It is almost a decade since the last V8, body-on-chassis passenger sedan was built in the USA.
It was the Ford Crown Victoria, known to fans as the “Crown Vic” and I reckon that it is the most recognised car on the planet.
In just about every movie and American TV show, you’ll spot a Crown Vic either as a taxi, rental car or driven by the cops.
The full frame chassis supported all manner of variants.
There was Mercury Grand Marquis, a plusher version of the Vic.
And that wagon of choice for red carpet arrivals, the Lincoln Town car, was really a humble Crown Vic under all that bling.
Ford made 9.6 million Crown Vics over its 32 years of production.
It is reputed to have been Ford’s most profitable car of all time, simply because the bean counters refused to allow any real money to be spent on it.
In the end, however, someone at Ford decided the cost of bringing the car up to 21st century standards and replacing the worn, old tooling — was just not worth the time, expense and effort.
So much simpler to do another F150 truck, I guess?
But a strange thing has happened.
Usually it takes years and years for a car to become a classic.
Not so, the Crown Vic. It is a collector right now.
All manner of folk are sourcing used Vics and either customising them, hot rodding them or simply enjoying the soft, big car ride.
The rarest of them all is the 2003 Mercury Marauder.
Carrying the famed name of the mid-sixties muscle car, the Marauder was basically the police pursuit version of the Vic — in civilian guise.
For my money, this is the one to have.
The last Crown Vic I drove, and I’ve driven many over two decades, was a Hertz rental in Los Angeles in late 2011.
The big grey car cruised the mean streets of La La Land with quiet and relaxed efficiency
Its supple suspension and robust chassis absorbed the many bumps and lumps of LA’s freeways as if they did not exist.
The vast boot swallowed our bags with room to spare.
The V8 effortlessly ensured we kept pace with the freeway traffic and had ample acceleration for quick lane changes.
Its size was never a problem in car parks, because the spaces are always generous in America.
Such is its ubiquitous association with American police forces, that when I parked in the driveway of a friend’s house in Beverly Hills his neighbour came over to see if I was a cop making a visit.
To my mind, the Crown Vic was what 20th Century America was built for and built by.
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