Image credits: © Ford.

2005 Ford Crown Victoria

Today, the backbone of fleets, the Ford Crown Victoria is a vehicle for companies that need a rugged yet simple sedan with plenty of room for both passengers and cargo. Go back 30 years ago though, the full-size Ford was the backbone of the company's sales. During the 1973 model year an impressive 941,054 were sold. 25 years earlier, the Crown Vic was the only car that the division sold. Before that, another 25 years earlier, and it was the Model T.

From 1983 until 1991 the Ford LTD Crown Victoria was a full-size rear-wheel drive sedan that was produced by the Ford Motor Company. In 1992 the vehicle was renamed the Ford Crown Victoria, kept the same platform, but received a totally different body and drivetrain.

In 1979 the Ford LTD was moved the Ford Panther platform while the Ford LTD Landau were carried over. In 1980, the second model year, the Landau model was renamed the Crown Victoria. Typically paired with a landau vinyl roof, these vehicles had a targa-like chrome band across the roof. The LTD name was used for two separate vehicles from 1983 until 1986. The LTD name was kept on the full-size model as the LTD Crown Victoria and also placed on a mid-size vehicle based on the Ford Fox platform as the LTD.

All full-size Fords were now called LTD Crown Victoria in 1983 as the Granada was massively updated and underwent a facelift before being renamed the LTD. The full-size car also received a facelift that included a new grille and new taillight lenses. Only the former high-end quad-headlight fascia remained as the old LTD ‘S' front fascia was deleted Electronic 'Central Fuel Injection' was now standard on the 5.0 L engine.

Two model ranges were available when first introduced in 1983, the ‘base' model and a lower-priced 'S' version. Both model ranges came as standard with the CFI V-8 engine, an AOD automatic transmission with overdrive, power front disc brakes, power steering, full carpeting, and bumper guards. The base model featured a reclining cloth bench seat, full courtesy lighting, full wheel covers, the landau-styled padded vinyl roof with targa trim band an AM/FM stereo radio.

Comparable to the former base LTD series, the 1983 budget 'S' model featured a vinyl bench seat, lower-grade carpeting and an AM radio. While a full, non-padded vinyl roof was available at extra cost, the landau vinyl roof was deleted. The designated fleet model, the 'S' model could be ordered by a budget conscious customer. The base model offered an interior luxury package that included upgraded interior fabrics, full-bench center armrest rear seats, split-bench dual recliner front seats, additional sound insulation, power windows and door-mounted courtesy lights.

By 1986 'Sequential Fire' electronic fuel injection became standard on civilian models. All models received updated front end styling in 1988 along with a new decklid and rear-end styling on sedans. During this year the coupe was also discontinued. Various items that had once been only optional equipment, such as AutoLamp, now became standard equipment.

A new dashboard and steering column and rear outboard shoulders belts along with a driver's side airbag were introduced in 1990. The final year for the station wagon, 1991 was also the last model year for the 1979 body style. The front turn signal lamps were the only update, changed to clear from amber.

Until 1987 the Ford LTD Crown Victoria was available in coupe form before it was discontinued due to low sales. Today the LTD Crown Vic coupe is considered to be a collectible. The following year, in 1988, a station wagon version was produced, both as the LTD Crown Victoria and also as the LTD Country Squire. The Squire featured the traditional wood-grained body side panels.

Until 1988 police vehicles used the 5.8 Liter Windsor V-8 which used Ford's troublesome Variable Venturi carburetor. Following 1988 Ford began using a 4 barrel Holley carburetor which was much more reliable and also gave the engine more torque and horsepower.

In the 1990s the Crown Victoria received a very prominent facelift. Ford overhauled the chassis and added standard all-disc brakes with optional antilock control along numerous tweeds to steering, springs, shocks, and suspension geometry. A vast improvement over the Old Crown Victoria, the new one adopted the 4.6-liter overhead-cam V8 that was originally seen in the 1991 Town car. The 4.6 delivered 190 standard bhp, the first member of Dearborn's new 'modular' engine family, the new engine gained 40-50 horses over the original pushrod 302.

For 1992 the price started at $20,000 and over 152,000 models were sold. The highest sales history since 1985. Unfortunately sales declined to under 110,000, but they still remained healthy throughout the end of the decade.

For 1993, a conventional grille was added by the buyers requests when the Touring was dropped. For 1994 a passenger airbag became standard. The following year the Crown Victoria received a mild facelift, 'gullwing' tailings, newly standard rear defroster, revised climate controls, heated door mirrors, a 'battery-saver' feature, a radio antenna embedded in the rear window and displays for outside temperature and 'gallons to empty'. The price stayed at a very comfortable price below $25,000, even with all of these additions.

For a few years in the early 1990's, the Crown Victoria became an import, built north of the border with a high level of Canadian content. The reason behind this was CAFÉ, the Corporate Average Fuel Economy law that took effect with model year 1978.

The only remnant of the days when titanic rear-wheel-drive cop cars ruled the interstates, the 1998-2003 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor is also the current bestseller among law enforcement agencies across the U.S. Officers had no choice but to adopt Ford's model since the competition from newer Chevy models is comparatively mediocre since the demise of Chevy's Caprice 9C1.

By Jessica Donaldson

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