1986 Ford Crown Victoria: Perfect Panther

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The Ford Crown Victoria is one America’s most recognizable sedans, largely due to its tenure on our roadways and extensive use as a taxi, police car, livery vehicle, family hauler and any other number of high-mileage assignments. That’s why finding this example here on eBay with only 18,000 original miles is a shock, as many of these handsome cars have been ridden hard and put away wet.

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The reason I like cars like this so much is because while nothing fancy, the Crown Vic did its job and did it well. Much like the W123 Mercedes and the Hondas made in the late 80s and early 90s, these cars were overbuilt and cheap to maintain. I don’t know that we make vehicles like that anymore, especially considering everything new now comes with tire pressure monitors and backup cameras. It’s all needlessly complex.

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Why do you think the Crown Victoria was relied upon (and cherished) by state police detectives and cab drivers alike? It’s pretty simple, really: you turned the key and it ran. You drove it down the road and it took whatever abuse you could throw at it. It wasn’t feeble but it wasn’t a rattletrap, either – it did equally well in less utilitarian uses. Families could cruise in comfort for hours on the interstate in a Crown Vic, just soaking in that 5.0 V8 power.

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Nowadays, big, American V8 sedans are a dying breed. The Dodge Charger is one of the few you can still find with ease, but most everything else has given way to turbochargers and hybrid powertrains. Don’t get me wrong, improved efficiency is a good thing, but it’s great to see cars like this Crown Victoria are still out there as an alternative to big sedans that carry a big price tag for all that technology goodness.

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Again, very nice car, but “barn find”? Maybe more like “garage finds” or “estate sale finds”. Looking at that mid-80’s engine compartment makes me a little queasy.

    • Mark S Member

      I’ve been following this sight for a long time, and IMHO you guys have done a great job presenting the old car hobby. Not all cars are going to interest everyone. Keep up the good work.

      • Josh Staff

        Thanks Mark! We will try!

  2. Matt

    I’ve almost got my wife sold on a station wagon version of this if I can find one clean enough.

    Also, I live in a predominately Mennonite area and there is a couple that I see on a regular basis that has the Crown Vic that looks like the one from Men In Black. If it ever goes up for sale, I’ll pounce on it!

    • Todd Zuercher

      Yes – we Mennonites (even us worldly ones :)) love these Crown Vic’s!

  3. Trent Poole

    I really like this Crown Victoria 4 door.
    I’ve got an ’86 2 door that belonged to my Father in law. 46k miles. Get in, turn the key and go. Like driving the living room down the street.

    • krash

      ….nice looking in the 2 door model..I don’t ever remember seeing a 2 door on the road..it was always the 4dr models that I saw in my neck of the woods

      ……thanks for the view, Trent.

  4. Charles

    This car will find a home as these cars have a huge following. These models are known as box panthers due to the brick like shape of the cars. There are plenty of people looking for just this car in just this condition. See the owner/collector’s website .

    Back in the day we owned the twin to this car. After serving 180K trouble free miles as the family cruiser we turned the car over to our teenaged children for it’s “final years.” Three kids learned to drive on the Vic, each one graduating to a newer vehicle once they proved that they could handle a car. The old car was finally sold in 1999 with 320K miles on it to another party in our hometown. We still see the car around these days.

    That sort of mileage from an 80’s car sounds crazy, however a friend of mine routinely buys and sells these cars often with well over a million miles on them and still going strong. Often the million mile panthers have started life as a highway patrol car, then sold on to become a local sheriff’s department or city police force. After serving in law enforcement for the first 150 to 250K the cars are sold for use as taxi’s, where they can pile on another 750K in about 10 years of service.

    Although we love and own a couple of old Trans AM’s and two trucks we have been keeping a couple of panther cars around for the past 30 years or so. 2008 was the last year that Ford dealers stocked Crown Victoria’s for retail sale, although the cars could be ordered up until 2011 before being discontinued forever. We purchased a new 2007 LX and a new 2008 LX in early 08 with the intent of driving those cars until there is nothing left of them. Our 07 currently has 74K miles on it and the 08 has 39K miles on it. You can see them in the group photo below.

    https://scontent-iad3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-frc3/v/t1.0-9/10888530_10152992583009772_7349491218381410350_n.jpg?oh=6b3772c14586a96afa991a843c5359cd&oe=56BF92A8

    • krash

      …what kind of gas mileage are you getting out of the pallet?

  5. Rich

    Have to admit, I enjoy seeing finds like this and that Dodge you posted earlier. Nice to see clean examples of 20 / 30 year old cars that will soon evolve into collector status.

    • Josh Staff

      Hi Rich,
      It’s actually an interesting topic to think about. Where will the collector car hobby go in 10 or 20 years? Will ’80s and ’90s cars be collectable or will we still all be hunting for the same cars we are today? I think the next generation of car guys will be hunting for vehicles like this and the Dodge. Not because they won’t want appreciate or want the older stuff, but because the older cars will either be gone or too expensive for them to buy. At the same time, these newer cars will likely be very pricey to restore, because of all the electronics, safety equipment, and emissions devices that will need to be replaced to get them running, so low mileage survivors like this and the Dodge will be highly sought after! It’s all speculation at this point, but it will be interesting to see where things go in the future!

  6. Will

    I drove an 86 Crown Vic from 1999 to about 2004. I loved it. My kids hated it. This was the car they wanted me to drop them of down the road from school because they were embarrassed to be seen in it even though it was in like new condition. I sold it when gas hit $1.80 a gallon and I had a 22 mile commute. I regret that mistake daily. I am actively looking for a 2 door survivor in this condition. They made 2 dr coupes till 87.

  7. Charles H.

    I’ve owned a couple of the Police Interceptor models, loved them! and with everything being Heavy Duty on them, made them extra durable.

  8. jim s

    if i had this car i would be looking for a kit to convert to 6 speed manual transmission, which i hope someone makes. this is a great way into the hobby with a daily driver. would need to make sure where you live they do not smog check vehicles that are this old. i hope it would pass but might be a pain if it didnot. not many cars hold 6 full size people. hard to go wrong with this, the merc or towncar.

  9. Tundra/BMW Guy

    While this one is not as close as the other one in Marrietta GA. Augusta is about a 2hr drive and would be doable, preferably on a “convertible day”! So, same offer, if someone is serious, reply back with info and I will see what I can do.

    • Chip Lamb

      Happy to have you come visit – particularly if you take it home with you!

      Cheers
      Chip (seller)

  10. Jim Marshall

    I sold these new and they were good cars and sold well. I had a few for demo’s and got my wife a 1 year old used one in 82. Same car as this one. This car looks well taken care of even though the seller had to tweak it quite a lot. I likely sat for a long period of time from what he described he did to it getting it ready for sale.

  11. Chebby

    Now THIS is the kind of reseller I approve of: one that adds value vs. just flipping the car.

  12. 64 bonneville

    You can’t beat these for cross country cruising, except for a mid 1960s’ Chrysler. However with the Chrysler you are penalized by the gas mileage. The 5.0 liter engine in good tune will give 22 mpg all day at 65 mph. also you don’t feel tired when you get to your destination. currently we have a 2001 Grand Marquis w/ 97K on it for long trips, and still pull close to 22 mpg at 75 mph.

    Like 1
  13. Mike

    I owned a 86 Mercury Grand Marquis, 2 door, loved that car, the guy I bought it from did not take very good care of its engine, he kept the exterior and interior beautiful but the engine was another story. I bought it in 1995 for a very good price with a little over 90,000 miles and it, and I could say he suckered me into the purchase. I was needing another car for a while, and he was willing to part with it. I asked him one day what oil he used and he said whatever was on sale and cheap, I should have walked away from it right then, but I was thinking the price was good. Well with in a year I was noticing a knock when you first started it but it would go away, then one day the wife called and said that the car made it to her folks but was knocking the last few miles. We left it sitting there she borrowed her folks car to get home and back to work until I could get the time to go over and check it out, sure enough start it and it sounded like the pistons were changing places with each other. I check the oil and it was full, so I had it towed back to my shop, and tore into the motor. After removing the first valve cover all I saw was a perfectly shaped glob, that looked just like the inside of the valve cover, removed the other side and it was the same thing. I went out that day and bought a long block for it, and ran it another 100,000 miles until I gave it to my brothers ex-wife because she needed a car. She drove it for another few years and sold it, last time I saw the car it was looking pretty bad, but still on the road. I always said that 302 Ford engine was a good hard working motor.

  14. John Weissensel

    The first car that I purchased myself was a 1999 Crown Vic that i bought last winter with 79000 miles on it. The car now has 91000 because of traveling long distances for work and school. It has never broken down and gets 25 MPG. Probably the best car ever made.

  15. steve

    Nice Victoria. That being said my wife just inherited a 2dr 1987 with 85000 miles on it from her aunt and I really love this thing. Never thought of it being pretty but what a cool car.
    Gonna keep it stock and put some fancier old style mags on it. Will keep the same tire size though. thanks steve AZ

  16. Bob C.

    These cars were the sweethearts of the 80s to both private and fleet buyers. At a time when many makes were switching to front drive, there were still quite a lot craving big rear drive cars as they became fewer.

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