“It’s got Cop Shocks, Cop Tires, a 440 plant built before cat-a-lytic con-verters so it’ll run good on regular gas.”
For this week I took a spin in one of the favorite cars of rejected police cadets and people with “seasonal” cars. I got to hammer on a car that had already been hammered on for the vast majority of its life.
And it’s really not as much fun as you think.
This 1999 Crown Vic Interceptor started out its life as a police interceptor for the town of Greece, NY. Curious choice considering it is one of the largest towns on planet earth, and the highest speed limit in this town is 40 mph. This car probably made the town of Greece over 100k in ticket revenue. Not because of the fact that it had a super long service life, but because if you’ve ever driven through Greece, you have gotten a ticket in Greece.
With the upgraded suspension and tires, it rides a bit harsher, but corners a lot better than the traditional Crown Vic. Seriously, compared to the original this thing is practically an M3. The Posi on the rear axle helps with getting the power down versus the one-wheel-peel of other Crown Vics. These 302 powered Crown Vics have a lot of power. It tops out right near 130 mph, which is pretty respectable out of a big old car that has had a hard life for the last 16 years. This is not my biggest gripe with the performance of this car. No, my biggest gripe is the weight. With roughly about the same displacement as the moon, it feels massive. That’s because, well honestly, it is massive. Stem to stern it’s about as long as the USS Missouri.
Spartan Interior, Inexpensive & Built for Everyone
The interior is very much like a cop car. It is spartan in the best way. The rubberized floors and back seat make for an easy cleaning that can be done with a hose. If I had young children or had to drive around drunk people on a Friday night, this would be an awesome car. It is big, safe, and well built. It is not luxurious because it’s not supposed to be. The utility is the beauty of this car.
The exterior is really nothing to write home about. It has been the same since the late 1980s, which continued up until the early 2000s. Almost nothing changed on this car throughout its lifespan. The most obnoxious part about the look of this car is that because it’s so terminally linked to police agencies throughout the world, when you’re riding in it people think you a cop. Therefore, everyone drives a lot slower when you’re behind them. People joke about this when they buy them, but it is absolutely true. And it is really f**king annoying. Thankfully with the big 302 and the tightened up suspension, passing them is trivial.
However, let’s get to the real reason why people buy these cars. They are surplus. Therefore, they are extremely inexpensive. Given that they were made for so long, parts are wickedly cheap and there are a ton of people that are qualified to work on them. The model I drove had a check engine light that was going to prevent it from getting a new inspection in the next month. We got it a tune-up and a new gas cap on Surfwrench for about 100 bucks total. Looking at other Crown Victoria repairs on the site, most of them were quoted really inexpensively. They’re not the most efficient car out there, they’re not the best looking cars out there. They are a very American car in the sense that they are tough, well put together, and built for everyone. This would be a car that Henry Ford would be proud to put his name on. It’s simple, not a ton of frills, but it does its job extremely well which is one of the major reasons behind its proliferation as one of the most popular cars ever made.
The Perfect, Low Maintenance Winter Workhorse
For the lifetime of this model, it has been the workforce of police agencies, fire departments, and geriatrics the world over. It rides decently well, and it has a lot of power. The handling isn’t bad, but it could be a lot better if it weighed less and the tires were closer to the back and front of the vehicle. But it’s low maintenance costs and ability to find a ton of replacements parts in any corner of the country. You can get a good one pretty much anywhere for somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 grand. Keep in mind that a lot of these things might not have high mileage, but the mileage has been hard. If you’re just looking for something to slide around and soak up the salt of a Western New York winter, there is really nothing better out there than one of these cars.