I agree wholeheartedly with you about Consumer Reports. They have been heavily biased towards Japanese cars since the '70s. Any periodical that recommends a model before it has even had a chance to be reviewed, is not reliable.
The issue in the 70's with domestic automakers wasn't about "what" the cars were made out of. Anyone can stick a cast iron block, a transmission and frame together. What matters is the execution and assembly of that product, and in the 70's it was well-documented that overall quality of the Big 3 - again particularly after the oil crisis - was at an all-time low. This was back in the era where more cars were recalled than actually manufactured. Back when entire drivetrains and cars for that matter were rushed into production without extensive testing, where owners soon had such things as blown head gaskets and blown transmissions within short order. Sure - I could also find you a few examples of some 70's American iron that "made it" past 200,000 miles. But overall the quality from that era was horrendous.
Let me put it this way. I actually own an American classic. It's a '55 Ford. I've had it for years, it's not a garaged car, and it is in fact very reliable. All of the welds underneath on the frame and elsewhere are amazing. Very clean and no splatters of any kind. These were the kinds of cars that were still hand welded and hand assembled. On the other hand, I can stick my head under most any car from the 70's and the quality is total crap. Plain and simple. I can tell the difference, and I have yet to be convinced that these were stellar cars. The fact is that corners were being cut and it shows.
Fast-forward to today, and the quality of ALL makes has increased drastically. The fact that you can usually get at least 200,000 miles on almost any brand is pretty amazing.
I always liked the front end styling of the Town Cars, Crown Vics, Grand Marquis, Caprices, Impalas, Diplomats and Fifth Avenues. To me, that 80s angular styling was the best yet.
Just like horses made the western movies, the styling of the above made the action movies. Terminator for example, when Arnie was driving that big ole station wagon across the desert; no rice burners or compacts would have done it better. To Live and Die in LA is also good with that era of full size from the big 3.
Who cares about what the "Automotive Press" thinks? I am not going to let some European car snobs decide what I drive; the reviews are completely irrelevant when it comes to long term durability. Even if you are trying to decide between a 2012 BMW or Audi, drive the thing yourself and make up your own mind!
I drive a 1988 Ford Crown Victoria, and I love my car. It was cheap to buy, and I get all the comfort, luxury, performance, and rear wheel drive experience of a BMW for 1/10 of the price. I have driven my friend's 2005 BMW sedan, and yes it accelerates faster, but you feel every bump on the road, and my Crown Victoria is much more comfortable and spacious inside. Gas mileage is the same too.
I will take the Crown Victoria any day. I could spend tens of thousands more for a new Corolla or something lame like that, and I would not enjoy it at all. Comfort in a car is very important to me, as I spend a lot of time travelling for work, and I enjoy road trips and vacations as well. A comfortable car makes long trips much easier.
Sure, the Crown Victoria is a dinosaur compared to the other newer cars, but that is what I love about it. The old fashioned features like rear wheel drive, V-8, bench seats, 6 passenger seating, and huge trunks make it a throwback to the golden era of Detroit iron, when every working class American could afford a full size luxury sedan, made without compromise.
I'm in my 20's, and while some of my friends are buying new Cobalts, Civics, etc, some of us younger people still appreciate these older cars too. While the main market for full size domestic cars is obviously older retired people who appreciate luxury and comfort, many younger people like myself grew up in the 80's and 90's when real cars were still around, and we miss them dearly.
My girlfriend loves to ride in my Crown Vic, as it's a beautiful car that turns heads, it has plush velvet power seats, lighted vanity mirrors, every luxury option imaginable. You feel like a king/queen in this car.
I love the Crown Victoria and Town Cars, they are the last true American luxury cars; don't let some import biased, elitist car nerds tell you otherwise. These cars are used for police and taxi service, and regularly exceed 300k mileage, even when driven hard and poorly maintained. There is a reason they still made this "antiquated" design for so many years; none of the newer unibody cars could withstand the abuse taxi drivers and police would put on these cars.
But then again, the automobile press could not care less about the working man, people who enjoy American cars, or the actual longevity and durability of a car. I don't care if the new Benz roadster has 500 hp and sport suspension, I want a car that still runs 20 years down the road, so I can give it to my nephews or nieces. Cars are long term investments for me; I buy cars to drive them, not just as a toy or status symbol that devalues rapidly.
Great review of a great car. Who cares about the "automotive press"; they don't review cars for the average working man. I live in eastern Canada, and we love our full size V-8 RWD American sedans here. There are TONS of them on the road here, old and new. For the average working man, it doesn't get any better than a fully loaded Crown Vic or Marquis. No one cares that it's an antiquated design or what the automotive press thinks; we just want comfortable, reliable, full size American sedans, as we always have around here.
Automakers have completely forgotten about us it seems.
Not many people in eastern Canada, especially the rural areas, buy any Japanese or German imports, as the parts need to be special ordered in, and most mechanics refuse to work on them. They are considered overpriced lemons that rust out too quickly.
This is also a very non pretentious, working class area. We buy American cars because they are cheaper, more reliable, and easier to fix. Unlike bigger cities, no one needs a fancy import to impress the neighbors; a brand new Crown Vic is as good as it gets here.
Even if they stop making them, we will drive these cars forever.
I have a rust free 86 Crown Vic that only comes out in summer, and a fully loaded 04 Marquis black on tan leather. I don't need any better car than that; it exceeds all my expectations, and I feel like a king driving it :)