October 31

The Ford Crown Victoria: A Cult Classic and Police Favorite

Last Updated on April 18, 2023

Today, the Ford Crown Victoria enjoys a cult following. There are people who seek out used models, and some who want Ford to bring the nameplate back. 

There were rumors that in the first half of 2022, Ford would make an announcement for a nameplate return in 2023. But, those rumors are losing traction as Ford announces its 2023 lineup without any sign of a Crown Victoria. 

The Ford Crown Victoria is a large sedan built on the rear-wheel drive, body-on-frame Ford Panther platform. This is the same chassis used to manufacture the Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car. It was considered reliable and durable, which is why fleet customers, such as taxis and law enforcement agencies, loved them. 

They became the most popular police car in the United States for much of the 1990’s and 2000’s. Ford even modified fleet versions of the Crown Victoria to serve these two markets. For law enforcement agencies, Ford manufactured the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor (1992–2011). For taxi companies, they manufactured the long-wheelbase Crown Victoria sedan (2002–2011).

Before the Crown Victoria

Ford first used the “Crown Victoria” nameplate on premium, two-door Ford Fairlanes (1955-1956). Ford used it again in 1980 as the top trim of two-door and four-door Ford LTD sedans.

For model year 1983, Ford revised all its mid-sized and full-sized models. In this revision, the LTD Crown Victoria became a stand-alone model line, and the Ford LTD became a mid-sized model. It replaced the Ford Granada.

A long introduction

Ford Crown Victoria: First Generation infographic

Ford introduced the Crown Victoria in November 1990 and postponed fleet sales for 14 months to increase the number of cars for sale.

In order to take advantage of a loophole in the CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) standards, the Ford Crown Victoria was manufactured in St. Thomas, Ontario, so it was treated as an imported vehicle. This allowed Ford to exclude the Crown Victoria’s fuel economy from its CAFE calculations. 

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The 1992 Crown Victoria featured a major exterior redesign compared to the LTD it succeeded. The car’s appearance was largely based on the first-generation Ford Taurus. Ford VP of Design, Jack Telnack, developed this sleek, wedge-shaped aesthetic to enhance aerodynamics and fuel efficiency. It became known as Telnack’s “aero” look, and buyers generally either loved or hated the look.

This four-door sedan was sold in two trim levels: base and LX. Each seats six and features a 50/50 split between the bench seat and front seat, and an optional electronic instrument panel.

Ford redesigned the Crown Victoria for model year 1995. A six-slot grille replaced the egg-crate design, taillamps were widened, and the license plate moved to the trunk lid. New seats and a new dashboard adorned the inside of the car. The dashboard now resembled the one found in the Mercury Grand Marquis, featuring larger controls, switches, and a radio. The steering wheel shrunk and returned the horn button to the center of the wheel.

For model year 1997, Ford changed the engine from 5.0 L (302 CID) small block V8 to the the 4.6 L SOHC V8. Compared to its predecessor, this new engine produced 40 more hp and nearly identical torque, while still being lighter.

The need for speed

Ford Crown Victoria: Second Generation infographic

The second generation of Crown Victoria (1998-2011) adopted even more Mercury Grand Marquis stylings in order to gain greater acceptance among buyers and increase parts commonality.

Besides aesthetics, the 1998 redesign included changes to the rear suspension and the enlargement of brake rotors. A coil-on-plug ignition replaced the distributorless ignition system. Engine power was raised to 200 hp (single-exhaust models). 

Ford continued to raise horsepower to 220 hp in 2001, up to 239 hp in 2003 (depending on the exhaust), and 250 hp on the Ford Police Interceptor

Lights, sirens, action

Certain Ford Crown Victorias came equipped with the police package. These Ford Police Interceptors began with the second generation. First generation Crown Victorias equipped with the police package were referred to as Victoria P71’s.

At the turn of the century, numerous US federal regulations came into effect, each aimed at increasing the safety of passenger vehicles. In response, the Crown Victoria came equipped with an emergency trunk release system, child seat anchors, Belt Minder (the seat belt reminder chime), dual-stage airbags, and optional seat-mounted side airbags.

The beginning of the end

Model year 2003 saw even more revision. This time, the car’s appearance remained largely untouched, but its chassis was redesigned, with the suspension and steering receiving major updates.

Also introduced were rack-and-pinion steering and the car switched from twin-tube shocks to mono-tube shocks. This improved on-road handling and required less maintenance than its predecessor.

Over the next few years, Ford began equipping the Crown Victoria with new amenities and more modern—for the time—creature comforts. These options included laminated door glass, a moonroof, and a six-disc CD changer.

The 2006 model year saw changes to the instrument panel—the first changes since the launch of the model line. One notable feature was the inclusion of a digital odometer. The Ford Crown Victoria was the last Ford vehicle to come equipped with such. 

That same year, Ford introduced their restructuring plan. They announced an end to retail sales and revealed the following year the 2011 closure of St. Thomas Assembly in Ontario, Canada.

Who killed the Crown Victoria?

Large sedan sales had been sliding. People either chose smaller, more fuel efficient cars or SUVs that provided more interior space and a commanding view of the road. 

However, it was government regulation that drove Ford to discontinue the Panther platform on which the Crown Victoria is built. Federal governments mandated all 2012 model vehicles sold in the United States and Canada must be equipped with electronic stability control. And the Panther platform, which was first launched in 1978, wasn’t able to support that change.

For police fleets, Ford replaced the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor with an upgraded and heavy-duty version of the Ford Taurus. They also created a Police Interceptor Utility based on an upgraded and heavy-duty version on the Ford Explorer.

With all this talk about Ford Crown Victorias, you might be curious to see if there’s one on the Municibid marketplace, or maybe you’re on the prowl for something else entirely. If you’re curious to know what we have to offer, then don’t wait. Have a look today!


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