mile) warranty – whichever comes first. As far as the market in Kuwait is concerned, where Grand Marquis sales exceed that of the Crown Victoria, only the Standard and Standard Long-Wheelbase models are available. Other models have not been imported as of the year 2000, and 1999 was the last year for the LX trim level. This was part of the authorized dealer/importer's decision to focus on the Grand Marquis due to the market size.
2008 "Special Edition"
With no major redesign since 1998, in order to remain competitive Ford came up with a trim package for the Crown Victoria in the Middle East, known as the Special Edition, for 2008. Only available on the P72 Standard model, this cosmetic package adds the following:
- A new 3-bar grille.
- Mercury Marauder spoiler, also found on models equipped with the Export Handling Package.
- Chrome trim under the license plate on the front bumper.
- Chrome trim underneath the Ford logo on the trunk.
- Special Edition logos on the front fenders, trunk and dashboard.
- A Premium head unit with single CD and cassette
Everything else on this vehicle is identical to the Standard model. Whilst this vehicle is not listed in any sales literature, in Saudi Arabia it is available with a choice of different colors. In Kuwait, this model is only available in black (due to market size), and costs KWD 6,000 (approximately $22,000 USD).
Long-wheelbase commercial version
In 2002, Ford introduced a long-wheelbase version of the Crown Victoria, available only to commercial fleets (mostly used by taxi companies) in North American markets. This version gives 6 extra inches of wheelbase length, made possible by a new frame and extended body.
This version is not available to the general public, nor is there a stretched version of the Police Interceptor. However, there was a special service version available for the police market from 2002-2006, with an available street appearance trim option from 2002-2004, due to its targeted use mostly in the taxi and livery market.
In the Middle East, long-wheelbase versions of both the Mercury Grand Marquis and Crown Victoria are available to the general public.
While the car has been highly rated for safety, there was some controversy and lawsuits in the 1990s over Ford Crown Victoria (and its Mercury & Lincoln counterparts) gas tank leaks after certain types of high speed impacts, specifically when being hit in the rear end at high speeds. These impacts did cause fuel tank failures in the Crown Victoria. The leaking fuel in combination with friction between the vehicle and the road was found to be the cause of fires.
The reports that the cars were more prone to fires during a rear collision was a simple combination of four things. First, most law enforcement agencies rely heavily on the Crown Victoria as their primary vehicle, meaning that any police-related auto accident is very likely to involve a Crown Victoria. Second, the accidents occurred as the result of the officers intentionally parking their vehicles close to active traffic to shield a stopped motorist - something most civilians would never do. Third, the impacting vehicle was often traveling at, or above, the posted legal limit (70-75 mph in most jurisdictions). Fourth, the design of the vehicle which places the gas tank behind the rear axle, places the tank in a vulnerable area.
The condition was 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 may result in drilling into the gas tank. Installers also used screws set directly into the bulkhead and facing the fuel tank. In the event of a high-energy collision, these screws could be forced into the tank, both rupturing the tank and possibly acting as a spark source. Long bolts for mounting heavier equipment were also directly suspect. The manufacturer provided an aftermarket shield to help prevent these items from puncturing the tank during impact. Further, many investigations, both performed by federal/state agencies, and the police department themselves, have found that removable items in the trunk were improperly stowed. These items became tank-piercing projectiles during the rear-collision scenarios. Ford's second solution came in the form of a recall kit including patterns to mark unsafe areas (to drill) in the luggage compartment. Also included were rubberized kevlar and hard ballistic nylon shields for the differential cover lower shock bolts. They also included a kevlar-based trunk liner. Ford used similar kits on early-1980s model passenger vehicles. For 2005 and newer models, Ford offers an optional on-board fire-suppression system for the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor units. The system itself is integrated with the anitlock braking system as part of the activation, and can be activated manually. However, Ford does cite several system limitations regarding fuel loss and impact speeds.
As a result of these crashes, other companies looked at potential solutions to the problem. FIRE Panel introduced a solution in 2003 that utilized a hollow panel that encapsulated fire suppression powder. The panel was designed to shatter in a high speed, rear impact.
The results were so successful that the US Army and Marines now use it to protect large vehicle fuel tanks against IEDs.
Despite numerous court cases charging Ford with partial liability for fires caused in accidents, the company has never been found liable in a Crown Victoria accident.
Model years 1996 to 2001 inclusive, using an all-composite intake manifold, are subject to coolant leaks. Late in 2005 Ford settled a class action lawsuit. See Intake Manifold Defect for details.