Parts that were replaced:
Power steering hose.
Upper heater hose.
Spark plug wires.
Parts that were repaired:
Side door lights.
Rear brake light.
The vinyl covering of the steering wheel sort of rotted away in the sunlight. This seems to be a problem across the entire Panther platform. It was remedied with a replacement vinyl steering wheel cover.
Parts that have broken without being repaired:
Automatic door locks (can't lock the car any more).
Driver's side window move up and down in a jerky manner.
Left rear passenger window moves up and down extremely slowly.
Driver's side air bag is disconnected.
The starter drive does not make good contact sometimes, and requires a second try for ignition. This has been a problem for 4 years, and has not affected overall performance in any way.
This car is built on the Ford Panther platform. This means that the chassis, engine, suspension, interior, and many other features are common across this car, the Ford Crown Victoria LTD, and the Lincoln Town Car.
This car has been used by law enforcement, taxi services, and rental car agencies for years because of its reputation for comfort, reliability, ease of maintenance, and availability of cheap parts.
Those same reasons played a big role in my purchase of this car about four years ago. I wanted something that was comfortable with plenty of room, but also had a strong look. The boxy design of this car is quite striking these days, compared to most of the aerodynamic designs seen on the road.
Being an unemployed student just out of college played a role as well. This car is an LS model, which stands for... well, really nothing at all. But you could say it stands for Luxury Sedan.
This model is the step up from the GS model. It features side running lights, power antennae, a rear windshield heater, illuminated doors, power seats, power windows, and a velour interior among other features.
Now, admitted, this is not a real luxury car. Far from it. But for less than $1000 it's about as close as you're going to get. The spaciousness, and solidity of the interior give a feeling of maturity and class.
Driving this car is enjoyable. The 4.9 liter Windsor V8 engine provides 150 hp, which is rather low for a vehicle of this size and weight, but it does the job. A good amount of torque in the lowest gear provides a nice takeoff and allows you to climb hills without worrying. Once you're on the highway and up to speed in overdrive, there are few vehicles that will match it. This car was built for the interstate.
The steering is good for a car of this size and age. It corners and responds easily and intuitively, and you never seem to be out of control. However, this car is a rear wheel drive vehicle, and drivers coming from a more modern front wheel drive vehicle with automatic traction control will have to take extra care during the adjustment period when traveling on wet or icy roads. This car will not perform as well in those conditions. It's not to say that it won't drive in the rain or snow, but you will have to move at a reduced speed and take precautions.
Contrary to popular beliefs, it's not hard to park at all once you have been driving for a month or so. I had no problems in city parking garages, or navigating through downtown traffic. In very large urban areas like New York you will have some problems though.
Many people describe these cars as being "floaty", but I wouldn't say that's appropriate. The car does sort of roll from side to side when turning, and goes over minor bumps with ease. But it does not ride on air unless you're traveling at 55 mph or greater on a smooth straight highway. Otherwise, expect a better-than-average, but not perfect ride in the city and country.
The trunk on this car is humongous. You could easily fit luggage for an entire family of 5 or 6 people in it and have room to spare. Similarly, the back seat is wide and roomy, and it's no problem for adults to sit. In this car nobody will complain about having to ride in the back. Remember, they used these for taxis!
Fuel economy is not great. It's not terrible either. Expect about 15-17 mpg city, and 20-25 mpg highway. If your car is in peak condition, you may be able to hit 28 mpg with the cruise control on over a long stretch of even highway if you're just by yourself without a loaded trunk.
Reliability is of course very high. I've suffered one breakdown in the course of four years due to a water pump. If you perform regular maintenance and keep an eye on replacement parts as needed, you'll never have to worry.
Parts for this car are c-h-e-a-p. About 20% of the cost of a modern car. And scrap yards and the secondary market are your friend. There were millions and millions of these cars produced, so every auto shop and dealer should have access to anything you need from a variety of manufacturers. The aftermarket upgrades for this car are also extremely varied.
Overall, this is my favorite car I've owned. The size, lineage, and mystique of the box Panther can't be beat. This is the car of the American road.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 10th January, 2012